Posts Tagged ‘cannabis’
VIDEO. ‘This House Would Legalise Cannabis’. Reynolds v Hitchens. University Of Southampton, 29th September 2016.
Recording of a debate on the legalisation of cannabis which took place on Thursday 29th September 2016 at the University of Southampton, hosted by Southampton Debating Union.
Today, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has arranged a meeting with representatives from the UK Cannabis Trade Association (UKCTA) to discuss its designation of cannabidiol (CBD) as a medicine.
A request for a meeting was was first made in writing on 20th September 2016, when the possibility of the MHRA’s action was still little more than a rumour. Nearly six weeks later, after repeated requests, complaints and lobbying from many companies, individuals and MPs, the meeting has been fixed for 3rd November 2016.
The main aim of the meeting will be to discuss interim arrangements for people currently using CBD as a food supplement. Clearly, we will also address concerns over the impact of this decision on many small businesses and the people they employ.
Professor Mike Barnes, neurologist, scientific and medical advisor to CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, has issued the following statement.
“It is encouraging that the MRHA is recognising that CBD has medicinal value but it is concerning that many people benefitting from CBD now will suffer in the short term as good quality manufacturers have to stop production pending MRHA approval”
For some weeks, rumours and half stories have been swirling around about the MHRA taking action on CBD.
Initially a number of suppliers were warned about making medicinal claims, even testimonials from satisfied customers were ruled as unlawful. Anything which suggested that CBD was a medicine or provided therapeutic effects was ruled out under UK medicines legislation.
Responsible CBD suppliers have known this for some time and were scrupulous in ensuring no such claims were made, even including disclaimers explicitly stating that their products were not for medical use. But as CLEAR has reported many times before, the CBD market is full of cowboys, get-rich-quick scam artists that tell bare faced lies about their products as well as making outlandish claims for the medicinal benefits. The crackdown from the MHRA was inevitable when these fools put their short term gain ahead of developing a responsible and self-regulating market in which CBD could continue to be sold as a food supplement.
We have seen every sort of bad practice it is possible to imagine. Some suppliers have attacked all of their competitors, stating that they are the only ‘ethical’ supplier and everyone else is telling lies. MediPen put all its resources and efforts into marketing and PR without providing proper information to customers about what its product contained. It achieved great coverage in tabloids like the Metro and the Mirror and even managed to spin a wholly misleading story that the NHS was “trialling” its product (In fact it was at last using an NHS accredited laboratory to test its product contents, that is all). Another supplier called Sacred Kana was rebranding cheap and nasty Romanian hemp extract and selling a bottle for just over £50, claiming it contained 10,000 mg of CBD. Testing showed that it actually contained less than 200 mg. Wrapped up in a warm, cuddly hippy-style marketing campaign, they were trying to pass themselves off as the Rick Simpson of CBD when all they are is conmen.
Responsible suppliers did include CBD information on their websites and often linked to scientific studies and research. Clearly, even this has become too much for the MHRA and now the market is being closed down. You can thank the greedy idiots, the conmen and the barrow boy salesmen trying to pretend they were scientists.
Of course the truth is that CBD is medicine, so the MHRA isn’t wrong. Most CBD products are, in fact, low-THC, whole plant extracts, so they were, effectively, a legal form of cannabis. The therapeutic benefits they offered were not just from CBD but from the ‘entourage effect’, recognised by science as the synergy between all the different components of cannabis. Unfortunately, we even had some companies promoting the fact that their so-called ‘CBD oil’ actually contained significant proportions of THC and CBN, both ‘controlled drugs’ under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
The crackdown was inevitable but it may leave tens of thousands of people with real health problems as they are no longer able to obtain what they were legitimately using as a food supplement.
Of course, designating CBD as a medicine is inconsistent with the UK government’s position that cannabis has “no medicinal value” but it’s been common knowledge that this is untrue for many years. The only good news coming out of this debacle is that this could be the beginning of proper, honest regulation of cannabis as medicine. But if we’re looking at clinical trials before CBD can be marketed again, it could be many years away and that’s after someone or some company decides to invest the £250,000 or more that could cost.
CBD products will still be available offshore and you probably will be able to order online and have them delivered by post. The price is bound to go up and you will be committing a criminal offence by importing an unlicensed medicine but no doubt may will choose to take this risk.
CLEAR is working with the UK Cannabis Trade Association and our Advisory Board members Professor Mike Barnes and Crispin Blunt MP, to try and persuade the MHRA to enter a consultation process and allow CBD to remain available as a food supplement in the short term.
In the longer term, as we know far too well, the only solution is for a proper system of regulation for cannabis. including its use as medicine.
Ms May’s performance on the Andrew Marr Show today was a triumph.
She delivered common sense, wit, an inclusive vision and very broad appeal. In a “country that works for everyone” she is undermining the incoherent left. She is showing true leadership in excellent style.
Now all we have to do is get her properly informed about cannabis and drugs policy. I cannot believe that someone who is so rational and considered can fail to understand. I think the truth is that prejudice and years of propaganda is so entrenched, even in sophisticated, intelligent people, that some politicians, including Theresa, have not had the evidence properly presented to them.
We must do better to get our message across and somehow we have to get Theresa May properly to consider our arguments.
‘This House Would Legalise Cannabis’. Reynolds v Hitchens. University Of Southampton, 29th September 2016.
A vote was taken before the debate started: For the proposition: 49 Against the proposition: 18 Abstain/undecided: 17
John Pritchard, studying economics. For the proposition.
Jacob Power, studying philosophy. Against the proposition.
Peter Reynolds, CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform. For the proposition.
Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday. Against the proposition.
A vote was taken after the debate finished: For the proposition: 57 Against the proposition: 26 Abstain/undecided: 8
I start with an assertion that I think we can all agree on – the only purpose of any drugs policy is to reduce harm.
I argue that British drugs policy, specifically on cannabis, causes far more harm than it prevents and that the solution is to legalise. But by legalise, I do not mean a free for all. In fact, I mean a system of regulation which minimises harm.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, cannabis is called a “controlled drug” but nothing could be further from the truth. What every government since 1971 has done is abandon all control. They have abandoned our communities. they have abandoned our young people and they have abandoned those who need cannabis as medicine. All of them, Conservative, Labour and the coalition, they have abandoned us all to criminals.
The results are street dealing, dangerous hidden cannabis farms that cause fires, theft of electricity, destruction of rental properties, gangs that exploit children, both by selling them cannabis and getting them involved in dealing, human trafficking, modern slavery, most often Vietnamese children, smuggled into Britain and locked up in cannabis farms to look after the plants. And as for the product itself, it is frequently poor quality and often contaminated with toxic residues.
These are the harms that the Misuse of Drugs Act is supposed to prevent but, in fact, it creates them, promotes them and maximises them.
Now, it may surprise you to know that the law is not about protecting people from health harms. The exact words of the Act are that it is about the misuse of drugs “having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem”. It is social harm that the Act seeks to prevent.
Which is just as well because the “harmful effects” of cannabis are very difficult to identify. Most of what you hear is either wild exaggeration or completely false. Even the Institute of Psychiatry, the source of many scare stories, admitted last year that its press office was misrepresenting and exaggerating its own research.
Now t’other Peter will tell you that cannabis is a dangerous drug which can cause serious, irreversible mental illness. In a debate like this it is impossible to compare all the various scientific studies that form the body of evidence on which cannabis policy should be based. I can certainly answer specific questions later on but for now, let’s rely, not on evidence, but on cold, hard facts.
The populist myth is that thousands of young people are afflicted by this terrible condition called ‘cannabis psychosis’. The facts are that in the last five years there has been an average of just 28 finished admission episodes in hospitals each year for people under 18 for cannabis psychosis.
Of course these are 28 tragedies and I don’t overlook that but in public health terms it is an insignificant figure. For instance, there are more than 3,000 finished admission episodes each year for peanut allergy but we don’t spend £500 million each year on a futile attempt to ban peanuts, do we? Yes, that’s how much we spend every year on police, courts, probation and prison services to try and stop people using cannabis.
However, it’s not as simple as that. Apart from hospitals, thousands of people each year receive what’s called ‘treatment’ for cannabis use disorder from community health services. Nearly 16,000 young people for the year 2014/15.
Now the only ‘treatment’ for cannabis is counselling but that’s not what this is really about. It’s actually about trying to force people to stop using cannabis regardless of whether it’s causing any harm. Public Health England, which records these figures, shows that 89% of all those in treatment have been referred from the courts, educational institutions or some other authority. In other words this is coercive treatment. You have no option. If you don’t agree the courts will impose a tougher penalty or you might get expelled from school. Only 11% of those receiving this treatment actually decide they need it themselves.
Don’t get me wrong now, I’m neither suggesting cannabis is harmless nor that it can’t be a real problem for some people. But I ask you this, if it has the potential for harm, is it better that we leave the entire market, now worth £6 billion per year, in the hands of criminals, or would it be better and safer for everyone if it was properly regulated and controlled? Wouldn’t any health harms be reduced, better treated, if we had quality control, age limits, proper labelling of what you’re buying? Isn’t this obvious, common sense?
We will continue to put most of our effort into the medical campaign because that is what morality and compassion demands But actually, there is far more harm caused by the prohibition of recreational use. As well as all the social harms I mentioned earlier, do you know there are one million people in the UK with a conviction for cannabis? People whose careers, ability to travel, even their credit score can be damaged because they got caught smoking a joint.
In all jurisdictions where cannabis is legally available, the benefits are dramatic and very easy to see. In Holland, far fewer children use cannabis than in the UK. Underage use is declining in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska where cannabis is legal for all adults and in the other 30 US states where medical cannabis is legal. Crime is down, fatal traffic accidents are down, alcohol consumption is down, overdoses and deaths from dangerous opioid painkillers are down.
The prohibition of cannabis is a great force for evil in our society. It promotes crime, it maximises the health harms of cannabis, it ruins lives, it denies people medicine that science proves will help them, it blights communities, endangers children, fritters away precious law enforcement resources.
Indeed, prohibition is a fundamentally immoral policy. It sets the police and the courts against the communities they are supposed to protect. After all, the demand comes from us and it is not going away. We are adults, free human beings who are entitled to act as we wish provided it doesn’t harm others. Our government and our police should serve us. It is an affront to justice, to the rule of law, to morality and to each one of us that this oppressive, ridiculous, evidence-free policy persists.
Legalise cannabis now! Please vote in favour of the motion.