Archive for the ‘Business’ Category
When Mike Dobson first called me a few months ago and told me he had an idea for gaining legal access to cannabis in the UK, I was, of course, sceptical. CLEAR has frequently been approached with hare-brained and convoluted plans for avoiding the law that prohibits cannabis. Without exception they have all been bonkers.
Within a few minutes though, I could see this one was different. In the past, most of these ideas have been around sidestepping the law by claiming ‘freeman’ status, the suggestion being that statutes, laws made by Parliament, are only enforceable if you have consented to them in the first place. Some claim to have succeeded in using this to defeat charges for growing cannabis, even having their harvest returned to them by police. I can’t verify any of these stories but I’m quite sure the courts are littered with the broken dreams and delusions of those who have tried to go down this path.
The big difference with Mike’s plan, his ‘scheme’ as I like to call it, is that instead of evading, avoiding or dodging the law, it actually uses the law itself to provide legal rights to grow and possess cannabis.
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 empowers the Home Secretary to issue licences in respect of cannabis. These could be for cultivation, production, possession, supply or any other activity such as import or export.
This scheme involves setting up a company to cultivate cannabis and produce cannabis products under licence from the Home Office – the ‘Licensed Supplier’. Providing the various licence conditions are complied with, the Home Office cannot unreasonably refuse such a licence. If it does then it will be subject to judicial review. The licence conditions that need to be met are security and the prevention of ‘diversion’ of the cannabis into illicit or unlicensed hands.
The next step is to set up another company where it and its shareholders, guarantors and/or members are licensed to possess cannabis – the ‘Membership Company’. Again, providing the licence conditions are complied with, the Home Office must issue a licence and if it refuses judicial review proceedings can be brought. Sensible and responsible rules must be put in place so that members only consume cannabis in private with necessary security precautions.
The genius of Mike’s scheme, now coming to reality with the first Membership Company, the Preston Cannabis Club, is that it uses the law exactly as it is intended, to ensure that the only people cultivating, producing, supplying or possessing cannabis are licensed to do so.
I have consulted informally with several lawyers and there is no doubt that this scheme holds promise. Whether it works out remains to be seen. CLEAR is putting its weight and support right behind the scheme as a responsible and lawful way to enable legal access to cannabis. I would expect initial resistance from the authorities but if we are right, it would mean Parliament would have to pass a new law to prevent this happening. In my judgement that is unlikely and, in fact, the demonstration of such a legitimate route to cannabis would get the government off the hook of its present, unsustainable policy.
Watch this space. CLEAR is now actively involved in supporting this venture and we will keep you fully informed.
Compared to the previous year, CLEAR’s regular income in 2015 was up 79% to £17,074. The majority of income continues to come from memberships, with the remainder coming from donations, merchandise and Google advertising.
Regular income: £17,074
CLEAR spent a total of £12,023, a decrease of 11% on the previous year.
Total expenditure: £12,023
Administration: membership administration, stationery, postage, telephone & internet, meeting expenses, etc. Administration costs have increased as an overall proportion of expenditure as there were no dedicated campaigns during the year.
Travel: expenses incurred meeting government ministers, MPs, agency representatives, media engagements, boards meetings, also re-imbursement of travel costs for Medicinal Use Panel members
Fundraising costs: PayPal fees and other fundraising costs
Promotion: Facebook advertising, printing of leaflets, design work, etc.
This statement was published on the MHRA website at lunchtime today.
“Update 1 November 2016
An MHRA spokesperson said:
While MHRA has given its opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are medicines, we have also carefully considered the needs of individuals using CBD products to treat or manage the symptoms of medical conditions.
Our primary concern is patient safety. In order to ensure that products remain available until individuals have the opportunity to discuss their treatment with their doctor, companies now have until 31 December 2016 to voluntarily operate within the law, by withdrawing their existing products from the market, or working with MHRA to satisfy the legal requirements of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.
We have today written to the manufacturers of CBD to make them aware of the timeline for engagement.
It is vital that medicines meet safety, quality and efficacy standards to protect public health.”
Originally the MHRA wrote to CBD suppliers in threatening terms:
“You must cease to sell, supply, promote, advertise or process orders for the above products until appropriate authorisation has been granted for them. You must confirm this in writing within 28 days from the date of this letter that you have taken the above steps.”
So quite a change in tone. The MHRA seems to have recognised that contrary to its declared mission ‘to improve health’, its original statement actually endangered the health of tens of thousands of people.
Additionally, solicitors representing the UKCTA have now written to the MHRA seeking clarification of its intentions and making three crucial points:
- The letters to CBD suppliers and the MHRA’s original press statement have caused serious financial damage to the CBD industry.
- The MHRA has conducted no effective consultation with stakeholders.
- The MHRA’s own guidelines require it to consider each product on a case by case basis and a blanket ban on products containing CBD would be unlawful.
Professor Mike Barnes, scientific and medical advisor to CLEAR, commented:
“The MHRA’s new stance is an improvement from their previous position. However, I cannot see any value in delaying only a few months. Some patients might be able to find an alternative medicine from their doctor but many people will have already tried alternative medications and found that CBD is the only satisfactory treatment for their condition. This is the case, for example, for children with epilepsy who will have almost certainly have been under the care of a specialist and tried available anticonvulsants and found that CBD is the only treatment that works for them. The MHRA does not seem to realise the impact of this arbitrary and rushed decision which will clearly be detrimental and potentially have very serious (and in some cases life threatening) implications for some people. The MHRA need to work with the manufacturers and the medical profession to determine the best way forward that both recognises that cannabis based products have medicinal value, and as such need proper trials of efficacy and safety, yet on the other hand does not place existing users at risk of harm”.
After all the speculation, many misleading and false reports and a plethora of attempts to interpret the MHRA’s actions concerning cannabidiol (CBD), this week the chips are down.
On Thursday 3rd November, at MHRA headquarters in Victoria, six representatives of the UK Cannabis Trade Association (UKCTA) will sit down with those responsible for the agency’s statements on CBD. We will be armed with counsel’s opinion on the legality of the MHRA’s action but most importantly we hope to secure clarification for those who rely on CBD as a food supplement. We will publish details of the outcome of the meeting as soon as we can.
Those attending as UKCTA representatives are:
Anthony Cohen, Elixinol UK
Mike Harlington, GroGlo Horticultural Research & Development
Peter Reynolds, CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform
Tom Rowland, CBD Oils UK
Karl Spratt, Hempire
Tom Whettem, Canabidol
Today, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has arranged a meeting with representatives from the UK Cannabis Trade Association (UKCTA) to discuss its designation of cannabidiol (CBD) as a medicine.
A request for a meeting was was first made in writing on 20th September 2016, when the possibility of the MHRA’s action was still little more than a rumour. Nearly six weeks later, after repeated requests, complaints and lobbying from many companies, individuals and MPs, the meeting has been fixed for 3rd November 2016.
The main aim of the meeting will be to discuss interim arrangements for people currently using CBD as a food supplement. Clearly, we will also address concerns over the impact of this decision on many small businesses and the people they employ.