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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘joint

Cannabis Is A Wonderful Thing

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Two days ago, I found this marvellous image of Hunter S. Thompson which reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to write about for ages.

Cannabis is a wonderful thing.  We spend so much time having to engage in intellectual, scientific, medical, moral and human rights arguments that we forget to tell the truth.  We forget to say what’s good.  We forget to advance the wonderful, beneficial, delightful, life-enhancing qualities of this amazing plant.   Cannabis is good.  It does you good.  It’s done so much good for me in my life and for so many people that I know.  It opens hearts and minds and understanding.  It reveals truth and beauty and music and conversation and the joy of existence on our beautiful planet.

Now, I can even substantiate this with science.   Cannabis has been treated with reverence and as a religious sacrement by some yet demonised and reviled by the forces of darkness and evil.  The positive benefits of God’s herb, known to mankind for thousands of years but shrouded in mystery and superstition,  are now revealed by science as an integral part of the universe.  The Endocannabinoid System (ECS), only discovered in 1988 but now known to be fundamental to life, is the reason that the natural supplement of the plant is a good, good thing.  A nutrient that can benefit us all.  See here.

The ECS, present in mammals, fish, reptiles and birds, is now known to be vital in pain relief, sensation, appetite, taste, weight control, mood, memory, motor skills and fertility.  Contrary to the idea that each pull on that joint kills millions of brain cells, in fact the ECS facilitates neurogenesis, the birth of neurons.  In 2003, the US government registered US patent no. 6630507 for cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants for limiting neurological damage following stroke or physical trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia.

Cannabinoids have been shown to have analgesic, anti-spasmodic, anti-convulsant, anti-tremor, anti-psychotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-emetic and appetite-stimulant or appetite-suppressant properties.

Is it any wonder that cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years? Is it any wonder that millions of us have known instinctively for so long that cannabis is a wonderful, beneficial, health-giving plant?

Cannabis really is the wonder drug that the hippies rediscovered in the 1960s.  It really does offer so many benefits to mankind.  However much the prohibitionists lie and dissemble and spread fear, uncertainty and doubt, the truth is out.  Science now knows what we knew all along.  Cannabis is a wonderful thing!

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The Real Prison Drugs Scandal

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Banged Up

The real scandal about drugs in prison is that they’re even there in the first place.  How do they get in?  It’s prison staff of course.

That’s the uncomfortable truth which Ken Clarke and the government won’t talk about.  Compared to the extraordinary security and penalties that prison visitors face, the screws have it easy.  There’s an organised network at each prison, run by screws, for screws, supplying drugs to prisoners.  Of course there is!

The even bigger scandal is that what used to be a cannabis culture, with prisoners alleviating their boredom with a relatively harmless joint, has become a health nightmare, with prison regulations forcing them into heroin.

You see Ken Clarke’s bright new ideas of drug free wings, testing and incentive regimes have been going on for more than 10 years already.  I support Ken’s new ideas.  I think he’s a breath of fresh air but this is just unhelpful propaganda.  You see, prisoners stopped smoking cannabis when they started getting tested regularly.  Evidence of cannabis remains in urine for up to 28 days, whereas heroin or cocaine washes through in 48 hours.  Once the testing started and the prison officer-run cartels cottoned on, heroin began to flood our jails.  A nightmare but true.

Of course, the fact that the drugs problem exists at all in prison is because it’s just a microcosm of society.  If proper treatment was provided to those entering prison with a habit then it’s the perfect opportunity for them to clean up.  If prohibition wasn’t creating a fantastically profitable black market then the drugs problem would gradually recede just as it would in society in general if we introduced fact and evidence-based regulation.

Prohibition doesn’t work.  It just makes the problem worse.

“Outrageous Scaremongering” Over Cannabis

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Last October,  36-year old Julie Ryan was found dead in bed by her three children, now aged 14, 13 and 8.  At a coroner’s inquest in Oldham last week, pathologist Dr Sami Titi said “The direct cause of her death was cardiac arrest because of a history of smoking cannabis”.

Dr Sami Titi

Julie’s family claims that this is not true, that Julie’s cannabis use has been blamed because the Royal Oldham hospital failed to treat her properly. In Britain, there has only been one previous occasion when a death has been attributed to cannabis. In 2004, Lee Maisey, 36 of Pembrokeshire, who smoked half a dozen “joints” a day, was found dead on his living room floor after complaining of a headache.

At the inquest in Oldham, the coroner, Simon Nelson, was said to be surprised at the pathologist’s story and questioned him closely. Dr Titi insisted that “smoking of cannabis is well known to have a negative impact on the heart and can cause heart attacks in young people”. The coroner said that in 15 years he had never heard a pathologist so confident that cannabis could be fatal. He recorded a narrative verdict of “death from cardiovascular complications induced by cannabis smoking”.

Coroner Simon Nelson

Julie’s brother, Kevin Ryan, says that the pathologist’s remarks are “outrageous scaremongering”. Her mother, Linda, is bewildered by events. As planned, Julie’s children had stayed with her while the inquest was taking place. Now they have returned home to the furore of this extraordinary verdict and are extremely distressed.

Julie had visited the Royal Oldham hospital several times complaining of chest pains but been sent away with a diagnosis of heartburn. The post mortem examination revealed she had a severely enlarged heart and had suffered a previous heart attack which had not been diagnosed. Family sources said “It’s a cover up. Cannabis doesn’t kill. They made a big mistake.” Mary Burrows, Julie’s cousin, who was very close to her, said she preferred to smoke cannabis rather than have a drink and that “she was a wonderful mother and her kids miss her so much”.

Dr Mark Eckersley, a local Manchester doctor, said “More and more pressure is being piled on medical professionals to propagate this type of untruth by the powers that be.” He said doctors need to maintain credibility with the community and that “this type of nonsense makes my blood boil”.

A spokesman for the Royal Oldham hospital said “Miss Ryan died from a heart attack and cardiovascular problems. Our thoughts and sympathy go to her family.”

On 2nd November in California, Proposition 19 is expected to permit the personal use of cannabis for the state’s 28 million adults. As a result, new tax revenues of $1.4 billion are anticipated, up to 110,000 new jobs and a boost of up to $18 billion to the state’s economy from spin-offs such as coffee shops and tourism.

In America, any health concerns about the plant are far outweighed by health benefits. Medical cannabis is already regulated in 14 states with another 12 in the planning stage. In Britain, Sativex, a whole plant extract of cannabis, was recently authorised as a treatment for MS. It costs about eight times what medical cannabis costs in America, Holland, Spain, Israel and very shortly Germany, where there is a fully regulated supply chain. In Britain, despite a House Of Lords Scientific Committee recommendation, the government refuses to consider such a move. Many patients whose doctors have prescribed Sativex have been denied funding from their health authority. In some of these cases, criminal prosecutions have been brought against them for cultivating their own plants.

A spokesman for GW Pharmaceuticals, developers of Sativex, said “The therapeutic ratio for cannabis is so high that it is virtually impossible to ingest a fatal dose”.

Prof. David Nutt

Professor David Nutt was sacked as chairman of the Home Office’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs last year after claiming that cannabis was less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. His successor, Professor Les Iversen, also maintains that cannabis has been “incorrectly” called dangerous and says it is one of the “safer recreational drugs”.

On Friday, Professor Nutt said cannabis “seems to cause much less harm than alcohol and that banning the plant is “unjust and therefore undemocratic”. He added: “The previous government’s policy to deter cannabis use by forceful policing increased convictions for cannabis possession from 88,000 in 2004 to 160,000 in 2008. As well as ruining many lives through getting a criminal record, this added massive costs to taxpayers in extra policing and prison costs.”

Prof. Les Iversen

Dr Sami Titi, the pathologist, was unavailable for comment and did not respond to emails. It has not been possible to identify any scientific support for his conclusions.

Julie Ryan’s family is left bemused and uncertain by this verdict. Three children are without a mother and confused about contradictory messages. The 13 year old has been posting on websites about her concerns. Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office have criticised the government for basing drugs policy on opinion rather than evidence. James Brokenshire, the Home Office Minister, in direct contradiction to his own advisers, continues with the story that cannabis is “extremely harmful”.

James Brokenshire

Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg are on record over the last 10 years as consistently calling for reform in drug policy. The Your Freedom website has been overwhelmed with requests for evidence based regulation of drugs and the legalisation of cannabis but the government is riding roughshod over this public outcry. A consultation document on a new drugs strategy was issued just over a week ago but it seems meaningless and dishonest as all the big decisions have already been taken. Cannabis campaigners, working on behalf of six million regular users in the UK, are outraged at what they see as hypocrisy, misinformation and regressive government action.

Dr Mark Eckersley, exasperated and concerned at the pathologist’s evidence said “This is simply not true. Hearing this story is more likely to cause a heart attack than the ingestion of any cannabinoid”.

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 31, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Health, Politics

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Cannabis

with one comment

God's Herb

God's Herb

I have smoked cannabis since I was 14.  There have been a few breaks, some of a few months, some of a year or two but those apart, I have smoked cannabis every day of my life for nearly 40 years.

I have come to regard weed or hash, in all seriousness, as the Rastafarians do, as “God’s herb”.  It is a sacrament, a truly positive, honourable and precious thing in my life.  Something that I thank God, I did not miss.

I grew up with smokin’ dope.  It was a fundamental part of my adolescent culture with the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, with a heady summer living the love and peace dream in Amsterdam.  LSD blew my mind in those days but a joint was always a sustaining experience.  Something I held onto.

As I grew up and got interested in business, I relished the delicious and maverick escape that I enjoyed.  I took it seriously and wrote a 40 page report for the Home Affairs Committee entitled “An Unaffordable Prejudice”.

The prejudice, misinformation and sheer nonsense has continued throughout my life.  The idiocy of downgrading cannabis to a Class C drug and then, just two years later, back up to Class B is only outdone by the crass stupidity of  failing to decriminalise it completely.  Prohibition has proved time after time to be an ineffective solution.  Worse than that, the law makes a complete ass of itself by sustaining the criminal supply and distribution of a product that is never going to go away.

Regulation is the only viable solution and would provide the framework to care for those very few who may suffer from cannabis use.

What are the dangers?  Clearly any intoxicant offers more potential for harm when used by the young, when the brain is still developing.  Despite my own experience, cannabis use should be for adults only.  In adults it has been proved to be one of the least harmful substances known to man time and time again – despite the fact that most have actually set out to prove the opposite.

Recently the popular argument has been against skunk, a strain of cannabis that can be up to 20 times stronger than that previously known.

To claim this is a recent development is simply wrong.  For at least 20 years it has been difficult to buy anything but skunk and other F1/F2 hybrids of the plant.  There are many others: Northern Lights, Haze, Blueberry, etc.  In my teens it was difficult to buy anything but Lebanese or Moroccan hashish.  In Holland where the market is partly regulated there has always been a wide choice of grass or hash from all parts of the world grown and/or processed in many different ways.

The latest suggestion is that skunk is causing psychoses in adolescents – yet the incidence of psychoses in adolescents has remained constant since records began.  This is just the lastest scaremongering.  60 years ago it was said that cannabis caused young women to be promiscuous with black men.  The standard of the argument has not improved.

It really is time that this hopeless policy against a benign, natural herbal product was stopped.  Hemp is one of the most ecologically friendly, sustainable crops in the world.  As regulated cannabis it would pull the rug from underneath a great swathe of criminality and produce billions in additional tax income.  As biofuel, building materials, fabrics and cattle feed it could help to revitalise agriculture and many other businesses.