Charles Walker MP, Parliament’s cheerleader for the ‘skunk scaremongerers’ shot himself and his hysterical campaign in the foot yesterday.
He had submitted a parliamentary written question asking:
“…how many people under 18 years of age have been treated in NHS-funded mental health units for cannabis-induced psychosis in each of the last five years?”
The answer from Jane Ellison MP, minister of state at the Department of Health, must have gravely disappointed Mr Walker. She revealed there have been average of just over 28 ‘finished admission episodes’ for each of the past five years. That doesn’t necessarily mean 28 people as it could include the same person being admitted more than once.
Of course, each of these 28 cases is a tragedy for the people involved and nothing must distract from that but it clearly shows that in public health terms, ‘cannabis psychosis’ (which some senior psychiatrists don’t even believe is a genuine diagnosis) is virtually unheard of. So much for the endless newspaper columns, the endlessly repeated ‘studies’ that never reach any conclusion and the endless moralising and deceit from those who make money from this scare story – either from providing ‘therapy’ or by fleecing money from those prepared to fund so-called science that sets out to reach a pre-determined conclusion.
Of course, not only are these cases very, very few in number but they have arisen under the present policy of prohibition when the market is in the hands of criminals. How much could we reduce this number if government took a responsible approach and regulated the market? With proper quality control, age limits, better education and harm reduction surely we could make the cannabis market safer than it is in the hands of the criminal underworld?
“I don’t think it causes mental illness. I have never seen a case of so-called cannabis psychosis.”
Dr Trevor Turner, East London and City University Mental Health NHS Trust
So this is very, very bad news for Charles Walker, for his sponsor, Mary Brett of ‘Cannabis Skunk Sense’, for Peter Hitchens, David Raynes, Sarah Graham, Theresa May and hundreds of rehab clinics, therapists and charlatans who talk up the cannabis psychosis scare story. The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, which systematically misrepresent and distort evidence on the subject are exposed for what they are. Even those on the reform side like Transform, who have chosen the dubious path of talking up cannabis as ‘dangerous’ in order to sell their consultancy services, are disgraced. Their credibility is destroyed. Their argument is false and it always has been.
The husband and wife team of Professor Sir Robin Murray and Dr Marta Di Fiori, have built up a family business in skunk scaremongering. Every year they release another ‘study’ which says almost exactly the same as the last one, never shows any causative effect but is relentlessly exaggerated and regurgitated for those who want to demonise cannabis and cannabis users. Their last point is always ‘more research is needed’. I wonder is there anyone stupid enough out there to continue funding this vendetta against the three million people in the UK that enjoy cannabis or use it as medicine? Similarly in Australia, Professor Wayne Hall and his colleagues at the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, have built their careers and made a lot of money pursuing this futile goal of proof that cannabis cause mental illness. The figures prove them all wrong. They are all self-serving propagandists and deceivers, nothing more.
These figures are more than evidence, they are facts and they prove that ‘cannabis psychosis’ is such an infinitesimally small risk, that we really need to stop wasting so much time, energy and money on it. We need to get on, legalise, regulate and start bringing the market under proper control, stop wasting money on futile law enforcement and research and start generating tax revenue and providing therapeutic and financial benefits for the whole community.
Cameron’s support for Netanyahu makes him complicit in genocide, child murder, apartheid, land theft and other war crimes. Whatever domestic issues we may be concerned with, this is of another magnitude and is an unforgiveable act of treason against mankind.
The best policy for Netanyahu is assassination. It is a moral and ethical choice to obliterate this monster from the planet without endangering any lives except those of our heroic special forces who must undertake this mission. If Netanyahu escapes this justice and is dragged in chains to the Hague to face trial, Cameron should be taken with him as an accomplice.
DAILY MAIL: “…senior BBC boss claims ‘Clarkson is like Savile'”
OK, well it is the Daily Mail, so until there’s some corroboration we should be cautious about believing it. However, if there is even an iota of truth in it then the ‘BBC boss’ must be sacked. That’s sacked, not ‘allowed to resign’ or ‘retire’. He or she must be summarily dismissed without compensation.
This could also be the chance to exceed the record libel award in the High Court. What can be more defamatory in 2015 than comparing someone to the bogey man to end all bogey men, Jimmy Savile?
I really think this is the end for the BBC now. Relentless incompetence, far too many wildly overpaid apparatchiks. A culture of a soft left, pro status quo, subservient to orders from ministers and civil servants, however much it might protest its faux independence from government. My personal grudge: the craven censorship even of any debate on drugs policy.
As for Jezza, it amazes me how so many people don’t understand that he is in the business of satire and irony. Either they’re dumb, ‘frigid feminist PC bigots’ (Jezza would be proud of me) or they are lacking in any humour or intelligent understanding of the self-parody that is Jeremy Clarkson. He’s a hoot and he deserves the support he has gained from ‘probably the fastest growing petition ever in the history of the world’
Of course, if he hit someone then he should be subject to disciplinary and possibly criminal process. On the other hand, if it was a minor fracas and argument between colleagues then the BBC is guilty once again of dreadful misjudgement.
I greatly admire the BBC’s output and it has been a wonderful training ground for our richest talent in film, TV and radio but it is now time for it to be broken up. We won’t lose the talent or the high quality creative and production skills but we must lose the dishonest culture, sense of entitlement and attitudes that belong to a bygone era.
On 11th March, South Wales Police (Heddlu De Cymru), posted this alarming picture on its Facebook page.
What is the purpose of placing such a sign outside someone’s home?
It can only be to humiliate them. It also raises serious issues of justice and the law. It brands the house, indeed the whole street, so the neighbours aren’t going to be happy either. It also delivers a verdict. What happened until innocent until proven guilty?
For anyone, innocent or guilty, having your home searched is traumatic and it should be done with respect, courtesy and consideration for any children, elderly or sick people who may be upset. It’s a craven breach of fundamental human rights to privacy and dignity.
It should be a disciplinary matter both for the officers who devised this policy and those who have implemented it.
CLEAR will be submitting a formal complaint.
George and Dean were where I expected them to be. In the car park, ‘medicating’ in order to get them through a long afternoon.
The Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) Drugs Conference took place in the delightful surroundings of Homerton College, Cambridge. I know there were several others there who were only able to make it because they committed criminal offences in order to maintain their health. I attended with George Hutchings and Dean Price, leading members of the CLEAR Medicinal Cannabis Users Panel.
Almost everybody who is anybody in UK drugs policy was there and while there were no groundbreaking new revelations or ideas, it was an important occasion. It marked the current position of the debate on drugs policy in Britain at the end of the first coalition government since 1945. As Keith Vaz, chair of the HASC, said, the conference will influence the drugs policy agenda in the next government.
I know I wasn’t the only person who lobbied in advance for medicinal cannabis to be included in the conference programme. It wasn’t but what was of enormous significance was that it was probably the single issue mentioned most often, time and time again in fact, throughout the day. I trust that the committee will take this on board and ensure that in any future event, it is given proper attention.
It’s no good saying it’s a health issue because until the Home Office releases its stranglehold on the throats of the thousands who need medicinal cannabis, it’s the HASC that needs to hold the government to account. CLEAR estimates that around one million people already use cannabis for medicinal reasons in the UK. This equates closely to the proportion of medicinal users in jurisdictions where there is some degree of legal access.
Julian Huppert mentioned medicinal cannabis in his review of the HASC’s work, confirming that the Liberal Democrats have adopted the policy advanced by CLEAR almost word for word.
Baroness Molly Meacher made an impassioned plea for medicinal cannabis access in her address, expressing her anger and outrage that people are denied the medicine they need.
Jonathan Liebling, of United Patients Alliance, and I also raised the issue independently in questions from the floor. I also dealt with Professor Neil McKeganey’s attempt to dismiss the issue. He claimed that there are perfectly satisfactory procedures for licensing medicines. I explained how cannabis cannot be regulated like single-molecule pharmaceutical products and gave a brief description of research on the ‘entourage effect’.
The Home Office minister, Lynne Featherstone, gave the keynote speech and I was delighted that she chose to mention her meeting ten days ago with a CLEAR medicinal users delegation.
David Nutt was as wise and authoritative as ever . Then Neil McKeganey launched into an entertaining rant about how the conference programme, the speakers and delegates were massively biased in favour of reform. He claimed that this was not a proper reflection of the evidence or nationwide opinion.
I like Neil, even though we are on opposite sides of the debate. In fact, at events like this I prefer to engage with the opposition rather than back-slapping and self-affirming chats with those on the side of reform. I also had good informal discusions with David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance and Sarah Graham, the magnet-wielding addiction therapist.
Tom Lloyd’s speech was inspiring. He also made a powerful case for medicinal cannabis and as ex-chief constable of Cambridge, it was extraordinary to see him lambast the new drug driving law as “…outrageous…unjust…will criminalise people who are in no way impaired…”
The final speech was given by Mike Trace, chair of the International Drug Policy Consortium, who is deeply involved in preparing for the UN General Assembly Special Session in 2016 on drugs policy.
So, a fascinating and worthwhile day. All we need to do now is get through the General Election. In about two months we will know where we are and unless we have the disaster of a Tory or Labour majority government, then drug policy reform should be high on the agenda.
Transform released this astonishing video two days ago, on 9th March 2015. It is astonishing because it is so fundamentally flawed and it represents a betrayal of the values for which so many have supported Transform’s work over so many years.
Drugs are not dangerous, certainly not cannabis.
This is a straw man argument, now fundamental to the strategy of Transform, the UK’s most generously funded drugs policy group. They build up the harms of drugs, falsely, without evidence, in order to be able to ride in on their white stallions and rescue us from this imaginary danger.
So now they do the job of the prohibitionists for us. They have bought right into this inaccurate and misleading mindset and Transform is now promoting drugs as dangerous. Transform is adding to the messages and media storm from the tabloids, ignorant politicians and the moralising hypocrites that drive the war on drugs.
Are cars dangerous? Is a bottle of vodka dangerous?
Only if they are misused or abused and then they are both far more dangerous than cannabis.
Cannabis doesn’t need to be regulated because it is dangerous. It needs to be regulated because prohibition is dangerous and causes far more harm than cannabis ever has or ever will.
At least 95% of cannabis use is harmless and without risk. It is a miniscule proportion of people who are in danger of any harm. They begin using cannabis at a young age, use it heavily, daily, have a genetic predisposition to mental health issues and will have other component factors in their life such as other drugs (particularly alcohol), life events, family problems, etc. All the research shows that cannabis is never more than just one factor amongst a complex mix that leads to mental illness.
Last year Danny Kushlick, also of Transform, came out with this nonsense that ‘cannabis is dangerous’. I wrote about it then: Cannabis is Neither ‘Harmless’ Nor ‘Dangerous’. Now, in this latest video, Steve Rolles confirms this misguided, self-defeating path that Transform is embarked on.
I remember, just a few years ago, Steve arguing that even most cocaine use is without harm and he was right. Millions use cocaine every day and only a very few slip into dependency or a self-destructive use pattern. It isn’t as safe as cannabis but it’s probably no more harmful than alcohol.
So why is Transform set on this course? Next thing we’ll have leading scientists adopting the same terminology – ‘skunk’ – as the tabloids use to demonise cannabis… Oh yes, it’s already happened.
All organisations become self-serving unless they have active shareholders or members to keep them on track. In my opinion, those leading Transform should remember how and why they started and I think it was mainly about truth, about combating the lies, misinformation and propaganda that the drug war is based on.
Transform needs to get back to the truth.
To sum up, I quote the very wise words of Lee Prew, a CLEAR member and a man who has his eye on the ball.
“Is it just me or are drug reformers like Transform and The Beckley Foundation part of the misinformation that dominates this country’s lack of understanding and honesty towards drugs? If these people that support positive changes to our system can’t even get the facts right what hope do we really stand of achieving workable drugs policies?
If they believe that simplification of terminology (skunk & hash) and catch all statements like “drugs are dangerous” are in any way helpful to the situation they are wrong. The drug issue is a complicated one with many facets (as we can see with cannabis alone) and by simplifying the situation they only go to undermine their own work. Very worrying.”