Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘legal high

Legal Highs Banned At UK Festivals. So Stick To The Safe Stuff: Cannabis, Ecstasy And LSD.

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The Madness Of Queen Theresa Is Killing The British People.

The Madness Of Queen Theresa Is Killing The British People.

The madness of Queen Theresa is killing the British people.

She presides over a government that has succeeded in making alcohol stronger and more easily available, leading to the highest rate of liver disease in the world.

"I command thee!  Stop smoking pot"

“I command thee! Stop smoking pot”

She sides with King Canute’s advisors in believing she can hold back the tide of demand for cannabis and ecstasy, drugs that are safely consumed by millions.  Her deranged efforts to ‘ban them, ban them, ban them’ have led to the rise in ‘legal highs‘, far more dangerous, untested, unpredictable, sold at enormous profit without any control at all.

800px-Spice_drugNow she’s desperately trying to shut the stable door that she opened .  According to her bible, The Daily Mail,  “More than 20 UK music festivals have banned the sale of ‘legal highs’ at their events this summer”.

The only sensible advice if you’re going to a festival this year is beer and wine in moderation but stick to the safe stuff.  Cannabis has never killed anyone, neither has LSD.  About 25 deaths have been attributed to ‘E’ but that’s with about 500,000 doses taken every weekend for 30 years.

So roll a spliff (tobacco free), maybe pop a pill or two.  Stay safe.

Glastonbury_2013

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 4, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Synthetic Cannabinoids. A Nasty Business, By Nasty People, With Nasty Results.

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Totnes, Devon. Worldwide Centre For Synthetic Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are powerful substances.  They are fundamental to life.  With that power comes danger.  Modern science and chemistry allows unscrupulous businessmen to exploit and endanger young people as they follow the perfectly natural path of all youngsters – to experiment and to get “high”.

In mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, the endocannabinoid system regulates all aspects of physical and mental health.  Evolution, Mother Nature, God, Science – whatever name you assign to it – has endowed the cannabis plant as the only natural source of cannabinoids outside the body.  Self-evidently, we are in a chicken and egg dilemma here about names and terminology but the facts remain the same, cannabinoids are vital substances.  The cannabis plant exists in a symbiotic relationship with mankind.  No wonder that some call it sacred.

The great immoral evil that is prohibition seeks to deny access to cannabis.  So, in our modern, technological world, inevitably, people find a way to circumvent the law.  This was the birth of “legal highs”, the creation of “analogues” or slight molecular variations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), notorious as the ingredient in cannabis that gets you “high”.  In fact, the benefits of cannabis are much more complex than that.  It is the interaction of around 100 cannabinoids in the plant together with terpines, flavonoids and other compounds that produce the delightful and therapeutic effects.

The effect of synthetic cannabinoids – “Spice” was the biggest brand name ever – is vile.  It is really, truly horrible.  It has none of the inherent, natural, protective balance of real cannabis.  It causes paranoia, anxiety, fear, delusions, all the symptoms that describe psychosis, the term that has been used to demonise cannabis which, in its natural form, is actually very safe and contains anti-psychotic agents.  Worse than that, Spice can lead to elevated blood pressure, heart palpitations, seizures and vomiting.  As well as the lack of natural, counterbalancing ingredients, it is also believed to bind more strongly to the cannabinoid receptors, increasing the duration and potency of its effects.

In Britain, the centre of the synthetic cannabinoid business is Totnes, an apparently sleepy market town in Devon.  In fact, it is an important hub of the synthetic cannabinoid business in Europe and worldwide.  Here, in a grubby warehouse, on a run down industrial estate, completely untested chemical compounds are imported from China, mixed with other ingredients of dubious source and then distributed around the Britain and the world, largely to be sold to young people and children, completely outside the control, moral or legal regulation of any responsibility.

If Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall wants to do something effective to protect young people, instead of breaking down the doors of people growing a few cannabis plants he should be checking out the contents of this warehouse in Totnes.  It is a combination of laziness and ignorance that the police aren’t dealing with this.  Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are far, far more dangerous to our young people and our communities than the natural and generally benign cannabis plant.

Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are usually dried herbs or plant material that has been sprayed with cannabinoid(s) and marketed as a smoking material.  Often the plant material itself has some sort of psychoactive effect.  These include blue water lily (Nymphaea caerulea), dwarf skullcap (Scutellaria nana), Maconha brava (Zornia latifolia or Z. diphylla), Siberian motherwort (Leonurus sibiricus), Indian warrior (Pedicularis densiflora) and lion’s tail (Leonotis leonuru). Large amounts of Vitamin E have also been found in some samples, possibly to mask detection of the cannabinoids.  The cannabinoids themselves are usually JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, HU-210 and cannabicyclohexanol. They might be used individually or in any ratio or combination that is convenient or profitable.

From 23rd December 2009, these known ingredients of Spice were prohibited and are now “controlled” under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as if they are cannabis.  However, they are very difficult to detect and many more synthetic cannabinoids have been developed.  In Totnes there may be a large amount of left over Spice, re-packaged as something else, possibly even mixed with new synthetics which this “Mr Big” has formulated for him by his expert chemist who he told me is based in Austria.  Who knows what these products contain? Mr Big and the Austrian chemist engage in frequent email correspondence and samples are sent back and forth as ever more effective attempts are made to evade the law and produce stronger and more profitable chemicals.

A year or so ago I was invited inside this warehouse myself and it opened my eyes to the extremes that some people are prepared to go to make a fast buck.  It is dark, dank and clammy.  It reeks of slightly rotten or putrid contents.  There are boxes and crates spread in no apparent order everywhere.  There are large envelopes and plastic containers on shelves containing indeterminate substances that look like dried mushrooms, herbs and plant material.  There are also unlabelled powders and pills and, surprisingly for something that is now supposed to be against the law to possess or sell, large quantities of packets that are labelled “Spice”, although what they actually contain is uncertain.

Mr Big is surrounded by a small group of sycophants, some work in his warehouse, some are controlled by gifts and “entertainment”.  Downstairs in the dingy warehouse groups of people sit around smoking.

Upstairs in the office is even more worrying.  There’s everything you would expect at a thriving mail order business.  People working on computers, answering telephones, packing orders and yet more strange substances and distinctly dodgy looking products.  I am shown a tea caddy-like container, covered in Chinese decoration and writing.  I’m told it is the very latest synthetic cannabinoid imported from China.  It’s a fine white powder that glistens slightly. Then I’m introduced to the manufacturing process.

Drug Mixer

A large red “Kitchen Aid” food mixer, the sort you would find in a professional kitchen, is taken off the shelf and Mr Big produces a football sized lump of squidgy, black, supposedly inert, base material.  Yes, it looks just like squidgy, black hash but what exactly it contains I have no idea and neither, I should think, does Mr Big.  Into the mixing bowl goes a generous handful of this gunk and then the cannabinoid is sprinkled over it. There’s no measurement or calculation or care involved .  It’s entirely haphazard and, it has to be said, reckless.  The mixer is cranked up to maximum and left to do its work with just one more slug of the white powder for luck.  Soon it will be cut into small portions and distributed through head shops and by mail order for unsuspecting people to try.

Yes, I tried it myself.  It was horrendous.  I am a very experienced cannabis user of over 40 years standing.  I’ve tried and enjoyed the strongest varieties, be it Nepalese, Afghan or Pakistani hash, concentrated oil, Thai sticks, the finest medicinal product from Bedrocan in Holland and MMJ dispensaries in the USA.  Nothing could have prepared me for the potency and horrible  effect of this Totnes poison.

I crumbled a very small amount into my favourite metal pipe, lit it and took a very gentle pull, just enough to get it burning.  Within moments I had the most powerful and unpleasant sensation.  Every negative, nasty and unwanted effect that I’ve experienced from anything cannabis related was there.  Previously, the only bad effects I’ve had from the real thing are when I’ve eaten too much but this was much worse than that.  I was instantly on edge, feeling slightly panicky and breathing very quickly.  It took fifteen minutes to wear off and the rest of the small sample that Mr Big had given me went straight in the bin.

So what’s the answer to this?  Ban it?  Lock up Mr Big and throw away the key?

Not at all.  Prohibition is a dangerous and irresponsible policy that always causes more harm than it prevents. Remember, Spice is already banned but it hasn’t made any difference to Mr Big and he probably doesn’t even know himself which products in his sordid inventory are allowed and which aren’t.  It would probably keep the local drug testing laboratory busy for a year before they manage to go through them all.

These synthetic cannabinoids and all “legal highs” whether or not they’ve yet been banned, are the product of prohibition.  They would not exist, nor pose any significant problem, were it not for the ludicrous, self-defeating and harmful policy followed by the British government and other misguided administrations all over the world.

Mr Big and his Austrian chemist will be happy to continue designing new chemicals to sell to our children and there are plenty of unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers who will service their evil trade.

The only answer is to regulate, to introduce a system of licensing, age restrictions and consumer protection.  It won’t eliminate the problem entirely but at least it will give us some degree of control, because prohibition provides none.

Mr Big doesn’t give a damn.  Although he has a family of his own including small children, all he is concerned with are the hundreds of thousands of pounds he has made by turning Totnes into a worldwide centre for his disgusting trade.  We must take responsibility, regulate, control and protect and in due course, Mr Big will get what’s coming to him.

I am pleased to announce that CLEAR will be launching an information campaign about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids.

The ultimate answer is to end the prohibition of cannabis.

Advisory Council On The Misuse of Drugs Meeting, 18th November 2010

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I attended this meeting last Thursday at Church House, just around the corner from the Houses of Parliament.

There were approximately 35 members of the council in attendance, sitting around a huge U shaped table with perhaps 20 people in the public seats.  Inevitably, such a huge meeting could only touch on adminstrative matters and formalities.  Clearly, most of the ACMD’s work is done in much smaller working groups.  However, there was an interesting Q&A session and I was pleased to experience a council meeting.  I wouldn’t recommend it for light entertainment though!

Prof. Leslie Iversen

Professor Leslie Iversen was in the chair for the last time. His post and those of eight other members have been advertised and their replacements will be appointed as from 1st January 2011.  These are voluntary positions with members receiving only expenses and subsistence payments for their work.  They undertake an onerous and important responsibility and I commend them for their public service.

Full minutes should be available on the Home Office website here within a few weeks.  However the main items of interest were:

  • the ACMD’s response to the Home Office’s drug strategy consultation
  • a report on anabolic steroids
  • a report on the issuing of foil by drug clinics as an alternative to injection
  • a report on 2-DPMP, marketed as the “Ivory Wave ” legal high
  • a request to report on khat, the herbal product from East Africa that contains cathinone, the same active ingredient as mephedrone
  • a request to report on cocaine use after a recent report placed Britain at the top of the European league table

Then we came to the Q&A session and, of course, yours truly had a question prepared.  First though there was a large contingent of the Somalian community present appealing for the prohibition of khat.

I have to say that nothing I have heard about either mephedrone or khat has interested me or persuaded me to experiment.  There were a number of emotional and passionate speeches rather than questions; one from an ex-khat addict, one from a Somalian psychiatrist and others from community members. It’s clear that khat does cause harm but it saddened me that the only solution being suggested was prohibition.  I understand this as a knee jerk reaction but it won’t work.  All it will do is drive use undergroud and make the problem worse.  Professor Iversen himself commented that the price of khat where it has been banned is 20 times that of where it is legal.  If prohibition is enacted in Britain all we will be doing is playing straight into the hands of criminal gangs yet again.

I asked the council whether there wasn’t an urgent need for it to update its advice to the government on the medicinal benefits of cannabis.  I cited the recent MHRA approval of Sativex which is, of course, nothing more than a tincture of herbal cannabis.  I also mentioned that Arizona had just become the 15th state in America to introduce a medical marijuana programme and that Israel has recently announced a massive increase in growing facilities and dispensaries.

I am paraphrasing here, of course, but Professor Iversen threw up his hands in horror at being asked to review cannabis again when he has already done so three times.  The general view from the council seemed to be that whatever was said to government on this subject,  no notice would be taken.  I shall be following up my oral question with a letter to Profesor Iversen.  We have to expose this Home Office lie that there are no medicinal benefits from herbal cannabis and that this is based on advice from the ACMD.  It isn’t.  It’s a government deception.

For me the most important part of the day was the opportunity to introduce myself in person to Professor Iversen.  I thanked him for agreeing to become a founder council member of the British Medicinal Cannabis Register.  He said how enthusiastic he was about the register and that he has been an advocate of medicinal cannabis since the 1990s.

Home Office Drug Strategy Consultation

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All over the BBC this morning is the story that addicts may have their benefits withdrawn if they refuse treatment.  This, apparently,  is a proposal included in the Home Office’s new Drug Strategy consultation document.

Where is this document?  It’s not on the Home Office website.  That’s a bit strange for something that purports to be about consulting with the public isn’t it?

I had to phone the Home Office press office to get a copy.  I shouldn’t have to be doing this for the government but you can download it here:

Home Office Drug Strategy Consultation Document

Theresa May and James Brokenshire, the ministers responsible for this, should remember that they are not in office to preserve the status quo or cook up policies between themselves based on the misinformation that the Home Office currently promotes.  Their first responsiblity after their duty to the Queen is to the public.  Consultation is not something they should pay lip service to, nor is it something they can pick or choose.   It should determine  their actions.

As part of this consultation, the Home Office should take into account the tens of thousands of people who have used the Your Freedom website to call for relaxation in the drug laws and particularly the legalisation of cannabis.

I urge everybody with any interest in the drugs issue to download, complete and return the consultation document.  It’s presented as a Q&A form.  I also suggest that you keep a copy and send a copy to your MP.  Regrettably the Home Office doesn’t have a good record on keeping track of what the public says to it.  It loses a lot of things.

On the face of it, I support the idea that if you’re a heroin, cocaine, alcohol or prescription drug addict and you’re offered treatment but refuse it then you shouldn’t be able to live on benefits.   That seems entirely just.   The danger is that just as current drug laws drive addicts to crime and prostitution so will this.  This is progress though.  There has to be personal responsibility but also some flexibility to ensure this doesn’t become another self-defeating policy.   Most important of all, possession of drugs for personal use and/or social supply must be taken out of the criminal law.

The other headline grabbing proposal is that the government should be able to impose a temporary 12 month ban on “new substances”.  This is designed to tackle the danger of “legal highs” – a danger mainly of the government’s own making because of its policy of prohibition.   There is a real glimmer of hope and intelligence here though because “Possession of a temporarily banned substance for personal use would not be a criminal offence to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young people”.  I applaud this.  It shows that it is possible to get common sense  from the Home Office.  There is hope yet!

***UPDATE***

As I go to press  (oh, alright, as my finger hovers over the “publish” button), the consultation document has become available on the Home Office website.  A little tardy but better late than never.

You can respond to this consultation until 30th September 2010.  Make sure you do.