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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘petition

Another Pack Of Lies On Cannabis From The UK Government.

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bedrocan2

Yet another cannabis petition amongst hundreds of similar pleas was filed earlier this autumn.  This one though is more tightly focused on removing cannabis from schedule 1, which defines it as having no medicinal value.  The petition is also commendably concise but characterises itself as a ‘demand‘ that cannabis be rescheduled, an unfortunate choice of words.

resched petition graphicNevertheless, congratulations are due in that it has exceeded the threshold of 10,000 signatures which means the government must respond.  That response is now in and it is predictably dishonest, dismissive and authoritarian in its tone.  The Home Office has responsibility for drugs policy so it has drafted the response but it surely must have consulted with the Department of Health.

In fact, I was told only this week by a senior minister that “… the search into the medicinal use of cannabis is something that falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Health.”  That may be a subtle shift in policy from which we can draw some hope.  But I fear that the response to this petition offers no hope at all.  It is stubborn, obstinate, inaccurate and in denial of evidence and experience.

To be clear, the Home Office has been systematically lying and misleading the British people about cannabis for at least 50 years.  The Department of Health is timid on the issue, leaves the public statements to the Home Office heavies and seems more interested in generating fee income for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), than in actually treating patients effectively.

I analyse the response paragraph by paragraph.

“Herbal cannabis is listed in Schedule 1 as a drug with no recognised medicinal uses outside research. A substantial body of scientific evidence shows it is harmful and can damage human health.”

By far the majority of scientists and doctors now recognise that cannabis has real and significant medicinal uses.  Of course it is possible that cannabis can cause harm, as can any substance.  However, there is no scientific evidence that shows cannabis as being any more harmful than over-the-counter medicines or many common foods.  Professor Les Iversen, chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, is on the record saying: “cannabis is a safer drug than aspirin and can be used long term without serious side effects”.

“The Government will not encourage the use of a Schedule 1 controlled drug based on anecdotal evidence. It is important that a medicine is very thoroughly trialled to ensure it meets rigorous standards before being licensed and placed on the market so that doctors and patients are sure of its efficacy and safety. “

It is not the government’s role to encourage the use of any drug as medicine, that is the role of a doctor.  Only by removing cannabis from schedule 1 can that decision be placed in doctors’ hands.  There is a vast quantity of peer-reviewed, published scientific evidence on the  medicinal use of cannabis including human clinical trials. It is false to suggest that only anecdotal evidence is available.  See ‘Medicinal Cannabis: The Evidence’.  Thousands of doctors and millions of patients are sure of the efficacy and safety of cannabis based on existing research, trials and experience.  Many commonly prescribed medicines have nowhere near as much evidence behind them as cannabis.

“Cannabis in its raw form (herbal cannabis) is not recognised as having any medicinal purposes in the UK. There is already a clear regime in place to enable medicines (including those containing controlled drugs) to be developed and subsequently prescribed and supplied to patients via healthcare professionals. This regime is administered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which issues Marketing Authorisations for drugs that have been tried and tested for their safety and efficacy as medicines in the UK.”

The lack of recognition for the medicinal purposes of cannabis is a grave error with no evidence that supports it.  Cannabis is a traditional medicine which recorded history shows has been used safely and effectively for at least 5,000 years. The only thing that stands in the way of cannabis being prescribed by doctors is its schedule 1 status.  The MHRA is a diversion and is irrelevant.  It exists to trial and regulate new medicines and requires a £100,000 application fee before very costly clinical trials take place. This is an unnecessary obstacle to a traditional medicine which contains more than 400 compounds.  The MHRA process is designed for potentially dangerous, single molecule drugs and is not applicable to cannabis.

“It is up to organisations to apply for Marketing Authorisation for products that they believe have potential medicinal purposes so that these can be subject to the same stringent regime and requirements that all medicines in the UK are subjected to.”

Many substances and drugs which have medicinal purposes are regulated either as Traditional Herbal Products or food supplements.  It is the schedule 1 status of cannabis which prevents it being regulated and controlled in this way which is far more appropriate given its very low potential for harm and the very wide range of conditions for which it can be useful.

“Since 2010 UK patients can use the cannabis-based medicine ‘Sativex’ for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. ‘Sativex’ can also be prescribed for other conditions at the prescribing doctor’s risk. ‘Sativex’ was rigorously tested for its safety and efficacy before receiving approval, and is distinguished from cannabis in its raw form. It is a spray which is standardised in composition, formulation and dose and developed to provide medicinal benefits without a psychoactive effect. Due to its low psychoactive profile ‘Sativex’ was rescheduled from Schedule 1 and placed in Schedule 4 Part 1 to enable its availability for use in healthcare in the UK.”

Sativex is a massively expensive form of cannabis oil which is not prescribed because of its cost.  It is at least 10 times the price of Bedrocan medicinal cannabis as regulated by the Netherlands government which could be immediately made available in the UK.   It is a deliberate falsehood to claim that Sativex does not have a psychoactive effect.  The statutory document ‘Summary of Product Characteristics’ describes “euphoric mood” as a “common”  side effect.  The scheduling of Sativex in schedule 4 is a deception requiring 75 words falsely to distinguish it from other forms of cannabis whereas every other drug in every other schedule requires just one word.

“The MHRA is open to considering marketing approval applications for other medicinal cannabis products should a product be developed. As happened in the case of ‘Sativex’, the Home Office will also consider issuing a licence to enable trials of new medicines to take place under the appropriate ethical approvals. “

Cannabis, which contains 400 + compounds is not suitable for MHRA regulation which is designed for single molecule drugs which are potentially dangerous. There is no significant danger from the use of cannabis when prescribed by a doctor.  This is already well established in scientific evidence and the referral to the MHRA is a diversion and an excuse for failing simply to put the decision in doctors’ hands.

“In view of the potential harms associated with the use of cannabis in its raw form and the availability of avenues for medicinal development, the Government does not consider it appropriate to make changes to the control status of raw or herbal cannabis. “

The government has offered no evidence of the potential harms to which it gives such weight.  No “development” of cannabis is required.  It is a traditional medicine consisting of the dried flowers of the cannabis plant.

“The Government’s view is that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and regulations made under the Act continue to facilitate the development of medicines which are made from Schedule 1 controlled drugs. The legislation is aimed at protecting the public from the potential harms of drugs and is not an impediment to research into these drugs or development of medicines.”

The government’s view is intransigent and as demonstrated by this response is ignorant of the available evidence.  This response reinforces the government’s clear intention not to consider the evidence and simply to deny it.  The evidence shows that the potential harms of cannabis as medicine are trivial and inconsequential.  If its schedule 1 status was not an impediment to research, there would already be a great deal more research into cannabis as medicine.

“In 2013 the Home Office undertook a scoping exercise targeted at a cross-section of the scientific community, including the main research bodies, in response to concerns from a limited number of research professionals that Schedule 1 status was generally impeding research into new drugs.

Our analysis of the responses confirmed a high level of interest, both generally and at institution level, in Schedule 1 research. However, the responses did not support the view that Schedule 1 controlled drug status impedes research in this area. While the responses confirmed Home Office licensing costs and requirements form part of a number of issues which influence decisions to undertake research in this area, ethics approval was identified as the key consideration, while the next most important consideration was the availability of funding.”

The Home Office is entirely untrustworthy and dishonest on anything to do with cannabis.  Researchers, scientists, doctors and those already using cannabis as medicine simply do not trust anything it says on the subject based on long experience of its calculated dishonesty and misinformation.

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The Duplicity And Deceit Of UK Drugs Policy.

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Mike Penning MP

Mike Penning MP

On 12th October, after more than 220,000 people had signed a government e-petition, Mike Penning MP, the drugs minister, responded to the debate.  He said:

“I have every sympathy for my friends and members of my family who have had MS and the terrible pain and anguish that they go through because of an incurable disease. So I start from the premise of having sympathy. Let us see what we can do in the 21st century to take people out of that environment…we could look carefully… at the research. We need to look at why the research is not taking place and at the effects of certain parts of the legislation…We have cross-party agreement that we will look at research and see how we can help people. I am committed to that…It is crucial that we do not set ourselves in one position but that instead, we ask what research could help take things forward. That is what I have committed to doing and it is very important.”

Source: Hansard

Then, on 26th October, in response to a written question, he said:

“The government’s position on the medicinal value of cannabis remains unchanged and no discussions are planned.”

Source: Hansard

This is dishonest and a subversion of our democratic process.  However, in the UK, despite its historical role as the mother of parliamentary democracy, government ministers are now entirely unaccountable. Even in their individual role as MPs they answer to the electorate only once every five years, a level of accountability which is ridiculous in the 21st century.  Between elections they only need consider their party whips or the more senior ministers who hold power over their careers.

In any other context, in business or in personal affairs, reneging on a promise as Mike Penning has done would have serious consequences.  In some instances it might even bring him before the criminal courts.  But Penning doesn’t give a damn, faces no consequences and he continues with impunity as any robber baron might have in the Middle Ages or any cowboy outlaw in the Wild West.

I have written to Mike Penning asking for an explanation and I have also written to my MP asking him to obtain an official explanation from the government.  I ask you to do the same.

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

Cannabis Debate On 12th October 2015. Now Is The Time To Contact Your MP.

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Paul Flynn MP

Paul Flynn MP

Today the House of Commons Petitions Committee agreed to hold a debate in response to the cannabis petition. It will take place on 12th October 2015 in Westminster Hall and it will be led by Paul Flynn, the veteran MP for Newport West, who has been campaigning for cannabis law reform for more than 25 years.

Four years ago this month, Paul was instrumental in the launch of the CLEAR Plan ‘How To Regulate Cannabis in Britain‘. He sponsored our launch in the Jubilee Room of the Houses of Parliament and gave the keynote speech. We have already made contact with him to offer any support we can. What distinguishes CLEAR from other groups is that we support our campaign with independent, expert research, detailed proposals for regulation based on public consultation and analyses of existing scientific evidence and studies. We anticipate that the evidence provided by these three key publications will be crucial to informing the debate.

htrcbTaxing the UK Cannabis Market http://clear-uk.org/media/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf
How To Regulate Cannabis In Britain http://clear-uk.org/static/media/uploads/2013/10/CLEAR-plan-V2.pdf
Medicinal Cannabis: The Evidence http://clear-uk.org/static/media/PDFs/medicinal_cannabis_the_evidence2.pdf

Now, even if you have done so recently, is the time to contact your MP and ensure he or she has copies of these documents. Crucially, make it very clear that you expect them to attend the debate and you want them to represent your views. If you can, arrange to meet your MP at their constituency surgery to explain in person what you want them to say.

You can find out who your MP is by entering your postcode on this website

You can find out your MP’s email address by looking their name up here

You can also Google your MP’s name which will lead you to their personal website and more contact details.

You can write by letter to your MP at: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

mcte front coverWrite To Your MP

Most important is that you must include your full postal address and postcode to show that you are a constituent.  Without this your email or letter will be ignored.

Either an email or a letter is fine but you might want to consider doing both!

Write in your own words.  MPs are now wise to what they call ‘campaign emails’.  The large number of campaigns by groups such as 38 Degrees have really swamped MPs with repetitive correspondence.  It doesn’t work to send what is clearly a template or automatically generated email.  You will just be ignored.  Many MPs actually warn against this now on their website.

So, in your own words, make these points:

1. Legal regulation of cannabis will be much safer for everyone than the present criminal market.
2. £6 billion every year is spent on cannabis and it all goes to criminals.
3. I want to see cannabis available to adults only through licensed outlets with proper labelling and quality control.
4. I want to see cannabis taxed so that, as in Colorado, we can invest millions more in schools and hospitals.
5. Many people need access to medicinal cannabis for which there is now strong scientific evidence.
6. Please will you support and vote for legal regulation of cannabis?

You can link to these four pieces of evidence in your email or letter

Cannabis is 114 times safer than alcohol:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311234/

No link between adolescent cannabis use and later health problems:
http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/adb-adb0000103.pdf

‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’:
http://clear-uk.org/static/media/PDFs/medicinal_cannabis_the_evidence2.pdf

Taxation of cannabis market net annual gain to the UK economy up to £9.5 billion:
http://clear-uk.org/media/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 8, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Cameron, The Warmonger. How Did Saving Refugees Turn Into Dropping More Bombs?

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Kobane, Syria, Hometown of Aylan Kurdi, Just One Boy Who Drowned.

Kobane, Syria, Hometown of Aylan Kurdi, Just One Boy Who Drowned.

It’s amazing and frightening.  Two days ago, Cameron wasn’t interested in the plight of the refugees.  He and his crony government didn’t even have the decency to recognise them as refugees, they were migrants.  They weren’t leaving the sort of desolation and destruction seen above, they were ‘economic migrants’ about to “swarm” onto our shores and “swamp” our hospitals, GPs, social services with nasty, dirty foreigners.

Walk On By Dave. You Know That's What You Really Want.

Walk On By Dave. You Know That’s What You Really Want.

Then, with the tragic picture of a little boy dead on a Turkish beach and, unusually, the supine, brainwashed, British public actually getting off their backsides and signing a petition in massive numbers (now over 400,000), he had to do something.  Democracy and public opinion is not a force that can be allowed to gain strength in the UK.  It is the very opposite of what the increasingly corrupt Tory government wants. Its new petitions website is biting back hard.  Its been a major mistake.  More than 200,000 want cannabis legalised, nearly 220,000 want a vote of no confidence in the Health Secretary, over 100,000 want the war criminal Netanyahu arrested when he arrives in London.

This all sounds frightfully like democracy and it has to be nipped in the bud!

So now he’s posturing with weasel words about the millions of refugees but simultaneously ramping up for war on Syria and IS, just as the USA confirms that Russian jets are fighting on behalf of Assad.

I think Cameron is a puppet: an anodyne, oleaginous creep with a shiny face for inane grins into the camera and a Goldilocks wifelet (not too gorgeous, just enough) to portray the mythical British family that we’re all supposed to aspire to.  Who is pulling his strings?A conspiracy of bankers, arms manufacturers, the alcohol industry and press barons.

Fleet Street Fox makes frightening predicitions about war today.  It comes to something when a tabloid like the Daily Mirror presents more challenging, insightful reporting than what used to be called the quality press, now disgraced by the Murdoch and Barclay Brothers comics.  The Times and The Daily Telegraph now represent vested interests, mainly supportive of Tory repression but ready to exercise their own muscle when inconvenient subjects like press regulation or BBC charter renewal come along. Fleet Street clears its throat and Cameron succumbs. Big Booze complains about overregulation, Cameron drops his trousers and says ‘How do you want me?’

I am horrified about the reality of Britain.  The disgusting cover-ups of wrongdoing in high places that we now know has been going on forever.  We have laughed about Nigeria, about tin pot South American regimes but we are every bit as bad, worse in some ways, more secretive, deceptive, corrupt and rotten to the core in police, civil service and throughout the establishment.

It’s a truism that it is the internet that has let all this truth out.  That’s how we know that cannabis is pretty much harmless for 99% of people, while Big Booze is responsible for 1.25 million hospital admissions each years. That’s how we know that the Israeli regime is composed entirely of brutal, sadistic war criminals intent on becoming the new Nazi power and igniting nuclear conflagration in the Middle East. That’s why your internet connection is increasingly censored, monitored and everything possible is being done to turn it against you, to become an instrument of oppression rather than a gateway to truth and knowledge.

I have no answers. What I know is that increasingly often, as I chat with my 80-year old mother, we say to each other how glad we are we won’t be around to see it.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 5, 2015 at 9:49 am

This Is How The UK Government Lies To Its Citizens About Cannabis.

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The preposterous response from the UK government to the massive petition for the legalisation of cannabis is a pack of lies.

Systematic Misinformation, Deception And Dishonesty

Systematic Misinformation, Deception And Dishonesty

Yes. Lies. Not a word it’s wise to use unless it’s accurate but in this case it is. The Home Office is disgraced on so many aspects of its work but it has been systematically misleading, misinforming and promoting untruths about cannabis since 1971.  Individual Home Secretaries are fully complicit in this dishonesty, most notably James Callaghan, Merlyn Rees, William Whitelaw, Leon Brittan, Douglas Hurd, Michael Howard, Jack Straw, Jacqui Smith, Alan Johnson and the incumbent, Theresa May.

Certainly in the last 20 years there can be no excuse at all.  The balance of scientific evidence has been quite clear for at least that long that although a very small number of people may be vulnerable, for 99% of people cannabis is almost completely benign and often beneficial.

The dishonesty of these disgraced ministers brings shame on both the Conservative and Labour parties and the civil service officials in the Home Office. They all know full well that they have lied to the public and they continue to do so, undoubtedly because of corrupt influence from vested interests, principally the tabloid editors, press barons and the alcohol industry. Their lies have resulted in the unnecessary criminalisation of over one million people, the frittering away of tens of billions in futile law enforcement costs and lost tax revenue.  Most dreadful of all, the denial of access to medicinal cannabis by those in pain, suffering and disability.

ACMD CC and PHThe basis for the government’s dismissal of the petition is given as the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) 2008 report  ‘Cannabis: Classification and Public Health’.

In the covering letter to the report, the then chair of the ACMD does say “… the use of cannabis is a significant public health issue. Cannabis can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society.”

Judge for yourself whether the evidence in the report supports the idea that cannabis is a “significant public health issue”. I don’t think it does and nowhere in the report is such an unequivocal statement made except in the covering letter.  Of course it is true that cannabis can cause harm to individuals, just as digestive biscuits, chips and sugary drinks can, so that’s pretty meaningless.  There is no evidence in the report at all of cannabis causing harm to society.

But the covering letter then makes the point very strongly that “strategies designed to minimise its use and adverse effects must be predominantly public health ones. Criminal justice measures – irrespective of classification – will have only a limited effect on usage.”

The report recommends that cannabis remain in class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 but the government of the day, led by Gordon ‘Skunk is Lethal’ Brown, ignored that and increased it to class B.

Read the report yourself.  Compare it with the government’s response to the petition.  To claim that the report supports present policy is false.  It directly contradicts present policy. There is also now a host of high quality evidence on the reality of decriminalised or regulated cannabis markets from the Netherlands, Portugal, Colorado and Washington.  This shows beyond any doubt that the government’s suggestions of “drug dependence… misery… increased misuse” have no basis in evidence at all.  Furthermore the idea that new tax revenue would be outweighed by new costs is directly contradicted by every study on the subject.   I repeat, the government’s response is a pack of lies

Sadly, the United Kingdom is a country where government ministers are prepared to lie, mislead, distort evidence and deceive the British people in order to maintain policies based on prejudice and the corrupt influence of vested interests.

Now The Cannabis Petition Has Passed 200,000, What Can You Do Next?

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At 15:45, 20th August 2015

At 15:45, 20th August 2015

It’s a great achievement that together we have doubled the the number of signatures required for a debate on cannabis legalisation to be ‘considered’.  But it’s not over yet.

The government and many MPs will fight tooth and nail to stop any debate. You can be sure that the alcohol industry is already lobbying ministers furiously. It is terrified that there could be a much safer, healthier and legal alternative to its poisonous products.

So we can’t even be certain there will be a debate. Many, perhaps most MPs are incapable of dealing with this issue on a rational basis. They are transfixed by fear of what the media will say if they support reform. Most have no understanding about cannabis at all and base their views on the rubbish published in the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail. Even worse, they may rely on what the Home Office says. Be in no doubt, in the great history of Britain, never has there been more dishonesty from government than from the Home Office on cannabis. It deceives, misinforms and lies as a matter of course. It is Home Office policy to mislead the public about cannabis.

The next step is to contact your MP and do your bit to educate him or her on the truth. It is vital that you do this. For the first time, enough people have signed a petition to make it mean something. We must build on this effort. Do not let yourself or the rest of the country down. The responsibility rests on your shoulder as much as it does on everyone else’s.

You can find out who your MP is by entering your postcode on this website.

You can find out your MP’s email address by looking their name up here.

You can also Google your MP’s name which will lead you to their personal website and more contact details.

You can write by letter to your MP at: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Please make the effort to take these steps in contacting your MP.  Ideally, make initial contact by email or letter, then a week or so later make an appointment and go and see your MP.

Write To Your MP

Most important is that you must include your full postal address and postcode to show that you are a constituent.  Without this your email or letter will be ignored.

Either an email or a letter is fine but you might want to consider doing both!

Write in your own words.  MPs are now wise to what they call ‘campaign emails’.  The large number of campaigns by groups such as 38 Degrees have really swamped MPs with repetitive correspondence.  It doesn’t work to send what is clearly a template or automatically generated email.  You will just be ignored.  Many MPs actually warn against this now on their website.

So, in your own words, make these points:

1. I support the petition for a debate to be held on legalising cannabis.
2. More than twice as many people as required have signed the petition, so please will you do what you can to ensure that a debate will take place?
3. Legal regulation of cannabis will be much safer for everyone than the present criminal market.
4. £6 billion every year is spent on cannabis and it all goes to criminals.
5. I want to see cannabis available to adults only through licensed outlets with proper labelling and quality control.
6. I want to see cannabis taxed so that, as in Colorado, we can invest millions more in schools and hospitals.
7. Many people need access to medicinal cannabis for which there is now strong scientific evidence.
8. Please will you support and vote for legal regulation of cannabis?

You can link to these four pieces of evidence in your email or letter

Cannabis is 114 times safer than alcohol: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311234/
No link between adolescent cannabis use and later health problems: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/adb-adb0000103.pdf
‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’: http://clear-uk.org/static/media/PDFs/medicinal_cannabis_the_evidence2.pdf
Taxation of cannabis market net annual gain to the UK economy up to £9.5 billion: http://clear-uk.org/media/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf

Meet Your MP

The best way to arrange this is to telephone or email your MP’s constituency office.  You will find the email address or phone number on your MP’s website.

Don’t get into a discussion with your MP’s staff about cannabis.  Of course, explain why you want a meeting but concentrate on making the appointment.  Don’t be brushed off.  It is your right to meet your MP. Explain that you want an appointment as soon as possible, certainly within the next month or it will be too late.

When you go to the meeting, be on time, dress as if you were going to a job interview and be polite and respectful at all times.  Ideally, print out the evidence above and take it with you. Ask your MP to promise to read it.  Tell a personal story about how cannabis has helped you or how you or someone you know has suffered because of the law against it. Remember, your MP works for you so don’t allow yourself to be bullied or dismissed without proper attention.

What Will Happen Next?

If even one-tenth of the people who have signed the petition take the steps set out above we could well have a revolution!

Seriously, If every MP is contacted by at least half a dozen constituents who want a meeting on the subject it is going to make a very big impact.

This is our chance. Do not miss it. Do your bit. Don’t give up. Don’t be cynical.

Even if we don’t win this time we can make tremendous progress.  We can weaken the evil forces of prohibition and start to drive it out of our lives and our country.

This is a call to action, as never before. Take this chance! Write to your MP! Meet your MP! Play your part in overturning this wicked, monstrous law!

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 20, 2015 at 4:21 pm

“The British People Have Been Systematically Misled, Misinformed And Deceived About Cannabis.”

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Peter Reynolds, president of CLEAR, interviewed on Sky News, Sunday, 9th August 2015

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 9, 2015 at 4:09 pm