Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘drugs minister

Victoria Atkins MP, The UK Drugs Minister, Opposes Drugs Regulation While Her Husband Grows 45 Acres of Cannabis Under Government Licence.

The UK’s New Princess Of Prohibition: Dishonesty, Hypocrisy, Corruption And Cruelty Behind A Pretty Face.

There are many examples of wilful ignorance, blind prejudice and bare faced dishonesty on drugs policy from many former and current MPs.  There is no one though who plumbs the depths of deception and hypocrisy as the new drugs minister Victoria Atkins.

Her recent performance in the Westminster Hall debate on drug consumption rooms (DCR) was riddled with inaccuracies, distorted information and downright falsehood about the success of such facilities throughout the world.  She simply told brazen untruths in order to support her rejection of the clamour from other MPs to introduce DCRs because they are proven to save lives.  I can do no better than Transform in explaining her behaviour. Its press release sets out her lies in detail.  Ronnie Cowan MP even raised a point of order and then a Home Office question about her scandalous dishonesty but as usual the government just brushed aside any criticism.

Victoria Atkins: Barrister, MP, Home Office Minister, Dishonest And Corrupt To The Core

Ms Atkins is the daughter of Sir Robert Atkins, a former Conservative MP and MEP.  She studied law at Cambridge and was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1998. She has practised as a barrister and was formerly listed as a member of Red Lion Chambers.  She has been appointed to the Attorney General’s Regulators Panel and the Serious Fraud Office’s List of specialist fraud prosecutors.  She claims to have been involved in the prosecution of major, international, drugs gangs and that this, somehow or another, qualifies her as an expert in drugs policy.

I relate her background because it is clear that she is a highly intelligent, clever and well informed woman.  This makes her dishonesty, hypocrisy and corruption all the more serious and completely inexcusable.

Ms Atkins has replaced Sarah Newton as drugs minister.  Ms Newton didn’t last long, perhaps because she couldn’t stand the ridicule that she was subjected to for trying to hold the line on the government’s ridiculous drugs policy.  When she tried to claim that alcohol isn’t really that damaging compared to illicit drugs, she had MPs either gasping in amazement or chuckling in amusement.  Ms Atkins was clearly spotted for the job because she is one of the few MPs still enthusiastic about prohibition.

Paul Kenward, Victoria Atkins’s husband, grows cannabis under government licence

But of course, it’s specifically on cannabis that I must call Ms Atkins to account. Aside from the usual, hysterical and evidence-free claims that so-called ‘skunk’ cannabis is causing an enormous increase in mental illness, which she trots out repeatedly, she rejects any idea of regulation in drugs policy as a means of reducing harm.  In the drugs policy debate on 18th July 2017 (before she was appointed drugs minister) she said:

“We are talking about gun-toting criminals, who think nothing of shooting each other and the people who carry their drugs for them. What on earth does my hon. Friend think their reaction will be to the idea of drugs being regulated? Does he really think that these awful people are suddenly going to become law-abiding citizens?”

and “I do not share the optimism of others about tackling the problem through regulation.”

Paul Kenward’s Cannabis Greenhouse

However, in what must be the most blatant hypocrisy ever from a government minister, Ms Atkins benefits directly from regulation of drugs.  She is married to Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar which is growing 45 acres of cannabis under licence in its mammoth Norfolk greenhouse.  Mr Kenward is producing high CBD cannabis for use in Epidiolex, GW Pharma’s cannabis extract epilepsy medicine.  Ms Atkins has tried to brush this off calling it “…a very different substance (from the) psychoactive version of cannabis.”   Of course, anyone with even the most basic knowledge of plant science will know this is nonsense.  The difference between different strains of cannabis is the same as the difference between different varieties of tomatoes.  Whether they’re Ailsa Craig or Alicante, they’re all tomatoes.

With this latest scandal the shameful truth about UK drugs policy and the corrupt nature of this Conservative government is highlighted once again.  It is difficult to believe this bare faced dishonesty can prevail in a country that was once held up as an example of honour and decency but as with so much that Theresa May has been responsible for since she entered government in 2010, we are disgraced, shamed and the electorate is treated with absolute contempt.

 

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The Duplicity And Deceit Of UK Drugs Policy.

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Mike Penning MP

Mike Penning MP

On 12th October, after more than 220,000 people had signed a government e-petition, Mike Penning MP, the drugs minister, responded to the debate.  He said:

“I have every sympathy for my friends and members of my family who have had MS and the terrible pain and anguish that they go through because of an incurable disease. So I start from the premise of having sympathy. Let us see what we can do in the 21st century to take people out of that environment…we could look carefully… at the research. We need to look at why the research is not taking place and at the effects of certain parts of the legislation…We have cross-party agreement that we will look at research and see how we can help people. I am committed to that…It is crucial that we do not set ourselves in one position but that instead, we ask what research could help take things forward. That is what I have committed to doing and it is very important.”

Source: Hansard

Then, on 26th October, in response to a written question, he said:

“The government’s position on the medicinal value of cannabis remains unchanged and no discussions are planned.”

Source: Hansard

This is dishonest and a subversion of our democratic process.  However, in the UK, despite its historical role as the mother of parliamentary democracy, government ministers are now entirely unaccountable. Even in their individual role as MPs they answer to the electorate only once every five years, a level of accountability which is ridiculous in the 21st century.  Between elections they only need consider their party whips or the more senior ministers who hold power over their careers.

In any other context, in business or in personal affairs, reneging on a promise as Mike Penning has done would have serious consequences.  In some instances it might even bring him before the criminal courts.  But Penning doesn’t give a damn, faces no consequences and he continues with impunity as any robber baron might have in the Middle Ages or any cowboy outlaw in the Wild West.

I have written to Mike Penning asking for an explanation and I have also written to my MP asking him to obtain an official explanation from the government.  I ask you to do the same.

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

The UK Drugs Stategy Is In Limbo.

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Norman Baker.  The Man Who Broke The Mould Of UK Drugs Policy.

Norman Baker. The Man Who Broke The Mould Of UK Drugs Policy.

Who is to be the new drugs minister?

No word yet from David Cameron. I have been calling the Home Office every day since the election and the answer is always the same – ‘no appointment has been made, it is expected within the coming days’.

Responsibility for the drugs strategy rests with the Minister of State for Crime Prevention.  At least it did throughout the last Parliament. That gave us the horror of arch-prohibitionist James Brokenshire, followed by Baroness Browning, then the Liberal Democrat Jeremy Browne, followed by Norman Baker, the man who broke the mould and resigned because of Theresa May’s opposition to evidence and common sense. Lynne Featherstone succeeded him and continued to support reform. The Liberal Democrat’s intelligent and progressive drugs policy was incorporated into its election manifesto, sadly defeated by an electorate terrorised by the prospect of a Labour/SNP victory.

Why is this vital role still not decided? Perhaps responsibility for drugs is to be allocated elsewhere?  Probably too much to hope that it will go the Department of Health but there were encouraging noises from the civil service just before the election, suggesting that the costs of enforcing drug possession charges were too high and decriminalisation should be considered.

This decision, when it comes, will speak volumes about the new government.  The signs are not good with Cameron launching the most horrendous attacks on liberty and British values, threatening to crack down on the freedom of speech and thought for which thousands of British heroes have fought and died over many years.

So this is a crucial decision.  On it will depend the development of CLEAR’s future strategy. What is certain is that we must re-adjust to communicate effectively with Tory ministers.  We are well placed to do that, more so than any other UK drugs policy reform group because our strategy is already one of engagement, not protest.  We need to be talking about public expenditure savings, new tax revenues, individual liberty. Now more than ever the failed politics of protest and human rights will not work.

Immediately after the election came calls from the stoner groups for protests and direct action. A ridiculous and futile demo has been arranged for 30th May “FUCK YOUR DRUG WAR – PROTEST“.  Make no mistake, these ideas are idiotic, misguided, counterproductive, offensive, exactly what the campaign does not need.

The choice of which minister gets to look after the drugs strategy is hugely important. Watch this space.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 14, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Brokenshire Resigns. New Drugs Minister Appointed.

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James “Broken Britain” Brokenshire has resigned as drugs minister in order to spend more time with his family.  The new drugs minister is Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi, a long time friend of the British government, well known for his intelligent and forward thinking policies and a legend amongst freedom loving people throughout the world.

David Cameron, commenting on Brokenshire’s resignation said:

“James has done a wonderful job spreading government propaganda and misinformation.  Without his tireless and courageous work we would have been unable to restrain the public outcry against our drugs policy.  If it wasn’t for James, thousands of medicinal cannabis users might have found relief from their pain and suffering and strayed away from the poisonous and harmful products that our friends in Big Pharma supply.  It was only through James’ personal guidance that I was able recently to dismiss any idea of legalising cannabis during my YouTube interview.  James told me the right lies to tell. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

David Oliver, Head of the Drug Strategy Unit at the Home Office, welcomed the new minister saying:

“I look forward to working with Muammar Gaddafi.  He has exactly the right experience and personal qualities needed in a British drugs minister.  He is a denier of science.  He has no interest in the will of the people and he can tell bare faced lies without even blinking.  I cannot think of anyone more suitable for the post”

Breakthrough In The Drugs Debate!

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Bob Ainsworth

Tomorrow, Bob Ainsworth MP, former Home Office drugs minister and Secretary of State for Defence, will call for the legalisation and regulation of drugs. He is to lead a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall, at 2.30pm on Thursday 16th December 2010.

Great credit for this must go to the inestimable Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which has led the fight against prohibition.  This is an extraordinary breakthrough.  The news literally brought tears to my eyes.  We have fought so long for such progress.

Mr Ainsworth said;

“I have just been reading the Coalition Government’s new Drugs Strategy.  It is described by the Home Secretary as fundamentally different to what has gone before; it is not.  To the extent that it is different, it is potentially harmful because it retreats from the principle of harm reduction, which has been one of the main reasons for the reduction in acquisitive crime in recent years.

However, prohibition has failed to protect us. Leaving the drugs market in the hands of criminals causes huge and unnecessary harms to individuals, communities and entire countries, with the poor the hardest hit. We spend billions of pounds without preventing the wide availability of drugs. It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children.  We must take the trade away from organised criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists.

As drugs minister in the Home Office I saw how prohibition fails to reduce the harm that drugs cause in the UK, fuelling burglaries, gifting the trade to gangsters and increasing HIV infections. My experience as Defence Secretary, with specific responsibilities in Afghanistan, showed to me that the war on drugs creates the very conditions that perpetuate the illegal trade, while undermining international development and security.

My departure from the front benches gives me the freedom to express my long held view that, whilst it was put in place with the best of intentions, the war on drugs has been nothing short of a disaster.

Politicians and the media need to engage in a genuine and grown up debate about alternatives to prohibition, so that we can build a consensus based on delivering the best outcomes for our children and communities. I call on those on all sides of the debate to support an independent, evidence-based review, exploring all policy options, including: further resourcing the war on drugs, decriminalising the possession of drugs, and legally regulating their production and supply.

One way to do this would be an Impact Assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act in line with the 2002 Home Affairs Select Committee finding – which included David Cameron – for the government to explore alternatives to prohibition, including legal regulation.

The re-legalisation of alcohol in the US after thirteen years of Prohibition was not surrender.  It was a pragmatic move based on the government’s need to retake control of the illegal trade from violent gangsters. After 50 years of global drug prohibition it is time for governments throughout the world to repeat this shift with currently illegal drugs.”

Peter Lilley MP, former Conservative Party Deputy Leader said;

“The current approach to drugs has been an expensive failure, and for the sake of everyone, and the young in particular, it is time for all politicians to stop using the issue as a political football. I have long advocated breaking the link between soft and hard drugs – by legalising cannabis while continuing to prohibit hard drugs.   But I support Bob Ainsworth’s sensible call for a proper, evidence based review, comparing the pros and cons of the current prohibitionist approach with all the alternatives, including wider decriminalisation, and legal regulation.”

Tom Brake MP, Co-Chair, Liberal Democrat Backbench Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities said;

“Liberal Democrats have long called for a science-based approach to our drugs problem. So it is without hesitation that I support Bob Ainsworth’s appeal to end party political point-scoring, and explore sensitively all the options, through an Impact Assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act.”

Labour’s Paul Flynn MP, Founder Council Member of the British Medicinal Cannabis Register said;

“This could be a turning point in the failing UK ‘war on drugs.’ Bob Ainsworth is the persuasive, respected voice of the many whose views have been silenced by the demands of ministerial office. Every open rational debate concludes that the UK’s harsh drugs prohibition has delivered the worst outcomes in Europe – deaths, drug crime and billions of pounds wasted.”