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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘recreational

The Future Of Cannabis In Britain Is CLEAR

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Last Thursday, 24th March 2011, the latest ballot of the membership of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance closed.  By a two-thirds to one-third majority the members voted to adopt a new constitution and to change the party’s name.  From that moment on we are known as Cannabis Law Reform or CLEAR.

We have moved away from the use of the word “legalise” because it is interpreted as meaning a free for all.  It scares people, particularly politicians and the media and we, as a party, now understand that these are the people we need to influence if we are to advance our cause.

We have also refined and sharpened our aims and objectives.  They are now simple, direct and clear:

  1. To end the prohibition of cannabis.
  2. To promote as a matter of urgency and compassion the prescription of medicinal cannabis by doctors.
  3. To introduce a system of regulation for the production and supply of cannabis based on facts and evidence.
  4. To encourage the production and use of industrial hemp.
  5. To educate and inform about the uses and benefits of cannabis.

Medicinal cannabis is our spearhead.  We seek an end to prohibition for everyone but we demand immediate provision for those who need cannabis as medicine.  It is an obscene and evil shame on our nation that so many who suffer are in fear of arrest and prison for using a medicine that transforms their lives.

We will build a new and effective brand and campaign.  We are reasonable, responsible, respectable members of society from all walks of life and professions.  We are discriminated against by an irrational and absurd policy.  Cannabis is a wonderful thing.  It is relatively harmless but it is a psychoactive substance and needs to be respected. It’s medicinal value is unparalleled but it also offers wonderful recreational, spiritual and creative nourishment.  The relatively young science of cannabinoids now explains why cannabis has been treasured and used by mankind since the dawn of time.  Prohibition is a ridiculous policy. The truth about cannabis is clear.

We intend to build a substantial membership. Annual subscriptions have been cut to £5.00 and for concessions £1.00.  We ask everyone to make a payment of £10 towards campaign funding but money will not be an obstacle to anyone joining.  Please show your support for our campaign and join CLEAR.  Within the next few days we will launch a membership drive with the simplest way to sign up being payment by text message.

We will be fielding candidates in council and parliamentary elections all over the UK.  We do not expect to win many seats but we intend our campaign to be given the respect and attention it deserves.  We will seek electoral pacts with other parties who are prepared to sign up to our aims.  If you would like to stand as a candidate,  please get in touch.  We also need voluntary workers all over the country.

We have exciting campaigns on the way that communicate the scientific truth about cannabis and demolish the scare stories and prejudice that is so widespread.  We will never let another ridiculous tabloid story pass without challenging it.  We will not allow our political leaders to get away with untruths and propaganda without calling them to account.

We will campaign for an end to the ludicrous waste of law enforcement resources on cannabis and for a regulated system of production that will exclude organised crime and the evils of violence and human trafficking that prohibition causes.  We will educate users about cannabinoid content, different strains, varieties and methods of use. We will promote regulation to ensure quality, safety and restriction of sales to adults only.

We already have solid data that proves a tax and regulate regime in Britain would produce a net gain to the economy of at least £6 billion per annum, freeing up police to concentrate on real crime and massively reducing the harms caused by prohibition.

Despite the fact that most people in Britain have used cannabis to no ill effect and that between two and ten million people have it as a regular part of their lives, the cannabis campaign has failed to make any real progress.   Now is when that changes.  The future of cannabis in Britain is CLEAR.

We will release more details about our campaign in the near future.

The truth about cannabis is CLEAR.

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Bringing Cannabis Back Into The Medicine Cabinet

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Professor Les Iversen delivers the Inaugural President’s Public Lecture during the BPS Winter Meeting, London 2010.

Prof. Iversen is the current chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and a founder council member of the British Medicinal Cannabis Register.  He is also the author of many publications and books on cannabis.  He is famous for his article in The Times headlined “Cannabis.  Why It’s Safe” and for saying that cannabis is “one of the safer recreational drugs”.

He walks a courageous and tricky tightrope between science and his ACMD role.  He is the government’s chief drug adviser so at least we know they are getting good advice even if they don’t act on it.

You can watch the lecture here.

Professor Iversen has also provided me with a copy of his Powerpoint presentation from the lecture which you can download here.

The LCA Leadership Election

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The ballot papers have been mailed to members today.  The candidates are Stuart Warwick and myself.  Voting closes a week today.  The result will be announced shortly afterwards.

Peter Reynolds

Dear LCA member,

I am seeking election as leader of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance.

I have been campaigning for an end to the prohibition of cannabis for more than 30 years.

If elected, I can promise you radical change in the way that LCA goes about its business. We will launch a new campaign based around the theme: REFORM, REGULATE and REALISE.

That is REFORM the law to end prohibition, REGULATE production and supply based on facts and evidence and REALISE the huge benefits of the plant both as medicine and as a £10 billion net contribution to the economy.

This will be a tightly focused campaign aiming for the urgent availability of cannabis for those who need it as medicine and a properly regulated supply chain for the millions of British citizens who use it recreationally. That means we will take the business out of the hands of criminals, allow commercial growers to produce the plant under properly regulated conditions and permit small scale personal cultivation of up to six plants.

We will advocate sales of cannabis through licensed outlets such as tobacconists and/or coffee shops to adults only. It would remain a criminal offence to supply cannabis to under 18s. We accept that cannabis should be taxed, partly to cover the costs of the regulatory system and a health advisory service but also so that the entire country will benefit from bringing this huge market out of the black economy. Based on research by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit and the Transform Drug Policy Foundation we estimate that with reductions in law enforcement costs and new tax revenue, there will be a net contribution of approx £10 billion to the UK exchequer.

We will not be diverted by peripheral issues such as the many uses for industrial hemp, although we will be glad to see progress in that area. We will run a campaign focused on achieving practical change, not promoting a philosophy. That means that our main concern will be to educate and influence MPs and get our message across in the media. MPs are the only people who can change the law and it is through the media that we can influence voter opinion so we will deal with them on their terms, in Westminster, in newspapers and television studios. We will bring a new professionalism to this issue and demand the attention and respect that our proposals deserve.

The prohibition of cannabis is unjust, undemocratic and immoral. Most cannabis users are reasonable, responsible and respectable people and I will demand our right to be heard and treated fairly.

I shall stand for parliament in every by-election and in the next general election on this single issue. Being realistic, we do not expect to win a seat but we will put cannabis back on the political agenda and we will be taken seriously. No longer will we allow the Daily Mail or other media to publish lies and propaganda uinchallenged. No longer will we allow prohibitionists like Debra Bell and Peter Hitchens to misinform and promote scare stories without any balance.

I want to transform the LCA into a professional, effective campaign that will achieve results. I believe that I am the right man for this job. Please vote for me. Vote to REFORM, REGULATE and REALISE.

My website at http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk contains a wealth of information about cannabis and many articles that I have written on the subject. If you want more detailed information about me and what I stand for, that is the place to look.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Peter Reynolds

Stuart Warwick

Dear Member,

As one of the candidates seeking election for leadership of the LCA, I’ve been asked to write a short letter outlining my plans for the direction and actions I’d like to see the LCA take.

As Leader I would not seek to limit our campaign to the medical and recreational issues only (although I believe this should be our focus) but use the plethora of other applications that cannabis has in industry to gain support from as wide a demographic as possible.

I intend to campaign for legalisation, regulation & taxation.

Legalisation, done properly would remove the cannabis market from the hands of criminals and terrorists and open it up to legitimate businesses & entrepreneurs, giving the substantial profit back to society.

Regulation will help prevent dangerous contamination, ensure good quality and be more effective at keeping it out of the hands of children.

Taxation to put some of the profit back into the country – everyone benefits.

I think licensed outlets and growers is what we should be aiming to achieve. Licensing should cover not only the supply of cannabis but should also cover growing set-ups to ensure electrical and fire safety as this is a known hazard with some badly fitted installations. This would allow local growers to provide more variety in outlets, allowing users to clearly identify the strain that suits their needs the best.

Licenses should be available to cover a wide range of grow sizes to encourage both local and national business opportunities.

I think fact-based policy is a must, with genuinely unbiased research. To base policy purely on knee jerk emotional and moral arguments while ignoring scientific research is unjust and unproductive.

We know there are people in power who understand this but are forced to repeat the same prohibition mantra.

We need to let people know that if they decide to make a stand against prohibition we will be there to back them up. They will not want to make a move unless they know that when they do, they are not left hanging, We just have to give them the nod and be ready when they do.

By standing for elections, I hope to challenge not only my local MP’s and the other candidates but also policy on a national level. As leader of the LCA I hope to unite all of the voices in our community to achieve just that.

I have 2 sites that I have used to promote my ideas so far. Feel free to visit them, although there are some very early attempts on there, so quality isn’t always great, sorry.

http://www.youtube.com/user/NovictimNocrime08

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hunar-for-Prime-Minister/238421977309

Thanks for your time – , this wasn’t as easy to write as I thought it would be!

Regards

Stuart Warwick.

Cannabis And Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Medicalization And Recreational Use

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Reproduced from Pharmacology Matters,
the Newsletter of the British Pharmacological Society
Volume 3 Issue 2, December 2010

By Professor Roger Pertwee

Discovery of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol

Cannabis has been used as a medicine, for religious ceremonies and recreationally for over 5000 years. Indeed, an alcohol-containing tincture of cannabis (Figure 1) was a licensed medicine in the UK until its withdrawal in the early 1970’s.

In contrast, the discovery that cannabis contains (–)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and that many of the effects experienced when cannabis is taken recreationally are caused by this ‘phytocannabinoid’ was made less than 100 years ago (Pertwee, 2006). These effects include altered mood (usually euphoria); altered perception such that colours seem brighter, music more pleasant and ‘felt time’ appears to pass more slowly than ‘clock time’; an increased desire for sweet food (the ‘munchies’); changes in thought processes; impaired memory…and eventual drowsiness. They can also include increased heart rate, a lowering of blood pressure resulting in dizziness and, at high doses, hallucinations and feelings of paranoia. There is good evidence too that Δ9-THC targets the reward centres of the brain in a manner that can lead to psychological dependence, and that abrupt termination of repeated use of cannabis or Δ9-THC can trigger a transient physical withdrawal syndrome that in abstaining recreational cannabis users most commonly includes disturbed sleep, reduced appetite, restlessness, irritability, sweating, chills, a feverish feeling and nausea.

Some Cannabinoid Pharmacology

The discovery of Δ9-THC was followed by the development of synthetic compounds capable of inducing Δ9-THC-like effects. Results obtained from pharmacological research with some of these compounds culminated in the discovery that they produce many of their central effects by activating specific sites on nerve terminals called cannabinoid CB1 receptors in a manner that influences the normal functioning of the brain (Pertwee, 2006). This finding prompted a search for molecules within our own bodies that can activate these receptors and, in 1992, led to a second major discovery – that we do indeed produce and release such molecules. The first of these ‘endocannabinoids’ to be identified was an ethanolamide of the omega-6 unsaturated fatty acid, arachidonic acid. It was named
‘anandamide’, ananda being the Sanskrit word for internal bliss. It has subsequently emerged that there is at least one other cannabinoid receptor (CB2), that there are other endocannabinoids, and that this ‘endocannabinoid system’ of receptors and endogenous receptor activators plays major roles in the control of our health and in ameliorating unwanted symptoms such as pain.

The search is now on for additional cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids. Indeed, we have obtained evidence that ethanolamides, which are converted in our bodies from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that are found, for example, in fish oil, can both activate cannabinoid receptors and attack cancer cells (Brown et al., 2010).

The Medicalization Of Cannabinoids

Fig. 1. Tincture Of Cannabis

Individual cannabinoids first entered the clinic in the 1980’s (Crowther et al., 2010). The first of these was Nabilone (Cesamet), a synthetic Δ9-THC-like compound that is used to suppress nausea and vomiting produced by cancer chemotherapy. Synthetic Δ9-THC (Marinol) was licensed soon after Nabilone for the same purpose, and subsequently as an appetite stimulant, particularly for AIDS patients. Nabilone
and Marinol were recently joined in the clinic by Sativex: in Canada (2005) for the relief of multiple sclerosis and cancer pain and in the UK (2010) to treat spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. Sativex has also received regulatory authorisation in Spain. Its main constituents are two phytocannabinoids, Δ9-THC and cannabidiol, both extracted from cannabis.

Importantly, whereas exogenously administered cannabis and individual cannabinoids such as Δ9-THC and Nabilone target all cannabinoid receptors in the body and so ‘flood’ the whole endocannabinoid system, endocannabinoids released endogenously are somewhat more selective since they seem to be released in a manner that only targets subpopulations of their receptors. Although such release is often ‘autoprotective’ it can sometimes be ‘autoimpairing’, leading for example to CB1 receptor-mediated obesity. There is, however, currently little interest in developing medicines from compounds that block CB1 receptors, as such a blockade could well also suppress CB1 receptor-mediated autoprotection. Indeed, the CB1 receptor blocking drug, Rimonabant, was recently withdrawn from the clinic because of an increased incidence of depression and suicidality in patients taking it as an anti-obesity agent.

The fact that Cesamet, Marinol and Sativex are all in the clinic is of course an indication that, as prescribed, these medicines do significantly more good than harm. Even so, there is considerable interest in developing a second generation of cannabinoid medicines that display even greater ‘benefit-torisk ratios’ (Pertwee, 2009). Possibilities include compounds that avoid the production of unwanted cannabinoid CB1 receptor-mediated effects by:

(1) Only activating cannabinoid receptors that are located outside the brain and spinal cord.

(2) Only activating cannabinoid receptors in particular tissues such as skin or spinal cord by being administered directly into these tissues.

(3) Activating cannabinoid CB2 but not cannabinoid CB1 receptors.

(4) Being administered at low doses that produce a cannabinoid receptor-mediated enhancement of the sought after effects of  non-cannabinoid medicines but are insufficient to produce significant cannabinoid receptor-mediated unwanted side effects.

(5) Boosting the levels of endocannabinoids when these are being released in an ‘autoprotective’ manner, for example to relieve pain.

(6) Targeting ‘allosteric’ sites that we have discovered to be present on cannabinoid CB1 receptors in a manner that will boost the ability of autoprotectively released endocannabinoids to activate these receptors.

Cannabis: A Complex Scenario

Δ9-THC is synthesized in the cannabis plant from a nonpsychoactive precursor, Δ9-THC acid. This process can be greatly accelerated by heat which is why cannabis is usually smoked, often with tobacco, consumed in preheated food or inhaled from ‘volcano’ vaporizers that create fumes by heating cannabis without burning it or producing smoke. Other pharmacologically active phytocannabinoids can also be
formed from their acids by heating cannabis. These include the non-psychoactive yet pharmacologically active compounds, cannabidiol (CBD), Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (Δ9-THCV) and cannabigerol (CBG), each of which has actual (CBD) or potential medical applications. Some of these phytocannabinoids are really ‘fighto’ cannabinoids, their presence in cannabis making it a pharmacological ‘battlefield’. Thus
we have discovered that although CB1 receptors are activated by Δ9-THC, they can be blocked by Δ9-THCV. It has also been found that CBD can oppose certain effects produced by cannabis or Δ9-THC. Indeed, whilst there is evidence that the presence of Δ9-THC in cannabis increases the risk of developing schizophrenia for certain individuals, there is also strong evidence that cannabidiol is a potential medicine for the treatment of schizophrenia. A further complication is that the relative concentrations of different phytocannabinoids are not the same in all strains of cannabis, in all parts of the same cannabis plant or in male and femalecannabis plants, the female flowering heads of sinsemilla (‘without seeds’) being particularly rich in Δ9-THC. This may have important consequences for those who take cannabis either recreationally or for the quite different purpose of self-medication, as high CBD:THC or THCV:THC ratios may lessen the risk from cannabis of developing schizophrenia or cannabis dependence…although probably also alter the perceived nature of a cannabis-induced ‘high’.

Spice

One notable recent event has been the arrival in the recreational cannabis world of herbal mixtures laced with synthetic cannabinoids (‘designer drugs’) such as JWH-018 (e.g. Spice or K2, named after the second highest mountain on earth). These little-investigated synthetic cannabinoids share the ability of Δ9-THC to activate cannabinoid CB1 receptors and hence to produce a ‘high’. Moreover, any of them that
activate these receptors more strongly than Δ9-THC will most likely produce a more intense ‘high’ and perhaps also more serious unwanted effects than usually experienced by recreational cannabis users. They probably also differ from THC in other ways. Thus, although Δ9-THC shares its ability to target cannabinoid receptors with many synthetic compounds, the additional pharmacological actions it possesses provide it  with a unique ‘pharmacological fingerprint’ that distinguishes it from many of these other compounds.

Harm Minimization For Recreational Cannabis

One important challenge for the International Narcotics Control Board that monitors and implements United Nations drug control conventions is to select an optimal but workable strategy for minimizing the harm that is now being caused both to themselves and to Society by some of the many  millions of people world-wide who currently take cannabis (or Spice) recreationally and also, indeed, by some of those who self-medicate with ‘street’ cannabis. For the UK, options include leaving the present law unchanged and increasing or
decreasing current penalties for the supply and/or possession of ‘street’ cannabis. It would also be advisable to develop strategies directed (i) at discouraging cannabis from being taken by adolescents or other individuals who are thought to be at particular risk from cannabis-induced harm and (ii) at providing advice (a) about combinations and levels of cannabinoids in cannabis that are thought to be the least
harmful and (b) about how to take cannabis as an inhaled unburnt vapour or in other ways that avoid the lung damage caused by smoked cannabis. It will be important that policy makers have discussions with cannabinoid pharmacologists whilst considering these and any other potential strategies for minimizing the harm caused by recreational cannabis.

References
Brown I, Cascio MG, Wahle KWJ, Smoum R, Mechoulam R, Ross RA, Pertwee RG and Heys SD. Cannabinoid receptor dependent and independent anti-proliferative effects of omega-3 ethanolamides in androgen receptor positive and negative prostate cancer cell lines.
Carcinogenesis 2010; 31: 1584-1591.
Crowther, SM, Reynolds, LA and Tansey, EM (eds). The Medicalization of Cannabis. Witness Seminar Transcript. Volume 40. The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, at UCL. 2010; http://www.ucl.ac.uk/histmed/downloads/c20th_group
Pertwee RG. Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years. Br J Pharmacol 2006; 147: S163-S171.
Pertwee RG. Emerging strategies for exploiting cannabinoid receptor agonists as medicines. Br J Pharmacol 2009; 156: 397-411.
Professor Roger Pertwee has three degrees from the University of Oxford: MA (in biochemistry), D.Phil. (in pharmacology) and D.Sc. (in physiological sciences). He is Professor of Neuropharmacology at the University of Aberdeen, Director of Pharmacology for GW Pharmaceuticals, co-chairman of the International Union of Pharmacology (IUPHAR) Subcommittee on Cannabinoid Receptors, a co-ordinator of the British Pharmacological Society’s Special Interest Group on Cannabinoids and visiting Professor at the University of Hertfordshire. He has also served as chairman of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM; 2005-2007) and as President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS; 2007-2008; 1997-1998) and is currently ICRS International Secretary and a member of the IACM board of directors. He was the recipient of the 2002 Mechoulam Award “for his outstanding contributions to cannabinoid research” and in 2005 was recognized to be an “ISI Highly Cited Researcher” and hence among “the world’s most cited and influential researchers” (see Pertwee at http://isihighlycited.com/). His research has focused mainly on the pharmacology of  cannabinoids. This he began in 1968 at Oxford University and continued when he moved to Aberdeen in 1974. His research has played major roles in:
• the discovery of endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system;
• the recent discovery that ethanolamides formed from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids seem to be endocannabinoids;
• the gathering of evidence supporting cannabinoids for the management of multiple sclerosis;
• the discovery that tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a phytocannabinoid;
• the pharmacological characterization of certain phytocannabinoids and of novel synthetic cannabinoids, e.g. the phytocannabinoids THCV, cannabidiol and cannabigerol, the first water-soluble cannabinoid (O-1057), the first CB1 receptorselective agonists (e.g. methanandamide), and a widely-used CB2 receptor antagonist (AM630);
• the discovery of a cannabinoid CB1 receptor allosteric site;
• the development of cannabinoid bioassays, some widely used (e.g. the “ring test”).
See also www.abdn.ac.uk/ims/staff/details.php?id=rgp

Proposition 19. Just Say Now!

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It looks as if, on 2nd November 2010, a small but very significant part of the world will at last come to its senses and legalise cannabis.

On that date, California voters look likely to approve Proposition 19 on the state-wide ballot that legalizes various marijuana-related activities, allows local governments to regulate these activities, permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizes various criminal and civil penalties.  Currently the polls show that about two-thirds of voters are in favour.

Over the age of 21 it will be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to cultivate an area of up to 25 sq ft on private property.  The state estimates it will collect about £1.4 billion pa in new tax revenue.  save $200 million pa in law enforcement costs and generate an additional $12 – $18 billion pa for California’s economy, with 60,000 to 110,000 new jobs.   As the Americans say, with one of their most unpleasant expressions, “It’s a no brainer”.

In America they finally seem to have got past listening to the stupid scare stories and propaganda about the cannabis plant.  The misinformation has ranged from the idea that marijuana makes white women promiscuous with black men to the suggestion that it causes psychosis in adolescents.  Both of these ideas are as impossible to prove as each other.  America also  recognises the huge medicinal benefits of cannabis with medical marijuana legal in 14 states and planned in 15 more.   As a recreational drug,  cannabis use is almost never associated with the sort of anti-social behaviour that alcohol causes.   It produces an essentially peaceful, happy and soporific effect.

Instead of insulting and ignoring their scientific experts as we do in the UK, Americans are now more interested in the facts and a pragmatic approach to drugs policy.  The “war on drugs” is now universally recognised as having been an abject failure.  We should, of course, have learned from the experience of alcohol prohibition in the early 20th century.  That created the whole idea of gangsters and organised crime.  We managed to repeat the same mistakes all over again with drugs.

In ironic appreciation of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say Nc” campaign, those in favour of Proposition 19 have adopted the slogan “Just Say Now”.  In addition to the direct financial benefits, the state expects to be able to focus police priorities on violent crime, cut off funding to violent drug cartels and better protect children, road users, workers and patients from illegal, unregulated use.

The UK will eventually follow down this inevitable path.   The only questions are how many lives will we ruin and how much time and money will we waste before we finally get there?

See here for the latest updates and news on Proposition 19.