Posts Tagged ‘Paul Dacre’
Essentially, UK government policy on cannabis hasn’t altered since 1971. Despite the vast amount of new evidence published since then and revolutionary change, particularly on medicinal use, all across the world, successive governments have stubbornly and obstinately refused to consider any sort of reform.
It doesn’t matter which party has been in power, Conservative, Labour or the coalition, it’s a subject that ministers and MPs simply refuse to engage with. It’s easier that way for them and be in no doubt: laziness, fear of a media backlash and deeply ingrained prejudice are the key factors in this impasse.
We had the downgrade to class C in 2003 and then back up to B in 2009 but this was a turgid and useless effort. No notice was taken of any evidence arising from this experiment. It was enacted to enable police to concentrate more on class A drugs and reversed based on Gordon Brown’s ‘Presbyterian conscience’ and a grubby, corrupt deal with Paul Dacre to win the Daily Mail’s political support. In fact, use went down while cannabis was class C and back up again when it was upgraded but governments have no interest in facts or evidence on this subject, only in political expediency and spinning advantage with the media.
The clamour for medicinal access has increased enormously, just as the evidence for its safety and efficacy has become overwhelming. The UK is now virtually isolated amongst first world countries with a cruel, inhumane and anti-evidence policy which makes us a laughing stock with all who are properly informed. It’s not a laughing matter for the victims though. For those persecuted by this nasty policy it is tears, pain, suffering, disability – all of which could be alleviated to at least some extent just by a stroke of the Home Secretary’s pen. It is sickening that all those who have held that office over the last 45 years escape without any shame or opprobrium on their character.
CLEAR receives hundreds of letters and emails every year from people who have written to their MP about medicinal cannabis and it is astonishing that unlike almost every other policy, exactly the same words are used by all MPs. They slavishly repeat the Home Office line which is ruthlessly enforced across party lines.
There have been some subtle changes. The marketing authorisation issued for Sativex in 2010 has led to a minor change in the tired and inaccurate line ‘there is no medicinal value in cannabis’. It’s now become ‘there is no medicinal value in raw cannabis’. This is scientifically and factually incorrect. Pharmacologically, Sativex and the ‘raw’ plants from which it is made are identical. It is whole plant cannabis oil and its authorisation by the MHRA as an extract of THC and CBD is fundamentally dishonest. GW Pharmaceuticals reveals it contains more than 400 molecules, the MHRA says it only contains two and “unspecified impurities”.
More recently, and in the face of an explosion of supportive evidence, another line has been added. This states that ‘the UK has a well established process for the approval of medicines through the MHRA and that any company wishing to bring a medicinal cannabis product to market should follow this procedure. In fact, inside sources suggest that the government is very keen to see new cannabis-based medicines approved by the MHRA. It would take the wind out of the sails of the medical cannabis campaign
This is the very last excuse for denying access to medicinal cannabis. It is nothing but an excuse and one that is misleading and based on deception. If we can expose how weak, inappropriate and fake it is, the government will have nowhere else to hide.
Firstly, as demonstrated with Sativex, the MHRA process is incapable of dealing with a medicine that contains hundreds of molecules. It is designed by the pharmaceutical industry for regulating single molecule medicines, usually synthesised in a lab, which have the potential to be highly toxic. CLEAR rejects the tired, boring theory that ‘Big Pharma’ is engaged in a massive conspiracy to deny access to cannabis and to ‘keep people ill’ so it can continue to sell its products to the NHS. The MHRA isn’t engaged in such malevolent conduct, it’s simply incapable of properly evaluating a whole plant extract through its existing methods.
The bright, shining truth of this, that totally demolishes the government’s position, is that in every jusrisdiction throughout the world where medicinal cannabis has been legally regulated, it is through a special system outside pharmaceutical medicines regulation. Every other government that has recognised the enormous benefit that medicinal cannabis offers has come to the same conclusion: cannabis is a special case. It is far more complex but much, much safer than pharmaceutical products.
Of course, there is also the ludicrous status of cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, which prevents doctors from prescribing it. If it was moved to schedule 2, alongside heroin and cocaine, or to schedule 4 alongside Sativex (the logical choice), doctors could be prescribing it tomorrow and high-quality, GMP and EU regulated medicinal cannabis from Bedrocan would be immediately available.
So the MHRA is the final excuse, the last obstacle to a revolution in healthcare in the UK. We need an ‘Office of Medicinal Cannabis’ as there is in the Netherlands, or ‘Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations’ as administered by Health Canada. Colorado has its ‘Medical Marijuana Registry Program’ and other US states have similar arrangements. Israel’s Ministry of Health has its ‘Medical Cannabis Unit’. In Australia, its equivalent of the MHRA, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has established its own set of medical cannabis regulations.
This is now the most important factor in achieving medical cannabis law reform. Next time you contact your MP or in any advocacy or campaign work you do, this is where to focus your energy. Cannabis is a special case, it is not like other medicines. Once we can open the eyes to this truth the path ahead will be clear.
This article started as a comment on an excellent piece in 'The Conversation' byProfessor of Communications, University of Westminster.
The Fleet Street Mafia has successfully subverted and corrupted our political leadership to ensure that Leveson has achieved nothing in bringing the worst excesses of the press under control. In fact, if anything, press regulation is even weaker and less effective than before Lord Justice Leveson first assumed the chair of the inquiry.
The whole exercise has been a farce and a waste of public money. Cameron and his cronies are so terrified of the press that they will do literally anything; change any policy, ignore any evidence, promote any untruth, in order to comply with the wishes of Murdoch, the Barclay Brothers or Paul Dacre.
IPSO, the replacement for the PCC, is even more corrupt, dishonest and fraudulent in its practice than its predecessor. It fails to enforce the Editors’ Code and instead finds excuses for publishers to breach the code as it suits them. It acts in expressly the opposite interest to that which it pretends. It seeks to support the interests of the press over the interests of the public at all stages.
IPSO’s new strategy to deal with troublesome and substantive complaints is simply to dismiss them, even without any consideration. The PCC would have made a play of investigating complaints before dismissing them but IPSO simply closes them down saying they do not raise any possible breaches of the code – even when they consist of blatant inaccuracy and distortion.
The net effect of Leveson is to place the public in a worse position than before it started. We have gone backwards. The press is more powerful, politicians are supine. In the case of weak, corrupt individuals like John Whittingdale, he has become the servant of the press barons, doing their bidding, performing at their wish from inside government where he betrays the electorate and subverts our democracy.
Fleet Street is like the Wild West but with immunity against any consequences of any actions. The only hope that we have is the terminal decline of newspaper circulation and that the power of this unelected elite of editors and proprietors will crumble over time. It would help if our other media, particularly the BBC, would stop letting Fleet Street set the news agenda. We need to accelerate the move to online news content.
The whole corrupt edifice is well illustrated by the regular Sunday morning spectacle of Andrew Marr, a dyed in the wool Fleet Street stooge, interviewing low-rent tabloid hacks such as Amanda Platell or Jane Moore, before another servile chat with a government minister. This defines the shabby, dishonest politicking within and around the Westminster bubble.
We do not have a a ‘free press’, we have an out of control, rampant, vested interest. While we need ‘freedom of the press’, in that journalists may investigate and publish the truth, we also need ‘freedom from the press’ and its bullying, self-serving control of our country and its political system.
Where are the front page headlines, the hysterical editorials, the hand wringing, bleating and scaremongering from the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail? They seem to be very quiet on this one. To be fair the Mail has covered it but the leaders in anti-cannabis propaganda at the Telegraph have ignored it and so have the BBC. What a surprise! Even Jon ‘Skunk’ Snow, the latest journalist to sacrifice his integrity on the altar of reefer madness, is completely silent. No grandstanding opportunities on this one.
This is a huge study of 408 males tracked from adolescence into their mid-30s. The results have been published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors and comprehensively demolish the many, much smaller, ‘snapshot’ studies that the Mail, the Telegraph and the BBC have given massive prominence to in the past.
Even more important than the study itself is the insight this provides into the blatant dishonesty, misrepresentation and falsehood which UK newspapers and TV routinely engage in when reporting on cannabis. The usual bigots and deceivers such as Kathy Gyngell, Dr Max Pemberton, Simon Heffer and Melanie Phillips are notable only for their absence. This is the way the debate on cannabis is conducted in the UK. The media misrepresent the evidence, report only what supports their editorial position and our weak, cowardly political leaders dutifully follow what Fleet Street tells them to do.
What is particularly important is that this is a longitudinal study, following real people in real life over a long period of time. It’s a large number of people and its accuracy and reliability eclipses virtually all the research that the prohibition supporters report on at great length.
This is the real cannabis psychosis. A pathological dishonesty affecting editors, journalists, civil servants and politicians. Nothing demonstrates the seriousness of this widespread illness than the lack of coverage given to this remarkable research.
Remember this next time you see some ridiculous newspaper column misinforming about cannabis or some pompous fool of an MP bellowing their ignorant views in the House of Commons.
Freedom of the press is a crucial ingredient of any free society but so is freedom from the press that habitually lies, misleads and distorts. This is the very essence of The Daily Mail. It is the way it does business. It is its editorial policy and its business strategy. If a story can be twisted, evidence misrepresented or opinion disguised as fact then that is the route that The Daily Mail will always choose.
I am no supporter of Red Ed but now I have a reason other than his delusional policies to feel sorry for him. The disgusting and shameful abuse of his father is beneath contempt but it is exactly what one would expect from the most vile and offensive man in the media, Paul ‘The Butcher’ Dacre.
Dacre is the butcher of truth, the master of distortion and the cause of great misery and misinformation throughout Britain. No other individual has been responsible for more ‘inaccurate, misleading and distorted’ reporting. Those are the words at the heart of the Editors’ Code which is supposed to determine the standards by which newspapers operate. The Daily Mail’s editorial is defined by its direct contradiction to the requirements of the code. It is not just in breach of it. It is the antithesis of it.
The tragic irony is that Dacre chairs the Editors’ Code committee. His perverse influence means he rules the Press Complaints Commission with an iron fist and it, despite the good intentions of its staff, is a laughing stock and a rubber stamp for whatever lies monsters like Dacre want to print.
There may be a silver lining in this latest despicable episode. It just might give Cameron the backbone he needs to implement Leveson in full, to kick out the ‘capo di tutti capi’ of the Fleet Street mafia and restore some decency and truth to British journalism.
Last August, I complained about the conduct of Yvonne Davies, a Manchester magistrate. This week, remarkably, the regulatory process worked. She was reprimanded and, as a result, chose to resign. This was the correct decision. It is impossible for someone with such an extremist opinion to judge anyone else. She is an anti-cannabis crusader and no magistrate can properly take that position.
The Manchester Evening News led the reporting which was quickly picked up by the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. I telephoned the Manchester newspaper to protest that they had merely used the opportunity to re-publish all Ms Davies’ hysterical scaremongering. I’ll be honest. I was concerned the whole thing was starting to backfire, just giving more publicity to Ms Davies’ false and misleading claims.
Some cocky junior Mancunian journalist sneered so hard down the phone at me that I could feel it. When I explained about the endocannabinoid system and the neuroprotective qualities of cannabis he turned into a particularly ignorant and stroppy Gallagher brother and I realised there was no point. I wrote a letter to the editor for publication instead.
I also wrote a letter for publication to the Daily Telegraph.
Then, Tuesday afternoon, I was enjoying a brief glimpse of sunshine outside my friends pub, The Falcon, in Queen’s Park, west London. My phone rang. It was the Daily Mail and I chatted away with Nazia Parveen, the journalist, for a good fifteen minutes. The result you see below in print and the online version is here.
Trust the Mail to try and twist the story into something it isn’t. I wish I had the power to force a few people to quit. I’d start with Theresa May, move on to Jeremy Browne and rattle through Cameron, Osborne, Paul Dacre, Kathy Gyngell, Melanie Philips and by the time I got to the judiciary there’d be plenty more senior than Ms Davies with much greater reason to go (see here for a few examples).
A ‘cannabis zealot’ I am. Just as the 1st century Jewish sect who fought against the Romans, I will stand every time, in the face of whatever odds, use whatever means, to tell the truth about cannabis. It is an immense gift on our planet in so very many ways – which is exactly why it is demonised, why it is only its harms that are discussed and never its benefits.
Yes. I gladly accept the title. A ‘Cannabis Zealot’ am I.
The Only ‘Freedom Of the Press’ That Fleet Street Wants Is The Freedom To Distort, Mislead And Exploit.
Please sign the Hacked Off petition here calling for the Leveson report to be implemented in full.
Mr ‘Slippery’ Cameron vowed that unless the report was “bonkers” he would see it implemented in full. Questioned by Andrew Marr in September as to whether that remained his position he said “Absolutely”. Now he’s been got at by the press barons who are flexing their muscles, saturating our country with their propaganda which blatantly misleads about the urgent necessity for independent regulation.
On seven occasions in 70 years the press has been given a ‘last chance’ to continue with self regulation. Every single time they have proved to be unfit to do so. Are we going to allow these self-serving bullies off the hook yet again?
The furious misinformation and spin flooding our streets, trying to frighten and intimidate with nonsensical allegations about state control of the press is the dishonesty and manipulation of Fleet Street exemplified.
Independent regulation, backed by statute, is essential. As proposed it will enshrine a newspaper industry as independent from the state. It is a necessary and progressive move in support of freedom and liberty and against the corruption and vested interests of the media megalomaniacs.
The lying, cheating, self-serving, abusive charlatans that call themselves ‘Fleet Street’ editors are in raging apoplexy about the suggestion that they might be held to account.
Spineless, Mr ‘Slippery’ Cameron has flip flopped as usual. Just a little bit of pressure applied in the right place and he’d pimp his grandmother if it seemed expedient.
There’s Nothing “Bonkers” About The Leveson Report Mr Cameron But As For You…
Now comes the news that the ‘Butcher’, the repugnant, mendacious Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail is to chair a meeting of editors to consider their response to the report. Anything that Dacre touches turns to the dark side. I don’t know why he earned his nickname but it well expresses what he does to the truth.
I fervently hope that the public just won’t stand for this. Fleet Street’s desperate last stand is to claim that an independent regulator underpinned by statute is a slippery slope or crossing the Rubicon and will inevitably lead to state interference in the press.
Absolute hogwash! This is the press using their unrivalled expertise to deceive, mislead and distort the truth. Why the hell should these amoral, exploitative, habitually dishonest barons be above the law?
In fact, an independent regulator backed by statute is the best possible way to guarantee a ‘freedom of the press’ that is in the interests of us all. The only freedom that Dacre and his cronies want is to be able to continue their despicable, self-serving manipulation of facts, news and people’s lives for their own ends. At all costs, the nightmare scenario of more ‘self-regulation’ must be resisted.
Hacked Off, the campaign for a free and accountable press, is running a petition calling for the Leveson report to be fully implemented.