Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Theresa May’s Government. A Very British Farce.

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What Could Be More Ridiculous?

That our Queen should be subject to the humiliation of delivering today’s speech is beyond forgiveness.

Mrs May brings our nation and the Conservative Party into deep disgrace.  There is no other period in modern history when we have been so rudderless, utterly without leadership and no prospect of anyone capable of taking charge.

An Absence Of Leadership

Corbyn’s campaign was inspirational. I take my hat off to him, salute, bend my knee, acknowledge as gracefully as I can that he was magnificent.

He made best use of Theresa May’s dreadful mistakes and charmless persona and the result was a triumph, if not a victory.  It was very close to the result I wanted.  In late May I wrote ‘The Best Election Outcome Is A Tory Government With A Weakened Theresa May.’

The prospect of doing a deal with the DUP, a party of socially retarded bigots with links to loyalist terrorism, is disgusting.  It throws into sharp focus the equally disgusting attacks on Corbyn for his efforts at peacemaking.  But even that is failing.

Mrs May is, beyond doubt, incompetent as PM.  The important issue is who can provide desperately needed leadership?

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 20, 2017 at 10:11 pm

Why Is CLEAR Supporting Lord Monson In His Campaign Against So-Called ‘Skunk’?

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Lord Nicholas Monson

Lord Nicholas Monson

CLEAR’s first and overriding objective is to end the prohibition of cannabis.  The tragedies that have struck the Monson family demonstrate all too clearly that prohibition of cannabis is futile.  Not only does it not protect people from harm, it actually maximises the harms and dangers of the cannabis market.

Nicholas Monson’s eldest son, Alexander, was arrested in Kenya in 2012. allegedly for smoking cannabis.  Toxicology reports found no evidence of cannabis in his system. According to both a government and an independent pathologist he died from a fatal blow to the back of his head while in police custody.  Clearly, it was the law against cannabis that led directly to Alexander’s death.

Nicholas Monson with his son Rupert

Just three months ago, Rupert, Nicholas Monson’s younger son, took his own life after a descent into depression and psychosis in which the excessive consumption of so-called ‘skunk’ was clearly a significant factor.  Rupert himself said that he was addicted and there is good evidence to show that cannabis without CBD is more addictive.  It is well established from research as far back as the early 1990s that approx 9% of regular users develop dependence which produces real physical withdrawal symptoms: insomnia, lack of appetite and irritability, sometimes a headache.  For most people these are easily overcome within a week or so but not for everyone.  Most importantly though, cannabis in the early 1990s contained, on average, half to a third as much THC as it does now and always a healthy buffer of CBD.  The addictiveness of so-called ‘skunk’ with zero or very little CBD, is several times greater than the cannabis available 20 to 30 years ago.

It’s important to add that Rupert was also very badly failed by the dire state of mental health services. Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, a specialist provider of mental health and drug treatment services said that he needed to be admitted but a bed was not available.  It was just a few days later that he committed suicide.

Nicholas Monson has called for so-called ‘skunk’ to be made a class A drug but also for lower potency cannabis, with a maximum THC:CBD ratio of 3:1 to be made legally available through a regulated system.  Theresa May wrote to him after reading coverage of the story in the press.  She expressed her sympathy and said how she shared his concerns.  Importantly, she suggested that Lord Monson prepare a paper and a presentation to the Home Office on his proposals.  This is a tremendous opportunity towards introducing measures that will better protect vulnerable people like Rupert and also for wider reform of the cannabis laws that will reduce all the harms presently caused by prohibition.  Cannabis would be purchased from government licensed outlets just like alcohol and the aim would be to collapse the criminal market just like the market in dangerous, ‘moonshine’ whisky.

CLEAR does not agree that raising so-called ‘skunk’ to class A would be an effective measure.  It would be virtually impossible to enforce, requiring a massive increase in laboratory testing of cannabis and the supply of high potency varieties would simply be pushed underground. The price will go up and all the harms of a criminal market will be increased.  All the evidence is that drug classification or penalties have absolutely no effect whatsoever on consumption.  However, Lord Monson suggests that all personal cannabis possession should be decriminalised and police would focus only on dealers in so-called ‘skunk’.  There is a very strong argument that with high quality cannabis available legally, people would turn away from the black market.

Of course, we support the idea of legally available cannabis with a maximum THC:CBD ratio of 3:1.  This could be the basis of a system that could work very successfully. The product would be available only through a limited number of licensed outlets to adults only.  It would be supplied in appropriate packaging with detailed labelling of contents.  Possession of any cannabis not in this packaging would be reasonable grounds for it to be seized and tested.

Lord Nicholas Monson, Peter Reynolds

This will, of course, provoke outrage amongst many cannabis consumers, particularly those who grow their own but it would be fantastic progress.  It would usher in a far more rational, sensible regime where we could establish real data about harms and risks.  If appropriate, this could lead to the regulation of higher potency varieties.  Of course, we recognise that for medical use, a completely different approach to cannabinoid content is required and much higher potency may be necessary in some instances.

CLEAR is in the business of reform and this is the most likely path to reform that has ever emerged in the UK.  We are not in the business of promoting a cannabis market which enthusiasts and connoisseurs would regard as some sort of utopia.  The only purpose of any drugs policy must be to reduce harm and this proposal, if implemented, would massively reduce all the social harms caused by prohibition and reduce the risk of health harms.

Finally, it has to be said that, in typical fashion, a substantial part of the cannabis community has reacted in almost hysterical anger to Lord Monson’s proposals.  The only effect of such behaviour is to hold back reform.  We have been horrified and disgusted at the abuse directed at the Monson family.  It has shown cannabis consumers in the very worst light and demonstrated that some are so stupid that they damage the very cause they seek to advocate.  Nicholas Monson is a grieving father who, despite his agony, has seen the rational way forward and lent his energy and commitment towards reform that will benefit everyone.  We stand alongside him and we urge all cannabis consumers to consider these ideas carefully – and please, lend us your support!

Lord Nicholas Monson adds:

“The motivation for my campaign is to protect the young and vulnerable in particular from ingesting any substance whose contents can have a deleterious short or long term effect on their minds. To watch one’s son spiral into psychosis from a heavy usage of skunk is distressing to behold. Rupert’s psychiatric team put his psychosis down to skunk. This is unequivocal. Yes there are other psychoactive drugs around but skunk is what did for Rupert. It so happens that the remedy for skunk is a legalised and regulated market in cannabis where clear information is available. This should be applauded by the recreational cannabis community. Separately I have long supported the medical community’s initiatives to prescribe variants of cannabis with high CBD for people suffering from a wide variety of conditions.”

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 7, 2017 at 7:10 pm

So-Called ‘Skunk’ – What Does The Word Mean And How Much Of A Problem Is It?

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The meaning of the word ‘skunk’ has changed.   Today it has come to mean high potency cannabis that contains zero or very little CBD and this is a definition that is now in general use worldwide, including by scientists such as Professors David Nutt and Val Curran who are very much supporters of reform.

Skunk #1

Originally, it meant a strain of cannabis selectively bred from a Colombian sativa, a Mexican sativa and an Afghan indica that was christened skunk because of its extremely strong smell. The smell has nothing to do with its strength and is produced by the terpenes in the plant, not the cannabinoids. In fact, contrary to popular opinion, skunk is not particularly strong, producing about 8% THC which in today’s terms, with many strains now exceeding 20%, could even be described as weak. However what defines the strain was that it was one of the first to breed out virtually all the CBD content.

Skunk #1 was one of the earliest successful cannabis hybrids. In fact, its genetics are fundamental to the cannabis grown by GW Pharmaceuticals and incorporated into its licensed whole plant cannabis medicine Sativex.

The word was quickly adopted by headline writers in the British gutter press, the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph, all off which are relentlessly engaged in publishing anti-cannabis propaganda, often completely fake and always wildly exaggerated.  In the UK media the term simply became a sensationalist synonym for cannabis.

As well as an unregulated, often wildly irresponsible press, the UK is also home to a small group of researchers who are steadily and consistently funded to investigate the negative effects of cannabis, more than anywhere else in the world. The figurehead and lead scientist is Professor Sir Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.  No one else has published as much research on the negative effects of cannabis which, although they can be very serious in a few cases, apply only to a tiny, fraction of one percent of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are cannabis consumers.

Professor Sir Robin Murray

I have met Sir Robin several times.  In fact I once spent two days sitting next to him at a conference in the House of Lords.  His views on cannabis are much more balanced than they are presented in the press.  In fact he is on the record stating that the majority of people gain a great deal of benefit and enjoyment from cannabis.  As a scientist he also recognises the now considerable body of evidence demonstrating that cannabis is a safe and effective medicine for a wide range of conditions.  He is, however, the poster boy for modern day reefer madness and his work his quoted on a selective basis by all those who oppose cannabis law reform.  Even Kings College’s own press office has a record of exaggerating, overstating and misrepresenting Sir Robin’s work.

It was Sir Robin and his team who first started to use the word ‘skunk’ in a scientific context.  As far as I am aware, they have never properly defined it and as the thrust of much of their work is that psychotic symptoms from cannabis use are dose dependent, it is difficult to understand why they have chosen to use it without specifying what it means in terms of THC and CBD levels.

Gradually however, the term has become accepted within the scientific community and this reinforces its use in the media.  Perhaps the last nail in the coffin of the correct definition was the Channel 4 Drugs Live programme in 2015 when Professors David Nutt and Val Curran adopted the word.  This despite the fact that the cannabis they used was provided by Bedrocan, the Netherlands government’s official producer and was a haze strain, most definitely not skunk.

Ch 4 Drugs Live: Cannabis. Prof. David Nutt, Jon Snow, Prof. Val Curran

So, after much consideration, CLEAR has decided to bow to the inevitable and recognise that the meaning of the word has changed.  It is now shorthand for high potency, low CBD cannabis and it has become counterproductive to hold out for the correct definition. We must accept that language and words evolve and change over time.  In future we will refer to so-called ‘skunk’ and we will explain what it means.  Importantly this means stressing that it is not so much the absolute level of THC that matters but the absence or virtual absence of CBD.  Even a strain that contains 5% THC can be harmful to vulnerable people if it contains no CBD.  Conversely, a strain containing as much as 25% THC but perhaps 5% CBD is much safer and virtually harmless for the vast majority of adults.

How Much Of A Problem Is So-Called ‘Skunk’?

It remains a fact that peanuts are a far riskier substance to consume than cannabis, even so-called ‘skunk’.  About one in 100 people suffer from peanut allergy which in severe cases can be life threatening.  By contrast, the data shows that about one in 20,000 people risks a psychotic episode after consumption of cannabis.  To add more context, about four in one hundred people are allergic to seafood and, adjusting for the number of users, alcohol consumption is five times more likely than cannabis to see anyone admitted to hospital for mental health problems.

On the face of it then, relatively speaking, so-called ‘skunk’ is safer than peanuts or oysters – but this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do everything we can to protect those few people who are at risk.

No one really understands why, how or even if cannabis is a significant factor in some people becoming seriously mentally ill.  Psychosis in all its forms, including schizophrenia, strikes most commonly in young men just as they are dealing with all the other problems of reaching adulthood: becoming independent from parents, the hormonal changes of adolescence, forming relationships and reaching sexual maturity, pressure of exams, starting work and beginning to experiment with alcohol, cannabis and other drugs.  Nevertheless it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that it is at least a component factor in some cases and possibly much more significant in a few.  Clearly, cannabis is a powerful psychoactive substance and it can have positive and negative effects on the mind.  Science proves that the developing brain is more vulnerable to the effects of any substance while it is at the height of its ‘plasticity’ when its course of development can easily be changed.  Science also proves that so-called ‘skunk’ with zero or very little CBD can be more harmful than when this protective compound is present.

The same vulnerabilities exist in respect of other mental health issues, particularly depression.  Again, depression, manifested at its extreme by suicide, is most common in young men experiencing the turmoil of their time of life.  While some people find cannabis helps with this, for others it can make the condition far worse.  For some a small amount of cannabis can be beneficial but take a little too much and the effect is reversed.  In all cases, the absence of CBD only makes matters worse.

So, in conclusion, the absolute risk of consuming so-called ‘skunk’ is very small but for a few people it can be very serious.  It’s inaccurate to deem so-called ‘skunk’ as dangerous, just as no one calls peanuts or oysters dangerous but for those few people who are vulnerable, ‘skunk’, peanuts and oysters can all be very, very dangerous.

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 7, 2017 at 5:38 pm

Theresa May Surrenders To Terrorism.

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Mrs May’s authoritarian, repressive, anti-human rights response to the recent attacks is the action of a coward. She is rewarding terrorism with exactly what it seeks. She is caving in to the most extreme form of blackmail.

If we surrender our liberty then we have nothing.  But Mrs May doesn’t believe in liberty so it is no loss to her.  This is the excuse she has been wanting since she first took over the Home Office in 2010.  If we allow her, she will turn Britain into a police state. Mrs May is the would-be promoter of thought crime, intensive snooping, censorship, rigid and inflexible laws, suppression of dissent, severe punishments and, as she has already demonstrated with asylum seekers, locking people up without trial.

Believe me, she is Britain’s worst nightmare.

Mrs May dishonours those who precede her.  Would Margaret Thatcher have surrendered the very principles that Winston Churchill devised?

She alone bears responsibility for the underfunding and inadequacy of our anti-terrorism strategy so now she thinks she can crack down harder to deal with the consequences of her own mistakes.  Note this is exactly Mrs May’s approach to drugs policy and it has failed time and time again.  In fact it just makes the problem worse.

If Mrs May remains prime minister at the end of this week, I fear for the future of our nation.

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 6, 2017 at 9:50 pm

Our Police Are Under-Resourced To Deal With Radicalisation And Theresa May Is Responsible.

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It is clear that the instigators of the Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge attacks were known to the authorities but the police simply do not have the resources to monitor these people as necessary. Since 2010, Theresa May has been responsible for this and she has failed.

This is another in a long and familiar line of failures.  Given the tragedies of the last fortnight, surely it should cost Mrs May the election?  A terrible, incompetent campaign along with her record on immigration, policing, drugs policy, the Passport Office, asylum, the Snooper’s Charter, the Border Force, her general authoritarian, secretive attitudes – surely this must be the end for her?

I fear not.  Although I am a Conservative on principle, Mrs May has been soundly and deservedly defeated in this election campaign.  Her record, her wobbly policies, her charmless, insincere style must lose her votes.

She is no leader, she is a bureaucrat with deeply puritan, authoritarian instincts.  She is no prime minister for Britain in the 21st century.  But it still seems she will be slithering back into Downing Street, just like the snake that, apparently, most people choose as her animal avatar.

I do not want to see a Corbyn-led socialist government and I think there is little chance of that but Mrs May must be defeated.  At all costs the Conservative Party must find a new and credible leader.  The future of Britain depends on it.

 

Why Is A Soft-Porn Model In a BDSM Outfit A Role Model For Young Girls?

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No disrespect to the victims and survivors of the diabolical Manchester attack.  Neither do I wish to undermine the courage and generosity of Ariana Grande returning so soon to Manchester for a benefit concert.  But what are the parents of her teenage and pre-pubescent fans up to?    How has this phenomena happened in a world that is one minute sex-obsessed and the next overly-protective of children?

I’m not too old (yet) for my immediate reaction to images of Ms Grande to be “…phwooar!” but then I check myself because she’s hardly past childhood herself.  What is going on?  On the one hand we have the handwringing and pious condemnation of our highly sexualised society, on the other we have kids wearing ‘Porn Star’ t-shirts, thigh-high boots and all sorts of PVC, leather and even ‘chained’ fashion accessories.  We have the righteous prosecution of more and more sex offenders but also the terrible persecution of a small number of innocent men who are pursued by both media and prosecutors with a mixture of prurience and blind, injudicious revenge.

I don’t even know whether Ms Grande can sing but she certainly can dance and flaunt herself in very sexy, provocative fashion.  Surely more suitable for a night out in Amsterdam or Berlin rather than a children’s pop concert?

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 1, 2017 at 7:46 am

My Spoiled Ballot Paper. What Other Choice Is There?

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In case you can’t read my dreadful handwriting, here’s what I have written on my postal ballot paper:

Canning, Andy. Liberal Democrats – “An illiberal and undemocratic party”
Clayton, Kelvin Charles. Green – “Irrelevant”
Letwin, Oliver. Conservative – “I could vote for Letwin but this is a presidential election. I cannot vote for May.”
Rhodes, Lee. Labour – “Socialism is a delusion”

I remain a member of the Conservative Party but Theresa May is not a true Tory. It is she who has made this a presidential election, against all the principles of British democracy and I cannot possibly support her. She betrays all fundamental Tory values. She doesn’t believe in individual liberty and responsibility, she is a repressive, nanny-state authoritarian.  She doesn’t believe in small government, she is a bureaucrat who wants an ever-larger state encroaching into every aspect of our lives. She is not a true Tory.

Please review my previous articles about Mrs May.

22-01-17 – Theresa May Is Not A Tory, She’s An Authoritarian Bureaucrat.

29-03-17 – Thank You Ms May, Your Work is Now Done.

07-05-17 – Theresa May Isn’t Strong, She’s Cowardly, Evasive And Weak – And I’m A Tory!

22-05-17 – The Best Election Outcome Is A Tory Government With A Weakened Theresa May.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 27, 2017 at 5:32 pm