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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘The Times

Cannabis Advocates Really Need To Stop Accusing Doctors of Being Bribed By Pharmaceutical Companies.

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There may well be some doctors who are corrupt and there are still, despite much improvement, serious questions over the relationship between pharma companies and doctors but the idea that every member of the Faculty of Pain Medicine who signed that letter to the Times is taking bribes is ridiculous.

The real reason is ignorance and that’s not an attack on doctors, it’s a reason.  They have been subject to the same relentless torrent of reefer madness propaganda from government and media as the rest of society.  They have been prevented even from learning about the endocannabinoid system by the authoritarian policy of prohibition and any doctor in the UK who has any experience of cannabis as medicine will have been in breach of professional ethics as well as the law.

CLEAR has been working with some of the very few enlightened doctors since way before the cause of cannabis as medicine became fashionable.  Working with members, their MPs and doctors, we have organised lobbying of ministers and MPs over more than the past 10 years. In several instances we had doctors, both GPs and consultants, contact the Home Office to enquire about obtaining a licence for a specific patient.  In at least three instances these doctors were then contacted by Home Office officials who warned them off using threats and intimidation.  Shocking but completely true.

It is and it always has been government – stupid, prejudiced, bigoted and self-opinionated politicians – who have prevented access to cannabis, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.  This means that there has been no education at all and doctors are as poorly informed as everyone else. They’re also, and understandably, worried, even scared.  They don’t understand cannabis, many will not even have heard of the endocannabinoid system and they are concerned about being sued, professionally disgraced, losing their job and now of being swamped by patients demanding cannabis about which they know nothing.

Of course, it was thoroughly stupid to assert in the letter that “the evidence suggests that the prescribing of cannabis (containing the psychoactive and addictive tetrahydrocannabinol component) will provide little or no long-term benefit in improving pain and may be associated with significant long-term adverse cognitive and mental-health detriment.”

There is no reasonable interpretation of the evidence that supports this. THC can be addictive in a very modest sense but the withdrawal symptoms and negative effects are trivial compared to those from opioids which doctors prescribe readily and frequently.  There is excellent evidence from many sources that cannabis containing THC and CBD benefits pain and while there may be some cognitive and mental health effects, to suggest they are significant or even come remotely close to those from opioids is false and in opposition to the evidence.

I repeat, doctors aren’t saying this because they are bribed by pharmaceutical companies, it’s because they have no idea what they are talking about.

The urgent requirement now is medical education.  It is amazing how radical the new regulations are and many people still don’t seem to realise how far the government has gone.  They go much further than we at CLEAR had even dared to dream and the definition of cannabis-derived medicinal product (CDMP) is very broad.  When we were consulted on it by the Department of Health and MHRA we never thought they would accept all our recommendations.  They enable the prescription of every form of cannabis, including flower, oil and concentrate, provided they meet quality standards.

So the problem with the law is gone. Literally, it is all over. It is absolute and total victory. Now two big problems remain. Education is the first but this is being addressed.  NICE has acted commendably fast to start recruiting a panel to advise on prescribing guidelines and Professor Mike Barnes, CLEAR’s scientific and medical advisor has already developed a series of introductory online training modules. Early in November his Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society launches and this will be an important forum for the future.

The second big problem is supply.  Where are the CDMPs to come from?  Sativex falls into the definition and this was GW Pharma’s big opportunity to act responsibly and imaginatively.  The possibility still exists that it will substantially reduce the absurd, rip-off price that it has been charging for Sativex since 2010.  If it had the imagination it could very easily turn over some of its production to unlicensed CDMPs for which there is now a ready market. I fear that it is wedded to licensed products only, hugely expensive and, in my judgement, unnecessary clinical trials and very high prices for its end products.  If so, then I will be selling my shares.  I admire the company for its courage, innovation and high standards but if it does not seize this opportunity then I believe it is failing in its duty to shareholders and also to Britain, which let’s remember has gifted it a privileged and unique opportunity in the world.  Fail now to provide for the needs of UK patients and that amounts to betrayal.

So for now the only possible sources of supply that meet the definition will be Bedrocan in the Netherlands and some of the Canadian licensed producers. US companies cannot export.  Neither can the Israeli companies and they would also face a thoroughly deserved boycott of their products even if Netanyahu was to issue export licences.  Bedrocan can barely meet demand from its existing customers and there is talk of it having difficulties with a ceiling on its export licenses. Only some Canadian producers meet the required GMP quality standards and they too are facing shortages as they also supply the recently legalised recreational market which is seriously short of product.

So the Home Office has to act and start issuing domestic production licences and it has to do so immediately.  Whether it will, remains to be seen.  Its drugs licensing department is a shambles, staffed by officials who do not even understand the law they are supposed to administrate, who regularly give different, contradictory answers on different days and exceed their lawful authority as a matter of course.  If there is a ‘hostile environment’ for immigration in the Home Office, for drugs licensing and cannabis production it has been hostile but also aggressive, paranoid and stupid ever since the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The urgent need is for prospective British cannabis producers to mobilise their MPs and for immediate pressure to be brought on the Home Office at the highest level.  Sajid Javid has shown he can act decisively.  Expanding domestic cannabis production is the inevitable next step in what he has already achieved.  He must act now.

So the future in the UK for those who need cannabis as medicine is brighter than could ever have been imagined.  The next steps are challenging but nowhere near as difficult as the campaign to reform the law that CLEAR has fought for nearly 20 years.  Don’t blame doctors, continue to blame the government and hold their feet to the fire until they act on medical education and cannabis production as they must.

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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.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 2, 2016 at 10:07 am

IPSO Complaint Against The Times – “We’€™d Be Off Our Heads To Tolerate Cannabis”.

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ipso logoIPSO

Your complaint

Type of complaint: Material published in a newspaper or magazine
Type of complaint: Material published in a newspaper or magazine website
Date story was published: Monday 27 July, 2015
Publication: The Times
URL of article (if appropriate): http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4508934.ece
Publication has been contacted?: No
Publication headline: We’€™d be off our heads to tolerate cannabis

How the Code has been breached

Clauses breached
Clause 1 (Accuracy) Although this is an opinion piece it makes a number of factual assertions that are false and unsupported by any evidence.

1. Subhead: “Police laxity has led to more young pot-heads and rising levels of psychosis and addiction” This is factually incorrect. There are now fewer people of all ages using cannabis.

2. Para 3 “Far from a harsh approach, it is laxity that has boosted the number of young pot-heads. This is bad for multiple reasons. Cannabis itself is extremely dangerous. It impairs memory, cripples judgment and the ability to learn. In high doses it can cause addiction, paranoia and psychosis and provoke schizophrenia.”

Factually incorrect. The “number of young pot-heads” has declined not been “boosted”. There is no evidence that cannabis is “extremely dangerous”. There is no evidence that cannabis causes psychosis.

3. Para 7 “Then they claimed Portugal‒s drug liberalisation had caused drug use to tumble. This was untrue; the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction showed that drug use there had increased.”

Factually incorrect, the EMCDDA and all sources show that drug use has declined in Portugal since decriminalisation

4. Para 10 “Although there is no scientific evidence for definitive benefit from medicinal cannabis, the US has now legalised this in 23 states”

Factually incorrect, there is a vast quantity of peer-reviewed, published scientific evidence demonstrating the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis.

These are very serious inaccuracies which Ms Phillips publishes on a regular basis in the full knowledge that they are untrue. Any newspaper which knowingly publishes lies and falsehoods to deceive its readers should be subject to the strongest possible sanctions including a financial penalty. Such dishonest publications must be dealt with firmly, sufficient to deter repetition.

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Name: Mr Peter Reynolds

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 27, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Farage On Marr. A Towering Performance.

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Nigel Farage, The Andrew Marr Show, 1st June 2014

Nigel Farage, The Marr Show, 1st June 2014

This was Nigel Farage at his very best: the man of the people, relaxed but determined, fair minded but firm, tolerant but strong, patriotic but generous.  Really it couldn’t have gone any better.

All the vile abuse hurled at him by the small men and women of the media and the political establishment, the disgraceful BBC bias, the blatant hypocrisy of Tory and Labour that ferment conflict within our country every day.  Nigel dealt with them all with a smile and good grace.

He is stronger than ever.  The UKIP policies that he hinted at seem sensible and popular. Protest votes will be hardening into solid support.  Britain now despises the identikit Cameron, Miliband, Duncan Smith, Balls and the rest.  The chattering idiots at the Guardian and the BBC  and the Bullingdon Club associate members at the Telegraph and the Times.  They’re all as out of touch as each other.  The Fleet Street Mafia is as disgraced as the members of the cabinet and shadow cabinet.  We want none of you anymore!

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.

“My Son Played Russian Roulette With Cannabis – And Lost” – More Sensationalist Misinformation From The Mail

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Does Peter Wright, editor of the Mail On Sunday, have any interest in the truth, or is he just trying to squeeze the last drop of sensation, hyperbole and panic from anything to do with cannabis?

Last week, Peter Hitchens penned a disgusting diatribe of untruths which has already been sent to the Press Complaints Commission.  This Sunday’s paper will be the subject of a second complaint.  It is truly appalling, crass and cheap nonsense.  See here for the full story.

This is my response.  Whether the Mail publishes it is up to them but I and the millions of other cannabis users in Britain have had enough.  From now on, no such instance of lies and propaganda will be allowed to pass without being called to account.

My Response To The Mail On Sunday

This is a tragic story but blaming it on cannabis is not justified, nor is it helpful.

Whatever Henry’s story, the data simply does not support the idea that cannabis can cause schizophrenia.  In fact, it more strongly suggests that people who have mental illness may use cannabis to self-medicate.  It is instructive to note that Henry’s crisis arose when he had deliberately stopped using cannabis. Indeed, there is existing and continuing scientific research into cannabinoids as an anti-psychotic therapy.

This is similar to the recent story about Jared Loughner who shot Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona.  He was said to be a cannabis user but, in fact, his friends said that he had stopped using it to self-medicate and since doing so had become more unstable and strange in his behaviour.

The article mentions “Sir William Paton, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University and one of the world’s greatest experts on cannabis” but I am personally acquainted with Professor Les Iversen, a current professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, the current chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and author of many books on the subject of cannabis. Prof Iversen was also the author of an article in The Times entitled “Cannabis. Why It’s Safe” and he delivered a lecture last month entitled “Bringing Cannabis Back Into The Medicine Cabinet”.

The demonisation of cannabis is a grave mistake and a disservice to young people and their parents.  It looks almost certain that cannabis will be legalised in at least one state in the USA either this year or next.  Progress will then roll out across the world.  It’s about time that the  British media caught up to fact that, as Professor Iversen says, cannabis is “one of the safer recreational drugs”, much safer than alcohol.  It also has tremendous actual and potential benefit as medicine and Britain is way, way behind in the world in recognising this.

The Mail On Sunday’s scare stories about cannabis should be replaced with facts and information about this valuable and relatively harmless substance.

Professor Glyn Lewis of the University of Bristol said in 2009 that even on the most extreme interpretation of the data on cannabis and psychosis (a review of all published evidence) that 96% of people could use cannabis with no risk whatsoever of developing psychosis.

Six million people in Britain use cannabis regularly.  We are sick and tired of the lies that are told about us.