Archive for the ‘Business’ Category
Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists (let’s call them synthetic cannabinoids) are highly toxic, dangerous substances associated with a range of extremely serious, potentially fatal, medical conditions.
Synthetic cannabinoids are intended to mimic the effects of THC but they can be 50 or even 100 times more potent. They also bind more tightly to the CB1 receptor meaning the effect can be more intense and longer lasting. They are nothing like real cannabis. They don’t have the balancing effect of CBD and other cannabinoids. There is no ‘entourage effect‘, now known to be the real engine of the therapeutic and pleasant effects of real cannabis.
Cannabis is probably the least toxic, therapeutic and psychoactive substances known to science but these nasty chemicals are the very opposite. Why would anyone sell them? They are the product of prohibition and sold by immoral, irresponsible, exploitative drug dealers who are no better than those that sell dirty heroin or crack on the streets to the most vulnerable people. Most synthetic cannabinoids are sold to children, teenagers or very young adults.
Synthetic cannabinoids are associated with seizure, stroke, severe kidney problems, panic attacks, cardiac arrest, severe psychotic episodes, fever, dehydration, paranoia, hallucinations, supraventricular tachycardia – the list goes on and on.
Of course, you have no idea what you’re getting, which synthetic cannabinoid is in the ‘Spice‘ or ‘K2‘ that you’ve been sold or, indeed, whether there’s a cocktail. Many of these products sold as ‘legal highs‘ actually contain substances that have been banned, so buying them doesn’t even protect you from prosecution. Well it might, or it might not. You just don’t know. The shops that sell these products have no idea what’s in them either.
You have no idea how they are manufactured, in what conditions, using what precursors or what dangerous chemical processes. You have no idea how they are mixed into herbal material if they look like weed or into a squidgy black substance if they look like hash. I’ve seen Chris Bovey of Totnes, Europe’s biggest dealer in synthetic cannabinoids, mix his fake hash. He uses a food mixer and just adds random amounts of anonymous white powder to whatever is the base substance. God knows what that already contains.
Bovey told me that he has a chemist working in Austria who comes up with the compounds for his ‘legal highs‘. He then uses laboratories in China to manufacture them. He showed me a canister, rather like a large tea caddy, covered in Chinese writing and symbols. There was no measurement of any sort. He just tipped several slugs of the powder into the mixing bowl and then a bit more for luck.
I do wonder though whether his motives are more sinister. Why would Bovey, who claims to have made more than £500,000.00 personally from selling ‘Spice‘, want to see cannabis legalised? It doesn’t really make any sense. His role may be about subverting the cannabis campaign in the UK. He has certainly succeeded in creating massive negative energy and meanwhile his ‘legal highs‘ empire is expanding worldwide, even as far as Japan.
Irrespective of Bovey’s involvement in this nasty business, steer well clear of synthetic cannabinoids. I am not calling for them to be banned. That would only drive them underground and create yet another criminal market. The real answer is to legalise, regulate and tax cannabis and MDMA, both relatively safe substances. If we did that then the market for these horrible synthetics would dry up. New Zealand has gone halfway there already with its Psychoactive Substances Act 2013, very intelligent and progressive legislation. It’s a model that the rest of the world would do well to follow and I see no reason why cannabis and MDMA couldn’t be included in it.
Synthetic cannabis risk ‘vast': http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/global-drug-survey/9945906/Synthetic-cannabis-risk-vast
Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 and psychosis: An explorative study: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871611000639
Severe Toxicity Following Synthetic Cannabinoid Ingestion: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/15563650.2011.609822
The synthetic cannabinoid Spice as a trigger for an acute exacerbation of cannabis induced recurrent psychotic episodes: http://www.schres-journal.com/article/S0920-9964(09)00591-X/abstract
Understanding the dangers of the fake marijuana called ‘Spice’ or ‘K2′: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131002112426.htm
Why Synthetic Marijuana Is More Dangerous Than the Real Thing: http://www.livescience.com/18646-synthetic-marijuana-dangerous-health.html
Acute Kidney Injury Associated with Synthetic Cannabinoid Use: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6206a1.htm
The Ritz has paid no tax whatsoever in 17 years!
Of course, Cameron and Osborne wouldn’t comment. They reserve their condemnation of tax avoidance for Jimmy Carr.
Cannabinoids are powerful substances. They are fundamental to life. With that power comes danger. Modern science and chemistry allows unscrupulous businessmen to exploit and endanger young people as they follow the perfectly natural path of all youngsters – to experiment and to get “high”.
In mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, the endocannabinoid system regulates all aspects of physical and mental health. Evolution, Mother Nature, God, Science – whatever name you assign to it – has endowed the cannabis plant as the only natural source of cannabinoids outside the body. Self-evidently, we are in a chicken and egg dilemma here about names and terminology but the facts remain the same, cannabinoids are vital substances. The cannabis plant exists in a symbiotic relationship with mankind. No wonder that some call it sacred.
The great immoral evil that is prohibition seeks to deny access to cannabis. So, in our modern, technological world, inevitably, people find a way to circumvent the law. This was the birth of “legal highs”, the creation of “analogues” or slight molecular variations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), notorious as the ingredient in cannabis that gets you “high”. In fact, the benefits of cannabis are much more complex than that. It is the interaction of around 100 cannabinoids in the plant together with terpines, flavonoids and other compounds that produce the delightful and therapeutic effects.
The effect of synthetic cannabinoids – “Spice” was the biggest brand name ever – is vile. It is really, truly horrible. It has none of the inherent, natural, protective balance of real cannabis. It causes paranoia, anxiety, fear, delusions, all the symptoms that describe psychosis, the term that has been used to demonise cannabis which, in its natural form, is actually very safe and contains anti-psychotic agents. Worse than that, Spice can lead to elevated blood pressure, heart palpitations, seizures and vomiting. As well as the lack of natural, counterbalancing ingredients, it is also believed to bind more strongly to the cannabinoid receptors, increasing the duration and potency of its effects.
In Britain, the centre of the synthetic cannabinoid business is Totnes, an apparently sleepy market town in Devon. In fact, it is an important hub of the synthetic cannabinoid business in Europe and worldwide. Here, in a grubby warehouse, on a run down industrial estate, completely untested chemical compounds are imported from China, mixed with other ingredients of dubious source and then distributed around the Britain and the world, largely to be sold to young people and children, completely outside the control, moral or legal regulation of any responsibility.
If Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall wants to do something effective to protect young people, instead of breaking down the doors of people growing a few cannabis plants he should be checking out the contents of this warehouse in Totnes. It is a combination of laziness and ignorance that the police aren’t dealing with this. Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are far, far more dangerous to our young people and our communities than the natural and generally benign cannabis plant.
Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are usually dried herbs or plant material that has been sprayed with cannabinoid(s) and marketed as a smoking material. Often the plant material itself has some sort of psychoactive effect. These include blue water lily (Nymphaea caerulea), dwarf skullcap (Scutellaria nana), Maconha brava (Zornia latifolia or Z. diphylla), Siberian motherwort (Leonurus sibiricus), Indian warrior (Pedicularis densiflora) and lion’s tail (Leonotis leonuru). Large amounts of Vitamin E have also been found in some samples, possibly to mask detection of the cannabinoids. The cannabinoids themselves are usually JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, HU-210 and cannabicyclohexanol. They might be used individually or in any ratio or combination that is convenient or profitable.
From 23rd December 2009, these known ingredients of Spice were prohibited and are now “controlled” under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as if they are cannabis. However, they are very difficult to detect and many more synthetic cannabinoids have been developed. In Totnes there may be a large amount of left over Spice, re-packaged as something else, possibly even mixed with new synthetics which this “Mr Big” has formulated for him by his expert chemist who he told me is based in Austria. Who knows what these products contain? Mr Big and the Austrian chemist engage in frequent email correspondence and samples are sent back and forth as ever more effective attempts are made to evade the law and produce stronger and more profitable chemicals.
A year or so ago I was invited inside this warehouse myself and it opened my eyes to the extremes that some people are prepared to go to make a fast buck. It is dark, dank and clammy. It reeks of slightly rotten or putrid contents. There are boxes and crates spread in no apparent order everywhere. There are large envelopes and plastic containers on shelves containing indeterminate substances that look like dried mushrooms, herbs and plant material. There are also unlabelled powders and pills and, surprisingly for something that is now supposed to be against the law to possess or sell, large quantities of packets that are labelled “Spice”, although what they actually contain is uncertain.
Mr Big is surrounded by a small group of sycophants, some work in his warehouse, some are controlled by gifts and “entertainment”. Downstairs in the dingy warehouse groups of people sit around smoking.
Upstairs in the office is even more worrying. There’s everything you would expect at a thriving mail order business. People working on computers, answering telephones, packing orders and yet more strange substances and distinctly dodgy looking products. I am shown a tea caddy-like container, covered in Chinese decoration and writing. I’m told it is the very latest synthetic cannabinoid imported from China. It’s a fine white powder that glistens slightly. Then I’m introduced to the manufacturing process.
A large red “Kitchen Aid” food mixer, the sort you would find in a professional kitchen, is taken off the shelf and Mr Big produces a football sized lump of squidgy, black, supposedly inert, base material. Yes, it looks just like squidgy, black hash but what exactly it contains I have no idea and neither, I should think, does Mr Big. Into the mixing bowl goes a generous handful of this gunk and then the cannabinoid is sprinkled over it. There’s no measurement or calculation or care involved . It’s entirely haphazard and, it has to be said, reckless. The mixer is cranked up to maximum and left to do its work with just one more slug of the white powder for luck. Soon it will be cut into small portions and distributed through head shops and by mail order for unsuspecting people to try.
Yes, I tried it myself. It was horrendous. I am a very experienced cannabis user of over 40 years standing. I’ve tried and enjoyed the strongest varieties, be it Nepalese, Afghan or Pakistani hash, concentrated oil, Thai sticks, the finest medicinal product from Bedrocan in Holland and MMJ dispensaries in the USA. Nothing could have prepared me for the potency and horrible effect of this Totnes poison.
I crumbled a very small amount into my favourite metal pipe, lit it and took a very gentle pull, just enough to get it burning. Within moments I had the most powerful and unpleasant sensation. Every negative, nasty and unwanted effect that I’ve experienced from anything cannabis related was there. Previously, the only bad effects I’ve had from the real thing are when I’ve eaten too much but this was much worse than that. I was instantly on edge, feeling slightly panicky and breathing very quickly. It took fifteen minutes to wear off and the rest of the small sample that Mr Big had given me went straight in the bin.
So what’s the answer to this? Ban it? Lock up Mr Big and throw away the key?
Not at all. Prohibition is a dangerous and irresponsible policy that always causes more harm than it prevents. Remember, Spice is already banned but it hasn’t made any difference to Mr Big and he probably doesn’t even know himself which products in his sordid inventory are allowed and which aren’t. It would probably keep the local drug testing laboratory busy for a year before they manage to go through them all.
These synthetic cannabinoids and all “legal highs” whether or not they’ve yet been banned, are the product of prohibition. They would not exist, nor pose any significant problem, were it not for the ludicrous, self-defeating and harmful policy followed by the British government and other misguided administrations all over the world.
The only answer is to regulate, to introduce a system of licensing, age restrictions and consumer protection. It won’t eliminate the problem entirely but at least it will give us some degree of control, because prohibition provides none.
Mr Big doesn’t give a damn. Although he has a family of his own including small children, all he is concerned with are the hundreds of thousands of pounds he has made by turning Totnes into a worldwide centre for his disgusting trade. We must take responsibility, regulate, control and protect and in due course, Mr Big will get what’s coming to him.
I am pleased to announce that CLEAR will be launching an information campaign about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids.
The ultimate answer is to end the prohibition of cannabis.
Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect any bonus, not even a toothbrush.
Five years minimum plus a £10 million fine please.
Then we might be able to say that we’re just beginning to redress the balance.
I agree, “socialist” is a term of abuse. Anyone who can seriously suggest this irrational philosophy as a model on which to run a 21st century economy is at least deluded, if not a saboteur.
Adrian Beecroft, founder of the “Wonga” payday loan company describes Vince Cable as a “socialist” and says he is “not fit for office” in the Daily Telegraph today.
But any sort of abuse coming from a man who runs the disgusting, exploitative, shameful “Wonga” is hypocrisy at its very worst.
Wonga is a despicable business, based on usury and exploitation of poor people. What is does used to be illegal and it still should be. Morally, Beecroft is a criminal both in intent and action.
If he calls the moderate, independent, Dr Cable a “socialist” then I call him a fascist. Those of us who would like to see a modern, inclusive, intelligent Tory party reject out of hand any contribution from this man who represents the very worst, nastiest side of British business.
The current adult population of the UK is estimated to be 40 million. If we split the 75 big ones evenly, that’s £1875 each.
I wonder if that would do more or less to get the economy going?
“They earn money from crime, particularly from drugs…”
So do something about it! Pull the rug from underneath the gangs and organised crime. Take away their lifeblood.
Tax and regulate cannabis. Take a safer, more responsible approach. Build a properly controlled supply chain. Create jobs. Protect children. Stop wasting police time and resources. Reap the multi-billion pound and immeasurable social benefits of a sensible policy on cannabis.