Posts Tagged ‘heroin’
On Thursday, 16th February 2017, the Oxford Union held a debate on the motion ‘This House Would Say No To Drugs’.
I was honoured to be invited to speak against the motion in the august company of Paul Hayes and Stephen DeAngelo. Speaking for the motion were Andrew Ng, Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan and Shaun Attwood.
We successfully defeated the motion by approximately 120 votes to 90. A video of the debate will be released shortly. I reproduce my speech below.
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
These are the words of Harry Anslinger, who in 1930 was appointed the first ever commissioner of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
And this is the exactly same standard of argument and evidence that we have in favour of drug prohibition today.
Anslinger went on to start the war on drugs 40 years before Richard Nixon invented the term. His anti-cannabis crusade was based on racism, the suggestion that it caused madness, violence and depravity – yes, the same scare stories, myths and deceit that we still see published every day in the pages of the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. Indeed, exactly the same nonsense which every home secretary continues to trot out and on which our present prime minister bases UK drugs policy.
Don’t be in any doubt about it, the Home Office, under successive governments, has been engaged in the systematic deception of the British public. It misleads, misinforms and repeatedly publishes bare faced lies about drugs and drugs policy and subverts every effort towards reform advocated by more enlightened politicians.
In 2013, according to Norman Baker and Nick Clegg, Theresa May tried to falsify the international comparators report which showed that across the world harsh penalties make no difference to the level of drug use. The facts simply don’t fit with her ideology.
And this idiocy pervades our society. It is reflected in this motion which I oppose. The premise of ‘This House Would Say No to Drugs’ is false from the very start. It’s preposterous! We all say yes to drugs, every day, inevitably, in cocktails of medicines and recreational stimulants, in food, drink, in endogenous highs released through exercise and emotions, repeatedly, regularly, all of us, without exception, do drugs.
That our governments have seen fit to draw arbitrary lines as to which drugs are acceptable and which are not, which drugs that we can celebrate and which we will be locked up for, has nothing to do with evidence, science and, least of all, absolutely nothing to do with how harmful or dangerous they are. They are based on prejudice and thinking in 2017 that has advanced no further than Harry Anslinger in 1930.
Sometimes these prejudices have strange echoes in the past. Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511, as it was believed to stimulate radical thinking – the governor thought it might unite his opposition. What does that remind you of?
Often these lines are not arbitrary, they are based on vested interests. In 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia also tried to ban coffee. He argued it interfered with the country’s beer consumption. Before the first International Opium Convention in 1925 Egyptian cotton farmers successfully lobbied for cannabis to be banned as they feared the superior fibre crop of hemp. Back to Harry Anslinger and he was in league with the timber barons who greatly feared the far better option of using hemp to make paper and the fledging oil industry which had just invented nylon, a synthetic alternative to the job that hemp fibre had done for thousands of years. When Henry Ford invented the Model T he designed it to run on ethanol produced from hemp. He planted hemp on his own land for the purpose. It’s no conspiracy theory to argue that the entire oil industry in predicated on the prohibition of cannabis, it’s just good, solid evidence.
Today, in the UK, prohibition of much safer substances like cannabis and MDMA is enforced to preserve the monopoly of legal recreational drugs that belongs to the alcohol industry – a drug that is at least a dangerous as heroin and causes far more misery and death in our society. It’s no surprise when the UK alcohol industry spends £800 million every year on advertising that the media which enjoys that income supports the alcohol monopoly.
As if we didn’t have the clearest possible lesson from the prohibition of alcohol which gave birth to organised crime and demonstrated beyond any doubt that prohibition never works, it just makes the problem worse.
The UK is more backwards, more disgraced, more shamed by a drugs policy that causes far more harm than it prevents, than almost any other first world country.
Prohibition is a fundamentally immoral policy. If you remember one thing that I say today, please make it this. It sets law enforcement against the communities it is supposed to protect. Being a police office is a noble and honourable calling. Every society needs policing but drugs policy has perverted this profession. The demand for what are deemed illicit drugs comes from society but instead of protecting us from danger, police action increases the dangers we are subject to. The harder the police clamp down, the more the price of drugs rises, the more unscrupulous and violent the unregulated criminal trade becomes and the more contaminated, more concentrated and more dangerous are the drugs themselves.
In Amsterdam, there is no problem with Spice, the synthetic cannabinoid that is ravaging our streets and British prisons at present. In sane, civilised society like California, Colorado or Washington, where adults can access safe, properly regulated cannabis, there is no Spice problem like we have in the UK. This disgusting, horrible product is the direct responsibility of the politicians who continue to pursue our ignorant anti-cannabis policy. It is just one example of the great, immoral evil that prohibition causes. And I ask you, if this crazy policy of prohibition cannot be enforced in prisons, then how do we expect to enforce it in wider society?
It is prohibition and drugs policy based on prejudice that destroys police and community relations. It is current policy that means 70% of all acquisitive crime is caused by drug addiction – for which we send sick and poorly people to jail where they find easy access to more and nastier drugs. This is the real madness that drugs cause. It is the madness of deranged government ministers and their refusal to consider evidence or to resist pressure from their masters in Fleet Street.
What we need to do is say yes to a drugs policy that is designed to reduce harm and protect our communities. Alcohol is promoted and so easily available as to be ridiculous, in every other shop on the high street, yet we control the access of children to alcohol and tobacco quite effectively. But we abandon them to the street weed dealer who sells them muck grown by other children who have been trafficked from overseas and locked in hidden farms which are dangerous fire risks. This is the shameful reality that our policies have produced.
Doctors freely prescribe anti-depressants, tranquilisers, highly toxic opioids such as tramadol, weird drugs for pain and epilepsy like gabapentin, which we don’t really understand at all. Yet it is a criminal offence for a doctor to prescribe cannabis, a remedy that mankind has used safely and effectively for at least 10,000 years.
We mislead and misinform. We encourage young people to go out and drink, yet we make ecstasy, MDMA, a drug far safer than even paracetamol, a class A substance , and we threaten people with years in jail just for handing a single dose to a friend. It’s estimated that between two and ten million doses of MDMA are taken every weekend in the UK and we get about 50 deaths a year. 200 people die every year from paracetamol. How much safer would MDMA be if the product was regulated with known strength and purity? It would probably be virtually harmless.
Now everyone is a victim of this drug war propaganda and the terrible effects of prohibition. Politicians, police officers, social workers, mothers and fathers have all been drenched in this propaganda from birth. Many sincerely believe the rubbish they have been fed and they do all they can to pass on misguided ideas to the next generation.
We need to grow up, get a grip and drag Britain out of the dark ages. Drugs can cause harm but British drugs policy is a scourge on our society. It damages the lives of millions and costs us billions. Please oppose the motion, saying no to drugs is a nonsense. Let’s say yes to a rational drugs policy.
Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists (let’s call them synthetic cannabinoids) are highly toxic, dangerous substances associated with a range of extremely serious, potentially fatal, medical conditions.
Synthetic cannabinoids are intended to mimic the effects of THC but they can be 50 or even 100 times more potent. They also bind more tightly to the CB1 receptor meaning the effect can be more intense and longer lasting. They are nothing like real cannabis. They don’t have the balancing effect of CBD and other cannabinoids. There is no ‘entourage effect‘, now known to be the real engine of the therapeutic and pleasant effects of real cannabis.
Cannabis is probably the least toxic, therapeutic and psychoactive substances known to science but these nasty chemicals are the very opposite. Why would anyone sell them? They are the product of prohibition and sold by immoral, irresponsible, exploitative drug dealers who are no better than those that sell dirty heroin or crack on the streets to the most vulnerable people. Most synthetic cannabinoids are sold to children, teenagers or very young adults.
Synthetic cannabinoids are associated with seizure, stroke, severe kidney problems, panic attacks, cardiac arrest, severe psychotic episodes, fever, dehydration, paranoia, hallucinations, supraventricular tachycardia – the list goes on and on.
Of course, you have no idea what you’re getting, which synthetic cannabinoid is in the ‘Spice‘ or ‘K2‘ that you’ve been sold or, indeed, whether there’s a cocktail. Many of these products sold as ‘legal highs‘ actually contain substances that have been banned, so buying them doesn’t even protect you from prosecution. Well it might, or it might not. You just don’t know. The shops that sell these products have no idea what’s in them either.
You have no idea how they are manufactured, in what conditions, using what precursors or what dangerous chemical processes. You have no idea how they are mixed into herbal material if they look like weed or into a squidgy black substance if they look like hash. I’ve seen Chris Bovey of Totnes, Europe’s biggest dealer in synthetic cannabinoids, mix his fake hash. He uses a food mixer and just adds random amounts of anonymous white powder to whatever is the base substance. God knows what that already contains.
Bovey told me that he has a chemist working in Austria who comes up with the compounds for his ‘legal highs‘. He then uses laboratories in China to manufacture them. He showed me a canister, rather like a large tea caddy, covered in Chinese writing and symbols. There was no measurement of any sort. He just tipped several slugs of the powder into the mixing bowl and then a bit more for luck.
I do wonder though whether his motives are more sinister. Why would Bovey, who claims to have made more than £500,000.00 personally from selling ‘Spice‘, want to see cannabis legalised? It doesn’t really make any sense. His role may be about subverting the cannabis campaign in the UK. He has certainly succeeded in creating massive negative energy and meanwhile his ‘legal highs‘ empire is expanding worldwide, even as far as Japan.
Irrespective of Bovey’s involvement in this nasty business, steer well clear of synthetic cannabinoids. I am not calling for them to be banned. That would only drive them underground and create yet another criminal market. The real answer is to legalise, regulate and tax cannabis and MDMA, both relatively safe substances. If we did that then the market for these horrible synthetics would dry up. New Zealand has gone halfway there already with its Psychoactive Substances Act 2013, very intelligent and progressive legislation. It’s a model that the rest of the world would do well to follow and I see no reason why cannabis and MDMA couldn’t be included in it.
Synthetic cannabis risk ‘vast’: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/global-drug-survey/9945906/Synthetic-cannabis-risk-vast
Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 and psychosis: An explorative study: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871611000639
Severe Toxicity Following Synthetic Cannabinoid Ingestion: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/15563650.2011.609822
The synthetic cannabinoid Spice as a trigger for an acute exacerbation of cannabis induced recurrent psychotic episodes: http://www.schres-journal.com/article/S0920-9964(09)00591-X/abstract
Understanding the dangers of the fake marijuana called ‘Spice’ or ‘K2’: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131002112426.htm
Why Synthetic Marijuana Is More Dangerous Than the Real Thing: http://www.livescience.com/18646-synthetic-marijuana-dangerous-health.html
Acute Kidney Injury Associated with Synthetic Cannabinoid Use: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6206a1.htm
Sitting alongside him at his press conference “Cannabis Can Hasten Psychosis”, who did Dr Large have to lend him support?
Jan Copeland, the director of the Australian National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre.
What does that tell you?
This isn’t anything to do with science. It’s about advancing the prohibitionist agenda – and, of course, is closely connected to Dr Large’s future funding and career path. See here for the unedited rushes from this little conspiracy.
His big pitch was “The results of this study confirm the need for a renewed public health warning about the potential for cannabis use to bring on psychotic illness.”
Absolute rot. The study confirmed nothing of the sort. All it consisted of was a recalculation of data from 83 previous studies. It’s all correlation and association. There’s no evidence of causation whatsoever. There was absolutely nothing new in it at all and to claim there is, is simply a lie. Of course, the mindless, desperate and eager comics like the Daily Mail have almost wet themselves with excitement over it.
This is a very typical example of the misinformation, propaganda and distortion of science put out by the prohibitionists. It is important to understand the way they work. They have been doing this now for nearly 100 years, using the latest propaganda techniques every time.
In this “meta-analysis”, as Dr Large pretentiously calls it, what he doesn’t tell you is that all the subjects already had a predisposition towards psychosis (usually by genetics) and included tobacco and “other psychoactive substance users”. That means any of the approximately 600 ingredients found in cigarettes such as ammonia, various ethyls, and any of dozens of acids and carcinogens could have distorted the findings. Similarly, and not addressed by the study’s authors, is the fact that the cannabis users, in many cases, were also cocaine, heroine, amphetamine or other drug users.
The study claims that “…schizophrenia caused by cannabis starts earlier than schizophrenia with other causes.” but it fails to consider how many of the subjects were in fact, self-medicating. The authors don’t even consider whether cannabis causes mental illness or if people with mental illness have a higher rate of using cannabis. Other evidence shows that self-medicating with cannabis is widespread and that over 90% of diagnosed schizophrenics smoke cigarettes – but nobody is claiming tobacco causes schizophrenia.
After all the brave and courageous work that the Daily Mail has done in demonising drugs, particularly in explaining how very, very dangerous cannabis is, tonight its editors and journalists gathered in an atmosphere of self-righteous gloom and sanctimonious misery. The BBC has ruined it all.
The headline reads: “BBC Slammed For “How Drugs Work” Show Which Glamorises Illegal Substances”. (Snappy, eh?) See here for the Mail’s valiant and noble defence against this wicked tide of reason and common sense.
Surely something can be done to shut the BBC up?
Can’t James “Broken Britain” Brokenshire come up with some ministerial order or something to stop them telling the truth?
Let’s get the punters back on the booze. That’s where the tax revenue come from. More importantly, that’s where so much of ministers’ jollies, perks and, you know, fun and excitement comes from. I mean there’s Ascot, Glyndebourne, Henley, Twickers, Eton old boys day, Wembley. I mean, all these events are founded on a good old piss up – and the brown envelopes from the big booze companies, well they do come in very handy you know!
That’s what we want to get the hoi polloi back to. That’ll keep em happy and docile. (Don’t tell ’em about Charlie and his snifters. Let’s keep that between ourselves, eh?)
I know the truth has been allowed to leak out. More and more are realising how dangerous alcohol is. You really mustn’t mention it, even alongside heroin and cocaine. We can’t afford the scientific comparison. It doesn’t support our case. We must not allow them to realise how bad it is. All we need to do is come up with some good scare story. The schizophrenia thing doesn’t seem to have worked. What about…what about…what about? Tennis elbow? Yes, tennis elbow!
What do you think? You know, all that picking the spliff up, putting it down. Yes! That’s it! Cannabis causes tennis elbow. Get it out now!
Cannabis causes tennis elbow – which could lead to cancer. Call the press conference now!