Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Victoria Atkins

The Root Of All Britain’s Drugs Problems Is In Marsham Street, London, SW1

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The Home Office describes its role as “to keep citizens safe and the country secure”. Its lead role in drugs policy achieves exactly the opposite of this.

It is a scandal encompassing successive governments for more than 50 years that the UK’s approach to drugs has been so utterly disastrous that our policy has caused far more harm than it has prevented.

Currently, the two issues of major concern are the rate of drug deaths and difficulty in accessing cannabis as medicine. It’s no surprise most people now recognise that drugs policy should really be a matter for the Department of Health. The only reason for keeping it in the Home Office is if you believe it is primarily a security issue and about enforcing the law to stop people using drugs and interventions to stop production and importation.  This is an outdated view based on misguided thinking.  The Home Office’s own research shows that laws, enforcement and penalties make absolutely no difference to drug use.  There is no justification for keeping drugs policy in Marsham Street, particularly when we consider the way this focus on security and enforcement has made all our drugs problems so much worse.

Famously, before the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it is said there were about 3,000 problematic drug users in the UK. Today, the effect of this law, administered by the Home Office, is that figure has exploded to more like 350,000 problematic users.  It has been a disaster of unparalleled scale.

Victoria Atkins and Theresa May. The drug barons of Britain.

And everything about Home Office drugs policy makes the problems worse.  The only purpose of drugs policy must be to reduce harm but the Home Office is obsessed with a moral crusade of reducing drug use and the level of use is not the same as the level of harm.  Most of the time, the Home Office’s attempts to reduce use cause more harm than the use of drugs itself.  This is particularly true with cannabis where a criminal record, even a caution, causes far more harm to an individual than the use of cannabis. The Home Office already knows that criminal justice measures do not reduce drug use, so enforcement is largely futile and it causes harm.

It is dreadful that the Home Office is strongly resisting efforts to introduce drug consumption rooms (DCRs) which have been shown, conclusively, to reduce drug deaths.  In Glasgow, the local council and the Scottish government are backing the proposal but the Home Office is intransigent.  What is truly appalling and demonstrates a criminal standard of corruption at the highest level is the way that Victoria Atkins, a Home Office Minister, has lied and misled Parliament and the public on the evidence for DCRs.  She, of course is also a rabid anti-cannabis campaigner while her husband makes his living from cannabis production, licensed by the Home Office! This conflict of interest and hypocrisy well illustrates the fundamental corruption and dishonesty that is the Home Office culture.  The ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants, first introduced by Labour but enthusiastically pursued by Theresa May when she became Home Secretary in 2010, is central to the way that Home Office officials conduct themselves, not only about immigration but every area of home affairs.  The ‘customer’ is the enemy in Home Office terms, someone to be distrusted. This is the way officials treat those who they are paid to serve.

Against this background, it’s astonishing that the new regulations enabling access to cannabis as medicine were introduced while Theresa May was PM.   No one is more strongly prohibitionist, nor, during her six years as Home Secretary, more in tune with the Home Office’s interfering, repressive culture.  It’s more than ironic that on leaving Downing Street she has purchased a flat in, you guessed it, Marsham Street!  This, the scene of her most shameful actions in government, is where she feels at home.

The introduction of the new regulations while she was PM shows that with a big enough media outcry , even the most stubborn bigot can be forced to concede. Though now the media spotlight has moved on, the desperately ill children, some having hundreds of seizures a day, have been forgotten. With just a couple of exceptions they still aren’t getting the medicine they need on the NHS. For them, the new regulatiions mean that they can now get their medicine legally but it has to be paid for privately. Typically this means expenditure of thousands of pounds per month which the families simply cannot afford.

Under the new regulations, cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs) are supposed to be available on prescription from specialist doctors as unlicensed, schedule 2 medicines. It’s proving difficult enough to get a doctor to prescribe, such is the lack of understanding amongst doctors and the incredibly restrictive guidelines that professional bodies have put in place.  On top of all that, the Home Office is doing all it can to obstruct access.  Clearly its duty is to facilitate implementation of the new regulations but it is hostile towards the people that seek access to cannabis.  It is and always has been institutionally opposed to cannabis.

For years there has been a procedure in place for those who are prescribed schedule 2 medicines containing controlled drugs to bring up to three month’s supply into the country without requiring a licence.  For cannabis this has been swept aside without any explanation or reason.  The process involved in importing CBPMs is tortuous and complex as the Home Office shows no flexibility, no compassion and places obstacles at every turn. And there is no accountability at all. All Home Office policies, decisions, actions and processes are opaque.  They see no reason to explain themselves. They do what they want, irrespective of the needs of the people concerned, or even the law. Marsham Street considers itself above the law, exempt from any judicial or democratic accountability. Ultimately, the prospect of applying for judicial review of its actions is completely out of reach for everyone except the super rich.

The other crucial aspect of delivering on the new regulations is to develop a UK-based cannabis industry where we are producing ourselves what our people need.  The Home Office has failed entirely to grasp this nettle. Reports are that dozens of applications have been submitted for licences but so far, a year on, the best information I can get is that only one, highly restricted, research-only licence has been issued. So even it doesn’t allow for porduction of CBPMs, all of which have to be imported at huge expense.

It remains the case that the only company licensed for commercial production of cannabis is GW Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary/supplier companies.  A company in which Home Office minister Victoria Atkins and former Home Secretary and PM Theresa May both have a personal financial interest.  The depth of this corruption and the failure to hold these two crooks to account is surely one of the biggest political scandals ever in British history.

Home Office ministers have a great deal to answer for but also the officials who have restrained those few ministers, such as the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, who have even dared to consider reform.  The prejudice and bigotry on drugs policy runs so deep it is difficult to see how it can change.  But change it must.  Britain desperately needs a PM and a Home Secretary with the courage and intelligence to grasp this nettle.  Until those people emerge we are destined to stay in a very dark and destructive place while more and more deaths, misery and serious violent crime are caused by those who are failing us so badly.

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 30, 2019 at 6:49 pm

‘Cannabis Law is Simply Criminal’. Letter to the Sunday Times, 26th May 2019

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The Sunday Times, 26th May 2019

Thank you to the Sunday Times for publishing my letter about cannabis today.

In fact, it was orginally a comment left on this article: ‘CBD products being rated for tax — but still seized’.  I received an email asking for my permission to publish it as a letter which clearly I was happy to agree to.

Obviously I accept that letters will be edited but when this is done to alter very substantially the original meaning, questions have to be asked.

Why is the Sunday Times protecting corrupt, senior British politicians from facts which are in the public domain? In the original the last two paragraphs read:

“Our politicians are incompetent, stupid and in some cases brazenly corrupt on this subject and reform is inevitable, although how long it will take remains to be seen.

While Theresa May and the Home Office drugs minister, Victoria Atkins MP, both continue to make personal financial gain from licensed cannabis production, the UK has a steeper hill to climb than Ireland. Corruption at the very top of government is difficult to overcome.”

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 26, 2019 at 3:49 pm

More Lies From The Home Office. A UK Government Department That Is Institutionally Dishonest.

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This deceit from the Home Office needs to be called out straightaway.  Andrew Gilligan, the Sunday Times journalist, did a great job of getting the Victoria Atkins cannabis scandal out into the mainstream and I thank him for that.  I gave him a great deal more evidence of Home Office maladministration than he used but he managed to bring out yet more brazen dishonesty in the process.

The Home Office said: “When she was appointed . . . the minister voluntarily recused herself from policy or decisions relating to cannabis, including licensing.”  This is absolute nonsense.  It is a lie of the sort that you might expect from a small child that doesn’t really understand what is dishonesty.

Ms Atkins was appointed a Home Office minster on 9th November 2017.  Since then she has spoken or provided written answers on aspects of drugs policy which either directly or indirectly concern cannabis.  In fact, for decades our government hasn’t had a drugs policy, it has its inane drug strategy which treats all drugs exactly the same.  The only difference as far as the Home Office is concerned are the penalties applied on conviction.

Ms Atkins has enaged on matters relating to drugs policy which either directly or indirectly concern cannabis on 23 occasions that I have been able to identify since she was appointed.

Organised Crime: Drugs. 23rd April 2018

Slavery: Children. 23rd April 2018

Organised Crime: Drugs. 16th April 2018

Drugs: West Midlands. 12th March 2018
Cannabis: 7th March 2018
Slavery: Vietnam. 20th February 2018
Human Trafficking: Vietnam. 6th February 2018
Drugs: Internet. 5th February 2018
Slavery: Children. 31st January 2018
Drugs: Spain. 31st January 2018
Drugs: Misuse. 29th January 2018
Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. 29th January 2018
Organised Crime: Drugs. 24th January 2018
Drug Consumption Rooms. 17th January 2018
County Lines. 17th January 2018
Organised Crime: Drugs. 8th January 2018
Misuse of Drugs: Minsterial Group. 14th December 2017
Organised Crime. 8th December 2017
Drugs: Misuse. 4th December 2017
Slavery. 30th November 2017
Drugs: Misuse. 27th November 2017
Slavery: Children. 27th November 2017

 

 

 

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 14, 2018 at 9:07 pm

The UK Government’s Latest Excuse About Medicinal Cannabis Is Yet Another Deception.

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Nick Hurd MP, Home Office Minister

Nick Hurd MP, the Home Office minister, said again this week that as far as any consideration of cannabis for medical use is concerned, the government will “await the outcome” of the report on cannabis due from the WHO in 2019 “before considering the next steps”.

In fact, the results of an FOI request show that the UK government has refused to take part in the WHO committee which will “review cannabis and cannabis-related substances on their potential to cause dependence, abuse and harm to health, and potential therapeutic applications”. This despite the WHO issuing a questionnaire to the Department of Health and Social Care “designed to gather information on the legitimate use, harmful use, status of national control and potential impact of international control”.

Aside from the obvious concerns this raises, it is quite extraordinary considering that the UK is the world’s largest producer and exporter of legal cannabis.

Fundamentally the government’s postion on cannabis for medical use hasn’t changed since 1971. Those who follow the Home Office’s statements will have noticed gradual changes but they all seek to reinforce the fundamental premise that cannabis is a dangerous drug of abuse with no therapeutic benefit.

Recent ‘adjustments’, shall we call them, of the official position have dealt with the now overwhelming weight of evidence that cannabis does have very real and significant medical value.  The response has been to caution that all medicines must go through the etablished system of testing for safety and efficacy.

This is a deception as well.  As CLEAR revealed at the beginning of 2018, in every jurisdiction throughout the world where medicinal cannabis has been legally regulated, it is through a special system outside pharmaceutical medicines regulation.

Theresa May is ideologically opposed to the use of cannabis as medicine, it’s as simple as that.  She won’t permit it to be properly considered, discussed or investigated and every time something forces a response, such as a parliamentary question or an enquiry even from a fellow Conservative MP, another deceptive excuse is conjured up.

Victoria Atkins MP, Theresa May MP. Both Have Family Interests In Cannabis For Medical Use.

CLEAR can further reveal that the Home Office’s public position on prospects for licensed cannabis medicnes is also a deception. The statement that has been published is “As happened in the case of Sativex, the Home Office will consider issuing a licence to enable trials of any new medicine…”  We can’t name names just yet but we now have first hand knowledge that at least one publicly-quoted company with established cannabis production facilities in two other G7 countries has been refused permission by the Home Office even to apply for a licence.

The UK government’s stance on cannabis becomes murkier and murkier the deeper you look.  The stench of corruption becomes overpowering when you consider that Theresa May’s husband’s company is the largest single shareholder in GW Pharmaceuticals and the husband of Victoria Atkins MP, the drugs minister, holds a licence to produce 45 acres of cannabis for medical use.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 12, 2018 at 6:24 pm

Misleading Parliament Again. Victoria Atkins, The Drugs Minister With A Family Cannabis Farm.

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She’s back!  Victoria Atkins MP is again engaged in answering parliamentary questions on cannabis for the UK government.  Clearly this is wholly improper when she directly benefits from commercial production of cannabis.

Ms Atkins disappeared from public view for a few weeks after CLEAR revealed that her husband is growing 45 acres of cannabis under government licence while she argues against drugs regulation in Parliament. It was particularly notable that she was absent from the House of Commons during the recent urgent question debate on a medical cannabis licence for Alfie Dingley.  Instead, her colleague Nick Hurd MP, ostensibly the Police Minister, was required to answer a question on drugs.  Similarly, she was nowhere to be seen as Paul Flynn MP’s bill came up for debate, which sadly, as CLEAR had predicted, never took place.

It is simply extraordinary that the so-called Drugs Minister should duck and dive out of view when such issues of massive public interest hit the headlines.  She has a massive conflict of interest and it is completely unacceptable for her to continue in her present role.

Yesterday, 7th March 2018, she answered a written question from Roger Godsiff, the Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green.

“To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will assess the health and economic benefits of legalising cannabis for medical use.”

Ms Atkins answered:

“The World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence has committed to reviewing the scheduling of cannabis under the United Nation’s 1961 Convention. This is due to consider the therapeutic use, as well as dependence and the potential to abuse constituent parts of cannabis. This is due in 2019 and we will await the outcome of this report before considering the next steps.”

This answer is at best disingenuous and misleading.  Once the full facts are understood it is clear that it is deceptive and mendacious.

British Sugar’s giant greenhouse in Wissington, Norfolk where Victoria Atkins husband, Paul Kenward, grows cannabis

Ms Atkins husband, Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar, grows cannabis under contract to GW Pharmaceuticals for the production of medicine.  Ms Atkins deceit is predicated on another deception promoted by the UK government that is some way or another, Sativex, GW’s cannabis medicine is not cannabis.  GW is perfectly straightforward about this.  Sativex is a whole plant cannabis extract adjusted by simple blending of two different strains to deliver 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD.  It contains all the other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds present in the plants from which it is made.  The government deception is to justify the issue of a marketing authorisation (MA) for Sativex by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which is itself a deception.  The MA was issued on the basis that Sativex is THC and CBD alone.  The MHRA conveniently overlooks the hundreds of other ingredients and calls them “unspecified impurities”. The consequence of this is that, ludicrously, Sativex is a schedule 4 drug whilst any other form of cannabis remains schedule 1 and may not be prescribed

But the plot thickens.  The deceit goes even deeper.  It has been widely reported and British Sugar confirms that its grow is not for Sativex but for production of Epidiolex, the 98% cannabidiol (CBD) medicine that has not yet received an MA.  If, as appears certain, this is the case then the British Sugar grow is unlawful under the declared policy of the government.  Cannabis production licences (other than low-THC industrial hemp) can only be issued for “research or other special purposes“. They most certainly cannot be issued for the production of a medicine that is not yet authorised.  Even if the British Sugar cannabis is low-THC, it is definitely not an approved EU industrial hemp strain and the purpose of its production is presently unlawful.

Ms Atkins through her husband is therefore engaged in the unlawful production of cannabis and is directly engaged in misleading Parliament as to government policy, the law and the medical value of cannabis.  The World Health Organization story is a trick, a distraction, an excuse to divert Parliament from understanding the truth.

Ms Atkins conduct cannot be described in any other way except as corrupt.  She is a disgrace as a minister of the Crown, to Parliament, to her profession as a barrister, to the Conservative Party, to her constituents in Louth and Horncastle and to the United Kingdom as a whole and all of its citizens.  She is manifestly unfit for any public office.

 

Victoria Atkins MP, The UK Drugs Minister, Opposes Drugs Regulation While Her Husband Grows 45 Acres of Cannabis Under Government Licence.

The UK’s New Princess Of Prohibition: Dishonesty, Hypocrisy, Corruption And Cruelty Behind A Pretty Face.

There are many examples of wilful ignorance, blind prejudice and bare faced dishonesty on drugs policy from many former and current MPs.  There is no one though who plumbs the depths of deception and hypocrisy as the new drugs minister Victoria Atkins.

Her recent performance in the Westminster Hall debate on drug consumption rooms (DCR) was riddled with inaccuracies, distorted information and downright falsehood about the success of such facilities throughout the world.  She simply told brazen untruths in order to support her rejection of the clamour from other MPs to introduce DCRs because they are proven to save lives.  I can do no better than Transform in explaining her behaviour. Its press release sets out her lies in detail.  Ronnie Cowan MP even raised a point of order and then a Home Office question about her scandalous dishonesty but as usual the government just brushed aside any criticism.

Victoria Atkins: Barrister, MP, Home Office Minister, Dishonest And Corrupt To The Core

Ms Atkins is the daughter of Sir Robert Atkins, a former Conservative MP and MEP.  She studied law at Cambridge and was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1998. She has practised as a barrister and was formerly listed as a member of Red Lion Chambers.  She has been appointed to the Attorney General’s Regulators Panel and the Serious Fraud Office’s List of specialist fraud prosecutors.  She claims to have been involved in the prosecution of major, international, drugs gangs and that this, somehow or another, qualifies her as an expert in drugs policy.

I relate her background because it is clear that she is a highly intelligent, clever and well informed woman.  This makes her dishonesty, hypocrisy and corruption all the more serious and completely inexcusable.

Ms Atkins has replaced Sarah Newton as drugs minister.  Ms Newton didn’t last long, perhaps because she couldn’t stand the ridicule that she was subjected to for trying to hold the line on the government’s ridiculous drugs policy.  When she tried to claim that alcohol isn’t really that damaging compared to illicit drugs, she had MPs either gasping in amazement or chuckling in amusement.  Ms Atkins was clearly spotted for the job because she is one of the few MPs still enthusiastic about prohibition.

Paul Kenward, Victoria Atkins’s husband, grows cannabis under government licence

But of course, it’s specifically on cannabis that I must call Ms Atkins to account. Aside from the usual, hysterical and evidence-free claims that so-called ‘skunk’ cannabis is causing an enormous increase in mental illness, which she trots out repeatedly, she rejects any idea of regulation in drugs policy as a means of reducing harm.  In the drugs policy debate on 18th July 2017 (before she was appointed drugs minister) she said:

“We are talking about gun-toting criminals, who think nothing of shooting each other and the people who carry their drugs for them. What on earth does my hon. Friend think their reaction will be to the idea of drugs being regulated? Does he really think that these awful people are suddenly going to become law-abiding citizens?”

and “I do not share the optimism of others about tackling the problem through regulation.”

Paul Kenward’s Cannabis Greenhouse

However, in what must be the most blatant hypocrisy ever from a government minister, Ms Atkins benefits directly from regulation of drugs.  She is married to Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar which is growing 45 acres of cannabis under licence in its mammoth Norfolk greenhouse.  Mr Kenward is producing high CBD cannabis for use in Epidiolex, GW Pharma’s cannabis extract epilepsy medicine.  Ms Atkins has tried to brush this off calling it “…a very different substance (from the) psychoactive version of cannabis.”   Of course, anyone with even the most basic knowledge of plant science will know this is nonsense.  The difference between different strains of cannabis is the same as the difference between different varieties of tomatoes.  Whether they’re Ailsa Craig or Alicante, they’re all tomatoes.

With this latest scandal the shameful truth about UK drugs policy and the corrupt nature of this Conservative government is highlighted once again.  It is difficult to believe this bare faced dishonesty can prevail in a country that was once held up as an example of honour and decency but as with so much that Theresa May has been responsible for since she entered government in 2010, we are disgraced, shamed and the electorate is treated with absolute contempt.