Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron’
If the Government Won’t Regulate Cannabis Then We’ll Do It For Them
The CBD Market
Educating And Influencing Researchers
For cannabis and drugs policy reform, out of 650 MPs, there could not have been a worse person to seize power than Theresa May. There are a few who come close on both Tory and Labour benches but no one who has such a long record of bigotry, denial of evidence and refusal even to consider the subject.
To be fair, I am a member of the Conservative Party, which to many people involved in the cannabis campaign is a mortal sin but my advocacy is based on science and evidence, not tribalism or wider politics. In any case, though many find this fact hard to accept, there has always been more support from Tory MPs than Labour. Highly influential and senior Tory MPs such as Crispin Blunt, Peter Lilley and Dr Dan Poulter are powerful advocates for reform. I firmly believe that the only sustainable route to legalisation is commercialisation and the left wing, nanny state, anti-business types are already pushing the ‘Big Cannabis’ scare stories.
So what can we do and what are we doing to advance our cause in these dark days? Theresa May always has been secretive, inaccessible, unresponsive and entirely disinterested in any opinion except her own. How can we possibly make any progress with a PM who has already shown she is prepared to cover up or falsify evidence and defines herself by her belief in a supernatural power?
There is more support for cannabis law reform in Parliament than ever before. It is now official policy of both the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. The support from Scotland is far more valuable than that from the discredited LibDems. With the added factors of Brexit and Scottish Independence, the SNP is in a powerful position to advance its policies. Also, in Ireland, both north and south, public support for medical cannabis reform is exploding. Michelle O’Neill, SinnFein’s new leader, has pledged medical cannabis reform if she is re-elected (though she has no power to do so!). Her negotiating position is immensely strong now that the problems at Stormont, the rise of Sinn Fein and the Brexit factor all combine to make a united Ireland a real possibility.
During the coalition government from 2010 to 2015, few doors were closed to us. Over that period, CLEAR conducted more meetings with ministers and senior politicians than the entire UK campaign had achieved in 50 years. Because we had support from the LibDems, and introductions from the Deputy Prime Minister, even Tory ministers were ready to see us, even if they were merely paying lip service. That all stopped with the election of a majority Conservative government and after Cameron stepped down the doors were slammed in our faces, bolted and double-locked. The campaign has been in the doldrums ever since. Or has it?
The last major achievement of the last few year’s campaigning was the release of the APPG report on medical cannabis in September 2016. Alongside it, Professor Mike Barnes, CLEAR advisory board member, published his review ‘Cannabis: The Evidence for Medical Use‘. To all impartial and reasonable observers, these documents should have initiated positive government action towards reform, even if it was only very limited in scope. But no, Theresa May didn’t leave it to Amber Rudd, her successor as home secretary, she stepped straight in herself on the day of publication, before she could even have read it and dismissed the report out of hand. This echoes the apocryphal story of James Callaghan, then PM, throwing the 1969 Wooton Report in the bin without even opening it. Such is the inertia and prejudice that has not softened at all amongst the bigots despite 45 years of science and research proving that there are better, safer, more beneficial options available on cannabis.
For now, individual lobbying of MPs is our only route to power. Over the years we have refined our approach to this and we know what works. Getting into ping pong correspondence with an MP is a waste of time. An initial letter or email needs to be followed up with a face-to-face meeting and a determined focus on getting a tangible result. What sort of result you should look for depends on your circumstances but getting your MP to arrange a meeting with a government minister should be your goal.
If you’re a medical user then you’ll want to meet a health minister, preferably the Secretary of State, if not a junior minister or perhaps an advisor to the Department of Health. Work with your MP to achieve the best result you can. Your MP doesn’t necessarily have to agree with you about cannabis but they should facilitate your communication with government, that’s their job. If you’re more interested in the economic or social benefits to be gained from reform, you could ask for an introduction to the Chancellor, a treasury or business minister, or someone at the Cabinet Office who is involved in policy development. CLEAR can usually provide someone to accompany you on meetings but this must be arranged in advance and agreed with your MP or whoever your appointment is with. Alternatively, we can provide advice over the telephone on how to approach the meeting, what to ask for and what evidence or supporting material to take with you.
If the Government Won’t Regulate Cannabis Then We’ll Do It For Them
With an intransigent government that does it all it can to evade engagement on this issue, there is more that CLEAR is already doing. If the government won’t take responsibility and regulate cannabis, then step by step we are going to do it for them. Someone has to, there is far too much harm and suffering caused by present policy.
The CBD Market
Through 2016 the CBD market in the UK really began to take off. These are products derived from industrial hemp, grown legally under licence that offer many of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. They should, in fact, be more accurately termed low-THC cannabis as apart from crystals and a few, rare examples of isolated CBD, they are whole plant extracts and contain all the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds found in the plants from which they are made. Therefore they offer many of the ‘entourage effect’ benefits but with very low levels of THC. It was obvious though that this market was heading for problems. More and more dubious suppliers were starting up, many making brazen claims for the medical effects and benefits of their products and many without any product testing, quality assurance or honest customer service. The law was then and always has been crystal clear, you cannot make medical claims for a product without it being properly licensed or regulated. Inevitably, in June 2016 the MHRA stepped in and sent threatening letters to a number of CBD suppliers.
CLEAR took the initiative. We wrote to the MHRA requesting a meeting. We engaged with the leading CBD suppliers and our advisory board members Professor Mike Barnes and Crispin Blunt MP were quickly on the case. The story has already been extensively reported but now, nearly a year on, our efforts are coming to fruition. We led the approach to the MHRA and in the process created what is now the Cannabis Trades Association UK (CTAUK). It is now recognised by the MHRA, it has established a code of conduct and it is now the gold standard of quality, ethics and legality that can give anyone buying CBD products real peace of mind. There are still cowboys out there, making false claims, selling products that offer no real benefit and even endangering their customers with products that are illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. Now though, customers can go to the CTAUK website and choose a supplier that is operating legally, ethically and within the regulations that the industry itself has established. We expect the MHRA very shortly formally to endorse CTAUK members as legitimate suppliers of CBD products as food supplements.
Neither can we accept the government’s irresponsible and cruel policy towards people who need cannabis as medicine. So CLEAR has taken a further initiative. After Theresa May’s dismissal of the APPG report, we approached the Royal Colleges of medicine. We pointed out that whatever the government might say, around one million people are using cannabis as medicine. Doctors have a duty and an ethical responsibility to educate themselves on the subject and be able to provide properly informed care to their patients. Our efforts have borne fruit. Professor Mike Barnes and I have worked with Professor Nigel Mathers of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP). We will be producing a draft set of guidelines on medicinal cannabis for GPs which will go the next meeting of the RCGP Council and is planned for publication in June 2017. If the government won’t do it, we will and the medical profession agrees with us. This will be the greatest practical advance ever made in medical cannabis in the UK.
Educating And Influencing Researchers
The UK is the most prolific source of research into the harms of cannabis, particularly the tenuous links between cannabis and psychosis. Despite dozens of studies, mainly from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College Hospital, this has never been shown to be any more than statistical correlation. Most of these studies are confounded by tobacco use but the latest work from Professor Sir Robin Murray and his team shows an even stronger correlation between tobacco and psychosis than cannabis.
Across the world, UK scientists have become notorious for this scaremongering which seems little different from the ‘reefer madness’ hysteria. To be fair, much of this is down to the UK media which has barely advanced since the 1930s in its reporting. It provides the environment in which researchers are able to gain funding for research into cannabis harms but hardly ever for cannabis benefits.
CLEAR is now working with the Institute of Psychiatry to develop a new and more balanced way of surveying the effects of cannabis. Dr Musa Sami has asked us to advise on the construction of a questionnaire on which the Institute will base its future work.
Reproduced in full below is a Daily Telegraph article by Jonathan Foreman which was pulled after pressure from Theresa May’s leadership campaign.
Theresa May Is A Great Self-Promoter, But A Terrible Home Secretary
In the run-up to the 2015 election, one of the handicaps David Cameron had to finesse was the fact that net migration to the UK was three times as high as he had promised it would be. Remarkably, none of the opprobrium this failure provoked brought forth the name of Theresa May, the cabinet minister actually entrusted with bringing migration down. Then, as now, it was as if the icy Home Secretary had a dark magic that warded off all critical scrutiny.
The fact that her lead role in this fiasco went unnoticed and unmentioned likely reflects Mrs May’s brilliant, all-consuming efforts to burnish her image with a view to become prime minister.
After all, Mrs May’s tenure as Home Secretary has been little better than disastrous – a succession of derelictions that has left Britain’s borders and coastline at least as insecure as they were in 2010, and which mean that British governments still rely on guesswork to estimate how many people enter and leave the country.
People find this hard to credit because she exudes determination and strength. Compared to many of her bland, flabby cabinet colleagues, she has real gravitas. And few who follow British politics would deny that she is a deadly political infighter. Indeed Theresa May is to Westminster what Cersei Lannister is to Westeros in Game of Thrones: no one who challenges her survives undamaged, while the welfare of the realm is of secondary concern.
Take the demoralised, underfunded UK Border Force. As the public discovered after a people-smugglers’ vessel ran aground in May, it has has only three cutters protecting 7,700 miles of coastline. Italy by contrast has 600 boats patrolling its 4722 miles.
Considering the impression Mrs May gives of being serious about security, it’s all the more astonishing that she has also allowed the UK’s small airfields to go unpatrolled – despite the vastly increased terrorist threat of the last few years, the onset of the migration crisis, and the emergence of smuggling networks that traffic people, drugs and arms.
Then there is the failure to establish exit checks at all the country’s airports and ports. These were supposed to be in place by March 2015.
Unfortunately the Border Force isn’t the only organisation under Mrs May’s control that is manifestly unfit for purpose. Recent years have seen a cavalcade of Home Office decisions about visas and deportations that suggest a department with a bizarre sense of the national interest.
The most infamous was the refusal of visas to Afghan interpreters who served with the British forces in Afghanistan – as Lord Guthrie said, a national shame.
Mrs May has kept so quiet about this and other scandals – such as the collapse of the eBorders IT system, at cost of almost a billion pounds – that you might imagine someone else was in charge the Home Office.
[It’s not just a matter of the odd error. Yvette Cooper pointed out in 2013 that despite Coalition rhetoric, the number of people refused entry to the UK had dropped by 50 per cent, the backlog of finding failed asylum seekers had gone up and the number of illegal immigrants deported had gone down.]
The reputation for effectiveness that Mrs May nevertheless enjoys derives from a single, endlessly cited event: the occasion in 2014 when she delivered some harsh truths to a conference of the Police Federation.
Unfortunately this was an isolated incident that, given the lack of any subsequent (or previous) effort at police reform, seems to have been intended mainly for public consumption.
In general Mrs May has avoided taking on the most serious institutional problems that afflict British policing. These include a disturbing willingness by some forces to let public relations concerns determine policing priorities, widespread overreliance on CCTV, the widespread propensity to massage crime numbers, the extreme risk aversion manifested during the London riots, and the preference for diverting police resources to patrol social media rather than the country’s streets.
There is also little evidence that Mrs May has paid much attention to the failure of several forces to protect vulnerable girls from the ethnically-motivated sexual predation seen in Rotherham and elsewhere. Nor, despite her supposed feminism, has Mrs May’s done much to ensure that girls from certain ethnic groups are protected from forced marriage and genital mutilation. But again, Mrs May has managed to evade criticism for this.
When considering her suitability for party leadership, it’s also worth remembering Mrs May’s notorious “lack of collegiality”.
David Laws’ memoirs paint a vivid picture of a secretive, rigid, controlling, even vengeful minister, so unpleasant to colleagues that a dread of meetings with her was something that cabinet members from both parties could bond over.
Unsurprisingly, Mrs May’s overwhelming concern with taking credit and deflecting blame made for a difficult working relationship with her department, just as her propensity for briefing the press against cabinet colleagues made her its most disliked member in two successive governments.
It is possible that Mrs May’s intimidating ruthlessness could make her the right person to negotiate with EU leaders. However, there’s little in her record to suggest she possesses either strong negotiation skills or the ability to win allies among other leaders, unlike Michael Gove, of whom David Laws wrote “it was possible to disagree with him but impossible to dislike him,”
It’s surely about time – and not too late – for conservatives to look behind Mrs May’s carefully-wrought image and consider if she really is the right person to lead the party and the country.
There’s a vast gulf between being effective in office, and being effective at promoting yourself; it’s not one that Theresa May has yet crossed.
Reproduced with kind permission of Jonathan Foreman
Jo Cox is a martyr to British democracy. Why have we had taken from us one who was clearly so worthy when so much of Parliament is comprised of the venal and self-serving? Many MPs will not even meet their constituents if they do not like the questions they have to ask. I have too much experience of MPs refusing to meet or assist their constituents who need access to medicinal cannabis. Some are cowards who avoid controversial issues and disrespect their constituents’ views. Jo Cox was the very opposite and we must hope that some good comes from her sacrifice.
I saw my own MP, Oliver Letwin, just a couple of weeks ago and I wandered into this picturesque folly on the side of a church in Beaminster and there he was, no security, no entourage, not even a friendly bobby on the door. He saw me through the window and called me in. Is such informality, such casual access to a senior government minister, to be lost, even in deepest, rural Dorset?
We have no reliable information yet on the killer’s motivation but I see that has not stopped almost instantaneous and divisive speculation. What is certain though is that the febrile atmosphere of this referendum campaign has brought more tension and division into our society than I have seen before.
I said this to Oliver when I met him. His response was that this is democracy and the very nature of a referendum. That is true but I do believe that the tactics used on both sides of this campaign have engendered far too much hate in Britain. For many this has caused great fear and confusion, particularly for the feeble minded or those that are easily led and can have their emotions inflamed by rhetoric.
The disgusting behaviour of the stinking-rich oaf Bob Geldof, abusing hard working and courageous British fishermen who have seen their livelihood devastated by the EU. The vile UKIP poster of a queue of migrants released just a hour or so before Jo’s murder. Nigel Farage is greatly to be admired for his determined and principled work but this poster is a mistake and inflames racial tension.
Most of all though, I blame this almost hysterical upsurge in hatred on Cameron’s Project Fear. He and Osborne told people we would be alright if we left the EU and everything would be be OK, we could make our decision without fear that either choice would be a catastrophic mistake. Immediately though they have engaged in a campaign of terrorism, predicting chaos, disaster and mayhem if we vote to leave. Osborne’s scaremongering about a post-Brexit emergency budget was the nadir of Project Fear. He has stepped so far over the line that he will never command the trust of the British people again.
I have already submitted my postal vote and it is #VoteLeave. I know it is the opposite of what Jo Cox would have voted but I pay tribute to her as a politician who stood for democracy and, in my view, that is what this referendum is about. It’s not ‘…about the economy, stupid.’ Neither is it about immigration. It’s about self-determination and being governed by people we elect, not faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats.
A House of Commons full of MPs with the sincerity and good faith of Jo Cox would be my ideal. I believe that is what we should work towards, not abdicating our responsibility to some out-of-touch superstate, not led into servitude by a self-serving, elite of privileged politicians who rely on fear and scaremongering and try to intimidate us into a vote that is not freely chosen.
So I posted my EU referendum ballot paper this afternoon. Then I popped into the Post Office to send a ‘signed for’ letter and buy some beer.
On the way out there was our trusted postman emptying the box. “Be careful with that”, I called. “My vote leave papers are in there. Make sure they get where they’re going safely!”
“Oooh aarh”, he said in his deep Dorset accent. “We’re sorting all the leave votes out, confiscating them. Every postie gets a quid for each vote out that he intercepts.”
I’m sure he was joking. But I’m not at all sure that if EU commissioners, the bankers and Cameron thought they could get away with it, they wouldn’t do exactly that.
If we vote to leave I’m not convinced that, as in Ireland and Greece, they won’t just force another referendum until they get the result they want.
This is the best reason of all to vote leave. They are all corrupt, self-serving and anti-democratic.
Do your duty and vote LEAVE for your children’s future.
These two lowlife posh boys have now gone right over the edge into bare faced deceit and lies.
As if all their taxpayer-funded scaremongering wasn’t enough, they are now blatantly misusing our money to further their personal political interests. They have ordered the Governor of the Bank of England and senior NHS executives to support their ‘Remain’ campaign. They have used the civil service to prepare inaccurate and misleading information intended only to support their arguments and further their political careers.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise in view of the putative criminal charges concerning the Conservatives election expenses in the 2015 general election. It is clear that Cameron and Osborne believe they are above the law.
Just as Blair must be brought before the courts for the lies he told over the war on Iraq, so this pair of confidence tricksters must face justice. Whatever the result of the referendum there is no doubt that the leadership of the Conservative Party is corrupt.
The stitch-up between big business, politicians, civil servants and bankers should be crystal clear to anyone with eyes and ears. It is vital to the future of our children and grandchildren that we vote to leave the EU in a month’s time. The alternative is that we subsume ourselves forever under the yoke of transnational business, self-serving, corrupt governments intent on widening the divide between ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Intelligent people, including, to my amazement, fellow members of the Liberal Democrats, are intent on relinquishing all principles of liberalism and democracy – and for what?
All the Project Fear scaremongering, the ganging-up of the CBI, the Bank of England and all the rest of the establishment flunkies, reveals exactly what is going on. Just as we were lied to and deceived over the need for war in Iraq, we are being led by deception and falsehood into an ever-closer union that will fill the pockets and enhance the power of corporate political interests.
This referendum is not about the economy. It is about much bigger and more important principles of self-determination, democracy and freedom. I believe that such principles will also, in the end, bring us more prosperity.
Leaving the EU is most important for our children. Young people themselves must vote for opportunity. Be for Europe but not the EU. Be for co-operation but without a straightjacket. Be ourselves
The political elite wants it. The parasite outsourcing companies that suck up billions in taxpayers’ money want it. The civil servants in 28 countries want it. When you see David Cameron, Harriet Harman, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, George Osborne, Michael Heseltine all want it, ask yourself why?
It’s a stitch-up! You’re being lied to, intimidated and deceived. Independence Day is 23rd June. Make sure you make the right choice.