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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘The Daily Mail

Whose Money Is UCL Wasting On Pointless Cannabis Research?

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white-female-inhaling-marijuana-pipe_4800The Times reports “Stone me: cannabis users don’t like hard work”

The Independent says “Getting high on cannabis makes you less likely to work hard for money, study says”

The mendacious Daily Mail claims: “How just one cannabis joint harms your will to work: Fears long-term drug use could harm motivation even when not high”

Utterly pointless research. Such results can be determined by common sense and experience.

UCL has a habit of frittering money away on pointless research into cannabis.

First of all we had the reckless overdosing  of Jon Snow for the Channel 4 Drugs Live programme, equivalent to asking a teetotaller to drink a bottle of scotch in 10 minutes – set up purely for sensationalism and tabloid headlines. Results?  Cannabis was shown to be very safe for 95% of people – as if we didn’t know that already.

Currently Prof Val Curran is studying whether cannabis can be used to treat cannabis dependency.  Yes, seriously, Sativex, the cannabis oil mouthspray, is being trialled to see if it can help people give up smoking cannabis!!  Not that cannabis dependency is anything like a serious problem anyway.  Fewer regular users of cannabis become dependent on it than regular users of coffee become dependent on caffeine.  Incredibly the University of Sydney is also conducting an identical trial.

Now we have this absurd study on motivation.  Why do people use cannabis?  To relax of course, so hardly surprising they become less motivated, that is the point! And the study showed that motivation returns to normal levels after smoking!  You really couldn’t make it up that so-called scientists waste their time on this sort of nonsense.

What we need is some constructive research on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. In the 34 US states that permit medicinal use, expenditure on dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical painkillers has plummeted by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now that would be something sensible to look into.  But maybe it doesn’t suit the agenda of whoever provides UCL with money to conduct its frivolous and pointless studies?

Listen to me interviewed on Talk Radio about this latest study.

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Written by Peter Reynolds

September 2, 2016 at 10:07 am

Even The Guardian Is Now On The ‘Skunk Scaremongering’ Bandwagon.

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guardian cannabis psychosis headline picRead The Guardian’s Editorial Here

In the last couple of years, even the Daily Mail has shifted its stance on cannabis as it sees opportunities to sensationalise ‘miracle cures’ from medicinal use – the epileptic child now smiling, the cancer patient whose tumour has disappeared. Truth and balance are irrelevant when a dramatic headline is all you’re after.

The Daily Telegraph has become the new home of ‘reefer madness’ with bad science, nasty prejudice and booze-fuelled fear of a safer recreational drug threatening the massive profits of the alcohol industry.

Now, even the Guardian jumps on the ‘skunk scaremongering’ bandwagon with the exaggerated claim that “the risks of heavy teenage cannabis consumption should frighten all of us”. In a backhanded editorial it suggests legalisation because cannabis is dangerous. It claims the consequences of cannabis “abuse are devastating. Psychotic breakdowns smash up lives and can lead to full-blown schizophrenia.” There is little evidence to support such hysteria. In reality, such effects are so rare as to be virtually unheard of and it’s impossible to prove they are caused by cannabis.

Of course we must protect young people, particularly from the high-THC/low-CBD ‘moonshine’ varieties that are a direct result of government policy. However, we cannot compromise facts and evidence for the illusory belief that buying into scare stories will somehow reduce harm. The only way to protect children is by legal regulation with mandatory age limits.

The Guardian makes much of Public Health England’s (PHE) figure that “there are more than 13,000 under-18s in treatment for the consequences of heavy cannabis use in England”. It neglects to mention that PHE also publishes more than 69% are referred by the criminal justice, education and social care systems while only 17% are referred from healthcare and just 11% by themselves or their family. Thus, more than two-thirds are receiving coercive treatment and only 11% actually consider they have a problem.

It is government propaganda that thousands of young people are suffering from mental health problems due to cannabis. Why is The Guardian promoting this myth? Last year, in answer to a Parliamentary question, Jane Ellison MP, minister of state at the Department of Health, revealed there have been average of just over 28 ‘finished admission episodes’ (FAE) for ‘cannabis-induced psychosis’ in young people for each of the past five years.

Of course, each of these 28 cases is a tragedy for the people involved and nothing must distract from that but it clearly shows that in public health terms, ‘cannabis psychosis’ is of negligible significance. To put it into perspective, there are an estimated 3,000 FAEs for peanut allergy each year but we don’t waste £500 million pa on futile law enforcement efforts to ban peanuts!

For 50 years, the Home Office has systematically misled and misinformed the British people about cannabis. Successive generations of young people know they have been lied to. Such dishonest health information is counterproductive. As a result, many children may think that heroin or crack are not as harmful as they have been told.

Cannabis is not harmless but neither is it ‘dangerous’. If you apply that description to it you also have to apply it to energy drinks, over-the-counter painkillers and hay fever remedies. Similarly, whatever scaremongering there is about ‘addiction’, the scientific evidence is that dependency amongst regular cannabis users is slightly less than caffeine dependency amongst regular coffee drinkers – and withdrawal symptoms are similar in nature and intensity.

What we need is evidence-based policy. Government needs to take responsibility for the £6 billion pa cannabis market instead of abandoning our young people and communities to street dealers and criminal gangs. The benefits to be gained from cannabis law reform are reduced health and social harms, massive public expenditure savings, increased tax revenue and proper protection for the vulnerable, including children.

References

Young people’s statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS), Public Health England, December 2015
Drugs: Young People. Department of Health written question – answered on 20th March 2015.
Relative Addictiveness of Drugs, Dr. Jack E. Henningfield, NIDA and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, UCLA, 1994

How The Disgusting Daily Mail Flipflopped From Migrants To Refugees.

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daily mail on refugees

Even though the British people have decisively rejected Fleet Street as a purveyor of reliable or impartial news, so the political elite and our broadcasters still allow a small gang of press barons and editors to set the agenda.

Cameron has changed his hateful, ‘walk on by’ attitude to the refugee crisis just like the Daily Mail.  These desperate people are no longer migrants who we need to fear but refugees who we need to rescue.

Nothing corrupts UK politics like the Fleet Street Mafia.  We are deceived, tricked, misled and cheated by this adherence to the minority views of a few rich, bigoted and out of touch men.  The sooner the BBC stops following the Fleet Street agenda, the sooner we can start rebuilding our society in accordance with the wishes of the people.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 7, 2015 at 8:30 am

Cannabis Saves Lives And Cannabis Prohibition Ruins Lives Every Day. All the Media Can Worry About Is Djokovic’s Nose.

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“Someone is getting high, can you smell it?”

The BBC, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, countless international publications, blogs and websites have published this ridiculous story.

Apparently, Novak Djokovic felt “dizzy” because he could smell cannabis during his Rogers Cup semi-final win over Jérémy Chardy in Montreal.  Now let’s be clear, the smell of cannabis comes from terpenes, not from cannabinoids.  It cannot get you high or dizzy.

I’m pleased that Novak recognises the delightful smell of weed.  More and more sportspeople are using it as an aid to recovery.  NFL and rugby players are advised to use it to protect against the dangers of concussion or brain injury.  Stimulating the endocannabinoid system helps to promote healing and growth. Not long before cannabis is ruled out of sport as a performance enhancer, not just because of blind prejudice against a safer recreational drug.

But it is sickening that so much coverage is given to this when across the world there are so many more important stories about the almost miraculous,  life saving, therapeutic effects of cannabis.  Similarly, there are important but tragic stories of people being incarcerated for growing the plant or treating their illness with it.  There are disgusting stories of corruption in governments, parliaments and bureaucracies where lies and misinformation about cannabis are promoted, mainly to protect vested interests in the alcohol and law enforcement industries.

All the media is interested in is this sort of trivial nonsense, unless of course it’s some mythological scare story about mental illness or deranged axe murderers.  A free press is a valuable and essential part of our pretence at democracy. We also need freedom from the lies, misinformation and corrupt agendas of press barons and editors.

Massive, Long Term Study Shows No Health Harms From Cannabis. Where Are The Headlines?

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apa-logoLong term cannabis use by teenage boys is not linked to later physical or mental health issues according to a very large, long term study published by the American Psychological Association.

Reefer Madness

Reefer Madness

Where are the front page headlines, the hysterical editorials, the hand wringing, bleating and scaremongering from the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail? They seem to be very quiet on this one. To be fair the Mail has covered it but the leaders in anti-cannabis propaganda at the Telegraph have ignored it and so have the BBC. What a surprise! Even Jon ‘Skunk’ Snow, the latest journalist to sacrifice his integrity on the altar of reefer madness, is completely silent. No grandstanding opportunities on this one.

Jon 'Skunk' Snow

Jon ‘Skunk’ Snow

This is a huge study of 408 males tracked from adolescence into their mid-30s.  The results have been published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors and comprehensively demolish the many, much smaller, ‘snapshot’ studies that the Mail, the Telegraph and the BBC have given massive prominence to in the past.

Even more important than the study itself is the insight this provides into the blatant dishonesty, misrepresentation and falsehood which UK newspapers and TV routinely engage in when reporting on cannabis. The usual bigots and deceivers such as Kathy Gyngell, Dr Max Pemberton, Simon Heffer and Melanie Phillips are notable only for their absence.  This is the way the debate on cannabis is conducted in the UK.  The media misrepresent the evidence, report only what supports their editorial position and our weak, cowardly political leaders dutifully follow what Fleet Street tells them to do.

The Barclay Brothers, Owners of the Daily Telegraph

The Barclay Brothers, Owners of the Daily Telegraph

What is particularly important is that this is a longitudinal study, following real people in real life over a long period of time. It’s a large number of people and its accuracy and reliability eclipses virtually all the research that the prohibition supporters report on at great length.

Paul Dacre, The Butcher of Truth at the Daily Mail

Paul Dacre, The Butcher of Truth at the Daily Mail

This is the real cannabis psychosis. A pathological dishonesty affecting editors, journalists, civil servants and politicians. Nothing demonstrates the seriousness of this widespread illness than the lack of coverage given to this remarkable research.

Remember this next time you see some ridiculous newspaper column misinforming about cannabis or some pompous fool of an MP bellowing their ignorant views in the House of Commons.

The Daily Mail Uses Terrorism To Promote Its Bizarre Ideology.

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Nick Clegg.  The UK's Most Progressive Politician on Drugs Policy.

Nick Clegg. The UK’s Most Progressive Politician on Drugs Policy.

The Mail on Sunday screams:

“The Lib Dem leader risks provoking outrage this week when he joins Sir Richard Branson to put the case for removing all criminal sanctions for possessing cannabis – including skunk, its most potent form.”

Mail on Sunday, 1st March 2015

Mail on Sunday, 1st March 2015

The only thing that keeps this terrorising message about cannabis off its front page is Jihadi John.  The Daily Mail and Jihadi John share the same ideas in how to persuade people to their bizarre and distorted world view. 

In fact, elsewhere in the Mail, as well as in its terrorist allies in Fleet Street, cannabis and Jihadi John are conflated. Apparently, he used to smoke ‘high strength ‘skunk‘ cannabis’.  Of course! That explains it all then.  The Mail wants us to believe that cannabis causes terrorism, as well as psychosis, mad axe murderers, destroys the economy and makes normally happy, hard working people turn instantly into demented gibbering wrecks.

The Daily Mail is as accurate about cannabis as Jihadi John is on Islam, good and evil.

Charles Walker MP, the habitual deceiver on evidence about cannabis, is at it again – and he’s a terrorist too.

Charles Walker MP. Crazy Claims About Cannabis.

Charles Walker MP. Crazy Claims About Cannabis.

 

“…the drugs are seven or eight times more powerful now.”

What is this lie designed to achieve?  It’s intended to terrorise people, parents in particular, with ridiculous exaggeration that has no evidence to back it up at all.

Maybe if we had more honesty from politicians and newspapers we’d have less terrorism all round?  We’d certainly be better able to protect people from the dangers caused by the ‘war on drugs’. Also, young people might start to believe what we say about extremist ideologies rather than concluding that they can’t believe anything said by numbskull liars like Charles Walker or publisher liars like the Daily Mail.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 1, 2015 at 11:39 am

The Fleet Street Mafia Needs To Wake Up To The Fact That We Won’t Be Misled On Cannabis Any More.

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Rebecca Smith, The Daily Telegraph

Rebecca Smith, The Daily Telegraph

Rebecca Smith, health editor and Martha Gill, blogger, both of the Daily Telegraph have been getting a hard time in the comment threads of the pieces they published on cannabis yesterday and deservedly so.

Even casual use of cannabis alters brain, warn scientists. By Rebecca Smith.

Smoking cannabis will change you. That’s not a ‘risk’, it’s a certainty. By Martha Gill.

Rebecca Smith is by far the worst offender, publishing such gross distortions of the study she was reporting on that I have submitted a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.  It’s dreadful that someone granted the title of health editor can be so casually ignorant of science, evidence and ready to mix up her opinion and wild speculation with just a smidgin of fact here and there.  Incidentally, I expect no satisfaction from the PCC.  Three years and nearly 100 complaints show that it is a deeply corrupt organisation that acts only in the interests of the press to find excuses for breaches of the Editors’ Code.  Its nothing to do with protecting readers from inaccurate, misleading and distorted reporting.

Martha Gill, The Daily Telegraph

Martha Gill, The Daily Telegraph

Martha Gill does a bit better because she points out what a vacuous and meaningless piece of research Rebecca Smith has made such a fuss about.  But Martha, apparently, writes for the New Statesman on ‘neuroscience and politics’.  She’s entitled to her political views, which are self-evident given the publication concerned but on neuroscience, the clue is in the third and fourth syllables.  It’s science, not opinion and Martha is woefully out touch with the evidence.  If she’s not careful she”ll grow up into a mumsy moraliser like Libby Purves or Lowri Turner.  She should try reading Professor Gary Wenk, Professor David Nutt, Professor Les Iversen, Professor Peter Jones, Professor Terrie Moffitt or Professor Roger Pertwee.  They and many others could give her a grounding in the neuroscience of cannabis: it’s almost undetectable toxicity, its powerful antioxidant and neuroprotective qualities, its anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects.  Her sweeping statement that “cannabis bad for you” is simply wrong.  For most adults, in moderation, it’s beneficial.

Martha is also detached from reality and distant from the evidence, as is all of Fleet Street, when it comes to the risks of cannabis.  The endless screeds that are written about the risks of cannabis use correlating with schizophrenia or psychosis are ridiculous when you consider the evidence.  Hickman et al, 2009, a review of all published research so, by definition­, not cherry picked,  shows  the risk of lifetime cannabis use correlatin­g with a single diagnosis is at worst 0.013% and probably less than 0.003%.  By contrast, correlation between cigarette smoking and schizophrenia is 80% – 90% (Zammit et al, 2003) but when  do you ever read that in a newspaper?

I’m sorry you’re getting a hard time Rebecca and Martha but you and the ‘capos’ of the Fleet Street Mafia need to realise that people have had enough of your bad science, sensationalism and scaremongering about cannabis. The internet means we can’t be bullied and misinformed by newspapers anymore which is why your circulation is plummeting and journalists are held in ever lower esteem.  We know you’ve spent years supporting Big Booze with its £800 million pa advertising budget.  Obviously it’s desperate to hang on to its monopoly of recreational drugs but if you want to stay in business you’re going to have to start treating readers with respect and with facts and evidence, not baloney.

The Daily Telegraph has become a broadsheet-sized tabloid since it broke the MPs expenses scandal and it is genuinely difficult to distinguish its headlines, writing and content from The Daily Mail these days.

Of course, there’s a lot of rubbish in comment threads but there’s also a lot that’s better informed and considered than in the articles themselves.

People like cannabis, they find it effective, they know it’s safe. 5% of the population uses it regularly. That’s three times as many people as go to Catholic Church regularly.

Expect to be pulled to bits if you try to go back to bad science and reefer madness hysteria.  The world has moved on.