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.”
We have had enough. The bankers got off scot free. Just a few MPs were made to pay for their expenses fraud. HSBC launders billions in drug cartel money and is fined, whereas poor people growing a few cannabis plants go to jail.
This Fairhead woman sits atop the tree of privilege and wealth yet she takes no responsibility and offers only excuses. Even if she is sacked tomorrow as she should be, it will have no impact on her lifestyle.
As the gap between rich and poor widens and the middle class disappears, Britain is becoming a more dangerous place. If the Westminster elite doesn’t take radical steps soon, perhaps even in Britain we may see the stirrings of violent revolution.
Something needs to happen to shock Cameron and his cronies out of their contemptuous and smug complacency. The same goes for the sickening hypocrites in Labour, the trade unions and the civil service.
As Cameron’s five year term as prime minister comes to an end, Britain is broken as never before.
What is this ‘hash’ that looks like weed and this ‘skunk’ that isn’t cannabis?
Channel 4’s ‘Drugs Live:Cannabis On Trial‘ played fast and loose with facts, terminology and ethical considerations.
To be fair, I greatly enjoyed the programme (well I would wouldn’t I) and there was some fascinating science. Particularly about how the brain responds to music when you’re high and about how CBD protects the ‘salience network’, the key to motivation. This gives weight to the theory of an ‘amotivational syndrome’.
In a week’s time though, all that most of the public will remember is Jon Snow saying that using ‘skunk’ was more terrifying than being in a war zone and his distorted reporting of the recent study by which he implied that 25% of people who use ‘skunk’ will become psychotic.
So I am left with very mixed feelings. The pre-publicity was a disgrace: inaccurate, misleading, unethical – words I have already published and I stand by them.
The brazen misuse of the terms ‘skunk’ and ‘hash’ is an appalling error of judgement by Channel 4, Renegade Pictures and yes, sadly, by two scientists for whom I have the greatest of respect: Professors Val Curran and David Nutt.
Why would you choose to use the same word as the gutter press chooses to demonise cannabis? ‘Skunk’ is a scary word and what it really means is a sativa dominant strain with a modest THC content of 8% and only traces of CBD.
As for hash, it also has a specific meaning: the compressed resin, derived from the plant by sieving or by hand rubbing. By definition a more concentrated form of cannabis, yet the programme claimed exactly the opposite.
A far better, more accurate, more scientific and informative shorthand would have been to describe the cannabis as low CBD, high CBD and placebo.
Surely, whether we agree or disagree with their evidence, we are entitled to expect precision and accuracy from scientists?
The fundamental problem with this programme was that there were no cannabis experts present, only detached academics and scientists or cannabis users who were hardly well informed or articulate. I did of course volunteer but for some reason the producers saw fit to exclude anyone from the cannabis campaign or anyone who has both in depth knowledge and real experience.
Unfortunately, this programme will go the same way as all those other earnest endeavours, ‘The Union’, ‘The Culture High’, ‘In Pot We Trust’, etc – all very enjoyable, self-affirming and satisfying but all preaching to the choir. I’ll be interested to see what the viewing figures were for last night’s programme.
The best bit was David Nutt’s final conclusion. On his scale of harms, even low CBD cannabis (the demon ‘SKUNK’) is less harmful than alcohol, heroin, crack, meth, cocaine, tobacco and speed. After the study he concludes that high CBD cannabis is the least harmful drug of all.
Fight back against Channel 4’s war on cannabis.
‘Drugs Live:Cannabis‘ is a massive fraud perpetrated on the British people by a broadcaster that places cheap and dishonest scaremongering above its duty for truth and balance.
I expect the programme itself to be balanced and probably reach the correct conclusion on the evidence but the pre-publicity has been misleading and irresponsible. Most people reached by the pre-publicity won’t watch the programme.