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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘MS

Medicinal Cannabis AdVan Campaign in London.

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Artist's Impression

Artist’s Impression

Join The Campaign For Medicinal Cannabis On A Doctor’s Prescription.

Despite overwhelming evidence, the UK government insists that cannabis has “no medicinal value”.  Present policy is deeply cruel and means that at least one million people in Britain are forced to become criminals in order to deal with their pain, suffering or disability.

We must change this dreadful and unjust policy. It’s time to help rather than persecute people who genuinely need cannabis to improve their health. DONATE HERE.

The AdVan Campaign.

CLEAR is the UK’s leading drugs policy reform group with more than 270,000 followers. We will run an AdVan for one week in central London during the busy pre-Christmas period.  This will deliver the simple, direct message that you see above and it will be backed by a supporting PR campaign, lobbying of government ministers and MPs as well as further information on the CLEAR website.

Please donate whatever you can.  Every pound makes a difference.  We need to raise £3500 to run the AdVan for one week.  If we raise more we will run it for longer. DONATE HERE.

Please Donate Now!

 

AdVan2 poster

Our Simple And Reasonable Request To UK Government.

In 1998, GW Pharmaceuticals was granted a licence to grow cannabis and its cannabis oil medicine, Sativex, is now approved but doctors are prevented from prescribing it because it is so fantastically expensive.

The Dutch government approves a cannabis medicine called Bedrocan which provides exactly the same as Sativex at a tiny fraction of the price. Sativex costs between £375 – £560 per month. Bedrocan costs £35 – £95 per month.

All we ask is that if a doctor prescribes Bedrocan, the Home Office should issue an import licence. This is a narrow, tightly defined reform that will not encourage illicit use but will provide enormous help to some very poorly people. DONATE HERE.

Further Background.

Every year, thousands of medicinal cannabis users are prosecuted for possessing or growing cannabis. Often it is the only medicine that helps them with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, MS, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, depression or many of the conditions related to aging. It is also used to mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy and HIV/Aids treatments.

In November 2014, the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker resigned as a government minister because of the Conservatives’ refusal even to consider drugs policy reform. In July 2014 he met with members of CLEAR and publicly called for cannabis to be legalised for medicinal use. Other ministers are more concerned with stopping people getting high (which they are going to do anyway) than in helping those with severe medical conditions. DONATE HERE.

Other Ways You Can Help
Join CLEAR at http://clearmembers-uk.org
Visit and ‘like’ our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ClearUK
Follow us on Twitter @CLEARUK

DONATE HERE.

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Let’s Get The Dealers Off The Streets!

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Cannabis Is Not A Controlled Drug

Present policy abandons control to organised crime and street dealers.

If cannabis were properly controlled, it would be taken out of the hands of criminals. Growing, importing, distributing and retailing would become legitimate businesses, subject to proper control and regulation.

What Proper Control Would Mean

  • Regulated sales: licensed retailers, labelling of THC/CBD ratio, other ingredients, weight
  • Quality control: elimination of pesticide and fertiliser residues, bulking agents, impurities
  • Regulated commercial production, reasonable limits on domestic cultivation
  • Protecting the vulnerable: age limit, ID check, harm reduction information

We Need CLEAR Common Sense About Cannabis.

advan-poster

Download PDF (10MB)

A Safer Britain

  • Less crime of all types
  • Police can focus on violent and harmful crime
  • Lower alcohol consumption
  • Fewer road accidents and injuries/fatalities
  • Fewer children using cannabis
  • Quality controlled cannabis with no harmful adulterants
  • Fewer fires from hidden cannabis farms

A Healthier Britain

  • Lower alcohol consumption
  • Less use of dangerous/harmful drugs
  • Medicinal use: Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, chronic. pain, dementia, diabetes, epilepsy, glaucoma, MS,. Parkinson’s, stroke therapy.
  • Preventative therapy against auto immune and neurodegenerative diseases
  • More funding for healthcare

Taxing The UK Cannabis Market

CLEAR’s policies are based on independent, expert research carried out by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit in 2011.

Download Here (PDF)

How To Regulate Cannabis In Britain

CLEAR’s detailed proposals for cannabis regulation so as to minimise all health and social harms of cannabis, protect the vulnerable and allow access to medicinal cannabis

Download Here (PDF)

References:

The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime, March 2014
Read here
How Smoking Marijuana Might Be The Best Way To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, January 2014
Read Here
Few Problems With Cannabis for California, October 2013
Read Here
The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance, July 2013
Read Here
Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption, May 2013
Read Here
Why Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths, December 2011
Read Here
What can we learn from the Dutch cannabis coffeeshop system? September 2011
Read Here
Study: Legal Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Encourage Kids to Smoke More Pot, November 2011
Read Here

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‘Taxing the UK Cannabis Market’, 2011
Read Here
A summary of the health harms of drugs. NHS, 2011.
Read Here
Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids. A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature 2000 – 2011, NORML, 2011.
Read Here
Bringing cannabis back into the medicine cabinet, Prof. Les Iversen, 2010.
Video here
Dutch among lowest cannabis users in Europe, November 2009
Read More
Adulterants & Cutting Agents Found in Cannabis Resin, 2009
Read Here
Key Marijuana Compound Beats Current Alzheimer’s Drugs, August 2006
Read Here
US Patent 6630507, Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants, 2001
Read Here

 

 

CLEAR Medicinal Cannabis Leaflet

with 51 comments

Download the leaflet here.

Please print and distribute widely.

An Appeal To Andrew Lansley

with 32 comments

Dear Mr Lansley,

Medicinal Cannabis

I am writing to you about the urgent necessity to permit the prescribing of medicinal cannabis by doctors.

Please do not refer me to the Home Office. Its intransigent position on the subject amounts to a scandalous denial of science and cruel mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of British citizens.  This is a health issue which requires your attention and care for those in pain and suffering.

There is now an overwhelming body of peer reviewed, published research that proves beyond doubt the efficacy of medicinal cannabis for the treatment of many conditions.  Britain is becoming increasingly isolated as a place where patients are denied access to the medicine they need.  Utterly absurd is that patients from the EU can bring medicinal cannabis into Britain under the protection of the Schengen Agreement but British residents risk prison for using exactly the same substance.

Every country in Europe except France and Britain now has some form of medicinal cannabis provision.  15 US states now permit medical marijuana on a doctor’s recommendation and Israel has a fast expanding programme. There are huge cost savings and benefits to be gained and enormous reductions in harm from side effects of poisonous pharmaceutical products.

There are already many instances in Britain where MS patients have been refused Sativex on cost grounds and so have been forced into illegal purchase or cultivation and have then been prosecuted as criminals. This is a shame and disgrace on our nation and I appeal to you to take steps to end it.

Perhaps you do not realise the transformational effect that medicinal cannabis can have on some people’s lives?  Almost miraculous results are being achieved, particularly with MS, Crohn’s and fibromyalgia. People who would otherwise be trapped by pain and disability are able to lead productive lives with the help of medicinal cannabis.

Please Mr Lansley, will you arrange to meet me and a delegation of people whose lives are literally saved by the use of medicinal cannabis?  This cruel and demeaning policy cannot be allowed to continue in the face of overwhelming evidence.  Safe, high quality, standardised dose cannabis is now available from Bedrocan in Holland, the Dutch government’s supplier and is exported all over Europe to fill doctors’ prescriptions.  How much longer must British citizens wait?

Co-ordinated action is already underway for dozens of patients to take the Home Office to judicial review for its refusal to grant import licenses for Bedrocan.  This is at huge cost in public money and people’s lives. You could take steps to end this suffering now.  You could enable the NHS to start making huge cost savings immediately.  This issue is not going away.

CLEAR is a new team of committed professionals that is determined to bring this issue to the top of the political agenda.  Please arrange to meet me and learn at first hand how much good you could do by a change of policy that is, in any case, inevitable. Don’t make those people in pain and suffering wait any longer.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Reynolds

Send a copy of this letter to your MP.  Download and print here.

 

 

A Tale Of Two Conferences

with 33 comments

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.

It was at its best as the brave Clark French and Cure Ukay gave their personal testimonies as medicinal cannabis users at the European Student Drug Policy Reform Conference.  It was at its worst when Peter Hitchens confronted me and Sir Ian Gilmore  at the University of Bedfordshire “A Ceasefire In The War On Drugs?” debate.

The Cannabis Panel

I am so proud to have been associated with both Clark’s and Cure’s contributions at the Manchester conference last weekend.  There were tears in the audience as first Clark, who has MS, then Cure, who has Crohn’s,  explained the reality of their daily lives and the relief that cannabis provides.  The following day, Clark had a relapse and he hobbled to the front to explain, his legs in spasm.  He went outside to take his medicine and literally skipped back into the conference hall.  It was like watching Christ telling someone to take up his bed and walk.  It was intensely moving.  It refreshed my enthusiasm.  It reignited my rage.  They are both warriors for the cause of great courage and dedication.  They are my inspiration.

The conference was a worthy and well-organised event.  Lembit Opik gave a barnstorming speech which had them whooping and cheering in the aisles. There were fascinating contributions from Sebastian Saville and Niamh Eastwood of Release, Darryl Bickler of the Drug Equality Alliance, Chris Hallam and Tom Lloyd of the  International Drug Policy Consortium.  There were very practical workshops on campaigning and an engrossing lecture from Chris Rose of Campaign Strategies.  I know I’m biased but I think Clark and Cure were the stars of the show!

And so to London on Wednesday evening for the debate at Kings College University, near Waterloo.  As I walked into the lecture theatre, there was Peter Hitchens chatting with Sir Ian Gilmore. I marched straight up and introduced myself, explaining to Hitchens that I am responsible for the four Press Complaints Commission complaints that he is currently facing.  I enquired after his brother’s health and he gave me a long and detailed explanation about Christopher’s oseophageal cancer.  He was extremely courteous to me.  I took my seat directly in front of him.

Ceasefire In The War On Drugs?

Hitchens spoke first.  He is the arch dissembler, presenting facts in such a way that he draws you towards a false conclusion. To be fair, he is a fine speaker but at the heart of his argument is an intellectual vacuum.

Sir Ian Gilmore, ex-president of the Royal College of Physicians went next.  He was quiet and dignified and presented a very scientific approach to harm reduction. Finally, Tim Hollis, Chief Constable of Humberside, stood in for David Blunkett. He was an entertaining speaker. I always rather like intelligent policemen.  They have a difficult job to do and I think the good ones are very valuable to society.

So to questions…and I was fidgeting in my seat with impatience!  I had my go, talked about the harms of prohibition, about taking the more pragmatic approach with a regulated system and the evil injustice of the denial of medicinal cannabis.  Right in front of me Hitchens was visibly seething. When I pointed out that his brother is a passionate advocate of medical marijuana he snapped.  He pointed at me, glared and shouted “Leave my brother out of it!”.

Steve Rolles from Transform spoke as did Harry Shapiro from Drugscope. Tom Lloyd, who had also spoken in Manchester contributed and there were many other intelligent observations and comments.  Hitchens was clearly unhappy.

We went back to the panel and Hitchens was aggressive in his response, gesturing at me and talking of  “idiots” and accusing Sir Ian of talking “drivel”.  I heckled him. he promised to “deal with you later” with another Alan Sugar-style stab of the  finger.  Sir Ian was next and he rather politely suggested that “Peter has his head in the sand” – at which Hitchens exploded!

He grabbed his coat and bag and made as if to leave.  It was a very deliberate flounce in high dudgeon.  Later it was suggested he did it for dramatic effect but no, it made him look foolish.  He was flummoxed by the opposition.

The chairman, ex-BBC presenter John Silverman, skillfully restrained him and persuaded him to stay.  In his closing statement Hitchens quoted some statistics from Portugal in an effort to disprove that country’s success with decriminalisation.  It would be against the rules for me to accuse him of anything more than dissembling but no one in the room recognised any truth in his figures.

It was an entertaining evening and a good opportunity to raise the profile of  CLEAR.  I’m back next week for another session entitled “How the World’s View of the Drugs ‘war’ is Changing”.

Cannabis Embarrassment At The Home Office

with 75 comments

The re-scheduling of Sativex, the cannabis tincture marketed by GW Pharmaceuticals is causing huge embarrassment at the Home  Office.

Everybody’s been able to go along with the white lie up to now that Sativex is some sort of highly complex, super scientific, super medicine containing cannabinoids. True enough, GW Pharma has put millions into development and testing in order to jump through the hoops the government has demanded.  At the end of the day though, all Sativex consists of is a tincture, an alcohol extract of herbal cannabis.  It’s made simply by gently heating a blend of herbal cannabis in ethanol and then adding a little peppermint oil to taste.

An Honourable Man?

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved Sativex for the treatment of muscle spasticity in MS.  I understand that an approval for the treatment of cancer pain is expected shortly.  The problem for the Home Office is that Sativex now has to be re-scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.   Cannabis is presently in schedule one as having no medicinal value.  The Advisory Council on the Misuse of  Drugs (ACMD) has recommended this week that Sativex be in schedule four, alongside  a variety of minor tranquilisers.  However, as the ACMD says, “it will not be appropriate to refer to “Sativex”, which is a proprietary name, in any amendment to the misuse of drugs regulations, and that a suitable description of the relevant component(s) of “Sativex” will have to be scheduled.”

This is going to be tough for James Brokenshire to face up to.  GW specifies that Sativex contains approximately equal proportions of THC and CBD but that’s not the whole truth.  It also contains as many as 400 other chemical compounds which occur naturally in the plant including at least 85 cannabinoids (nobody is exactly sure how many cannabinoids there are or their effects).  You see there’s not really any other accurate way of describing Sativex except to call it cannabis.  So how can Mr Brokenshire possibly move it to schedule four?  He endlessly repeats the propaganda that “there are no medicinal benefits in cannabis”.

Either Mr Brokenshire has to come clean and accept that his past position was incorrect or he has to promote some further deception.

I trust he will prove to be an honourable man.

European Parliament – Public Hearing On Cannabis Regulation

with 7 comments

The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) has organised a public hearing on cannabis regulation at the European Parliament on 8th December 2010.  See here for full details.

In March 2009, the European Commission published the “Report on Global Illicit Drug Markets 1998 – 2007” .  This concludes that current policies of prohibition are failing in their main objective to reduce the demand and supply of illicit drugs.  Current policies may also be a crucial factor in generating and increasing harm to individual drug users, their direct surroundings and society at large.

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in its 2010 annual report, Europe faces new challenges posed by changes in drug supply and use.  The report also highlights the increased usage of cocaine, heroin and of a record number of new synthetic drugs.

ENCOD says that prohibitionist policies have failed to tackle the issues of drugs and drug use effectively and it is time to investigate alternative approaches.  European authorities must produce a thorough impact assessment of the costs of the current policy of prohibition and the economic benefits of decriminalisation and, as a start, the regulation of the cannabis market.

Victor Hamilton

It has been calculated that cannabis regulation would save billions in law enforcement costs, foster harm reduction, weaken the illegal cartels, and provide the opportunity to generate considerable income from taxes. The examples of California, Spain, The Netherlands and Portugal lead the way.

Victor Hamilton, the well known cannabis campaigner and former Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) parliamentary candidate, liaises as a UK representative with ENCOD.   He has submitted the following letter to ENCOD in advance of the public hearing on the current state of cannabis in Britain.

Dear Joep,
Thank you for the invitation to attend the hearing on 8th December 2010.  I am afraid that both my health and the expense involved prevent me from attending.

However, as you know, ending the prohibition of cannabis and encouraging more and better use of the plant in all its forms is my main concern.  Cannabis offers many benefits medicinally, recreationally, spiritually and, as hemp, in ecologically sound fuel, construction materials, paper and plastics alternatives.  Prohibition of cannabis is a far greater crime than any perpetrated by those who use it.  It is a scandal and a sad litany of wasted opportunity and resources.

In the UK, based on research I have done and confirmed by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit (IDMU), a legalise, regulate and tax regime could produce between £4 – 6 billion pa in new tax revenue.

For the benefit of the hearing, please allow me to update you on the present situation in Britain.

Calls For Decriminalisation

There have been calls for a relaxation of cannabis laws from a number of sources:  The Bar Council, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians, The Lancet, Professor Roger Pertwee, Professor David Nutt and the Association of Chief Police Officers.  The new coalition government’s “Your Freedom” website was swamped with calls for legalisation.

Reaction To Propositon 19

The cannabis community was eager with anticipation for the Proposition 19 vote in California, despite a dearth of media attention.  Even the BBC, obliged under its charter to provide balanced coverage, found very little time for an issue that affects at least six million Britons.  Strangely, the best of the lot was The Daily Telegraph, formerly known as the most conservative paper, it told us more about what was happening than any of the others.

The result was a disappointment and reminded us how our own campaigning has suffered from internal divisions and a lack of focus.  Nevertheless. legalisation seems inevitable in the US, even if only at state level, within the next few years.

Formation of British Medicinal Cannabis Register

This exciting initiative to create a database of medicinal users in Britain was announced only in November.  I was honoured to be invited to sit on the BMCR council as a medicinal user representative.  Other members of the council include very eminent individuals such as Baroness Meacher, the MP Paul Flynn, Matthew Atha of IDMU and Dr Malcolm Vandenburg, the pre-eminent expert witness on drugs.

The real coup though was the announcement of Professor Leslie Iversen as a council member.  Professor Iversen is the government’s chief scientific advisor on drugs.  Yes that’s the British government which continues to state that cannabis has “no medicinal benefits”.

Subversion of Schengen Agreement

Several British medicinal users travelled to Holland for prescriptions from a doctor believing that their medicine was then protected by the Schengen Agreement.  At first the Home Office agreed but then changed its position to say that British residents are not covered.  The ridiculous situation now is that any non-UK resident can bring prescribed medicinal cannabis into Britain and use it without restriction. A UK resident cannot.

Increasing Evidence Of Medicinal Benefits

There is a never ending flow of information from all around the world on the extraordinary power of cannabis as a medicine.  Facebook groups, blogs and organisations such as the LCA and UKCIA keep spreading the news.  Particularly strong evidence has been revealed for cannabinoids as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, head, neck, breast and prostate cancer, fibromyalgia, ADHD and migraine.  The mainstream media seem only interested in scandal and scare stories. They publish news about vastly expensive new pharmaceutical products but not about cannabis cures.

Confusion At The Home Office

Understandably, the British government’s position looks increasingly absurd.  The Home Office veers between describing cannabis as very harmful, harmful, dangerous, extremely dangerous and changes its story every time it is challenged.

Approval of Sativex

Sativex won welcome approval from the medicines regulator as a treatment for spasticity in MS. Despite the fact that Sativex is nothing more than a tincture of herbal cannabis, the government now maintains that “cannabis has no medicinal benefits in herbal form”.  Sativex is approximately eight times the cost of herbal medicinal cannabis and many health authorities are refusing to fund it.

New UK Drug Strategy

The government is to announce a new drugs strategy in December.  There is expected to be a shift in emphasis towards healthcare interventions rather than criminal sanctions but no move away from prohibition.  The more liberal views expressed by both David Cameron and Nick Clegg over the last 10 years seem to have changed now they have come to power.

Joep, I hope this is helpful and informative for the hearing and for you and your colleagues.

Victor Hamilton