Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘France

New Drug Strategy Promises More Death, Misery And Ill Health For UK.

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The long overdue update to the UK Drug Strategy is published today by the Home Office.   A copy may be downloaded here.

Sadly, as expected, it is nothing except more of the same.  It offers no new ideas worthy of any note and reinforces the failure of existing policy by further embedding an approach which has already been conclusively proven not to work.

The UK has become increasingly isolated in its approach to drugs policy and now that both Ireland and France are moving towards decriminalisation we are unique amongst modern democracies in maintaining an approach based on nothing but prohibition.  We now stand closer to countries such as Russia, China, Indonesia and Singapore.  In fact, the only thing that separates us from countries with such medieval policies is that we do not have the death penalty for drug offences.  Otherwise our policy is just as repressive, anti-evidence, anti-human rights and based on prejudice rather than what is proven to work.

From Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s introduction, through sections based on repetition of the original strategy, ‘Reducing Demand, Restricting Supply and Building Recovery’, the document is more of the same old platitudes, bureaucratic doublespeak and meaningless civil service and social worker jargon.  It offers nothing but despair to those wracked by addiction, desperate for the proven medical benefits of cannabis or suffering from the tremendous social problems caused by prohibition.  In every respect it mirrors the government’s approach to housing which has led to mass homelessness, depravation and the Grenfell Tower disaster.  It is yet another inadequate response imposed by a government which is out of touch and wedded to policies based on ideology rather than evidence.

UK Government Policy

Current UK drug policy has already led to the highest ever rate of deaths from overdose. Deaths from heroin more than doubled from 2012 to 2015, yet there is absolutely nothing offered in this document that might change this – as if existing policy is quite OK.  Similarly, in what would be farcical humour were it not so tragic, the government seeks to portray the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 as a success.  It trumpets the closure of hundreds of retailers and websites and end to open sales but it doesn’t even mention the burgeoning new criminal market which has led to a massive increase in harm and products which are more potent but also more inconsistent and unpredictable.  All the experts (except those appointed by the government) agree that this new law has been a disaster.  Just like Grenfell Tower, this is government enforcing policies which significantly increase danger and harm without any regard at all to evidence or public opinion.

As before, this strategy doesn’t even consider harm reduction, it offers only a puritanical, moralistic approach based on abstinence.  It fails entirely to recognise that 95% of all drug use is non-problematic, without causing harm to anybody.  It is entirely focused on mis-use and blind to the great benefits, often therapeutic but also simply of pleasure, enjoyment and recreation that many people gain from safe drug use, just as most people do with that most dangerous drug of all, alcohol.  These people, the vast majority, are completely ignored by their government.

By its own title this is a drug strategy, not a drugs strategy. It treats all drugs and all drug users the same, whether they are a prisoner serving a long sentence without access to education or rehabilitation, a ruthless gangster engaged in human trafficking, an affluent clubber, humble festival goer or a multiple sclerosis patient who grows a few cannabis plants for pain relief.  It is a travesty of government, failing entirely to meet the needs of the population.

It also contains some of the most extraordinary factual errors and contradictions.  “Most cannabis in the UK is imported”, it states in defiance of the evidence that the UK has been virtually self-sufficient in homegrown cannabis since the 1990s, even to the extent where we are ‘exporting’ to other European countries.

Unsurprisingly, the report states “We have no intention of decriminalising drugs” but then makes the dubious assertion that “Drugs are illegal because scientific and medical analysis has shown they are harmful to human health.”  This is simply unsustainable in face of the facts about harms caused by legal substances such as alcohol, peanuts and energy drinks.  It is also inconsistent with the stated purpose of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which is about misuse “having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem.”, nothing to do with individual health harms.

The report fails at all to consider the negative effects of current policy and how prohibition rather than drugs themselves is actually the cause of most harms connected with drugs. It doesn’t even mention the worldwide revolution in the medical use of cannabis or that one million UK citizens are criminalised and placed in danger of criminal sanctions or contaminated product simply for trying to improve their health.  Neither does it mention drug testing, a proven method of reducing the harms of club drugs, now being supported by many police forces at festivals.

This report really is as empty, ineffectual and useless as anything produced by this already tired and discredited government.  The parallels between Grenfell Tower and a government which actively maximise the harms of drugs through its policies are extraordinary.  Thousands are dying every year because Mrs May and Mrs Rudd won’t listen to evidence.  They pick and choose whether to accept the advice of their own Advisory Council based on political convenience rather than facts and while the Council includes eminent scientists it also includes specialists in ‘chocolate addiction’ and evangelical Christian ‘re-education’ of gay people.

Whether it’s determining the inflammability of building materials or the relative potential for harm of different substances, what is clear is that this government is more concerned with dogma, vested interests and old-fashioned prejudices than the safety, health and wellbeing of the population. This Drug Strategy is a recipe for failure, for continuing exactly as before.

Hysterical PC Nonsense About A Young Couple In Love

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I really am sick to death of all the pious wailing and weeping about Megan Stammers running off with her teacher, Jeremy Forrest.

Now, of course, a teacher should not be engaging in a relationship with one of his pupils.  Megan is also beneath the age of consent but the ludicrous, preposterous idea that he is responsible for “child abduction” shows just how easily the police can be swayed by media pressure.

These are two young people in love who have eloped, foolishly but understandably.  The BBC, in particular, has pushed this story to a quite ridiculous and irresponsible extent.  Mr Forrest has been demonised as if he is a violent rapist and paedophile.  He and Megan are the victims in this story, abused shamelessly by a prurient, sanctimonious and hypocritical media.

Megan is 15.  Very shortly she will have passed the age of consent.  In France, where the couple were discovered, she is already past the age of consent, so what is the crime?

I feel very concerned for Mr Forrest.  He has been stupid and irresponsible and probably committed a technical breach of the law but he has been villified beyond reason.  I am far more concerned for the horrific ordeal his parents have been put through than  the parents of Megan whose incontinent displays of emotion hide, I suspect, responsibility for Megan’s willingness to elope.

It’s the media though who deserve real condemnation.  It is they who sexualise girls at a younger and younger age and yet when this young woman follows their lead, they turn on her and her partner.

It’s not that long ago that girls younger than Megan would already be married and that is still the case in many countries.  I’m not suggesting that is a good thing but the hysterical overreaction to this young couple’s romantic adventure disgusts me.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 29, 2012 at 8:25 am

An Appeal To Andrew Lansley

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Dear Mr Lansley,

Medicinal Cannabis

I am writing to you about the urgent necessity to permit the prescribing of medicinal cannabis by doctors.

Please do not refer me to the Home Office. Its intransigent position on the subject amounts to a scandalous denial of science and cruel mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of British citizens.  This is a health issue which requires your attention and care for those in pain and suffering.

There is now an overwhelming body of peer reviewed, published research that proves beyond doubt the efficacy of medicinal cannabis for the treatment of many conditions.  Britain is becoming increasingly isolated as a place where patients are denied access to the medicine they need.  Utterly absurd is that patients from the EU can bring medicinal cannabis into Britain under the protection of the Schengen Agreement but British residents risk prison for using exactly the same substance.

Every country in Europe except France and Britain now has some form of medicinal cannabis provision.  15 US states now permit medical marijuana on a doctor’s recommendation and Israel has a fast expanding programme. There are huge cost savings and benefits to be gained and enormous reductions in harm from side effects of poisonous pharmaceutical products.

There are already many instances in Britain where MS patients have been refused Sativex on cost grounds and so have been forced into illegal purchase or cultivation and have then been prosecuted as criminals. This is a shame and disgrace on our nation and I appeal to you to take steps to end it.

Perhaps you do not realise the transformational effect that medicinal cannabis can have on some people’s lives?  Almost miraculous results are being achieved, particularly with MS, Crohn’s and fibromyalgia. People who would otherwise be trapped by pain and disability are able to lead productive lives with the help of medicinal cannabis.

Please Mr Lansley, will you arrange to meet me and a delegation of people whose lives are literally saved by the use of medicinal cannabis?  This cruel and demeaning policy cannot be allowed to continue in the face of overwhelming evidence.  Safe, high quality, standardised dose cannabis is now available from Bedrocan in Holland, the Dutch government’s supplier and is exported all over Europe to fill doctors’ prescriptions.  How much longer must British citizens wait?

Co-ordinated action is already underway for dozens of patients to take the Home Office to judicial review for its refusal to grant import licenses for Bedrocan.  This is at huge cost in public money and people’s lives. You could take steps to end this suffering now.  You could enable the NHS to start making huge cost savings immediately.  This issue is not going away.

CLEAR is a new team of committed professionals that is determined to bring this issue to the top of the political agenda.  Please arrange to meet me and learn at first hand how much good you could do by a change of policy that is, in any case, inevitable. Don’t make those people in pain and suffering wait any longer.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Reynolds

Send a copy of this letter to your MP.  Download and print here.

 

 

Village Idiots Or Village Idiocy?

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We are very fortunate in Great Britain to have clearly defined borders.  Our status as an island has enabled us to avoid much of the evil and wickedness that has plagued continental Europe.  Throughout history neighbour has turned upon neighbour and viciousness and persecution have been rife.  Hitler did not start the persecution of the Jews.  Particularly in France and the low countries, they were persecuted across the centuries. Between Poland and Romania there is an enmity that defies belief.

Much that is great in Britain has evolved from our island culture but we have not escaped the darker side of human nature.  Much that is worst in Britain can be seen in the petty jealousies and behaviours of village life.  Just as insidious and cruel as the persecution of the Jews is the way that gossip, resistance to change and selfishness runs deep in British village life.

You Know Who You Are!

You Know Who You Are!

They nearly always start with “I’ve lived in the village for more than X years…”.  X needs to be at least 20 and for real seniority you need to be able to boast of 30 or 40 years residency.  Then, according to this idiotic doctrine, you have some sort of right to impose your view of the world on your neighbours.  Just because you were there first?

It is to the eternal shame of rural villagers in Britain that the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle Of Wight is to close.  There is simply no market for onshore wind turbines in Britain because the “NIMBYs” (Not In My Back Yard) object at every stage and shove the problem of energy and ecology onto someone else.

I won’t be actively campaigning for, say, 10 wind turbines along the top of White Horse Hill but what right would any of us have to object?  If you want to switch your kettle on or watch TV or enjoy a hot bath in the depths of winter, you need to be prepared to compromise, particularly if you want your grandchildren to enjoy a future on this planet.  In any case, wind turbines have a beauty and elegance of their own.  Look at the way that we now revere some of the great aqueducts built in the 19th century – before the days when the small minded, selfish, blue rinse brigade were able to resist any and all change.

It’s not just about planning and environment though.  It’s a more general problem about attitudes towards others and our own selfishness.  Gossip, whinging and a failure to welcome and include others and the change that they bring are the symptoms of this British disease.  So next time you hear them start with “I’ve lived in the village for more than 40 years”, be careful.  The chances are that what comes next is going to be selfish, small minded rubbish.