Posts Tagged ‘Labour’
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.
Every single day of the year, BBC news crews do exactly what Jeremy Corbyn’s video crew did on his train journey the other day. They ‘set up’ a shot to make the point or illustrate the story they want to communicate. When the interviewer nods thoughtfully in response to an interviewee’s wise words, it’s all acting. On a single camera shoot you do the cutaways after the interview and edit them in afterwards. If you can’t get the shot you need at the time you’re there, you set it up for the camera.
There’s nothing new, clever or dishonest about this. What is dishonest is the BBC’s use of it to smear and abuse a man who was just doing his job in exactly the same way as a BBC journalist. Of course the anti-Corbyn Fleet Street Mafia has leapt on it with alacrity, a lot more dishonesty, abuse, exaggeration and bile – but what would you expect from the British press?
As for Richard Branson, I used to be fan like most of the rest of the country but in the last five years I’ve realised that he is an entirely self-serving, selfish and self-centred individual. Nothing the matter with that either, except that he presents himself as a pious, altruistic and groovy guy who’s down with the common people and on their side. There’s as much truth in that as there is Branson in Branston pickle. It’s rubbish. On drugs policy Branson is grandstanding and nothing else. His loose change from yesterday’s jeans would transform the British cannabis campaign but he’s too mean to come up even with a tenner. Seeing him wade in with the mob beating up Corbyn and kick him two or three times while he’s down is truly sickening.
The far more serious matter though is the BBC’s hypocrisy and dishonesty which must be a breach of its Royal Charter obligations. The BBC is composed of soft-left Blairites with a powerful built-in default to the status quo. While I don’t support any of the multiple, confused versions of the Labour Party, I’m in even less support of corrupt, dishonest conduct by our national broadcaster.
I would vote against Theresa May. She would be a disaster for Britain and for the Tory Party. Sadly, I will not have been a member long enough to vote in the leadership election.
Now, more than ever, we need to walk towards the enemy, not run away. The entrenched, bigoted, old-fashioned, anti-evidence faction of the Conservative Party, of which Theresa May is part, is the enemy of Britain and the enemy of a progressive, enlightened society. I will work from within the Tory Party to campaign for more rational, reasonable and responsible policies. We need to tackle the future head on and only from within the Conservative Party is there any realistic possibility of having meaningful influence.
I resigned from the Liberal Democrats shortly before the EU referendum because I believe its support for the remain campaign was a betrayal of fundamental values of liberalism and democracy. Support for the unelected, unaccountable oligarchs of the EU is the nemesis of the Liberal Democrats and Tim Farron’s subsequent hate speech, branding all who voted leave as ‘intolerant, closed-hearted, pessimistic and inward looking’ has moved his party’s talent beyond self-harm to political suicide.
Clearly, in my special interest area of drugs policy and particularly medicinal cannabis, the Conservatives, and particularly Ms May, have not been our allies. Yet another reason why I, and others, must now grit our teeth and get involved with the Tories. We will make no progress unless we do. We have to appeal to the libertarians, to those who value personal liberty and who believe in evidence-based policy, not prejudice.
The response of both remainers and the left to the Brexit vote has been appalling. Aside from Tim Farron’s conduct, the chattering classes, particularly the soft left which dominates the drugs policy debate, has been defeatist, bitter and negative. It will spend its time, as it always does, in endless circular discussions talking amongst itself, the same old faces, the same old ideas. Someone needs to take the fight to where the real battle is.
I recognise that my decision to join the Tories will be difficult for many to understand. It will not be an easy path but the drugs policy and cannabis campaign needs someone to lead it into battle, to take on the establishment, to engage with and change minds.
The Labour Party is unelectable and if it survives at all, it will never see power again for many years. All other parties are irrelevant. There is no other route to power in the UK except through the Conservative Party.
The disgraceful, thuggish behaviour of John Mann in his assault of Ken Livingstone happens every day in Palestine. There, it may be heavily armed IDF soldiers dealing with Palestinian children. Or an Israeli demolition team throwing elderly grandparents out on the street before sending in the bulldozers to destroy their home. It’s often far worse: a young Palestinian man taken out of sight and summarily executed simply because the IDF know they can get away with it.
John Mann’s conduct is right in line with the aggressive, brutal arrogance that characterises the state of Israel. The pathetic response of the Labor Party, so many spineless, politically-correct MPs ganging up against Livingstone, alleging that his reference to Hitler’s 1933 Haavara Agreement with Zionist German Jews is somehow ‘anti-semitic’. The readiness of these cowards to jump on this bandwagon is contemptible, as are the underhand attempts to smear Jeremy Corbyn with the same charge.
The Tory Party is already well under the Israeli cosh and subservient to its two-phase strategy, donate and bully, donate and insist on a blind eye to Israeli war crimes. Now Labour, in utter shambles between the Blairites and the hard left, are vulnerable to the most crafty, insidious political gameplayers of all. Israel is a nation intent on subversion of western democracies at every level while imposing its brutal, racist, apartheid policies at home.
All honourable Israelis; Jew, Christian, Muslim and those of no faith, must rise up against this monstrous regime that is largely responsible for the Middle East conflict and now threatens the cohesion and stability of western nations. The corrupt influence of the pro-Israel lobby must be rooted out from our political parties and all parts of our society.
CLEAR has been mobilising its members as never before to lobby their MPs in advance of the cannabis debate on 12th October.
There are honourable exceptions but most responses have been unhelpful, dismissive and have completely failed to deal with the arguments put forward. Most MPs are indoctrinated with the false reporting churned out by the press, scared stiff of the subject and not prepared to look any deeper.
It is a terrible indictment of these people, each of whom costs us about £250,000 per year in salary and expenses. Most simply do not do their job properly, certainly not in the interests of or representing their constituents, mainly they just pursue their own political ambitions and interests. They cannot be bothered to deal with the cannabis issue.
Usually, from both Tory and Labour MPs, the responses parrot the official Home Office line. Most are too lazy to inform themselves about cannabis and the facts and evidence around current policy which costs the UK around £10 billion per annum. This vast sum comprises a futile waste of law enforcement resources and the loss of a huge amount of tax revenue. It provides funding to organised crime, including human trafficking, and does nothing to prevent any health or social harms around cannabis. In fact, if anything it maximises these harms, endangering health, communities and the whole of our society by enforcing a policy which is based not on evidence but on prejudice. Source: http://clear-uk.org/media/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf
As Paul Flynn MP, said in the House on 14th September:
“There is [a debate] in a fortnight’s time, on a subject that terrifies MPs. We hide our heads under the pillow to avoid talking about it, but the public are very happy to talk about it in great numbers. That subject is the idea of legalising cannabis so that people here can enjoy the benefits enjoyed in many other countries that do not have a neurotic policy that is self-defeating and actually increases cannabis harm.”
Below I reproduce a reply from one MP. This is the standard MP line on cannabis. The words may vary slightly but essentially this is the response that the Home Office enforces and, irrespective of party, these are the disingenuous statements that MPs hide behind.
“I believe cannabis is a harmful substance and use can lead to a wide range of physical and psychological conditions. I therefore do not support the decriminalisation or legalisation of cannabis at this time.
I welcome that there has been a significant fall in the numbers of young people using cannabis, and the number of drug-related deaths among under-30s has halved in a decade and I would not want to see this progress undermined.”
Stating cannabis is harmful is meaningless and and an evasion of the question. Anything can be harmful. Such an assertion only has any meaning when in comparison to other substances. In fact, cannabis is relatively benign, even when compared to many foods. It is much less harmful than energy drinks, junk food, all over-the-counter and prescription medicines and, of course, tobacco and alcohol. Compared to these two most popular legal drugs, cannabis is hundreds of times less harmful. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311234/
If cannabis can lead to a wide range of physical and psychological conditions, what are they and how likely is cannabis to bring them on compared to other substances? In fact, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, whose publications are often presented as evidence of cannabis harms, states unequivocally
“There is no evidence that cannabis causes specific health hazards.”
There is a reported fall in cannabis use from the British Crime Survey. However, the Association of Chief Police Officers reports ever increasing incidents of cannabis cultivation and there has been a massive surge in the use of ‘legal highs’ or novel psychoactive substances. Without exception, these are far more harmful than cannabis and their very existence is the product of government policy. In places such as Holland and the US states that have legalised, there is no problem at all with such substances.
As for “drug-related deaths”, this is classic disinformation. What does it have to do with cannabis? Are our MPs so badly informed that they cannot distinguish between different drugs? Sadly, in many cases the answer is yes. Even so, this is a false claim. The latest figures show an increase in the number of drug poisoning deaths to the highest level since records began in 1993. So much for the claimed “progress”. Source: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_414574.pdf
Just recently MPs have started to address the question of medicinal use, almost certainly because of the rising clamour from people in pain, suffering and disability. Also because the UK is now a very long way out of step with the rest of Europe, the USA, Canada, Israel, Australia and most ‘first world’ countries. Source: http://clear-uk.org/static/media/PDFs/medicinal_cannabis_the_evidence2.pdf
“I am aware that one of the issues raised is around enabling the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. I know that cannabis does not have marketing authorisation for medical use in the UK, and I understand that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency can grant marketing authorisation to drug compositions recognised as having medicinal properties, such as in the case of Sativex.”
A marketing authorisation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is a deliberate diversion from the issue. Medicines do not have to have an MHRA marketing authorisation. Doctors can prescribe any medicine, licensed or unlicensed, as they wish. However, since 1971, medical practitioners have been specifically prohibited from prescribing cannabis on the basis of no evidence at all except minsters’ personal opinions. Source: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2001/3997/made.
Applying for an MHRA marketing authorisation costs over £100,000 as an initial fee and clinical trials have to be conducted at a cost of at least the same again. Instead, minsters could simply move cannabis from schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations to schedule 2 alongside heroin and or, more logically, to schedule 4, alongside the cannabis oil medicine Sativex. This would place the whole question of the use of cannabis as medicine in the hands of doctors and not in the politically motivated hands of Westminster. Isn’t that where it should be?
This is the most important short term objective of the cannabis campaign – move cannabis out of schedule 1. Not only would this enable doctors to prescribe Bedrocan medicnal cannabis as regulated by the Dutch government but it would mean research could start in earnest. The restrictions presently in place on cannabis, because it is schedule 1, make research very expensive, complicated and are a real deterrent.
If you haven’t lobbied your MP on the cannabis debate yet, you still have time to. If you can, get along and see them in a constituency surgery. Full guidance is provided here but you must act now: http://clear-uk.org/guidance-on-how-to-lobby-your-mp-for-the-cannabis-debate/
Most MPs run surgeries on Fridays so that means you have just this coming Friday, 2nd October and the following 9th October.
Please at least ensure you write to your MP. This is our moment and we are having an impact. Make sure you do your bit.
Nearly 200,000 people have signed a petition to legalise cannabis. It’s not just a simple click of a mouse button, it requires email verification. It is an enormous event. It is only the tip of the iceberg of the millions in the UK that want to see our archaic and harmful laws on cannabis changed.
A lot of MPs are going to be very unhappy about this. They have successfully prevented any real debate on the issue since the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was introduced. This despite the fact that UK drugs policy must be one of our most failed and disastrous polices of all time. One indicator – in 1971, we had around 3,000 problematic drug users. We now have 350,000. Another – in 1971 virtually all the cannabis available was well balanced with both THC and CBD content, now it’s all low-CBD ‘moonshine’ weed.
The government and MPs who support prohibition will fight tooth and nail to brush this aside. They will do anything they can to stop it. They will say that it has ‘only’ been achieved because of campaigning – guess what they’re right, it’s called democracy, something we have very little of in the UK these days. Undoubtedly the claim will be made that the vote has been rigged.
I’m just waiting for some bumptious, baying donkey on the Tory backbenches to make the accusation. But it would be untrue. This is the will of the people and it must prevail.
MPs of all parties are so far out of touch that they don’t even begin to realise what is going on. Conservative MP Philip Davies, who is on the Justice Select Committee, said that Ron Hogg, the Durham PCC is “abusing his position” by saying that cannabis is a low priority. This is typical hypocrisy and bluster from a pompous fool who doesn’t really believe in democracy. That was the idea of PCCs wasn’t it, to bring policing in line with what local people want?
Fellow Tory ignoramus, MP Andrew Percy said: “We’ve got to start debunking the liberal elite view that cannabis is some sort of benign drug”. Which, of course, is exactly what it is.
It’s not just Tory MPs, it’s on all sides. They are ignorant, poorly informed, more driven by prejudice than evidence. Take the baby-faced Blairite John Woodcock. About a year ago he came out with the fantasy theory that the cannabis policy in Holland led to more hard drug use. In fact, exactly the opposite is the case. In Holland, where adults may purchase up to five grams of cannabis without fear of prosecution, rates of heroin use and addiction are very much lower than the UK.
The EMCDDA reports problem opioid use (rate/1000)as follows:
UK: 7.9 – 8.3
Netherlands: 0.8 – 1.0
So, in fact problematic opioid use in Holland is about one-sixth of what it is in the UK. This is just typical of how useless the majority of our MPs are. They have no idea. They get their so-called ‘facts’ from the Daily Mail or the Daily Telegraph, both of which have descended to become nothing but dishonest propaganda and crass scaremongering.
If you showed the average MP the reality of legal cannabis in Colorado, Washington, Oregon or Alsaka they would think they were dreaming. It’s a roaring success: crime is down, traffic accidents are down, painkiller overdoses are down, millions in cannabis tax revenue is being pumped into schools and hospitals.
I’ve explained to several ministers that in Israel and Canada cannabis vapourisers are provided on trollies in hospital wards. I don’t think they believed me. They couldn’t take it in.
The UK Parliament exists in a state of denial and delusion about cannabis. Only in the House of Lords do we see any lawmakers with a grip on reality but even they are mostly victims of the ‘killer skunk’ myth, asserting that this moderately potent strain is somehow different and ‘dangerous’.
It’s unlikely that the petition and the debate which surely must follow will succeed in changing the law. But MPs, however arrogant they are, cannot ignore the will of the people for ever. Too many are ignorant about the scientific and medical evidence on cannabis. Most are too cowardly to address the issue even if they are beginning to realise the truth. However, this is a battle of attrition and we are quite clearly winning.
What a magnificent example of modern Britain is this young woman. This is what Parliament is supposed to be about and Ms Black sets an example to the baying toads on the Tory benches and the spineless hypocrites of Labour.
I probably disagree with her on 95% of issues as I did with her idol Tony Benn but both of these lefties deserve great respect.