Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘misinformation

This Man Isn’t A Scientist. He’s A Prohibition Propagandist.

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Sitting alongside him at his press conference “Cannabis Can Hasten Psychosis”, who did Dr Large have to lend him support?

Cannabis Preventer

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.

It’s hogwash.

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Legalise Cannabis Alliance Votes To Return To Politics

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Last week the LCA announced the result of its membership ballot – that it would re-register as a political party and elect a leader.

Stuart Warwick

Two candidates are standing for the leadership:  Stuart Warwick and myself.  Voting will close on 14th February 2011 and the result will be announced a few days later.

At a meeting last Sunday, a new management committee was formed consisting of:

Don Barnard, PR & Political Liaison
Alun Buffry, Treasurer & Coordinator
Mark Palmer, IT & Media Development
Peter Reynolds, Speaker
Janice Wells, Secretary

Two official spokespersons were appointed:

Chris Baldwin
Stuart Warwick

Alun Buffry, co-founder of the LCA,  said:

“In 2006, LCA members voted to de-register as a political party in the mistaken belief that the Liberal Democrats and Greens would take up the complex issues surrounding the cannabis plant.  Sadly that did not happen.  Now, LCA members have voted to re-register as a political party.  The LCA will once again offer voters a platform to register their discontent over the unjust prosecution of victimless users of cannabis.”

Don Barnard added:

“I am over the moon that the membership has voted to get politically active again. I look forward to raising concerns about the dubious reasons for complete prohibition of the cannabis plant with government and parliamentarians.”


For myself, I am excited to be involved in the management committee and the leadership election.  Whatever the outcome, I will do my utmost to represent the LCA, its members and all cannabis users to the best of my ability.  It is time that the discrimination against millions of British citizens who choose to use cannabis was put back on the political agenda.  No longer can the misinformation and false propaganda put out by government ministers go unchallenged.

Broken Promises. Broken Britain. Brokenshire.

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Mad? Bad? Or both?

The most important principle espoused by David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the election campaign was fairness.  They promised us that their government would be fair and by extension that the policies it pursued would be based on facts and evidence, not on prejudice, misinformation or distortion by vested interests.

This promise is broken and in the most crass, blatant and disgraceful fashion by the attempt to remove scientists from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).  Never has a more corrupt intent been revealed by a British government.  Never has a minister, James Brokenshire, demonstrated his intent to misinform, deceive and lie more clearly.  Dr Evan Harris, the former LibDem shadow science and health minister, explains the intricacies of this attempt to subvert the law here.

The Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971 was progressive legislation in that it created the ACMD and required government to seek its expert scientific advice before criminalising the use of drugs.  Because, increasingly, the government does not like the ACMD’s advice, it is now seeking to remove the Act’s requirement that there must be scientists on the council.  Is it possible to conceive of a more ridiculous or corrupt idea?

In fact, the government takes no notice of the ACMD anyway.  When ministers wanted to ban mephedrone earlier in the year they ordered the council to provide the advice that they wanted and banned it despite there being almost no evidence at all.  More members of the  ACMD then resigned and the Home Office is now trying to recruit replacements.   That may be the truth of what is happening here.  The government simply can’t find scientists prepared to sit on the council.  I wonder why?

James Brokenshire says: “Scientific advice is absolutely critical to the government’s approach to drugs and any suggestion that we are moving away from it is absolutely not true.

This is simply a bald faced lie and self-evidently so.  If scientific advice is critical, why does he wish to remove the obligation to have it available?

James Brokenshire regularly speaks untruths or dissembles on behalf of the government.  The facts prove that beyond doubt and his reputation is well established.  For instance,  the Home Office claims that there are no medicinal benefits in herbal cannabis and that this is based on advice from the ACMD.  No such advice has ever been given.   Furthermore, Professor Les Iversen, present chair of the ACMD is also a founder council member of the British Medicinal Cannabis Register (BMCR) and next week lectures on the subject “Bringing Cannabis Back into the Medicine Cabinet”

James Brokenshire is in the vanguard of this contemptible and corrupt behaviour.   He may be put forward as cannon fodder by more senior ministers because the nonsense he speaks and the positions he takes are so manifestly ridiculous.  When the truth is out and his shame is revealed he will easily be dismissed by Theresa May.  If, as Minister for Crime Prevention, he had any real interest in preventing crime he would be resisiting this attempt to subvert the law.

The British Medicinal Cannabis Register And Your Security

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Apart from the misinformation and propaganda of government, there are two reasons why cannabis law reformers have met with little success in Britain.

The first is a lack of factual information about who uses cannabis, how and for what reasons.  The second is a terrible record of disunity, squabbling and petty power games amongst campaigners.

My fervent hope is that the creation of the British Medicinal Cannabis Register (BMCR) will help to solve the first, at least for medicinal users.   The second though may prove more difficult.

The BMCR has attracted the endorsement of a number of eminent individuals.  Council members include people whose reputation is beyond reproach as well as medicinal users who, by definition, are described as criminals.  There have already been scurrilous attacks on the integrity of some council members and cowardly abuse,  anonymous or in disguise, from those who have a different agenda.

Regrettably,  a well known campaigner with an honourable and courageous record in assisting medicinal users, has resigned from the council over concerns about data security.  While he is a man of great integrity, the web site with which he is associated has hosted a series of paranoid and scaremongering attacks on the BMCR.   The site is well known as a forum for cannabis growers who clearly have good reason to be concerned about their security.

The BMCR issued the following guidance:

Your Security

The purpose of the BMCR is to build a database of factual information.  For that data to have any value it must be validated.  Cannabis remains illegal in Britain so there will always be some danger in contributing to any website or source of information, even if you do so anonymously or under a pseudonym.

After careful consideration the BMCR has concluded that the minimum requirement for data to be validated is a name, a part post code and a verifiable email address.  The name and postcode cannot be verified so there is nothing to stop you using an alias.

Clearly, the information about post code, condition(s) and method(s) of use is only of any value if it is truthful.  All data will be stored on encrypted servers and/or storage devices and will not be released to anyone voluntarily.  However, you must decide for yourself the balance between providing information and your own security.

Ultimately, medicinal users must decide for themselves whether they want to stand up and be counted or not.   Personally, I put my name loud and proud alongside the BMCR and I will defend and keep confidential any information entrusted to me to the ultimate.  I know the same goes for all those involved.

The BMCR website is at www.bmcr.org.uk.

Spectacular Spectator Drivel On Cannabis

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Melanie Phillips

A Zionist, Labour supporting, Daily Mail journalist – it’s hardly a good start is it? I should have known better than even to start reading her article in The Spectator.

This woman is a dangerous liar and propagandist.  Astonishingly, with breathtaking hypocrisy in promoting the most dangerous of drugs, The Spectator describes itself as “Champagne for the brain”.

Here is her article, reproduced without kind permission of The Spectator and my letter to the editor in response.

Yesterday morning, BBC Radio Four’s Today programme broadcast an interview with a professor of neuropharmacology, Roger Pertwee. Prof Pertwee was making an eyebrow-raising suggestion – that cannabis use should be licensed. His argument was as incoherent as it was irresponsible. He maintained, repeatedly, that all he wanted to do was to reduce the harm done by cannabis – from dangers which he appeared to define merely as smoking an adulterated form of the drug, or getting lung cancer from smoking it. So he wanted to restrict it to people whom it ‘wouldn’t harm’. They would use it in other ways than smoking it, so they wouldn’t get cancer. They would go along to their GP who would pronounce them fit enough to use it.

Hello?!?

What about the harm that we know is done by cannabis itself to the brain — to cognition, to memory, to motivation, to personality? What about the tremendous increase in psychosis caused by cannabis use? What about the harm it does to other people in the user’s ambit?

Yes, said Prof Pertwee, indeed, his scheme wouldn’t reduce the harm done by cannabis itself.

What about all those millions more young people who would start using the drug and become addicted and do themselves and other people all that harm?

Yes, stammered Prof Pertwee, that would indeed be an enormous problem with his scheme. But all he wanted to do was, er, to reduce the harm. And when he’d chased his own tail round that pointless circle a few times, he fell back on ‘all I want to do is stimulate discussion’.

In short, it was a stupid and dangerous idea which even in its own terms made no sense whatever. Why on earth was this professor of neuropharmacology spouting such self-evident drivel on the BBC that even he himself had to keep demurring at his own argument?

What the BBC didn’t tell us was that Prof Pertwee was not some dispassionate expert who just happened to breeze into the studio with a cockeyed idea about turning GPs into cannabis pushers.

Prof Pertwee is Director of Pharmacology of GW Pharmaceuticals – which has a special Home Office licence to market a cannabinoid medicine called Sativex which is used to treat certain medical conditions.

His embargoed press release even said of his proposal:

‘I think this might be the way forward, but it might not work…  It depends on a private company being willing to produce a branded product’.

But it’s his own company which is best placed to do just that! In other words, the Today programme – as a result of its own lazy and frivolous bias in favour of drug legalisation,  which presumably meant it didn’t do due diligence in researching its interviewee because he had the Correct Opinion on drug policy – was played for a sucker by Big Pharma. It was used to give prime air-time to a piece of commercial advocacy which was passed off as a neutral policy discussion. Except that the product being promoted here wasn’t soap powder, but a drug that enslaves.

Who needs cannabis when the Beeb is so dopey already?

—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: letters@spectator.co.uk
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 11:20 AM
Subject: Melanie Phillips, The Dopey Beeb, 15th September 2010

Dear Sir,

The disgraceful display of ignorance and propaganda about cannabis by Melanie Phillips cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged.

Her biogtry plumbs new depths of scandalous nonsense.

In the 1930s they used to say that cannabis makes white women promiscuous with black men. Ms Phillips continues on this shameful path of crass misinformation. She needs to do some research before inflicting her ignorance on readers any further.

I agree that Professor Pertwee was incoherent but he is an academic, not a professional communicator.  At least he was dispensing facts. Ms Phillips’ diatribe was, to say the very least, economical with the truth.

Cannabis does not harm the brain or damage cognition, memory, motivation or personality – at least no more than breathing oxygen does and a whole lot less than any other recreational drug.  The phrase “tremendous increase in psychosis” is just a bare-faced lie and that it harms “other people in the user’s ambit” is the very worst sort of journalistic hogwash.

By all means, Ms Phillips, wallow in your own deluded opinion but don’t use your position to spead such wicked, dangerous nonsense.  You should be ashamed of yourself!

Authoritarian scaremongers, political cowards and cheap scandal-seeking journalists have been urging scientists to prove that cannabis is harmful for well over 100 years.  They haven’t succeeded yet.  On the contrary, all the latest research proves that cannabis is a remarkably benign substance yet with some extraordinary medicinal properties. The endocannabinoid system, which was only discovered in 1998 is now known to be fundamental to life and good health.  The only source of cannabinoids outside the body is the cannabis plant.

I used to have time for Melanie Phillips and some degree of respect for her opinion.  I see now that she is just the same as any tabloid hack who cares not one jot for the truth, merely for cheap sensation and worthless rhetoric.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Reynolds

Home Office Drugs Strategy Consultation – My Response

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The Home Office has called for responses to its Drugs Strategy Consultation document.  See here on the Home Office website.

It is almost universally accepted that “consultation” is a euphemism for “your opinion will be ignored but we want it to look like we listened to you”.  This is a classic example of that sort of thinking.  Judge for yourself  by reading the introduction.  It is clear that ministers and civil servants have already made their mind up on many issues just by the way that the questions are phrased.

Nevertheless, this is what passes for democracy in Britain and it is vital that as many people as possible respond.  You can do so by post, email or online form. It is all set out on the website.  I offer my response here as raw material.  Please feel free to copy and use all or part of it as you wish.  Just make sure that you do make a submission.

I have answered all the questions where I feel I have something useful to say.  It dosn’t matter if you only answer one or two.  Please don’t let the Home Office get away with a whitewash.  With sufficient responses and future Feedom Of Information requests we will be able to advance the cause of rational and progressive drugs policy.

Question A1: Are there other key aspects of reducing drug use that you feel should be addressed?

* Yes

Please outline any suggestions below

The entire basis of this question is flawed. Prohibition of drug use is a failed strategy as now acknowledged by experts and leaders all over the world. So much of the subject is mired in semantics and prejudice rather than being addressed in a logical and responsible manner with fact and evidence-based policies.

Drug use can never be eliminated.  In fact, use of alcohol and tobacco, two of the most dangerous drugs, is legally promoted.  Drug misuse is, by definition, to be deplored but unless there is an acceptance of responsible drug use, then corresponding guidance or regulation to prevent misuse cannot work.

The key question, as established by parliament with the Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971 (MODA), is to how to reduce the harms of drug use.  This is the basis of the Act and of the drug classification system which is supposd to indicate the relative harms of drugs based on the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse Of Drugs (ACMD).

Regrettably the classification system is now entirely discredited for two principle reasons:

1. Failure to include the two most widely used drugs, alcohol and tobacco

2. Failure to classify drugs on a scientific basis, instead allowing political considerations and opinion to intrude where only facts and evidence should apply

The result is that government messages on drugs are widely regarded as incredible and as propaganda rather than good sense.  Young people in particular see the evidence of their  own eyes and experience as more useful and credible than government messages, especially in the case of drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy where their relative harmlessness is self-evident.  Government campaigns such as Frank are widely ridiculed and both counterproductive and a complete waste of money.

Question A2: Which areas would you like to see prioritised?

Please select as many as apply

* Greater ambition for individual recovery whilst ensuring the crime reduction impact of treatment.
* Actions to tackle drugs should be part of building the “Big Society”.
* A more holistic approach, with drugs issues being assessed and tackled alongside other issues such as alcohol abuse, child protection, mental health, employment and housing.
* Budgets and responsibility devolved wherever possible, with commissioning of services at a local level.
* Budgets and funding streams simplified and outcome based.
* The financial costs of drug misuse reduced.
* None of them.

This is an astonishingly meaningless question, a little like asking “do you approve of motherhood and apple pie?”

It would be foolish to disagree with any of these ideas.

The main area I would like to see prioritised is that drugs strategy, policy, information and education should be fact and evidence based.  The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have both criticised government for failing to implement an evidence-based drugs policy and instead giving more weight to opinion.  This is a dreadful indictment of how successive governments have, in fact, contributed to and increased drug harms.  It is now a well established and proven truism that drug laws cause more harm than drugs themselves.

I would propose a five point drugs strategy aimed at reducing harms as follows:

1. An end to oppression of drug users (at least six million citizens)
2. Removal from the criminal law of any offence for possession and/or social supply
3. Fact and evidence-based policy, information and regulation
4. Re-direction of law enforcement resources against real criminals
5. Treat problematic drug use as a health issue

I would also propose that the overwhelming response on drug laws to the Your Freedom website should be included in this consultation. Top priority should be given to the massive outcry from the public for the removal of drugs from the criminal law and the more rational, fact and evidence-based regulation.

The question of cannabis needs urgent attention.  All experts agree that the harms from its illegality are greater than from the drug itself. According to Home Office figures, there are six million regular users in the UK. Recent research shows that more than 70% of the public want to see some form of legalisation.  The laws against cannabis no longer have public support, particularly in the case of medicinal use, yet the cost of unsuccessfully attempting to enforce them amounts to many billions in wasted public expenditure.  This is a national scandal of monstrous proportions which must be ended.

Question A3: What do you think has worked well in previous approaches to tackling drug misuse?

There is almost nothing that the government has done that has worked well in tackling drug misuse.  On the contrary, almost all government policy has increased the harms caused.

There have been some pilot projects in providing clean, safe environments where opiate addicts have access to a regulated supply and clean needles that have reduced harms.

Question A4: What do you think has NOT worked so well in previous approaches to tackling drug misuse?

Government drugs policy has been a disaster in almost every way, consuming more and more resources to less and less good effect.  It has been almost entirely counterproductive and has led to complete distrust of government information, alienation of users from society in general  and brought the law into disrepute.

Prohibition has not worked.

Misinformation and propaganda that distributes lies and untruths about the relative harms of drugs has not worked.  In fact, it has led to more harms and more deaths.

Criminalising huge numbers of citizens has not worked and has created disaffection and seriously damaged democracy.

Question B1: What are the most effective ways of preventing drug or alcohol misuse?

The only effective way of preventing drug or alcohol misuse is education.  This should be accompanied by a system of regulation and controls which is fact and evidence based and has widespread public support.

Question B2: Who (which agencies, organisations and individuals) are best able to prevent drug or alcohol misuse?

The government is entirely discredited when it comes to offering any sort of advice on these subjects because it has a long history of mistakes, misinformation and propaganda.  Everyone knows that you can’t trust what the government says about such matters because it almost always places political expediency above the truth.

Schools, teachers, ex-addicts and parents are best able to prevent drug and alcohol misuse.  They need fact and evidence-based support and information.  The last thing they need is government direction or interference as this is widely seen as unbelieveable and incredible.

Question B3: Which groups (in terms of age, location or vulnerability) should prevention programmes particularly focus on?

There should be no such thing as a “prevention programme”.  The most vulnerable group is clearly young people.  Tell them not to do something and you immediately increase its appeal.  This question demonstrates how utterly out of touch, insensitive and hamstrung is current Home Office thinking.

Education programmes should focus particularly on young people.

Question B4: Which drugs (including alcohol) should prevention programmes focus on?

* Those that cause the most harm
* Those that are most widely used
* All drugs

Please explain your view below

There should be no such thing as a “prevention programme”.  Education programmes should cover all drugs but focus on those that cause most harm.

Question B5: How can parents best be supported to prevent young people from misusing drugs or alcohol?

The best way of supporting parents is by creating an environment in which drugs policy is accepted as being rational, sensible and based on facts and evidence rather than propaganda.  It is vital that fact and evidence-based information is widely available.

Question B6: How can communities play a more effective role in preventing drug or alcohol misuse?

Communities will naturally come together to prevent drug misuse if we create an environment in which drugs policy is accepted as being rational, sensible and based on facts and evidence rather than propaganda.  At present, drug laws and policies create an “us and them” culture where injustice and hypocrisy brings the law into disrepute and alienates people who do not comply.

Question B7: Are there any particular examples of prevention activity that you would like to see used more widely?

There is nothing being done in terms of”prevention activity” that should be continued.  Education, based on fact and evidence-based information is the key.

Question B8: What barriers are there to improving drug and alcohol prevention?

The biggest barrier to improving prevention of drug misuse is government policy which is widely understood not to be based on facts and evidence but on political expediency and propaganda.  The lack of fact and evidence-based information and education is also a major barrier.

Question C1: When does drug use become problematic?

Drug use becomes problematic when it interferes with people conducting their everyday lives and reaching their full potential or the ability of others to do the same.

Question C2: Do you think the Criminal Justice System should do anything differently when dealing with drug-misusing offenders

The Criminal Justice System should not be involved in dealing with drug misuse at all.  This should be a matter for healthcare. Drug misuse in itself should not be a criminal offence.

Where offences are committed while under the influence of drugs, or in order to feed a drug addiction, providing appropriate healthcare has been offered, then drug use should not be a mitigating factor. In such instances, the offender should always be referred for healthcare alongside any sentence.

Question C3: Do you have a view on what factors the Government should take into consideration when deciding to invoke a temporary ban on a new substance?

* Yes

Please explain your views below

The most important factors would be those of scientific fact and evidence to be determined by a strengthened, properly funded and independent Advisory Council On the Misuse Of Drugs or equivalent.

It is most important to consider the “glamourising effect” of banning a substance.

I congratulate the Home Office on its statement that  “Possession of a temporarily banned substance for personal use would not be a criminal offence to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young people”.  This demonstrates a new depth of thinking and intelligence that is very encouraging.

Question C4: What forms of community based accommodation do you think should be considered to rehabilitate drug offenders?

Drug use should not be an offence in itself.  Clearly as part of healthcare, community-based accommodation should be available for those suffering from problematic drug use.

Question C5: Where do you think we most need to target enforcement efforts to reduce the supply of drugs?

Enforcement efforts to reduce the supply of drugs are futile unless a legitimate, regulated source of supply is available.

Once a regulated source of supply is available, illicit sources will become less of a problem.  Enforcement efforts could then be targeted in a similar way to current policies against illicit supply of alcohol, tobacco and prescription only medicines.

Question C6: What else do you think we can do to keep one step ahead of the changing drugs markets?

The most important thing do do is to end the failed and demonstrably ludicrous policy of prohibition.  The solution is a system of fact and evidence-based regulation including a a strengthened, properly funded and independent Advisory Council On the Misuse Of Drugs or equivalent.

Question C7: Which partners – in the public, voluntary and community sectors – would you like to see work together to reduce drug related reoffending in your local area?

What does “drug related reoffending” mean?

Drug use in itself should not be an offence.

Offences related to drugs should be dealt with by healthcare intervention as well as the criminal justice system.  If appropriate healthcare has been offered then drugs should not be a mitigating factor in sentencing.

Question C8: What results should be paid for or funded?

No comment

Question C9: What measures do you think should be taken to reduce drug supply in prison?

Those prisoners with a drug addiction should have access to healthcare and regulated supply just as any other citizen.   Just as in society in general a regulated supply would greatly reduce if not eliminate the problem of illicit supply.

Recreational use of drugs in prison should be strictly controlled.  Tobacco is presently allowed but not alcohol.

As an observation, it is tragic to note how existing policies have promoted the use of heroin in prison.  Under the drug testing regimes, cannabis can be detected in urine for up to 28 days and so its use has been largely eliminated.  However, heroin flushes through the system in less than 48 hours so its use has increased.  This is a vivid demonstration of the idiocy of present policies which have led to replacement of a relatively harmless substance with one that has potential to cause great harm.

Question C10 (if applicable): What impact would the measures suggested have on:

* a) offenders?
* b) your local community?

No comment

Question D1: Thinking about the current treatment system, what works well and should be retained?

No comment

Question D2: Thinking about the current treatment system, what is in need of improvement and how might it need to change to promote recovery?

I have no specific expertise in this area but I understand that treatment for problematic cocaine use is extremely limited and in desperate need of investment.  While not physically addictive, cocaine and particularly crack cocaine is overwhelmingly compulsive and can lead to violent behaviour.  Comparatively, treatment for opiate addicton is well established and understood.  More resources need to be put into developing treatments for problematic cocaine use.

Question D3: Are there situations in which drug and alcohol services might be more usefully brought together or are there situations where it is more useful for them to be operated separately?

Services need to be client-centered. Lumping together alcohol, opiate and cocaine services for the convenience of the providers is counterproductive. Someone who drinks too much wine in the evening at home may be deterred from attending a centre where opiate addicts are injecting. Similarly, a high-earning cocaine user may not want to associate with street drinkers.

Question D4: Should there be a greater focus on treating people who use substances other than heroin or crack cocaine, such as powder cocaine and so called legal highs?

* Yes
* No

Please explain your response below

The only rational response to any problematic drug use is to treat it as a health issue, therefore treatment should be available for all substances.  The question betrays a worrying naivety as cocaine use can be problematic as powder, crack or both.  “Legal highs” is a completely meaningless term which may range from something as harmful as heroin to something as benign as cannabis.

Question D5: Should treating addiction to legal substances, such as prescribed and over-the-counter medicines, be a higher priority?

* Yes
* No
* Don’t know

Please explain your response below

No.  The drugs strategy should be about minimising harms not making some moral judgment on people based on one point of view.  This is a dreadful suggestion.

Question D6: What role should the Public Health Service have in preventing people using drugs in the first place and how can this link in to other preventative work?

Fact and evidence-based information and education.

Question D7: We want to ensure that we continue to build the skills of the drug treatment and rehabilitation sector to ensure that they are able to meet the needs of those seeking treatment. What more can we do to support this?

Stop wasting money on futile attempts at enforcement of out of date, counterproductive laws. Prohibition is an entirely failed policy and, according to Baroness Meacher in the House Of Lords on 15th June 2010 is costing Britain £19 billion per annum.

Problematic drug use should be dealt with as a health problem.  With billions saved from wasted law enforcement costs and additional tax revenue from a regulated supply system, there will be a bonanza of funds available for drug treatment and rehabilitation services.

Question D8: Treatment is only one aspect contributing to abstinence and recovery. What actions can be taken to better link treatment services in to wider support such as housing, employment and supporting offenders?

Stop criminalising drug users, imprisoning them and treating them as offenders.  They are not.  They are people who choose to use a drug that has arbitrarily been deemed illegal usually for unscientific reasons.

Question D9: How do you believe that commissioners should be held to account for ensuring that outcomes of community-based treatments, for the promotion of reintegration and recovery, as well as reduced health harms, are delivered?

No comment.

Question E1: What interventions can be provided to better support the recovery and reintegration of drug and alcohol dependent offenders returning to communities from prison?

No comment.

Question E2: What interventions could be provided to address any issues commonly facing people dependent on drugs or alcohol in relation to housing?

No comment.

Question E3: How might drug, alcohol and mental health services be more effective in working together to meet the needs of drug or alcohol dependent service users with mental health conditions?

No comment.

Question E4: Do appropriate opportunities exist for the acquisition of skills and training for this group?

No comment

Question E5 Should we be making more of the potential to use the benefit system to offer claimants a choice between:

a) some form of financial benefit sanction, if they do not take action to address their drug or alcohol dependency; or

b) additional support to take such steps, by tailoring the requirements placed upon them as a condition of benefit receipt to assist their recovery (for example temporarily removing the need to seek employment whilst undergoing treatment).

There needs to be a combination of carrot and stick adjusted to individual requirements based on healthcare needs.  Those with problematic drug use must not be allowed to fall outside society as that leads to even greater harms.  This is why it is crucial that drug use be removed from the criminal law.

Question E6: What if anything could Jobcentre Plus do differently in engaging with this client group to better support recovery?

No comment

Question E7: In your experience, what interventions are most effective in helping this group find employment?

No comment.

Question E8: What particular barriers do this group face when working or looking for employment, and what could be done to address these?

No comment.

Question E9: Based on your experience, how effective are whole family interventions as a way of tackling the harms of substance misuse?

No comment

Question E10: Is enough done to harness the recovery capital of families, partners and friends of people addicted to drugs or alcohol?

Probably not. Once prohibition is ended, with billions saved from wasted law enforcement costs and additional tax revenue from a regulated supply system, there will be a bonanza of funds available for drug treatment and rehabilitation services.

Question E11: Do drug and alcohol services adequately take into account the needs of those clients who have children?

No comment

Question E12: What problems do agencies working with drug or alcohol dependent parents face in trying to protect their children from harm, and what might be done to address any such issues?

No comment

Gender: Male
Age: 45-54
Region: South West
Occupation: Writer

Home Office Backtracks On Cannabis – Part 2

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See the original article here.

The Home Office has been denying to me all week that it had changed its story.  It claimed that it had said “Drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis are extremely harmful and can cause misery to communities across the country.”  It claimed that cannabis was never included in this statement.

Today it finally owned up.  It issued this statement at 5.18pm this evening:

A Home Office spokesperson said:

“There is clear evidence that drugs such as heroin and cocaine are extremely harmful substances.

“There is also clear evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug which can cause both physical and psychological problems. Even the occasional use of cannabis can be dangerous for people with diseases of the circulatory system, and it can contribute to heart disease and lung cancer.

“In this instance there was a drafting error with the original version of this statement, which was subsequently rectified.”

Does It Look Dangerous To You?

Now, I understand and respect the professional efforts of the Home Office PRs to damp down this story.  It just doesn’t wash though does it?

Why did it take nearly two weeks to correct this error?

Why did they try to cover up the error in the first place?

All this from a government department that emphasises how important are its “health and education messages” and that it must not send “the wrong message – to young people in particular.”

Of course, the truth is that the Home Office sends inaccurate and misleading messages about drugs all the time.  Everyone, except the Home Office ministers and mandarins, agrees that the present drug classification system is nonsense, that it amounts to nothing less than misinformation.  In fact, the Home Office is currently less than seven days away from a judicial review of its political manipulation of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  The Drug Equality Alliance co-founder, Casey Hardison, has taken it upon himself to challenge the Home Secretary and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in the Administrative Court for its irrational, unfair, and possibly illegal exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from control under the Act.

Even David Cameron agrees that ecstasy should not be a class A drug – see here.  The debacle and embarrassing nonsense about the ever-changing classification of cannabis destroyed Alan Johnson’s integrity for good.  Young people have been watching the government’s “messages” for years, comparing them to their own experiences and realising  that the government talks rot when it comes to drugs.  The Home Office is inconsistent, unreliable, contradictory and nothing short of dangerous when it comes to messages about drugs – as they’ve just proved, yet again.

As for the revised statement, there is evidence to show that smoking cannabis can cause the same damage to the cardiovascular system as smoking tobacco, but no one smokes anywhere near the same amount of cannabis as they do tobacco – they’d be asleep!  In fact, the very latest research shows that cannabis has an extraordinary protective effect for tobacco smokers and may actually reduce the likelihood of lung cancer.   Other recent research has also shown cannabinoids to have remarkable effects in shrinking brain, head, neck and breast cancers.

The Home Office is so far out of date it’s difficult to believe.   It still talks sensationally about the dangers of “new stronger strains of cannabis known as skunk”.   The truth is that skunk has been the predominant type of cannabis available in the UK for more than 20 years.  That’s how up to date the Home Office is.   Finally, the “psychological problems” story.  Sure, any psychoactive substance has the potential for harm but increasingly there’s evidence to show cannabinoids actually have an anti-psychotic effect.  One of the most useful applications of medicinal cannabis is in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

To those who don’t already know the facts, I say simply google your questions.  Even the Home Office, much as it might try, has not yet found a way of silencing the truth.