Peter Reynolds

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Posts Tagged ‘cannabis

Channel 4 Drugs Live. How To Cause Confusion About Cannabis.

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Hash

Hash

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.

Cannabis

Cannabis

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.

Professor David Nutt and his Harm Index.

Professor David Nutt and his Harm Index.

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.

Channel 4. ‘Drugs Live:Cannabis’, Drug War Propaganda Dressed Up As Science.

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Fight back against Channel 4’s war on cannabis.

Drug Warrior Jon Snow and Quack 'Dr' Christian Jessen

Drug Warrior Jon Snow and Quack ‘Dr’ Christian Jessen

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.

Make a complaint to Channel 4 Here.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 3, 2015 at 6:11 pm

CLEAR Medicinal Users Panel. Fifth Delegation To Parliament.

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Vicky Hodgson, Kate Stenberg, Roland Gyallay-Pap, Lynee Featherstone MP, Peter Reynolds, Penny Fitzlyon, Richard Tong, Jonathan Liebling

Vicky Hodgson, Kate Stenberg, Roland Gyallay-Pap, Lynne Featherstone MP, Peter Reynolds, Penny Fitzlyon, Richard Tong, Jonathan Liebling

Today a further delegation from CLEAR met with Lynne Featherstone, the new Home Office minister with responsibility for drugs policy. She is the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green and was appointed to replace Norman Baker after he resigned in November 2014.

We invited Jonathan Liebling, Political Director of the United Patients Alliance (UPA) to accompany us and he gave eloquent testimony about his own use of medicinal cannabis.  UPA has been doing excellent work in running a series of meetings up and down the country bringing medicinal users together.  We hope there will be further co-operation between UPA and CLEAR.

Jonathan spoke about using cannabis to help with anxiety and depression, as did Kate Stenberg who has also used cannabis to deal with a chronic pain condition.  Vicky Hodgson spoke about treating her scoliosis, COPD and cluster headaches.  Richard Tong explained how using a small amount of cannabis each day helps him cope with Crohn’s disease.  Roland Gyallay-Pap, related how he produced cannabis oil when his mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the great help it gave her with sleeping and eating in the final months of her life. Penny Fitzlyon talked about treating her MS with cannabis and how she has now been refused Sativex.  It was obvious this had a big impact on the minister.

She listened to each of us very attentively and we all felt that she had taken genuine interest and understood our arguments, particularly about enabling UK patients to import Bedrocan medicinal cannabis.

We also presented Ms Featherstone with a pre-publication copy of the paper ‘Medicinal Cannabis: The Evidence’, which we have produced at the request of George Freeman MP, the Life Sciences minister.  This is a literature review of the existing evidence on medicinal cannabis.  It makes a powerful argument for the transfer of cannabis from schedule I to schedule II so that it may be prescribed by a doctor. Currently the paper is being peer-reviewed and we hope that it may itself be published in a scientific/medical journal shortly.

CLEAR has also recently delivered a briefing on medicinal cannabis to Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats.  We shared this with Ms Featherstone as well.

With the General Election fast approaching, all MPs, including minsters, are about to go into campaign mode. Nick Clegg is to cover drugs policy in a speech a Chatham House later this week. There may yet be further developments, specifically on medicinal cannabis as the election campaign unfolds.  What is certain is that the new Parliament will represent a real opportunity for change and we have high hopes of real progress.

The Daily Mail Uses Terrorism To Promote Its Bizarre Ideology.

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Nick Clegg.  The UK's Most Progressive Politician on Drugs Policy.

Nick Clegg. The UK’s Most Progressive Politician on Drugs Policy.

The Mail on Sunday screams:

“The Lib Dem leader risks provoking outrage this week when he joins Sir Richard Branson to put the case for removing all criminal sanctions for possessing cannabis – including skunk, its most potent form.”

Mail on Sunday, 1st March 2015

Mail on Sunday, 1st March 2015

The only thing that keeps this terrorising message about cannabis off its front page is Jihadi John.  The Daily Mail and Jihadi John share the same ideas in how to persuade people to their bizarre and distorted world view. 

In fact, elsewhere in the Mail, as well as in its terrorist allies in Fleet Street, cannabis and Jihadi John are conflated. Apparently, he used to smoke ‘high strength ‘skunk‘ cannabis’.  Of course! That explains it all then.  The Mail wants us to believe that cannabis causes terrorism, as well as psychosis, mad axe murderers, destroys the economy and makes normally happy, hard working people turn instantly into demented gibbering wrecks.

The Daily Mail is as accurate about cannabis as Jihadi John is on Islam, good and evil.

Charles Walker MP, the habitual deceiver on evidence about cannabis, is at it again – and he’s a terrorist too.

Charles Walker MP. Crazy Claims About Cannabis.

Charles Walker MP. Crazy Claims About Cannabis.

 

“…the drugs are seven or eight times more powerful now.”

What is this lie designed to achieve?  It’s intended to terrorise people, parents in particular, with ridiculous exaggeration that has no evidence to back it up at all.

Maybe if we had more honesty from politicians and newspapers we’d have less terrorism all round?  We’d certainly be better able to protect people from the dangers caused by the ‘war on drugs’. Also, young people might start to believe what we say about extremist ideologies rather than concluding that they can’t believe anything said by numbskull liars like Charles Walker or publisher liars like the Daily Mail.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 1, 2015 at 11:39 am

Channel 4 Cannabis Programme. Irresponsible, Unethical, Misleading.

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Jon Snow Cannabis experiment sensationalismThe pre-publicity for next week’s programme ‘Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial’ has been nothing but a repeat of 1930s ‘Reefer Madness’. See ‘Jon Snow gets the inside dope on skunk’ for his commentary and a video.

It is tragic that respected journalists, Jon Snow and Matthew Paris, both of whom have been intelligent opponents of the disastrous drugs war, have been duped and manipulated into being used as sensationalist propaganda by an unscrupulous production company, Renegade Pictures.  After Channel 4’s prejudicial and hate-mongering programme, Benefits Street, one would have hoped that its editors would have learned lessons and resolved to take a more responsible approach.

David Abraham, CEO, Channel 4

David Abraham, CEO, Channel 4

I have been in correspondence with Renegade Pictures, with UCL, which is responsible for ethical approval of the study and with Jon Snow.  Today I have written to the Chief Executive of Channel 4.

David Abraham
Chief Executive
Channel 4
124, Horseferry Road
London
SW1P 2TX

Dear Mr Abraham,

Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial. Due for broadcast 3rd March 2015

There are compelling reasons why you should halt the broadcast of this programme in its present form. It is grossly irresponsible, deeply unethical and highly misleading.

I write as the elected leader of more than 320,000 supporters of cannabis law reform. CLEAR represents more people than all other UK drugs policy groups combined. I have made repeated attempts to engage with the producers of this programme, Renegade Pictures, but apart from one acknowledgement my correspondence has been ignored. This is an open letter which will be published on the CLEAR website.

A comprehensive complaint will be made to OFCOM if the programme is broadcast in its present form and I am already in touch with UCL on the question of ethics. At this stage I want to draw to your attention to conclusive evidence of the unethical basis of this programme.

The study being conducted by Professors Curran and Nutt is important science. However, it is not original and the outcome is a foregone conclusion. It is well established in other research and widely understood that CBD moderates the psychoactive effects of THC.

The cannabis used in the programme is not ‘skunk’ as claimed, it is a ‘haze’ variety produced by Bedrocan BV, the Netherlands government official producer of medicinal cannabis. It is prescribed as medicine by doctors in Holland, Belgium, Italy, Germany and Canada.

I would refer you to the Netherlands Office for Medicinal Cannabis, which regulates Bedrocan products. It publishes guidelines for medical professionals which can be seen here: BEDROCAN GUIDELINES

On using a vapouriser these state:

“Inhale a few times until the desired effect is reached or until psychological side-effects occur. Wait 5-15 minutes after the first inhalation and wait between inhalations.”

If you now observe the ludicrous overdose that Jon Snow and Matthew Paris were subjected to, you will understand how gravely irresponsible is the conduct of the programme’s producers.

Aside from the impact on the individuals concerned, this programme will present a highly misleading and false impression of the use of cannabis which millions of British people participate in every day.

I urge you to take prompt action and stop the broadcast of this programme in its present form.

Kind regards,

yours sincerely,

Peter Reynolds

 

‘Skunk’ Drives Tabloids And Politicians Mad.

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Tom Chivers, Ian Dunt and Jonathan Liebling expose the dreadful reporting of the latest cannabis harms study from the husband and wife team of Professor Sir Robin Murray and Dr Marta Di Forti.

The British tabloid press has long been engaged in the corruption of our society and successive governments’ ability to deal with drugs policy by its sensationalism, distortion and dishonesty.

In fact the worst offender now is the Daily Telegraph, a tabloid in everything except format. It now eclipses the Mail newspapers for inaccurate, misleading and distorted reporting on all aspects of drugs policy. Its science and medicine writers are either deliberately engaged in deception or utterly incompetent. Virtually every story it publishes on drugs these days has to be retracted but you never hear about it because it’s buried in a tiny, tiny correction.

Here’s what happened to its ridiculous claim recently “cannabis as addictive as heroin”

DT headline 071014

The Mail newspapers can’t resist the stories about the miraculous medicinal benefits of cannabis because they make such good sensationalism. So although they still publish hogwash, like this latest distortion, they’ve actually become more balanced almost by mistake.

Why is the British press so incompetent and/or malevolent on drugs? Is it anything to do with the £800 million pa that the alcohol industry spends on press advertising? I don’t know. Maybe it just likes to appeal to the fast dwindling band of bigots that actually buy newspapers these days.

We are a laughing stock across the world for the idiocy of our press and government, particularly in respect of cannabis. In Canada and Israel, hospitals provide elderly patients with cannabis vapourisers on trollies, so strong is the evidence for its beneficial effects on aging and dementia. Here of course we prefer to let them lie in their own excreta while feeding them with scaremongering nonsense, distortion and exaggeration of scientific studies.

Sugar, peanuts, hay fever remedies, aspirin, paracetamol and traffic fumes cause far more health harms than cannabis.

In Colorado, in 2014, $44 million in cannabis tax revenue was ringfenced for schools and hospitals. Since legalisation, crime and fatal traffic accidents are down 15%, murder is down 50%.

Far too sensible for Britain isn’t it? And it’s the work of our gutter press that prevents such progress here because politicians still give newspapers far too much respect.

CLEAR Medicinal Users Panel. Fourth Delegation To Parliament.

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Freeman meet 1There is real momentum building in Parliament on the issue of medicinal cannabis. The first thing George Freeman said this week when he welcomed us to the Department of Health was: “There is a lot of discussion going on in government about this subject”.

This is extraordinary progress, unimaginable as recently as 2012. Undoubtedly, developments in the US have raised cannabis up the political agenda. Through 2014, CLEAR has been well received by the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Home Office, the Department of Health, the Health Select Committee and just before Christmas I met with Baroness Meacher and Lord Howarth in the House of Lords.  They are chair and treasurer, respectively, of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform. They are determined to push reform through to make medicinal cannabis available and have briefed one of the UK’s leading psychopharmacologists to prepare a review of existing evidence on the subject.  Armed with this they have a plan to meet with key individuals in both Houses of Parliament and I have no doubt that they will succeed in changing minds.

Also this week, I met with advisors to Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, in the very heart of government at the Cabinet Office.  The Liberal Democrats are planning towards another coalition after the General Election and determined to see drugs policy form part of a new coalition agreement.  Right at the front of their priorities is medicinal cannabis for which there is strong support from existing ministers, Lynne Featherstone at the Home Office and Norman Lamb at the Department of Health.  Expect announcements in the run up to the election.

George Freeman is the Life Sciences Minister, responsible for medicines, NHS innovation, research, development, the MHRA and NICE.  His role is as important as any other minister in achieving the reform we seek.  He is another ally and has asked me to submit a paper setting out our proposals.  Of particular importance is how medicinal cannabis could be regulated, either with a full Marketing Authorisation from the MHRA or possibly registration as a Tradional Herbal Medicine.  The very fact that we are now discussing such detail is a measure of how far we have come.

So there is great cause for optimism at the start of 2015.  We are closer than we have ever been before and this has been achieved by moving away from the old ‘protests’ and outdated campaigning ideas.  I am confident that early in the new parliament we will see substantial progress.

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