Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Cameron On Cannabis Part 6

with 32 comments

Cameron On Cannabis Part 5 is here.

David Cameron’s mistakes about university places, immigration and cannabis have been on my mind over the Easter holiday.  Given the huge resources he has to ensure that his information is correct, it’s not really acceptable for our prime minister to be so error prone.  If the problem is that his attempts at spin are not working and he’s deliberately telling untruths but being caught out, well perhaps that’s even more worrying.

Whichever may be the case, and I’m ready to give Mr Cameron the benefit of  the doubt about his sincerity, we are entitled to call him to account.  I decided to give him another prod about the errors and mistakes he’s making about cannabis.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I refer to my last letter of 5th April 2011.

The statements you made about cannabis in your Al Jazeera YouTube interview were inaccurate and misleading.  Please will you now correct them?

“Incredibly damaging…very, very toxic…leads to, in many cases, huge mental health problems”

This is simply not true Mr Cameron. Professor Les Iversen, chair of the ACMD, your chief drugs advisor, is on the record, repeatedly, stating that cannabis is very, very low in toxicity and relatively safe.  Furthermore, all the experts agree that the risks to mental health are very, very small, certainly much less than alcohol or tobacco.

On the medicinal use of cannabis you said:

“…the science and medical authorities…are free to make independent determinations about that.”

This is also untrue Mr Cameron.  The Home Office stands obstinately in the way of medicinal use despite overwhelming, peer reviewed scientific evidence.  It denies the relief of a safe and inexpensive medicine to thousands who are trapped in pain, suffering and disability.  This is a cruel policy and a disgraceful shame on our nation.

Please will you now correct these untruths Mr Cameron?  They were your words.  You were not advised by the Home Office.  CLEAR represents the interests of at least six million regular users of cannabis in Britain, thousands of whom use it as medicine.  We are reasonable, responsible, respectable citizens and taxpayers and we are entitled to insist that our prime minister speaks the truth

Recently, you also spoke misleading words about cannabis and mental health on “Jamie’s Dream School” and you said that “…if you legalise drugs you will make them even more prevalent than they are”, yet this too is contradicted by all the evidence in Portugal, Holland and the USA.  Even the No 10 Strategy Unit Drugs Policy Project reported in 2003 that “There is no causal relationship between availability and incidence…problematic drug use is not driven by changes in availability or price.”

This time though you were talking directly to young people, those who your government says it is most important to send the correct message to.  Mr Cameron, the only message that government consistently sends to young people is that it does not tell them the truth about drugs.

Please Mr Cameron, we are entitled to expect that you tell the truth and that you correct errors when they are made.  These statements were not matters of opinion nor of interpretation, They are determined by scientific evidence.  Will you please now correct them?

Yours sincerely,

Peter Reynolds

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32 Responses

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  1. excelent letter Peter

    rastades

    April 26, 2011 at 7:53 am

  2. It is extremely disappointing that politicians, civil servants and people paid by us do not feel compelled to answer our questions. Are there any other instances in which the employee can bluntly ignore the requests of their employer and get away with it? I’m wondering whether there is an equivalent to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) when it comes to forcing our employees to answer our legitimate questions? Do you know the answer, or know somebody who knows?

    Gart Valenc
    http://www.stopthewarondrugs.org

    Gart Valenc

    April 26, 2011 at 9:02 am

    • I was reading this article on the BBC the other day: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13181756

      If legal action could theoretically be taken over an MP lying about AV, then why not cannabis?

      Ronnie

      April 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      • Remember to vote Yes guys

        Phuxake

        April 27, 2011 at 7:50 am

      • The referendum on AV is something that concerns each and every one of us, the citizens of this country. I do believe AV falls short, by a long distance, of the radical changes our electoral system requires. In this sense, it bothers me to think that it is highly likely that this referendum will foreclose future consultations on more comprehensive reforms.

        As of now, I am fearful that only a minority, if previous voting participation is anything to go by, will bother to vote. That would make the whole exercise meaningless and undemocratic. Even though I can see its drawbacks, I do believe voting should be obligatory. So, whatever our political convictions, it is our duty to go to the polling stations and make our opinion count.

        Gart Valenc
        http://www.stopthewarondrugs.

        Gart Valenc

        April 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      • I agree with you completely Gart. I shall be voting yes to AV but I am not optimistic about the result.

        I too think voting should be compulsory. You have to turn up and take your ballot paper but then you can do with it what you will.

        Peter Reynolds

        April 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm

  3. Good letter Peter only one thing you forgot, Cameron is on record as saying that herbal cannabis has no medical benefit, yet the reply I received from Earl Howe the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Quality and the Minister responsible for pharmacy policy at the Department of health makes it clear that there is little or no real difference except Sativex is contaminated with two alcohols and peppermint neither of which has any medical value, the only thing missing in Sativex is 10% of the original plant material ie fibre. Only one other difference remains the level of CBD in Sativex obtained from a different strain of skunk than the one produced for its THC content. The irony being that if GW left its high THC plant in their grow room a bit longer the THC would degrade to CBD just like the ones that come out of my grow room.

    Philip Walsh

    April 26, 2011 at 9:28 am

  4. its kinda like trying to get a compulsive liar to start telling the truth,,,or blood out of a stone.Im really puzzled by their approach ,considering the real facts are here to stay and theyre insisting on sticking to some medieval beliefs,all the while,exposing themselves as utterly un-trustworthy,,very very puzzling.

    martyn

    April 26, 2011 at 10:47 am

  5. Good letter Peter only one thing you forgot, Cameron is on record as saying that herbal cannabis has no medical benefit, yet the reply I received from Earl Howe the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Quality and the Minister responsible for pharmacy policy at the Department of health makes it clear that there is little or no real difference except Sativex is contaminated with two alcohols and peppermint neither of which has any medical value, the only thing missing in Sativex is 10% of the original plant material ie fibre. Only one other difference remains the level of CBD in Sativex obtained from a different strain of skunk than the one produced for its THC content. The irony being that if GW took its high THC plant out of their grow room a bit earlier the THC would still be CBD just like the ones that come out of my grow room early.

    Philip Walsh

    April 26, 2011 at 11:36 am

    • Sorry about the first post, THC starts as CBD and degrades to CBN. I wasn’t with it this morning!

      Philip Walsh

      April 26, 2011 at 11:39 am

  6. Great letter Peter – please keep on at them as often as possible…. surely they can’t ignore you forever?

    Obviously he must receive thousands of letters everyday and in most part they would simply be opened by a subordinate and receive a standard reply (as you have found previously). However, I think that with enough pressure DC will eventually be passed on one of your letters and maybe you’ll receive a reply from him………….. or even given the chance to speak to him directly (highly unlikely, but you never know!).

    However, his consistent lying on the subject makes me think he is simply towing the line he is told to tow……… which is rather worrying, because surely our PM should be able to have his own opinion on this and not be led by Big Pharma / Tobacco / Alcohol firms (as currently seems to be the case)?

    To compound this, when you look at his views before he got into office he was really keen to relax the laws on cannabis and generally start making drug laws science based. Add to this the fact that the Lib Dems policy on drug laws is to base them on science and it becomes increasingly frustrating that our archaic laws remain the unchanged.

    If only Obama would take the first steps and sort out the Medicinal Marijuana laws at a Federal level, then DC really wouldn’t have any choice but to follow suit.

    Bren

    April 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm

  7. Great!

    Now next time he tries to use these arguments again we can say that he has been sent a letter highlighting why he is incorrect – hence showing his ignorance on the issue.

    Yumita Yumara

    April 26, 2011 at 7:10 pm

  8. Can anyone give me a heads up on the new sentencing laws for small home grown cultivation please

    cheers

    Paul smith

    April 26, 2011 at 7:48 pm

  9. The work yourself and the whole of CLEAR are doing is excellent, Peter. Your efforts are being noticed more and more every day and I would just like to thank you on behalf of everyone in Britain (even though they probably dont know it yet) and I hope CLEAR will continue to do until the government come to their senses… LOL.

    Plant Man

    April 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm

  10. Is Cameron wearing his Bullingdon Club uniform in your photograph? Is that how he’s dressing for the wedding on Friday? Let’s hope he doesn’t get pissed out of his head and smash the place up!

    pjmcneill

    April 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm

  11. DC’s latest quote “Calm down dear”

    All this talk about cannabis being toxic might make one seem unreasonable.

    I think DC is loosing the plot.

    As for the sentencing guidelines consultation.

    http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/sentencing/consultations-current.htm

    I think page 30 in the PDF is the bit of interest to percy growers.

    Mr Bimble

    April 27, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    • There’s a questionnaire there too if people get the time … *wink, wink, nod nod*.

      Yumita Yumara

      April 27, 2011 at 11:37 pm

      • Thanks, Yumita, hadn’t noticed that.

        I have now filled it in. Here are my answers, if anybody wants to do likewise (oh, go on!) and wants some ideas or inspiration:

        QUESTION 1: Do you agree with the Council’s approach of separating Classes B and C?

        A: No

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        I selected ‘no’ because I do not agree with drugs being placed in classes. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is an instrument of control, not of classification, prohibition or punishment. Its brief is to assess each substance according to its level of harm to the individual and to society, and to control it accordingly. Your system is corrupt: one of the most dangerous drugs, alcohol, has little restriction on its sale and use, yet one of the safest, cannabis, carries draconian penalties for its use and production.

        QUESTION 2 – Do you agree with these aggravating and mitigating factors?

        A: No

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        I selected ‘no’ because everybody (except the government, that is) now seems to have caught on to the fact that Prohibition Does Not Work, and increases drug use rather than discouraging it. The main harms caused by illegal drugs are due to their illegality: because they are illegal, there is no quality regulation, and street drugs are often contaminated with dangerous substances and/or are of unknown purity (strength). Then there are the consequences of losing one’s employment and freedom for doing something that isn’t harming anybody. Where’s the justice in that?

        QUESTION 3 – Do you agree with the different approaches taken to determining seriousness?

        A: No

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        I selected ‘no’ because I do not consider drugs users to be offenders. If a drugs user mugs someone to get money to buy drugs, then I consider him to be an offender. If a drugs user wants to buy drugs for his own use, and if that use does not cause harm to anyone else, then I do not consider him to be an offender. Why should I, when someone can buy a dangerous drug like alcohol, without penalty, and would be more likely to cause harm to someone else?

        QUESTION 4 – Do you agree that someone possessing any quantity of drug in a prison should receive a more severe sentence?

        A: No

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        I imagine that anyone in prison would want to get their hands on as many drugs as possible. Well, just look at your question! What an admission that ‘The War on Drugs’ has failed dismally! Sentencing prisoners to extra time for taking drugs in prison where, ‘in the care of the state’ they shouldn’t be able to get hold of them anyway! Come on, give it up! You lost the war years ago: you’ve been dragging the corpse of prohibition through the blood-spattered mud of the battlefield for too long. Give it a decent burial, and let it rest in peace.

        QUESTION 5 – Do you agree with the quantities that are set out here?

        A: No

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        I selected ‘no’ because I believe that currently illegal drugs should be regulated by government, and treated as a health issue, rather than as a subject of criminality. The problems that we see with illegal drugs are a result of their illegality. There was no heroin problem in this country when GPs were able to subscribe diamorphine to addicts.

        QUESTION 6 – Do you think that the Council is taking the right approach in terms of purity?

        A: No

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        In your preamble, it seems that you consider higher purity meriting a greater penalty. One would sensibly recognise that a purer product would cause less harm to the user, and that the increasing addition of ‘cutting agents’ would cause increasingly worse harm. The term ‘*rse about face’ springs to mind.

        QUESTION 7 – Should ‘medical evidence that a drug is used to help with a medical condition’ be included as a mitigating factor for possession offences?

        A: No

        Please enter any additional comments here:
        I selected ‘no’ because I feel that nobody, let alone a sick person, should be punished for possessing a plant! What are you – Nazis or something? Your claim about the medical evidence is nonsense – there is a wealth of information out there, not all of it anecdotal. Wake up! Fifteen US states have voted to allow medicinal use of cannabis. Without any proof of medicinal efficacy? More and more countries in Europe now allow the growing and possession of small quantities for medical reasons. What are you – backward or something?

        QUESTION 8 – Do you agree with the sentencing ranges for the offences set out here?

        A: No

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        I selected ‘no’ because, as I stated earlier, I do not consider drug use to be a criminal offence, and would not wish to see anyone punished for it.

        QUESTION 9 – Are there any other ways in which you think the Council can take into account the impact on victims?

        A: Yes

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        You are very vague on any interpretation of ‘victims’. The closest you can get is the impact on a community or area – usually the poorest ones, as it turns out, and inevitably affected when an activity is forced underground. I will show you victims: people who have lost their jobs by being convicted of possessing a plant, and even imprisoned for it.

        QUESTION 10 – Is there any other way in which equality and diversity should be considered as part of the draft guideline?

        A: Yes

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        Equality. Now there’s a good one: the Drug Equality Alliance are working to get all users of all drugs treated equally, rather than some users of some drugs being discriminated against by the law (an illegal act, surely?). A good idea would be to bring alcohol and tobacco within the remit of the Misuse of Drugs Act, then maybe we can make the Act do its job in controlling (and regulating) all these substances, according to their respective level of harm.

        QUESTION 11 – Are the any points that you would like to make in relation to this or to any other aspect of the proposals? (Public confidence in sentencing)

        A: Yes

        Please enter any additional comments here:

        What public confidence are you talking about? I don’t see any public confidence in the law when thieves in the City and war criminals walk free, and a grey-haired elderly lady receives a suspended prison sentence for baking some cannabis cakes for her similarly grey and elderly friends and neighbours, to help them with their ailments.

        pjmcneill

        May 1, 2011 at 2:37 am

    • pjmcneill, the same day DC says “Calm down dear”, a potential Tory candidate had to resign over calling the women in his town “sluts” on facebook http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-13231615. The conservative response – that his comments were “outrageous and unacceptable”.. The hypocrisy of DC’s party keeps on mounting.

      Peter, sorry to detract with AV here, but a very interesting blog in NS http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2011/04/mathematicians-weigh-in-on-uk.html . Quote, which draws parallels to Cannabis (among others) “I find it very dispiriting to live in a country where it can benefit a politician to use a provably incorrect argument”.. the system is broken, in so many ways, hopefully AV will pass, and hopefully it will make some positive changes…

      Jake

      April 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      • AV, IMO, is certainly the better option – especially when it comes to cannabis.

        The two main parties who always seem to win (in some form or another) with FPTP, choose not to regulate and control cannabis, whereas the smaller parties who may (or may not) benefit with AV, seem to have a better attitude on the issue.

        Yumita Yumara

        April 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      • Yes, but the BBC doesn’t mention the potential candidate’s religion…
        The trouble is, they all want to go out drinking alcohol, and shagging these young women, but they have massive guilt trips about it, because their religious leaders tell them that they are ‘sluts’, and that they will go to hell if they do. Oh, then there’s the oedipus complexes…

        pjmcneill

        April 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    • Thanks

      I really am sick to death about the current laws

      my wife is sick and i am waiting key hole knee surgery,
      i am tonight drinking alochol as i have no smoke to ease the pain and am again not feeling happy about having to think about growing 4 plants again in the near future – i did 6 months on cannabis and got dry from addictive alcohol, but prohibition is starting to screw up my life again

      Paul smith

      April 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm

  12. Greetings from New Zealand.

    Great to see the force is going strong on the other side of the world. Same problem here guys, politicians.

    Architect

    April 28, 2011 at 5:37 am

  13. Just found this on google news from nisnews.ni.
    The Hague 28/4/11. The Dutch are now allowed to grow up to five plants at home, on the provision that if they get a knock on the door they give up their crop to the police!!!

    noodle

    April 28, 2011 at 6:21 am

  14. The Belgians already can grow at home, I saw plenty of rooftop plantations when I was there, asked my buddy out there and he said they’re allowed to grow it. They’ve generally got a way more mature attitude to the whole thing than we have.

    I’m beginning to think we’ll be the last bastion of cannabis prohibition – the USA is looking like the first to come to it’s senses and legalise, plenty of other countries have realised the futility of fighting a war against a relatively benign plant, but our politicians are another breed, they make bullshitting into an art form.

    Sam

    April 28, 2011 at 8:06 am

  15. Peter,

    Should you get a reply to your latest missive, just check that it isn’t from a Mrs Adams – coz it sure aint Gerry’s mum.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13364121

    NobblySan

    May 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm

  16. I’ve just come across your blog and been reading through the various posts, in particular the correspondence with David Cameron.
    There’s a chance that this has been talked about in one of your blogs many comments, but if it hasn’t I thought I would alert you to it.

    Cameron hasn’t always been against cannabis or drugs in general. He was a known user while at Eton, and it has often been suggested that he was whilst at Oxford as well.

    During his campaign for the Tory Party leadership, he called for ecstasy to be downgraded from class A, and particularly said that it would be “disappointing” if “radical” approaches to cannabis weren’t considered.
    (source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tory-contender-calls-for-more-liberal-drug-laws-505824.html)

    There is much more on it here as well:
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/alexmassie/6936315/just-say-yes-dave.thtml

    joshualachkovic

    May 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    • Thanks Joshua. Yes I’m well aware of Big Dave’s antecedents and his hypocrisy but thank you for drawing it to my attention.

      Peter Reynolds

      May 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm

  17. Did you get an official response from Cameron yet pete on the mistakes and lies he spurted about cannabis ?

    steve

    May 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    • My letters “are being considered”. Expect a new instalment shortly

      Peter Reynolds

      May 29, 2011 at 8:41 am

  18. The suspense is killing me peter i cant wait to read the bullshit reply you get .

    steve

    June 7, 2011 at 11:34 pm


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