Posts Tagged ‘alcohol’
On Thursday, 16th February 2017, the Oxford Union held a debate on the motion ‘This House Would Say No To Drugs’.
I was honoured to be invited to speak against the motion in the august company of Paul Hayes and Stephen DeAngelo. Speaking for the motion were Andrew Ng, Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan and Shaun Attwood.
We successfully defeated the motion by approximately 120 votes to 90. A video of the debate will be released shortly. I reproduce my speech below.
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
These are the words of Harry Anslinger, who in 1930 was appointed the first ever commissioner of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
And this is the exactly same standard of argument and evidence that we have in favour of drug prohibition today.
Anslinger went on to start the war on drugs 40 years before Richard Nixon invented the term. His anti-cannabis crusade was based on racism, the suggestion that it caused madness, violence and depravity – yes, the same scare stories, myths and deceit that we still see published every day in the pages of the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. Indeed, exactly the same nonsense which every home secretary continues to trot out and on which our present prime minister bases UK drugs policy.
Don’t be in any doubt about it, the Home Office, under successive governments, has been engaged in the systematic deception of the British public. It misleads, misinforms and repeatedly publishes bare faced lies about drugs and drugs policy and subverts every effort towards reform advocated by more enlightened politicians.
In 2013, according to Norman Baker and Nick Clegg, Theresa May tried to falsify the international comparators report which showed that across the world harsh penalties make no difference to the level of drug use. The facts simply don’t fit with her ideology.
And this idiocy pervades our society. It is reflected in this motion which I oppose. The premise of ‘This House Would Say No to Drugs’ is false from the very start. It’s preposterous! We all say yes to drugs, every day, inevitably, in cocktails of medicines and recreational stimulants, in food, drink, in endogenous highs released through exercise and emotions, repeatedly, regularly, all of us, without exception, do drugs.
That our governments have seen fit to draw arbitrary lines as to which drugs are acceptable and which are not, which drugs that we can celebrate and which we will be locked up for, has nothing to do with evidence, science and, least of all, absolutely nothing to do with how harmful or dangerous they are. They are based on prejudice and thinking in 2017 that has advanced no further than Harry Anslinger in 1930.
Sometimes these prejudices have strange echoes in the past. Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511, as it was believed to stimulate radical thinking – the governor thought it might unite his opposition. What does that remind you of?
Often these lines are not arbitrary, they are based on vested interests. In 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia also tried to ban coffee. He argued it interfered with the country’s beer consumption. Before the first International Opium Convention in 1925 Egyptian cotton farmers successfully lobbied for cannabis to be banned as they feared the superior fibre crop of hemp. Back to Harry Anslinger and he was in league with the timber barons who greatly feared the far better option of using hemp to make paper and the fledging oil industry which had just invented nylon, a synthetic alternative to the job that hemp fibre had done for thousands of years. When Henry Ford invented the Model T he designed it to run on ethanol produced from hemp. He planted hemp on his own land for the purpose. It’s no conspiracy theory to argue that the entire oil industry in predicated on the prohibition of cannabis, it’s just good, solid evidence.
Today, in the UK, prohibition of much safer substances like cannabis and MDMA is enforced to preserve the monopoly of legal recreational drugs that belongs to the alcohol industry – a drug that is at least a dangerous as heroin and causes far more misery and death in our society. It’s no surprise when the UK alcohol industry spends £800 million every year on advertising that the media which enjoys that income supports the alcohol monopoly.
As if we didn’t have the clearest possible lesson from the prohibition of alcohol which gave birth to organised crime and demonstrated beyond any doubt that prohibition never works, it just makes the problem worse.
The UK is more backwards, more disgraced, more shamed by a drugs policy that causes far more harm than it prevents, than almost any other first world country.
Prohibition is a fundamentally immoral policy. If you remember one thing that I say today, please make it this. It sets law enforcement against the communities it is supposed to protect. Being a police office is a noble and honourable calling. Every society needs policing but drugs policy has perverted this profession. The demand for what are deemed illicit drugs comes from society but instead of protecting us from danger, police action increases the dangers we are subject to. The harder the police clamp down, the more the price of drugs rises, the more unscrupulous and violent the unregulated criminal trade becomes and the more contaminated, more concentrated and more dangerous are the drugs themselves.
In Amsterdam, there is no problem with Spice, the synthetic cannabinoid that is ravaging our streets and British prisons at present. In sane, civilised society like California, Colorado or Washington, where adults can access safe, properly regulated cannabis, there is no Spice problem like we have in the UK. This disgusting, horrible product is the direct responsibility of the politicians who continue to pursue our ignorant anti-cannabis policy. It is just one example of the great, immoral evil that prohibition causes. And I ask you, if this crazy policy of prohibition cannot be enforced in prisons, then how do we expect to enforce it in wider society?
It is prohibition and drugs policy based on prejudice that destroys police and community relations. It is current policy that means 70% of all acquisitive crime is caused by drug addiction – for which we send sick and poorly people to jail where they find easy access to more and nastier drugs. This is the real madness that drugs cause. It is the madness of deranged government ministers and their refusal to consider evidence or to resist pressure from their masters in Fleet Street.
What we need to do is say yes to a drugs policy that is designed to reduce harm and protect our communities. Alcohol is promoted and so easily available as to be ridiculous, in every other shop on the high street, yet we control the access of children to alcohol and tobacco quite effectively. But we abandon them to the street weed dealer who sells them muck grown by other children who have been trafficked from overseas and locked in hidden farms which are dangerous fire risks. This is the shameful reality that our policies have produced.
Doctors freely prescribe anti-depressants, tranquilisers, highly toxic opioids such as tramadol, weird drugs for pain and epilepsy like gabapentin, which we don’t really understand at all. Yet it is a criminal offence for a doctor to prescribe cannabis, a remedy that mankind has used safely and effectively for at least 10,000 years.
We mislead and misinform. We encourage young people to go out and drink, yet we make ecstasy, MDMA, a drug far safer than even paracetamol, a class A substance , and we threaten people with years in jail just for handing a single dose to a friend. It’s estimated that between two and ten million doses of MDMA are taken every weekend in the UK and we get about 50 deaths a year. 200 people die every year from paracetamol. How much safer would MDMA be if the product was regulated with known strength and purity? It would probably be virtually harmless.
Now everyone is a victim of this drug war propaganda and the terrible effects of prohibition. Politicians, police officers, social workers, mothers and fathers have all been drenched in this propaganda from birth. Many sincerely believe the rubbish they have been fed and they do all they can to pass on misguided ideas to the next generation.
We need to grow up, get a grip and drag Britain out of the dark ages. Drugs can cause harm but British drugs policy is a scourge on our society. It damages the lives of millions and costs us billions. Please oppose the motion, saying no to drugs is a nonsense. Let’s say yes to a rational drugs policy.
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.”
Yesterday, on his ill judged, flying visit to Scotland, Cameron shed crocodile tears in panic about his destruction of the United Kingdom. He demeaned his office still further by using a thinly disguised obscenity, an appalling and shameful misjudgement. This fool is supposed to be the prime minster of our nation.
The truth about Dave and his cronies and their selfish, arrogant, disconnect from the majority of Britons is exemplified in the trashy new movie ‘The Riot Club’. It’s the Bullingdon Club of course, a depraved gang of posh yobboes who take alcohol, cannabis and cocaine to excess, smash up restaurants, abuse women and then sort it out by peeling a few fifties off Daddy’s wad. Key players: David Cameron, George Osborne, Boris Johnson plus assorted bankers and city conmen. The Independent sets out the roll of dishonour here.
This is why I and millions of others, previously confirmed Tory voters, will never again vote for what has become the Bullingdon Club Party. This is why Scotland should do the wise thing and skedaddle away from the UK ship that is sinking under the weight of corruption, cruelty and incompetence. Any government that is so far out of touch deserves to be brought down. That power now resides in the hands of people like Cameron, Osborne, Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa May and Chris Grayling should be all the warning we need.
It’s an excellent example to set to their fans.
Don’t choose the highly toxic poison, alcohol, proven to cause cancer, liver disease, psychosis, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and violence.
Choose cannabis, the safe, non-toxic, neuroprotective, antioxidant, life-enhancing and health giving alternative.
But the oh so sweet boys would do well to warn off anyone consuming any psychoactive substance until they’re past 21.
The madness of Queen Theresa is killing the British people.
She presides over a government that has succeeded in making alcohol stronger and more easily available, leading to the highest rate of liver disease in the world.
She sides with King Canute’s advisors in believing she can hold back the tide of demand for cannabis and ecstasy, drugs that are safely consumed by millions. Her deranged efforts to ‘ban them, ban them, ban them’ have led to the rise in ‘legal highs‘, far more dangerous, untested, unpredictable, sold at enormous profit without any control at all.
Now she’s desperately trying to shut the stable door that she opened . According to her bible, The Daily Mail, “More than 20 UK music festivals have banned the sale of ‘legal highs’ at their events this summer”.
The only sensible advice if you’re going to a festival this year is beer and wine in moderation but stick to the safe stuff. Cannabis has never killed anyone, neither has LSD. About 25 deaths have been attributed to ‘E’ but that’s with about 500,000 doses taken every weekend for 30 years.
So roll a spliff (tobacco free), maybe pop a pill or two. Stay safe.
Cannabis Is Not A Controlled Drug
Present policy abandons control to organised crime and street dealers.
If cannabis were properly controlled, it would be taken out of the hands of criminals. Growing, importing, distributing and retailing would become legitimate businesses, subject to proper control and regulation.
What Proper Control Would Mean
- Regulated sales: licensed retailers, labelling of THC/CBD ratio, other ingredients, weight
- Quality control: elimination of pesticide and fertiliser residues, bulking agents, impurities
- Regulated commercial production, reasonable limits on domestic cultivation
- Protecting the vulnerable: age limit, ID check, harm reduction information
We Need CLEAR Common Sense About Cannabis.
A Safer Britain
- Less crime of all types
- Police can focus on violent and harmful crime
- Lower alcohol consumption
- Fewer road accidents and injuries/fatalities
- Fewer children using cannabis
- Quality controlled cannabis with no harmful adulterants
- Fewer fires from hidden cannabis farms
A Healthier Britain
- Lower alcohol consumption
- Less use of dangerous/harmful drugs
- Medicinal use: Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, chronic. pain, dementia, diabetes, epilepsy, glaucoma, MS,. Parkinson’s, stroke therapy.
- Preventative therapy against auto immune and neurodegenerative diseases
- More funding for healthcare
Taxing The UK Cannabis Market
CLEAR’s policies are based on independent, expert research carried out by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit in 2011.
Download Here (PDF)
How To Regulate Cannabis In Britain
CLEAR’s detailed proposals for cannabis regulation so as to minimise all health and social harms of cannabis, protect the vulnerable and allow access to medicinal cannabis
Download Here (PDF)
– The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime, March 2014
– How Smoking Marijuana Might Be The Best Way To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, January 2014
– Few Problems With Cannabis for California, October 2013
– The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance, July 2013
– Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption, May 2013
– Why Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths, December 2011
– What can we learn from the Dutch cannabis coffeeshop system? September 2011
– Study: Legal Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Encourage Kids to Smoke More Pot, November 2011
– ‘Taxing the UK Cannabis Market’, 2011
– A summary of the health harms of drugs. NHS, 2011.
– Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids. A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature 2000 – 2011, NORML, 2011.
– Bringing cannabis back into the medicine cabinet, Prof. Les Iversen, 2010.
– Dutch among lowest cannabis users in Europe, November 2009
– Adulterants & Cutting Agents Found in Cannabis Resin, 2009
– Key Marijuana Compound Beats Current Alzheimer’s Drugs, August 2006
– US Patent 6630507, Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants, 2001
I understand why the giant intellects of our legal profession resent this man who is the first non-lawyer in 340 years to be appointed to the exalted role of Lord Chancellor.
It would be fair to say that his record as a shadow minister and then Minister of State for Employment is mediocre at best. He is not a justice minister in the relatively liberal style of Kenneth Clarke. A ‘hardliner’ they call him. He channels the ‘something of the night‘ that defined his former colleague Michael, now Lord Howard. He certainly fits with the idea of the Tories being the ‘nasty party’.
There are few more unsympathetic, merciless and intolerant members of parliament. It’s not clear what other qualities he has that have earned his high office. No surprise then that his opinion on cannabis should be as bigoted and vacuuous as he demonstrated this week.
“I’ve always taken the view that the medical reasons for not going down that road are pretty compelling. I’ve talked to many doctors over the years who have highlighted the links between cannabis use and mental health problems.”
Source: Wales Online
He’s simply repeating the government’s tired and false propaganda.
The links between cannabis use and mental health problems are tenuous to say the least. Despite a massive worldwide increase in cannabis use since the 1960s, rates of psychosis and schizophrenia are declining.
The scare stories and myths promoted by the tabloid press do not stand up to investigation. The facts of NHS hospital admissions and the National Drug Treatment Monitoring Service (inconveniently for government propagandists and tabloid editors) show that cannabis is a very small contributor to mental health problems, insignificant in public health terms.
The real reason Grayling and his cabinet colleagues want to continue the ban on cannabis is that they fear the consequences of legalisation on the alcohol industry which, as we know, successive governments just roll over for in dutiful compliance.
The ban on cannabis has never had anything to do with health concerns. It’s about vested interests and corrupt and weak politicians. The truth is people like Grayling don’t give a damn about the terrible toll that alcohol takes on our society. They care not one jot for the liberty of the individual or the hundreds of thousands who are criminalised fro using cannabis as medicine.
Grayling has never been the sharpest knife in the kitchen cabinet but at least he can be relied on to toe the party line. This is the true worth of most of our cabinet ministers.