The launch of the APPG report on its inquiry into medicinal cannabis is a public event which anyone can attend. It takes place at the House of Lords committee room 2 on 13th September 2016 at 11.00am.
Baroness Molly Meacher and Caroline Lucas MP, are co-chairs of the APPG. The guest speakers will be:
Frank Field MP
Ron Hogg, Police and Crime Commissioner for County Durham
Professor Mike Barnes, Neurologist, CLEAR Scientific and Medical Advisor
Lara Smith, Medicinal Cannabis Patient, Life Fellow of CLEAR
Lara was awarded a Life Fellowship of CLEAR in August 2014 in recognition of her enormous contribution to our campaign. She suffers from a terrible chronic pain condition which is only relieved by cannabis. Her consultant is one of those few courageous doctors in the UK who have supported their patient by prescribing access to Bedrocan medicinal cannabis products. Using the protocol which CLEAR pioneered, which exploits loopholes in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, Lara now gains legal access to Bedrocan products on a regular basis. She has to travel to the Netherlands in person to collect her medicine every three months and it has to be paid for on a private basis. The important thing is she gets the medicine she needs and she is within the law.
I’m not sure whether it’s my second or third time through but I’m now halfway into the sixth and final series and I really don’t want it to end. I feel like I’m about to enter mourning with only half a dozen episodes left.
‘The Sopranos’ is magnificent drama. In my opinion, it is, without doubt, the best of them all. ‘The Wire’ was great, ‘Breaking Bad’ was good but nothing comes close to the tale of Tony Soprano and his family. I’m not a fan of violence on film or TV but it’s all in context and appropriate. The story of an Italian, organised crime family in New Jersey contains everything you would imagine but a whole lot more. It is sensitive, intelligent, insightful, funny, frightening . The acting is superb and the characters are marvellous. Once you get to series three or four they have been so well constructed and developed that the script becomes very subtle and the issues tackled transcend the storyline and become poetry, parables, allegories for our time and our lives.
James Gandolfini, who plays Tony Soprano, is a great actor, now sadly passed. He could have done so much more but this iconic role is a masterpiece. The rest of the cast is fantastic too, different lives portrayed in all their humanity, good mixed with bad, venality mixed with morality. There is much to learn from enjoying this wonderful, masterful exposition of TV drama.
I give ‘The Sopranos’ my highest possible recommendation. Don’t miss it. It is extraordinary.
The Times reports “Stone me: cannabis users don’t like hard work”
The Independent says “Getting high on cannabis makes you less likely to work hard for money, study says”
The mendacious Daily Mail claims: “How just one cannabis joint harms your will to work: Fears long-term drug use could harm motivation even when not high”
Utterly pointless research. Such results can be determined by common sense and experience.
UCL has a habit of frittering money away on pointless research into cannabis.
First of all we had the reckless overdosing of Jon Snow for the Channel 4 Drugs Live programme, equivalent to asking a teetotaller to drink a bottle of scotch in 10 minutes – set up purely for sensationalism and tabloid headlines. Results? Cannabis was shown to be very safe for 95% of people – as if we didn’t know that already.
Currently Prof Val Curran is studying whether cannabis can be used to treat cannabis dependency. Yes, seriously, Sativex, the cannabis oil mouthspray, is being trialled to see if it can help people give up smoking cannabis!! Not that cannabis dependency is anything like a serious problem anyway. Fewer regular users of cannabis become dependent on it than regular users of coffee become dependent on caffeine. Incredibly the University of Sydney is also conducting an identical trial.
Now we have this absurd study on motivation. Why do people use cannabis? To relax of course, so hardly surprising they become less motivated, that is the point! And the study showed that motivation returns to normal levels after smoking! You really couldn’t make it up that so-called scientists waste their time on this sort of nonsense.
What we need is some constructive research on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. In the 34 US states that permit medicinal use, expenditure on dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical painkillers has plummeted by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Now that would be something sensible to look into. But maybe it doesn’t suit the agenda of whoever provides UCL with money to conduct its frivolous and pointless studies?
In a letter dated 15th August 2016, Amber Rudd, the new Home Secretary, has invited CLEAR to raise “any queries and concerns” about present UK policy on cannabis. This is the first time since 2006, with Charles Clarke, that the UK cannabis campaign has had any direct contact with a serving Home Secretary. It reflects the reality, now recognised in government, that changes in cannabis policy are imminent.
In recent months, there has been a manifest and significant change in attitudes within the Home Office. We have seen this through the process of obtaining a low THC cultivation licence for our partnership with GroGlo Research and Development. The response from the drugs licensing department has been enthusiastic. There has been no difficulty with our declared purpose of producing CBD oil for sale as a food supplement and we are now in detailed discussions on our application for a high THC licence, looking towards clinical trials for a medical product for chronic pain.
As soon as Theresa May announced that Amber Rudd would be heading up the Home Office, I contacted my MP, now Sir Oliver Letwin, thanks to Cameron’s resignation honours list. Although he will not openly support our campaign, in the past year or so he has been very helpful indeed, meeting with me on roughly a monthly basis and helping me navigate through the Conservative government. He has now put me in direct contact with Ms Rudd and I will be preparing a written submission as a preliminary to a face-to-face meeting.
In accordance with CLEAR policy, our first concern is how we can enable UK residents to gain access to medicinal cannabis on a doctor’s prescription. In practice that means Bedrocan products as there is presently no other source of prescribable, consistent, high-quality, herbal cannabis. I would expect that to change very soon though. Both Canada and Israel look like potential near-future sources. GW Pharmaceuticals is undoubtedly considering entering the market and our venture with GroGlo could shift gear depending on how quickly UK policy changes.
We will also be addressing the need for wider reform and a legally regulated market for adult consumers. Although medicinal access remains the top priority, there is no doubt that more overall harm is caused by prohibition of the recreational market. It is this that creates the £6 billon per annum criminal market which is the cause of all the social harms around cannabis. This will need to be handled much more carefully as, due to nearly a century of misinformation and media scaremongering, many people still retain great fear as to what legal cannabis will mean.
The one thing that has been very lacking in the cannabis campaign is pragmatism. Most campaigners for recreational use continue to be lost in a swirl of ‘free the weed’, teenage angst, outrage, revolution and delight in being a rebellious outlaw. That was until 2011 when CLEAR introduced a new approach which has led to more engagement with government than ever before. The emergence of the United Patients Alliance and now the End Our Pain campaign has helped this but these campaigns are focused only on medicinal use
The fact is that we need to work with Theresa May’s government and the anti-Tory tribalism that many still adopt is nothing but an obstacle to reform.
In addressing Ms Rudd, our overall strategy for wider reform will be:
1. A final separation from the ridiculous ‘free the weed’ movement and ‘stoner’ groups which are incapable of understanding how they are seen and despised by wider society.
2. Differentiation between medicinal use and the more controversial legalisation for adult, recreational use.
3. Shift public attention onto scientific and medical evidence rather than the very poor standard of media reporting.
4. End the fake policy that says ‘cannabis is dangerous therefore it must be regulated’. Educate that nearly all the harms around cannabis are caused by its prohibition, not by cannabis itself.
5. Emphasise the importance of harm reduction information, education about excessive use and essential investment in treatment for those who do suffer health harms.
6. Clarify that decriminalisation is no solution and is a dangerous option that would probably increase harm. The product needs to be sold within a properly regulated environment, careful that over-regulation would support a continuing criminal market.
Every single day of the year, BBC news crews do exactly what Jeremy Corbyn’s video crew did on his train journey the other day. They ‘set up’ a shot to make the point or illustrate the story they want to communicate. When the interviewer nods thoughtfully in response to an interviewee’s wise words, it’s all acting. On a single camera shoot you do the cutaways after the interview and edit them in afterwards. If you can’t get the shot you need at the time you’re there, you set it up for the camera.
There’s nothing new, clever or dishonest about this. What is dishonest is the BBC’s use of it to smear and abuse a man who was just doing his job in exactly the same way as a BBC journalist. Of course the anti-Corbyn Fleet Street Mafia has leapt on it with alacrity, a lot more dishonesty, abuse, exaggeration and bile – but what would you expect from the British press?
As for Richard Branson, I used to be fan like most of the rest of the country but in the last five years I’ve realised that he is an entirely self-serving, selfish and self-centred individual. Nothing the matter with that either, except that he presents himself as a pious, altruistic and groovy guy who’s down with the common people and on their side. There’s as much truth in that as there is Branson in Branston pickle. It’s rubbish. On drugs policy Branson is grandstanding and nothing else. His loose change from yesterday’s jeans would transform the British cannabis campaign but he’s too mean to come up even with a tenner. Seeing him wade in with the mob beating up Corbyn and kick him two or three times while he’s down is truly sickening.
The far more serious matter though is the BBC’s hypocrisy and dishonesty which must be a breach of its Royal Charter obligations. The BBC is composed of soft-left Blairites with a powerful built-in default to the status quo. While I don’t support any of the multiple, confused versions of the Labour Party, I’m in even less support of corrupt, dishonest conduct by our national broadcaster.
It’s a bit like when Russell Brand came out in favour. He’s right, just as Corbyn is but it doesn’t do us any good. It just gives our opponents ammunition to portray the campaign as the preserve of losers and eccentrics.
I quite like Jeremy Corbyn, even if many of his policies are, in my opinion, bonkers. I certainly think he’s a very healthy influence on British politics but his support is not going to help us gain legal access to medicinal cannabis. If anything it’ll get in the way. With at least 10 years of Tory government in front of us, probably 20, allying ourselves with Corbyn is going to alienate those whose minds we need to change.
Again, like Russell Brand, whose intellect is beyond doubt, so is Corbyn’s sincerity – although his statements on wider drugs policy at last night’s leadership hustings are as confused as any politician on the illiberal wing of the Conservative Party or the authoritarian wing of Labour. It seems Mr Corbyn is just as much in favour of prohibition and supporting criminal drugs markets as any alcohol-sponsored Tory MP.
It’s not Jeremy Corbyn we want onside. It’s politicians that now or in the future will hold the reins of power. I admire the way he has seen off the despicable rump of New Labour, Blairite ponces. Their spiritual leader, Peter Mandelson, and his up and coming disciples like Chuka Umunna are the last people we want anywhere near government. The record of science-deniers like Jack Straw, Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson is best forgotten. If Corbyn can keep that nasty bunch occupied and distracted he will deserve huge credit. I wouldn’t quite, yet, place him in the same category as Tony Benn, a man who I disagreed with profoundly yet respected enormously but he’s cast from the same mould. He is a man of integrity but sadly, not a man cut out for success in terms of gaining political power.
If I’m wrong about Corbyn and his support does positively influence the campaign for medicinal cannabis, I’ll gladly eat my hat – or present Match of the Day in my underpants or whatever forfeit is deemed appropriate. In the meantime though, CLEAR will continue to focus on and work with politicians who can actually make a difference.
Whining remainers never have and never will get it. It’s about something much bigger and more profound than immigration or the economy. Britain is a great nation. Through history we have led the world and we continue to do so, punching far above our weight, achieving results that no other country on our planet is capable of.
The pages of the Guardian and the Independent are still littered with complaining remainers. Social media is full of abuse for those of us who made the right choice. We are told we are “dumb”, “stupid”, “ignorant”, “racist” and every other insult that sore losers can summon.
It’s the small-minded nature of the complaining remainers, their focus on the mundane when it was our independence and self-determination that was at stake. Vision and ambition is what makes us who we are, not cynicism and fear.
Yet the evidence is clear. Not just in sport but in every field of human endeavour, Britain is great, disproportionately so for our population and our natural resources -except for the most vital resource of all – the unique courage, determination and spirit of our people.
Many remainers still refuse to accept the referendum result. Their bitterness, their enthusiasm for every negative economic indicator and their faux ‘I told you so’ complaints will soon wither. These spiteful, negative ideas will fade into obscurity as our natural qualities of leadership and success take over.
Britain is great. What our athletes have achieved in Rio is what we should all aspire to and is our proper place in the world.