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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘mephedrone

Cameron On Cannabis Part 5

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You can see the previous instalment here: Cameron On Cannabis Part 4.

I am still waiting for a further reply from Mr Cameron.

In the meantime, the subject of cannabis cropped up again on “Jamie’s Dream School” a Channel 4 programme in which a group of young people are given a second chance at education.  Mr Cameron was challenged by the inspirational, 17 year old Henry Gatehouse, who proposed legalisation and a £1 per gram cannabis tax.

Oh Yes?

Mr Cameron responded:

“We concluded it would be wrong to make cannabis legal for two, I think, quite good reasons.  One is, there is a link between that and mental health issues so it’s not harmless.  And I think the second thing is that if you legalise drugs you will make them even more prevalent than they are.  So I don’t think legalising is a good idea.”

Another inaccurate and misleading statement from Mr Cameron.  This time though I think we should be even more concerned.  Successive governments have stated that their main concern about drugs policy is children and young people and that they must be careful to “send the right messages”.

Nobody's Fool

In fact, the only message that governments have successfully delivered to young people again and again is that they never tell the truth about drugs.  While the Home Office throws millions every year at the Talk To Frank campaign,  the only thing it achieves is for ministers to pat themselves on the back and for the self-serving drug support industry to soak up more public money.  Frank is held in complete contempt by young people.  The misinformation and untruths told about, in particular,  cannabis, ecstasy and mephedrone are a scandal and a grave disservice to young people.

Of course, for children and young people, the use of any psychoactive substance in a still-developing brain has the potential for harm.   Cannabis should only be used by adults.  Cameron is distorting the truth though.  The links between cannabis and mental health are trivial compared to those with alcohol, cigarettes or even energy drinks.  It is dishonest and irresponsible to give such a misleading answer to a young man who has clearly done his research and knows the truth.

Cameron’s second reason though has no basis in fact at all.  All the evidence is that where a system of regulation of drugs is introduced, use goes down.  This is clearly proven in Holland, Portugal and the USA.  Cameron’s assertion is entirely false and, I regret to say, he must know that it is.  In Britain, which now has one of the most repressive drug policies in the world, young people’s consumption of drugs is one of the highest anywhere.

Once again, Cameron reveals the dishonesty at the heart of his government’s drugs policy.  This time though he is misleading and misinforming our young people.  What greater mistake can he make?

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Broken Promises. Broken Britain. Brokenshire.

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Mad? Bad? Or both?

The most important principle espoused by David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the election campaign was fairness.  They promised us that their government would be fair and by extension that the policies it pursued would be based on facts and evidence, not on prejudice, misinformation or distortion by vested interests.

This promise is broken and in the most crass, blatant and disgraceful fashion by the attempt to remove scientists from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).  Never has a more corrupt intent been revealed by a British government.  Never has a minister, James Brokenshire, demonstrated his intent to misinform, deceive and lie more clearly.  Dr Evan Harris, the former LibDem shadow science and health minister, explains the intricacies of this attempt to subvert the law here.

The Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971 was progressive legislation in that it created the ACMD and required government to seek its expert scientific advice before criminalising the use of drugs.  Because, increasingly, the government does not like the ACMD’s advice, it is now seeking to remove the Act’s requirement that there must be scientists on the council.  Is it possible to conceive of a more ridiculous or corrupt idea?

In fact, the government takes no notice of the ACMD anyway.  When ministers wanted to ban mephedrone earlier in the year they ordered the council to provide the advice that they wanted and banned it despite there being almost no evidence at all.  More members of the  ACMD then resigned and the Home Office is now trying to recruit replacements.   That may be the truth of what is happening here.  The government simply can’t find scientists prepared to sit on the council.  I wonder why?

James Brokenshire says: “Scientific advice is absolutely critical to the government’s approach to drugs and any suggestion that we are moving away from it is absolutely not true.

This is simply a bald faced lie and self-evidently so.  If scientific advice is critical, why does he wish to remove the obligation to have it available?

James Brokenshire regularly speaks untruths or dissembles on behalf of the government.  The facts prove that beyond doubt and his reputation is well established.  For instance,  the Home Office claims that there are no medicinal benefits in herbal cannabis and that this is based on advice from the ACMD.  No such advice has ever been given.   Furthermore, Professor Les Iversen, present chair of the ACMD is also a founder council member of the British Medicinal Cannabis Register (BMCR) and next week lectures on the subject “Bringing Cannabis Back into the Medicine Cabinet”

James Brokenshire is in the vanguard of this contemptible and corrupt behaviour.   He may be put forward as cannon fodder by more senior ministers because the nonsense he speaks and the positions he takes are so manifestly ridiculous.  When the truth is out and his shame is revealed he will easily be dismissed by Theresa May.  If, as Minister for Crime Prevention, he had any real interest in preventing crime he would be resisiting this attempt to subvert the law.

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.

It’s Not Drugs, It’s Drug Laws That Killed the Bradford Girls

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Forced Here By The Law

If heroin was legally available on prescription the three Bradford prostitutes would be alive today.  It is our discredited, ludicrous policy of prohibition that has led these women to their terrible deaths.  Cowardly, self-serving politicians who will not address the real issues about drugs policy have blood on their hands.

Today we also learned that the sensationalist, exploitative treatment of the death of two young men in Humberside “linked with mephedrone” was nothing but hysteria.  See the story here.  Humberside Police shares responsiblity with the media for leaping on a bandwagon, seeking kudos or some unknown advantage through lies, propaganda and misinformation.  Trying to look tough.

It’s not a good idea to use heroin or mephedrone but criminalising users and creating a lucrative black market for criminals to exploit is an absurd idea.  It’s exactly what America did with alcohol in the prohibition era when, in fact, it created organised crime.

Created By The Law

For those who become addicted to illegal drugs there is very little help available.  Almost all street crime is related to feeding a drug habit.  If, instead of the unwinnable “war on drugs” we put our money into a regulated supply and treatment facilities we would massively reduce the harm that current laws cause.

The girls in Bradford, the poor people of Jamaica, our young heroes who are dying in Afghanistan, the young man who is selling his body right this minute in Manchester, Baltimore, Hamburg or Singapore, the downtrodden people of Columbia.  They are all victims of our absurd, self-defeating drug laws.  When will our politicians and leaders stop chasing cheap political points (and expensive bribes) and face the facts?

Fighting For The Law

Legalise, regulate, tax – you pull the rug from under organised crime, you eliminate the need for most street crime, you have the resources to address the issue as a public health problem.

Transform Drug Policy Foundation has the answer.

Mephedrone – I Told You So

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Last year the formerly intelligent and sensible Alan Johnson got himself involved in the misinformation campaign against cannabis and several members of the Advisory Council On The Misuse Of Drugs resigned.  The ACMD is now unable to function and the real concern that there now is about mephedrone (see here) cannot be properly addressed.

I said this would happen but I take no pleasure in being proved right.  It is just another example of the idiotic and irrational way that our politicians deal with the drugs issue.

So while I think it is essential that the safety of mephedrone is examined, the hysterical, hang ’em high, lock ’em all up, stop them having fun brigade is out and proud yet again.

The two boys who died in Scunthorpe had also taken methadone which is an opiate substitute and known to be lethal.  I wonder what the real cause of death will prove to be?

If there is any intelligent life left in the government perhaps someone might wake up to the fact that, generally speaking, politicians and legislation cause more problems with drugs than they solve.

There is common sense to be found in the debate on drugs.  See Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

Cannabis Cover-Up Fails Again

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"I told you so!"

Whoever Alan Johnson appoints as Drugs Tsar it seems it makes no difference to the truth.  As Professor Nutt heads off to start his own “Independent Council On Drug Harms”, his replacement as Chairman of the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), Professor Les Iverson, has said that cannabis is “one of the safer recreational drugs” and has been

"Cannabis Is Not Dangerous"

“incorrectly classified as dangerous”.  He also confirms that cannabis is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.

Who's The Nutt?

Johnson’s irrational behaviour in sacking Professor Nutt has paralysed the ACMD which has a statutory role in drugs legislation.  So many members of the Council have resigned in protest at the sacking of Professor Nutt that the Home Office says it will be several months before the Council can operate again.  This is delaying the introduction of legislation on new designer drugs such as mephedrone which may really be dangerous.

It makes you wonder about the way politicians’ minds work doesn’t it?