Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
CLEAR is launching a new recruitment drive for its Medicinal Cannabis Users Panel. If you use cannabis as medicine, joining the panel is the most effective thing you can do both to advance the campaign and, in some instances, gain legitimate access to prescribed Bedrocan medicinal cannabis.
The panel has proved itself to be the most effective campaigning method ever used in the UK. As a direct result of the efforts of panel members, in the last two years there have been more meetings with government minsters, officials and senior MPs than the whole campaign has managed in the last 50 years.
You must be a member of CLEAR to join the panel, then you complete a detailed questionnaire providing information on your condition(s) and how cannabis helps. Each applicant is then interviewed by telephone to develop an individual plan. This will depend on a number of factors, such as your relationship with your doctor, your MP, how much time you have available and whether you are prepared to tell your story to the media.
If your doctor is prepared to help, there is now an established route to getting medicinal cannabis prescribed and legally imported into the UK. CLEAR has developed this process through experience working with doctors, MPs, the Home Office and the Border Force. We also have crucial support from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Drug Policy Reform and a number of members of the House of Lords. This is on a private prescription basis only. The prescription has to be very carefully written, using exactly the correct wording and, to begin with, you will have to travel to Holland in person to have the prescription dispensed at a pharmacy. Thereafter it may be possible to have repeat prescriptions sent through the post.
Bedrocan is the Dutch government’s official producer of medicinal cannabis. Five different varieties are available at a cost of approximately seven to eight euros per gram. See full details of the different products here.
All panel members are guided in how to approach their doctor and MP. Initial contact should be made by letter or email but then it is important to meet your doctor and MP face to face and provide them with high quality scientific evidence to support your case. CLEAR will offer guidance and help at every stage. If you wish then a member of our executive committee will accompany you to meetings to help you present your case. Whether or not your doctor is prepared to write a prescription for you, we aim to continue leading delegations of medicinal users to meet ministers. We have seen again and again what an impact this can have. When senior politicians who have no experience of medicinal cannabis meet genuine, decent, ordinary people with families and careers who tell their story with sincerity and conviction, it has an enormous impact.
If you live in the UK and are interested in joining the panel, please email a brief explanation of your interest to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please do not go into great detail at this stage. Applications should be no more than 200 words. We will respond to you with a questionnaire within seven to 10 days.
Today, Baroness Molly Meacher asked a question about cannabis in the House of Lords .
There is a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding about what happened, so I shall do my best to explain.
This was not a full debate. There never was any prospect of any law being changed. It was simply a question, which would be answered by the government spokesman and Lady Meacher would then have the opportunity to ask a further, supplementary question. In the process, other members of the House would be able to interject and make their own comments.
The question was whether cannabis could be re-scheduled, out of schedule one, which determines that it has no medicinal value, to schedule two or three which would allow doctors to prescribe it and also enable researchers to access and use cannabis more easily in studies and clinical trials.
The government behaved exactly as expected. The most generous interpretation is that the spokesman, Lord Bates, was misinformed. His first response to Lady Meacher’s question was to parrot the Home Office’s usual line on cannabis about it being a harmful drug.
This of course, is nothing to do with medicinal use. Most medicines are far more harmful than cannabis and any potential harms are traded off against therapeutic benefit.
I know some people are already accusing Lord Bates of being a ‘liar’ but this is not true. He simply has no idea what he is talking about and his briefing from Home Office officials is designed not to inform but to deflect, confuse and retain control within the bureaucracy. The claim that the Advisory Council recommends against medicinal cannabis is factually incorrect. The ACMD is not constituted to advise on the medicinal benefits of any drug.
So ignore what the government said. It is largely irrelevant to the process of informing and changing minds amongst those in power. They will instruct officials and spokespeople as necessary once they understand a more successful path forwards.
The rest of the debate was almost all positive. Lord Dubs succumbed to the ‘skunk’ myth but who can blame him. given the level of propaganda and hysteria promoted even by ‘public service broadcasters’ such as Channel 4 and and some of our so-called eminent ‘scientists’. Lord Howarth of Newport hit the nail on the head and referred to the terrible difficulty of those who need access to Bedrocan. He is a stalwart ally of a few, fortunate CLEAR members whose doctors have had the courage to prescribe.
This mini debate was good news. It was another brick in the wall. Clearly, attitudes are changing and the facts are beginning to overtake the myths. Many Lords and MPs are on our side.
As ever, the way forward is relentless, individual, lobbying and informing. We must keep telling truth to power, challenging misinformation and providing knowledge.
Today, in the House of Lords, progress was made.
Sometime after 3.00pm, tomorrow, Wednesday, 17th June 2015, Baroness Molly Meacher will ask a question in the House of Lords on the re-scheduling of cannabis to permit it to be prescribed by doctors for medicinal use. Watch it here on Parliament TV.
Behind this is a report ‘Regulating Cannabis for Medical Use in the UK’, authored by Professor Val Curran of UCL and Frank Warburton of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform (APPG). This sets out an argument for moving cannabis from schedule one to schedule two or three, enabling doctors to prescribe it and facilitating further research on its therapeutic properties. It also endorses the central theme of CLEAR’s medicinal cannabis campaign – that UK doctors should be permitted to prescribe products from Bedrocan, the medicinal cannabis producer regulated by the Dutch government.
The UK is now a very long way behind the rest of the western world on enabling access to cannabis as medicine. The UK is second only to places like Indonesia, China and Singapore in ignoring evidence and basing drugs policy on prejudice and scaremongering. The only significant difference is that we don’t execute people for possession of drugs.
In Europe more than 250 million people now have legal access to medicinal cannabis, 210 million in the USA, 35 million in Canada and 8 million in Israel. A few CLEAR members, with the support of their doctors and the APPG have managed to obtain legal access to Bedrocan medicinal cannabis from pharmacies in Holland. The struggle involved though is horrendous. It means travelling to Holland, declaring the medicine to customs on return and legality depends on exactly how the prescription is phrased. Get it wrong and both doctor and patient could face criminal charges. It also depends on the mood and knowledge of the Border Force officer on duty at customs. If he or she has had a bad day, as one CLEAR member discovered, that’s £500 of medicine plus travelling expenses, that will never be seen again.
Just a few days ago, Lord Winston, the British public’s favourite doctor, also endorsed medicinal cannabis, saying:
“When I was chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee some years ago, we looked intensively at the medicinal uses of cannabis. One of the pieces of evidence was very compelling and enabled us to think about rather permissive legislation. It was that a number of people who had medical conditions, such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, took cannabis, which was not prescribed, to relieve their symptoms.” Source
This reform is long overdue. UK policy on medicinal cannabis is deeply cruel, evidence-free and based on the views of the tabloid press rather than medical experts, although even that is changing with today’s story in The Sun ‘Cannabis: Is it a curse or cure? Three readers reveal how controversial herb has saved their lives’
CLEAR produced its own report earlier this year ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’, a comprehensive and up to date review of the peer-reviewed, published evidence.
Unique amongst western democracies, the UK is reinforcing its ‘war on drugs’ with the most inane blanket ban on anything that has a psychoactive effect.
In the face of all the evidence, even of Ireland which has seen a similar policy result in increased heroin use and a crimewave, the buffoons at the Home Office and No.10 are pressing ahead.
The result will be more criminal markets, more misery, more death, more crime, more harms. It is madness on a grand scale – but it’s actually more sinister than that.
Prohibition is a fundamentally immoral policy because it turns the forces of law enforcement against the people they are supposed to protect. It is cancerous to any society. Banning things never works. It only makes the problem worse.
It is bound to fail and we have seen it do so again and again. Nevertheless, weak politicians return to it in
the delusional belief that this time it will work. What encourages them is that it allows them to appease
vested interests. That starts with the tabloid press but it’s really all about the alcohol industry and its
monopoly of legal recreational drugs.
When the brewers, distillers and bankers say bend over, Cameron drops his trousers and says ‘how would you like me?’. Look at the deliberate suppression of the evidence on minimum unit pricing. Cameron’s hypocrissy about corruption at the G7 is astonishing. UK drugs policy is run for the benefit of vested interests and has nothing to do with reducing harm.
It is ludicrous that the most dangerous, addictive and harmful drug of all is the only one that is legal.
The rise of NPS is entirely the product of our lunatic and futile policy of banning safe substances such as
cannabis and MDMA.
Make no mistake, compared to booze, aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen, hay fever remedies – weed and E are safe. Check the facts of usage, deaths and hospital admissions.
This new bill is a pathetic concept by illiberal, repressive, rather stupid and weak policymakers. It disgraces Britain. In terms of humane, rational, evidence-based drugs policy it puts us second only to Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. The only thing that distinguishes us from these medieval regimes is that we don’t execute people for drug possession.
CLEAR has published a revised and updated version of its leaflet on medicinal cannabis. This will shortly be available for purchase and for inclusion in membership packs. As with the previous version we shall also be carrying our carefully targeted and timed leafleting campaigns. Each year we choose a relevant day to saturate Parliament Square and Whitehall with the CLEAR message.
If you have an event or an opportunity to distribute leaflets, please get in touch. We are always ready to consider a special print run.
Julia George interviews Peter Reynolds of CLEAR, following publication of the report ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’. Nick Rijke, of the MS Society, comments on using cannabis to treat multiple sclerosis and how Sativex, the only licensed cannabis medicine, is very difficult to obtain on prescription.
The report details an extraordinary quantity of peer-reviewed, published evidence that demonstrates the efficacy and safety of using cannabis to treat a wide range of conditions. It looks in detail at five therapeutic areas where the evidence is strongest: Alzheimer’s Disease, Cancer, Chronic Pain, Crohn’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
Archaeological and written evidence suggests mankind has used cannabis for medicinal purposes for as long as 10,000 years. In the 19th century nearly half of all medicines in the British and US pharmacopeia contained cannabis. With the rise of new pharmaceutical medicines it fell into disuse but in 1996 California introduced the first ‘medical marijuana’ laws. Now 210 million people in 34 US states and 250 million people in nine European countries have some form of legal access.
Peter Reynolds, author of the report, said:
“This review finally does away with the myth that there is no proof of the value of medicinal cannabis. There is high quality evidence available from dozens of different sources, including double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials. No one who examines the evidence can be in any doubt, any longer. This is a medicine that saves lives and rescues people from pain, suffering and disability with far fewer dangerous and unpleasant side effects than pharmaceutical products. We must move urgently to allow doctors to start prescribing and introduce professional training in the use of cannabis medicines”
The report is available to download from the CLEAR website: http://clear-uk.org/static/media/Reports/medicinal_cannabis-_the_evidence_v1.1.pdf
CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform is the UK’s leading drugs policy reform group with more than 330,000 followers. It aims to end the prohibition of cannabis most urgently for those who need it as medicine. CLEAR also advocates replacing the anarchic mess of prohibition with a framework of regulation which would allow proper control of the product’s strength and quality while providing protection for children and the vulnerable.
CLEAR’s policies are based on independent, expert research carried out by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit in 2011: http://clear-uk.org/media/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf
CLEAR’s detailed proposals for cannabis regulation, ‘How To Regulate Cannabis In Britain’: http://clear-uk.org/static/media/uploads/2013/10/CLEAR-plan-V2.pdf