Posts Tagged ‘Daily Mail’
Essentially, UK government policy on cannabis hasn’t altered since 1971. Despite the vast amount of new evidence published since then and revolutionary change, particularly on medicinal use, all across the world, successive governments have stubbornly and obstinately refused to consider any sort of reform.
It doesn’t matter which party has been in power, Conservative, Labour or the coalition, it’s a subject that ministers and MPs simply refuse to engage with. It’s easier that way for them and be in no doubt: laziness, fear of a media backlash and deeply ingrained prejudice are the key factors in this impasse.
We had the downgrade to class C in 2003 and then back up to B in 2009 but this was a turgid and useless effort. No notice was taken of any evidence arising from this experiment. It was enacted to enable police to concentrate more on class A drugs and reversed based on Gordon Brown’s ‘Presbyterian conscience’ and a grubby, corrupt deal with Paul Dacre to win the Daily Mail’s political support. In fact, use went down while cannabis was class C and back up again when it was upgraded but governments have no interest in facts or evidence on this subject, only in political expediency and spinning advantage with the media.
The clamour for medicinal access has increased enormously, just as the evidence for its safety and efficacy has become overwhelming. The UK is now virtually isolated amongst first world countries with a cruel, inhumane and anti-evidence policy which makes us a laughing stock with all who are properly informed. It’s not a laughing matter for the victims though. For those persecuted by this nasty policy it is tears, pain, suffering, disability – all of which could be alleviated to at least some extent just by a stroke of the Home Secretary’s pen. It is sickening that all those who have held that office over the last 45 years escape without any shame or opprobrium on their character.
CLEAR receives hundreds of letters and emails every year from people who have written to their MP about medicinal cannabis and it is astonishing that unlike almost every other policy, exactly the same words are used by all MPs. They slavishly repeat the Home Office line which is ruthlessly enforced across party lines.
There have been some subtle changes. The marketing authorisation issued for Sativex in 2010 has led to a minor change in the tired and inaccurate line ‘there is no medicinal value in cannabis’. It’s now become ‘there is no medicinal value in raw cannabis’. This is scientifically and factually incorrect. Pharmacologically, Sativex and the ‘raw’ plants from which it is made are identical. It is whole plant cannabis oil and its authorisation by the MHRA as an extract of THC and CBD is fundamentally dishonest. GW Pharmaceuticals reveals it contains more than 400 molecules, the MHRA says it only contains two and “unspecified impurities”.
More recently, and in the face of an explosion of supportive evidence, another line has been added. This states that ‘the UK has a well established process for the approval of medicines through the MHRA and that any company wishing to bring a medicinal cannabis product to market should follow this procedure. In fact, inside sources suggest that the government is very keen to see new cannabis-based medicines approved by the MHRA. It would take the wind out of the sails of the medical cannabis campaign
This is the very last excuse for denying access to medicinal cannabis. It is nothing but an excuse and one that is misleading and based on deception. If we can expose how weak, inappropriate and fake it is, the government will have nowhere else to hide.
Firstly, as demonstrated with Sativex, the MHRA process is incapable of dealing with a medicine that contains hundreds of molecules. It is designed by the pharmaceutical industry for regulating single molecule medicines, usually synthesised in a lab, which have the potential to be highly toxic. CLEAR rejects the tired, boring theory that ‘Big Pharma’ is engaged in a massive conspiracy to deny access to cannabis and to ‘keep people ill’ so it can continue to sell its products to the NHS. The MHRA isn’t engaged in such malevolent conduct, it’s simply incapable of properly evaluating a whole plant extract through its existing methods.
The bright, shining truth of this, that totally demolishes the government’s position, is that in every jusrisdiction throughout the world where medicinal cannabis has been legally regulated, it is through a special system outside pharmaceutical medicines regulation. Every other government that has recognised the enormous benefit that medicinal cannabis offers has come to the same conclusion: cannabis is a special case. It is far more complex but much, much safer than pharmaceutical products.
Of course, there is also the ludicrous status of cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, which prevents doctors from prescribing it. If it was moved to schedule 2, alongside heroin and cocaine, or to schedule 4 alongside Sativex (the logical choice), doctors could be prescribing it tomorrow and high-quality, GMP and EU regulated medicinal cannabis from Bedrocan would be immediately available.
So the MHRA is the final excuse, the last obstacle to a revolution in healthcare in the UK. We need an ‘Office of Medicinal Cannabis’ as there is in the Netherlands, or ‘Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations’ as administered by Health Canada. Colorado has its ‘Medical Marijuana Registry Program’ and other US states have similar arrangements. Israel’s Ministry of Health has its ‘Medical Cannabis Unit’. In Australia, its equivalent of the MHRA, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has established its own set of medical cannabis regulations.
This is now the most important factor in achieving medical cannabis law reform. Next time you contact your MP or in any advocacy or campaign work you do, this is where to focus your energy. Cannabis is a special case, it is not like other medicines. Once we can open the eyes to this truth the path ahead will be clear.
Could This Be A Breakthrough In The UK Campaign For Medicinal Cannabis?
Cannabis used as medicine has appeared before in UK soaps but the news is that this Coronation Street storyline could be less jokey and trivial and actually deal in science and truth. If so it could be a major breakthrough against an intransigent government that flatly refuses even to consider the evidence.
Coronation Street is the world’s longest running soap opera still in production. Each episode reaches an average of between five and eight million viewers. It is deeply enmeshed in the fabric of British working class culture. If it puts a positive spin on medicinal cannabis it could change public opinion quicker than almost anything else.
Most senior politicians know the truth about medicinal cannabis but refuse to act, leaving millions in unnecessary pain and suffering for fear of a media backlash. But the media is changing too. Aside from a few individual dinosaur journalists and the bigots who edit the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, the rest of the media is pretty much onside.
The UK government’s position is nothing short of ridiculous, particularly given developments throughout the rest of the world. Look to Australia for the latest progressive, evidence-based change in policy, where very soon 23 million people will gain legal access to medicinal cannabis.
A positive Coronation Street storyline will give the cowards in the Department of Health and the refuseniks in the Home Office a way out. It is inevitable that reform will come. This could mean it is sooner rather than later.
On 24th June 2015, a Daily Mail headline screamed:
“Medicinal cannabis DOESN’T ease pain, nausea, vomiting,
MS muscle contractions, sleep disorders or Tourette’s”
In fact the study reported on, from the University of Bristol, found exactly the opposite. It showed that medicinal cannabis DOES ease pain, nausea, vomiting and the other conditions referred to.
The exact words of the study’s conclusion were:
“There was moderate-quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity. There was low-quality evidence suggesting that cannabinoids were associated with improvements in nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, weight gain in HIV infection, sleep disorders, and Tourette syndrome.”
Not a terribly positive endorsement of medicinal cannabis but the Daily Mail had published another bare faced lie. CLEAR made a formal complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and, as a result, the headline has been changed. It now reads:
“Weak evidence that medicinal cannabis eases pain, nausea,
vomiting, MS muscle contractions, sleep disorders or Tourette’s”
In other words, a complete climbdown. Of course the damage has already been done and such deliberate dishonesty about evidence on cannabis is an everyday occurrence from the Daily Mail. See the revised article here.
Another small victory, another small chink in the Berlin wall of prohibition. We will bring it tumbling down very soon.
We also complained that all but two of the 79 papers reviewed in the study referred to synthetic cannabinoids and not to cannabis. As a result, the article has been amended to include these words at the end:
“Medical cannabis refers to the use of cannabis or cannabinoids as medical therapy to treat disease or alleviate symptoms. Cannabinoids are any compound, natural or synthetic, that can mimic the actions of plant-derived cannabinoids”
Charles Walker MP, Parliament’s cheerleader for the ‘skunk scaremongerers’ shot himself and his hysterical campaign in the foot yesterday.
He had submitted a parliamentary written question asking:
“…how many people under 18 years of age have been treated in NHS-funded mental health units for cannabis-induced psychosis in each of the last five years?”
The answer from Jane Ellison MP, minister of state at the Department of Health, must have gravely disappointed Mr Walker. She revealed there have been average of just over 28 ‘finished admission episodes’ for each of the past five years. That doesn’t necessarily mean 28 people as it could include the same person being admitted more than once.
Of course, each of these 28 cases is a tragedy for the people involved and nothing must distract from that but it clearly shows that in public health terms, ‘cannabis psychosis’ (which some senior psychiatrists don’t even believe is a genuine diagnosis) is virtually unheard of. So much for the endless newspaper columns, the endlessly repeated ‘studies’ that never reach any conclusion and the endless moralising and deceit from those who make money from this scare story – either from providing ‘therapy’ or by fleecing money from those prepared to fund so-called science that sets out to reach a pre-determined conclusion.
Of course, not only are these cases very, very few in number but they have arisen under the present policy of prohibition when the market is in the hands of criminals. How much could we reduce this number if government took a responsible approach and regulated the market? With proper quality control, age limits, better education and harm reduction surely we could make the cannabis market safer than it is in the hands of the criminal underworld?
“I don’t think it causes mental illness. I have never seen a case of so-called cannabis psychosis.”
Dr Trevor Turner, East London and City University Mental Health NHS Trust
So this is very, very bad news for Charles Walker, for his sponsor, Mary Brett of ‘Cannabis Skunk Sense’, for Peter Hitchens, David Raynes, Sarah Graham, Theresa May and hundreds of rehab clinics, therapists and charlatans who talk up the cannabis psychosis scare story. The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, which systematically misrepresent and distort evidence on the subject are exposed for what they are. Even those on the reform side like Transform, who have chosen the dubious path of talking up cannabis as ‘dangerous’ in order to sell their consultancy services, are disgraced. Their credibility is destroyed. Their argument is false and it always has been.
The husband and wife team of Professor Sir Robin Murray and Dr Marta Di Fiori, have built up a family business in skunk scaremongering. Every year they release another ‘study’ which says almost exactly the same as the last one, never shows any causative effect but is relentlessly exaggerated and regurgitated for those who want to demonise cannabis and cannabis users. Their last point is always ‘more research is needed’. I wonder is there anyone stupid enough out there to continue funding this vendetta against the three million people in the UK that enjoy cannabis or use it as medicine? Similarly in Australia, Professor Wayne Hall and his colleagues at the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, have built their careers and made a lot of money pursuing this futile goal of proof that cannabis cause mental illness. The figures prove them all wrong. They are all self-serving propagandists and deceivers, nothing more.
These figures are more than evidence, they are facts and they prove that ‘cannabis psychosis’ is such an infinitesimally small risk, that we really need to stop wasting so much time, energy and money on it. We need to get on, legalise, regulate and start bringing the market under proper control, stop wasting money on futile law enforcement and research and start generating tax revenue and providing therapeutic and financial benefits for the whole community.
DAILY MAIL: “…senior BBC boss claims ‘Clarkson is like Savile'”
OK, well it is the Daily Mail, so until there’s some corroboration we should be cautious about believing it. However, if there is even an iota of truth in it then the ‘BBC boss’ must be sacked. That’s sacked, not ‘allowed to resign’ or ‘retire’. He or she must be summarily dismissed without compensation.
This could also be the chance to exceed the record libel award in the High Court. What can be more defamatory in 2015 than comparing someone to the bogey man to end all bogey men, Jimmy Savile?
I really think this is the end for the BBC now. Relentless incompetence, far too many wildly overpaid apparatchiks. A culture of a soft left, pro status quo, subservient to orders from ministers and civil servants, however much it might protest its faux independence from government. My personal grudge: the craven censorship even of any debate on drugs policy.
As for Jezza, it amazes me how so many people don’t understand that he is in the business of satire and irony. Either they’re dumb, ‘frigid feminist PC bigots’ (Jezza would be proud of me) or they are lacking in any humour or intelligent understanding of the self-parody that is Jeremy Clarkson. He’s a hoot and he deserves the support he has gained from ‘probably the fastest growing petition ever in the history of the world’
Of course, if he hit someone then he should be subject to disciplinary and possibly criminal process. On the other hand, if it was a minor fracas and argument between colleagues then the BBC is guilty once again of dreadful misjudgement.
I greatly admire the BBC’s output and it has been a wonderful training ground for our richest talent in film, TV and radio but it is now time for it to be broken up. We won’t lose the talent or the high quality creative and production skills but we must lose the dishonest culture, sense of entitlement and attitudes that belong to a bygone era.
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.
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.
There is no excuse for the Sunday Mirror’s entrapment of Brooks Newmark. It clearly amounts to a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. For causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent the penalty is up to 10 years in jail and both the freelance journalist concerned and the Mirror’s weekend editor Alison Phillips should be charged forthwith.
The subterfuge involved is also in clear breach of the Editors’ Code and the newly created, sham press regulator, IPSO, should act. Mind you that’s like asking the mafia to lock up its gangsters. It’s not going to happen. IPSO and the sickening parasites who set up this fraud as a successor to the corrupt PCC are the problem and no part of the solution.
The only defence to the use of subterfuge under the Editors’ Code is if it is in the public interest. After their disgraceful record over many years, anyone who thinks that Fleet Street can judge what is in the public interest, must be a Daily Mail reporter. This sting has achieved absolutely nothing except to show that a man is vulnerable to the provocative enticement of an extremely attractive woman. Frankly, Brooks Newmark would be either gay or impotent if he wasn’t sorely tempted by the delicious 22-year-old Swedish model Malin Sahlén, whose photograph was stolen by the Mirror and used to entrap the MP.
This is all part of the sickening hypocrisy, prurience and dishonesty which pervades Fleet Street. Just like the banks, our pathetic and weak leaders, even in the face of the Leveson Inquiry, allow so-called journalists to act with impunity. These aren’t journalists, they are malevolent, predatory criminal abusers and they should face the full force of the law. The crime is aggravated because it is committed for financial gain and is deeply corrupting of our media and our society.
Another side to Fleet Street’s abuse of its power and hypocrisy is the revolting Camilla Long of the Sunday Times, who has been instrumental in the harassment and malicious prosecution of Dave Lee Travis – another life sacrificed on the altar of Fleet Street malice. This vile bitch, for there can be no other description has misused her power in the media to launch the most repellent attacks on a man who is clearly innocent of any criminal intent. I don’t know what is behind her abuse. Perhaps she is sexually frigid and socially inept, incapable of handling herself in a situation of mild flirtation. More likely she is doing it for the money and if you take a moment to look at the smug, patronising drivel she writes in the Sunday Times, she is obviously in desperate need of material.
As if we didn’t know already that Cameron’s cowardly retreat from Leveson would result in more abuse from Fleet Street. Newmark must feel an idiot and highly embarrassed but it seems to me he has done nothing wrong except as far as his wife is concerned. That he was a government minister should have made him more cautious but should afford him stronger protection under the law, just as he might have a bodyguard or personal security against physical attack. The offences against him should therefore result in very severe sentences and the Sunday Mirror should go the same way as the News of the World.