Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
This film carries my highest recommendation.
There are a number of excellent documentary films about cannabis which for those of us interested in the subject make enthralling viewing. This is also the great weakness of movies like ‘The Culture High’ and ‘In Pot We Trust’ – they are all preaching to the choir and, certainly for non-consumers of cannabis or people without a special interest, they are far too long.
This excellent documentary on the life and work of Raphael Mechoulam is a breath of fresh air. For an old cannabis hack like me who has seen it all, read it all and discussed it all, ad nauseam, it gave me new information and insights – and it’s only an hour long. It’s well worth sixty minutes of your time.
The preposterous response from the UK government to the massive petition for the legalisation of cannabis is a pack of lies.
Yes. Lies. Not a word it’s wise to use unless it’s accurate but in this case it is. The Home Office is disgraced on so many aspects of its work but it has been systematically misleading, misinforming and promoting untruths about cannabis since 1971. Individual Home Secretaries are fully complicit in this dishonesty, most notably James Callaghan, Merlyn Rees, William Whitelaw, Leon Brittan, Douglas Hurd, Michael Howard, Jack Straw, Jacqui Smith, Alan Johnson and the incumbent, Theresa May.
Certainly in the last 20 years there can be no excuse at all. The balance of scientific evidence has been quite clear for at least that long that although a very small number of people may be vulnerable, for 99% of people cannabis is almost completely benign and often beneficial.
The dishonesty of these disgraced ministers brings shame on both the Conservative and Labour parties and the civil service officials in the Home Office. They all know full well that they have lied to the public and they continue to do so, undoubtedly because of corrupt influence from vested interests, principally the tabloid editors, press barons and the alcohol industry. Their lies have resulted in the unnecessary criminalisation of over one million people, the frittering away of tens of billions in futile law enforcement costs and lost tax revenue. Most dreadful of all, the denial of access to medicinal cannabis by those in pain, suffering and disability.
The basis for the government’s dismissal of the petition is given as the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) 2008 report ‘Cannabis: Classification and Public Health’.
In the covering letter to the report, the then chair of the ACMD does say “… the use of cannabis is a significant public health issue. Cannabis can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society.”
Judge for yourself whether the evidence in the report supports the idea that cannabis is a “significant public health issue”. I don’t think it does and nowhere in the report is such an unequivocal statement made except in the covering letter. Of course it is true that cannabis can cause harm to individuals, just as digestive biscuits, chips and sugary drinks can, so that’s pretty meaningless. There is no evidence in the report at all of cannabis causing harm to society.
But the covering letter then makes the point very strongly that “strategies designed to minimise its use and adverse effects must be predominantly public health ones. Criminal justice measures – irrespective of classification – will have only a limited effect on usage.”
The report recommends that cannabis remain in class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 but the government of the day, led by Gordon ‘Skunk is Lethal’ Brown, ignored that and increased it to class B.
Read the report yourself. Compare it with the government’s response to the petition. To claim that the report supports present policy is false. It directly contradicts present policy. There is also now a host of high quality evidence on the reality of decriminalised or regulated cannabis markets from the Netherlands, Portugal, Colorado and Washington. This shows beyond any doubt that the government’s suggestions of “drug dependence… misery… increased misuse” have no basis in evidence at all. Furthermore the idea that new tax revenue would be outweighed by new costs is directly contradicted by every study on the subject. I repeat, the government’s response is a pack of lies
Sadly, the United Kingdom is a country where government ministers are prepared to lie, mislead, distort evidence and deceive the British people in order to maintain policies based on prejudice and the corrupt influence of vested interests.
Cannabis Saves Lives And Cannabis Prohibition Ruins Lives Every Day. All the Media Can Worry About Is Djokovic’s Nose.
The BBC, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, countless international publications, blogs and websites have published this ridiculous story.
Apparently, Novak Djokovic felt “dizzy” because he could smell cannabis during his Rogers Cup semi-final win over Jérémy Chardy in Montreal. Now let’s be clear, the smell of cannabis comes from terpenes, not from cannabinoids. It cannot get you high or dizzy.
I’m pleased that Novak recognises the delightful smell of weed. More and more sportspeople are using it as an aid to recovery. NFL and rugby players are advised to use it to protect against the dangers of concussion or brain injury. Stimulating the endocannabinoid system helps to promote healing and growth. Not long before cannabis is ruled out of sport as a performance enhancer, not just because of blind prejudice against a safer recreational drug.
But it is sickening that so much coverage is given to this when across the world there are so many more important stories about the almost miraculous, life saving, therapeutic effects of cannabis. Similarly, there are important but tragic stories of people being incarcerated for growing the plant or treating their illness with it. There are disgusting stories of corruption in governments, parliaments and bureaucracies where lies and misinformation about cannabis are promoted, mainly to protect vested interests in the alcohol and law enforcement industries.
All the media is interested in is this sort of trivial nonsense, unless of course it’s some mythological scare story about mental illness or deranged axe murderers. A free press is a valuable and essential part of our pretence at democracy. We also need freedom from the lies, misinformation and corrupt agendas of press barons and editors.
Across social media, it’s ‘on message’ to despise Big Pharma and to promote the idea that government and pharmaceutical companies are engaged in the business of making people ill and feeding them with drugs in the pursuit of profit.
In the cannabis campaign, it’s virtually compulsory to abuse, defame and promote conspiracy theories about GW Pharmaceuticals, the world’s leading developer of cannabis-based medicines.
Now GW Pharma is hardly ‘Big Pharma’. It’s annual revenues for 2014 were £30 million. By contrast, Pfizer’s 2014 revenue was $50 billion. But such trifling facts are of no concern to the keyboard warriors and trolls that plague the cannabis campaign and bring it into disrepute every day.
In any case, I’m not sure whose message this is and why anyone buys into this hate-filled invective and unjust condemnation of an industry that has saved so many lives. Antibiotics, vaccines and, yes, chemotherapy products have saved or extended millions of lives. The most profitable pharmaceutical product of all time, Zantac (ranitidine), cures or prevents stomach ulcers and has prevented millions from having to undergo major surgery. Certainly, as in any industry, there have been mistakes, things have gone wrong and much could be improved but overall, the pharmaceutical industry is a huge force for good in our world.
Those engaged in these bitter, vindictive, online campaigns are largely sheep, ignorant of the facts and simply jumping on another hysterical bandwagon that they understand nothing about. They complain about the pursuit of profit and that money is being made from medicines and healthcare. It’s a strangely socialist and anti-business attitude, particularly as so much of it comes from America, supposedly the home of free enterprise where the maverick and outsider who triumphs against all the odds is usually revered.
Dr Geoffrey Guy, who founded GW Pharmaceuticals in 1998, is such a man. He has broken the UK government’s prohibition of cannabis by outwitting a regulatory process run by the Home Office and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) that is corrupt, dishonest and denies scientific evidence. In my view, he deserves great admiration and should be seen as a hero by cannabis campaigners, not as the villain that he is often portrayed.
Now, both GW’s lead products, Sativex and Epidiolex, look set to gain FDA approval in the US. This will be a fantastic achievement for Dr Guy and all his colleagues. It’s also something that we Britons should be immensely proud about. Even though America is a very long way ahead of us in understanding and using cannabis as medicine, it is British science and expertise that is breaking down US federal prohibition. Soon most Americans will have state sanctioned access to medical marijuana but also the option for doctor-prescribed cannabinoid medicine of unparalleled quality and consistency.
Of course, for now GW Pharma stands against the use of raw herbal cannabis and at present that’s a rational business decision but I won’t be at all surprised if in future it moves into that market too. There are already unconfirmed rumours that GW is considering entering the CBD market.
This is a story of enormous courage, innovation and triumph against all the odds. It is in the finest tradition of British ingenuity and business skill. Since the Middle Ages we have led the world in engineering, science and technology. Geoffrey Guy is another world leader from Britain, this small island that has given birth to so many. Surely, at least a knighthood, possibly a Nobel prize must be coming his way soon. Even if the curmudgeonly, loud mouthed critics of today attack him, in future years he will be seen as a great pioneer of medicine and he will deserve his place in history.
Where are the front page headlines, the hysterical editorials, the hand wringing, bleating and scaremongering from the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail? They seem to be very quiet on this one. To be fair the Mail has covered it but the leaders in anti-cannabis propaganda at the Telegraph have ignored it and so have the BBC. What a surprise! Even Jon ‘Skunk’ Snow, the latest journalist to sacrifice his integrity on the altar of reefer madness, is completely silent. No grandstanding opportunities on this one.
This is a huge study of 408 males tracked from adolescence into their mid-30s. The results have been published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors and comprehensively demolish the many, much smaller, ‘snapshot’ studies that the Mail, the Telegraph and the BBC have given massive prominence to in the past.
Even more important than the study itself is the insight this provides into the blatant dishonesty, misrepresentation and falsehood which UK newspapers and TV routinely engage in when reporting on cannabis. The usual bigots and deceivers such as Kathy Gyngell, Dr Max Pemberton, Simon Heffer and Melanie Phillips are notable only for their absence. This is the way the debate on cannabis is conducted in the UK. The media misrepresent the evidence, report only what supports their editorial position and our weak, cowardly political leaders dutifully follow what Fleet Street tells them to do.
What is particularly important is that this is a longitudinal study, following real people in real life over a long period of time. It’s a large number of people and its accuracy and reliability eclipses virtually all the research that the prohibition supporters report on at great length.
This is the real cannabis psychosis. A pathological dishonesty affecting editors, journalists, civil servants and politicians. Nothing demonstrates the seriousness of this widespread illness than the lack of coverage given to this remarkable research.
Remember this next time you see some ridiculous newspaper column misinforming about cannabis or some pompous fool of an MP bellowing their ignorant views in the House of Commons.
On 24th June 2015, a Daily Mail headline screamed:
“Medicinal cannabis DOESN’T ease pain, nausea, vomiting,
MS muscle contractions, sleep disorders or Tourette’s”
In fact the study reported on, from the University of Bristol, found exactly the opposite. It showed that medicinal cannabis DOES ease pain, nausea, vomiting and the other conditions referred to.
The exact words of the study’s conclusion were:
“There was moderate-quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity. There was low-quality evidence suggesting that cannabinoids were associated with improvements in nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, weight gain in HIV infection, sleep disorders, and Tourette syndrome.”
Not a terribly positive endorsement of medicinal cannabis but the Daily Mail had published another bare faced lie. CLEAR made a formal complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and, as a result, the headline has been changed. It now reads:
“Weak evidence that medicinal cannabis eases pain, nausea,
vomiting, MS muscle contractions, sleep disorders or Tourette’s”
In other words, a complete climbdown. Of course the damage has already been done and such deliberate dishonesty about evidence on cannabis is an everyday occurrence from the Daily Mail. See the revised article here.
Another small victory, another small chink in the Berlin wall of prohibition. We will bring it tumbling down very soon.
We also complained that all but two of the 79 papers reviewed in the study referred to synthetic cannabinoids and not to cannabis. As a result, the article has been amended to include these words at the end:
“Medical cannabis refers to the use of cannabis or cannabinoids as medical therapy to treat disease or alleviate symptoms. Cannabinoids are any compound, natural or synthetic, that can mimic the actions of plant-derived cannabinoids”
How the Code has been breached
1. Subhead: “Police laxity has led to more young pot-heads and rising levels of psychosis and addiction” This is factually incorrect. There are now fewer people of all ages using cannabis.
2. Para 3 “Far from a harsh approach, it is laxity that has boosted the number of young pot-heads. This is bad for multiple reasons. Cannabis itself is extremely dangerous. It impairs memory, cripples judgment and the ability to learn. In high doses it can cause addiction, paranoia and psychosis and provoke schizophrenia.”
Factually incorrect. The “number of young pot-heads” has declined not been “boosted”. There is no evidence that cannabis is “extremely dangerous”. There is no evidence that cannabis causes psychosis.
3. Para 7 “Then they claimed Portugalâ’s drug liberalisation had caused drug use to tumble. This was untrue; the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction showed that drug use there had increased.”
Factually incorrect, the EMCDDA and all sources show that drug use has declined in Portugal since decriminalisation
4. Para 10 “Although there is no scientific evidence for definitive benefit from medicinal cannabis, the US has now legalised this in 23 states”
Factually incorrect, there is a vast quantity of peer-reviewed, published scientific evidence demonstrating the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis.
These are very serious inaccuracies which Ms Phillips publishes on a regular basis in the full knowledge that they are untrue. Any newspaper which knowingly publishes lies and falsehoods to deceive its readers should be subject to the strongest possible sanctions including a financial penalty. Such dishonest publications must be dealt with firmly, sufficient to deter repetition.