Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
NHS Choices published an article today that represents a sea change in attitudes towards cannabis.
Finally, it seems, the facts and evidence seem to be getting through, even in Britain. Cannabis is close to a miracle plant, closely intertwined with our body’s natural endocannabinoid system, providing nurture, therapy and healing for many illnesses and promoting good health and wellbeing.
Of course, like anything, even water, it is not without the potential for harm. It is habit forming, about as much as coffee. Children shouldn’t be using it, just as they shouldn’t be drinking double espressos. The madness that is current policy causes far more harm than it prevents. We need to get the dealers off the streets, regulate and control the market properly and start allowing the people of Britain to benefit from the plant they have been denied for too long.
This clip is from ‘Sanjay Gupta MD’, CNN’s regular medical affairs programme. It was broadcast on Saturday, 16th November 2013.
An hour-long documentary is to follow, probably in March 2014, when Dr Gupta will expose the terrible cruelty, hypocrisy, dishonesty and corruption which is UK policy on medicinal cannabis. The programme will investigate GW Pharmaceuticals and its cannabis medicines Sativex and Epidiolex. It will also feature Bedrocan and its grow facility in Holland and look in detail at the process CLEAR has developed which has so far enabled five members successfully to import medicinal cannabis to the UK.
Although the UK government claims that cannabis has“no medicinal value”, it has licensed GW Pharmaceuticals to grow massive quantities of the plant which it then processes into its hugely expensive medicines. The license, which was issued for research purposes only, was operated unlawfully between 2003, when Sativex became a commercial product, until March 2013 when the Home Secretary retrospectively legalised it.
Most CCGs refuse to provide Sativex because it is so expensive. A month’s prescription of Sativex costs the NHS £560.00. The equivalent from Bedrocan costs between £35.00 and £105.00 depending on which product is prescribed.
Successive governments have failed to act in the interests of British citizens. Ministers have refused even to consider a change in policy and have ignored or rejected all the efforts of CLEAR and other groups to present evidence and make a case on behalf of those who need cannabis as medicine.
Even though medicinal cannabis was the subject most often mentioned in the written evidence to the recent Home Affairs select committee drugs inquiry, it was ignored. No evidence was heard on the subject and no questions were asked.
Peter Reynolds, president and elected leader of CLEAR, commented:
“UK policy on medicinal cannabis is cruel and corrupt. While ministers refuse even to consider reform despite overwhelming scientific evidence, hundreds of thousands of British people persist in pain, suffering and disability which could be relieved by cannabis. The police are used as armed enforcers of GW Pharmaceuticals’ unlawful monopoly, arresting and even imprisoning sick people who are merely trying to improve their health. I want to thank Dr Gupta for his work. While he has travelled thousands of miles to tell this story, UK government ministers hide in their offices with their fingers in their ears.”
So I’ve stuck with it. A shot every day for five days so far and I do feel better for it. Of course it could be any one of a hundred other unconnected reasons but as best as I can determine, my appetite is slightly reduced and I generally feel better this week than I did last.
I thought I felt a surge of energy after yesterday’s dose but I have felt pretty bad and bilious all day. My second dose definitely rejuvenated me this evening. I have bowed to the inevitable that my cocktail shall be called a Virgin Mary Jane.
Today I juiced a bucketful of shade leaves, trimmed from a very large white widow cannabis plant.
My excellent Breville juicer produced exactly a pint of thick, green cannabis juice which tastes vile.
I shall consume one shot of this each day and report any observable results. My measure is an espresso cup which I have measured at 80 ml (my pint of juice is, near as damn it, 600 ml).
Today’s medicine was taken in a large glass of ice cold V8 vegetable juice with a generous slug of Worcestershire sauce, an extended shake of Tabasco and a little salt.
In order to protect patient confidentiality and against the sort of sabotage which is so often seen in the cannabis campaign, we are not releasing details of who we are meeting or when. Suffice to say that this breakthrough has been achieved by many months of behind the scenes work, meetings with MPs, doctors and the courageous efforts of several CLEAR members.
The focus is to permit medicinal users access to the products of Bedrocan, the Dutch government’s official producer of medicinal cannabis. We now have written confirmation from both the Department of Health and the Home Office that doctors are fully entitled to write prescriptions for Bedrocan products, just as they are for any other unlicensed medicine.
The next stage is to obtain an import licence from the Home Office, either a personal import licence for each individual or a licence for a pharmacist to import and dispense. The recent re-scheduling of Sativex makes our case for obtaining these licences much stronger.
We are not there yet but we are now closer than we have ever been to enabling legal access to medicinal cannabis. The delegation will be meeting face to face with people who can make this happen.
We also have a BBC documentary producer with whom we have been working for a few months concerning a programme to be broadcast in the autumn. This visit to parliament could form an important part of the programme.
If you are interested in being considered as a member of the delegation, please email me with a concise description of yourself, your condition and your history of medicinal cannabis use: firstname.lastname@example.org
“In years to come, the attitudes that now prevail towards people that choose cannabis will be as politically incorrect as racism, homophobia or denying women the vote.
Cannabis is one of God’s greatest gifts with which mankind has had a symbiotic relationship since the dawn of time.
The prohibition experiment of the last 80 years has been a disaster. A rational approach will bring enormous benefits to our country, save billions in wasted expenditure, create thousands of new jobs, cut crime and disorder, provide tremendously safe and effective relief to millions in pain and disability.
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.
DC Tony Esmond contacted me today and he is looking for witnesses to the violence to whom he can show some photographs of suspects. He is not interested in why you were in Hyde Park or anything to with cannabis. He wants to catch the thugs who inflicted serious injury on several people. I would count it as a personal favour from anyone who is prepared to do the right thing and step forward.
Contact DC Esmond on 020 7321 9315 or 020 7321 9364. Leave a message if he’s not there.
If you did witness the trouble then you should step forward. It is the right thing to do. Any society needs law and order and police to enforce it. Although we may use cannabis, we are still entitled to the protection of the law and we should support the police, particularly when violence is involved.
This is also an opportunity to demonstrate that we are reasonable, responsible and respectable citizens. Co-operating with the police over this strengthens our argument for the change in the law that we all want to see.
My understanding of what happened is that it was a perfect demonstration of why a regulated system for cannabis is a safer and more responsible approach. It was a turf war between two groups of dealers – the inevitable result of prohibition.
What is really ironic is that CLEAR had intended to organise an event in Hyde Park tomorrow, 7th May, to coincide with the international Million Marijuana March. We invested considerable time, effort and money in applying to the Royal Parks for permission. We agreed to pay a substantial bond, take out insurance, provide stewards at a ratio of 1:20 and undertake to clear up all litter. They didn’t actually deny us permission but they refused to allow us to use a stage or a PA – even though we pointed out that this would enhance public safety and order. Consequently we decided not to go ahead and instead we are running an event in Cardiff tomorrow where we have received constructive and positive co-operation from the authorities.
So the unofficial, unregulated and un-stewarded event at Hyde Park went ahead on 20th April with its own PA and look what happened. I left at around 5.30pm when the atmosphere was still peaceful but it was evident that a massive clean up operation was going to be needed. I hope that the Royal Parks will learn a lesson from this. I shall be writing to them pointing out what a foolish mistake they made.
So I urge you to contact DC Esmond if you have any information or if you witnessed any of the trouble. Now it should be obvious but If you go to the police station to look at photographs, don’t go there stinking of weed and check your pockets to make sure you aren’t carrying anything you shouldn’t be. You don’t want to put any of the officers or yourself in a difficult position!
(Yes, I did have a little chat with DC Esmond about cannabis. I sent him a copy of the medicinal cannabis leaflet and a link to the LEAP website. Well you’ve got to try, haven’t you!)