Peter Reynolds

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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Flynn

A Cannabis ‘Protest’ That Was Well Judged.

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This was the best ‘protest’ I have seen. The characterisation of it as a ‘cannabis tea party’ was clever and combining it with Paul Flynn’s 10 minute rule bill was a smart move.

It was good that three MPs actually attended and the press coverage was extensive and largely positive. This is a welcome change from the disastrous demos and protests of the past which have undoubtedly hindered progress.

So while I’m not exactly eating it, I take my hat off to the organisers for a good job, well done.

The most promising news is that Andrea Leadsom, Conservative Leader of the House, has personally endorsed Paul Flynn’s bill which is real chink of light. This government, desperate to recover some credibility with younger and progressive voters, if it had any sense, would see this as a big opportunity. If the government was to choose to support the bill it would gain huge credit without having to lose its ‘tough on drugs’ stance.

We can only hope.

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Written by Peter Reynolds

October 16, 2017 at 9:01 am

The Drugs Policy Debate. House Of Commons, 18th July 2017.

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This debate was held in Parliament following the publication on 14th July 2017 of the ‘2017 Drug Strategy’.

The debate may be watched in full here.  It starts at 13:17 and finishes at 19:00.

Highlights include:

Crispin Blunt MP at 14:09

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Smith MP at 15:21

 

 

 

 

 

Norman Lamb MP at 16:10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Flynn MP at 16:32

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 26, 2017 at 4:07 pm

The Weak And Ineffectual Response Of Most MPs To The Cannabis Debate.

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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

Paul Flynn MP

Paul Flynn MP

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.”

Source: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2015-09-14a.185.0#g194.0

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/

Prof Les Iversen

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.”

Source: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/cannabis.aspx

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?

your-country-needs-youThis 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.

Cannabis Debate On 12th October 2015. Now Is The Time To Contact Your MP.

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Paul Flynn MP

Paul Flynn MP

Today the House of Commons Petitions Committee agreed to hold a debate in response to the cannabis petition. It will take place on 12th October 2015 in Westminster Hall and it will be led by Paul Flynn, the veteran MP for Newport West, who has been campaigning for cannabis law reform for more than 25 years.

Four years ago this month, Paul was instrumental in the launch of the CLEAR Plan ‘How To Regulate Cannabis in Britain‘. He sponsored our launch in the Jubilee Room of the Houses of Parliament and gave the keynote speech. We have already made contact with him to offer any support we can. What distinguishes CLEAR from other groups is that we support our campaign with independent, expert research, detailed proposals for regulation based on public consultation and analyses of existing scientific evidence and studies. We anticipate that the evidence provided by these three key publications will be crucial to informing the debate.

htrcbTaxing the UK Cannabis Market http://clear-uk.org/media/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf
How To Regulate Cannabis In Britain http://clear-uk.org/static/media/uploads/2013/10/CLEAR-plan-V2.pdf
Medicinal Cannabis: The Evidence http://clear-uk.org/static/media/PDFs/medicinal_cannabis_the_evidence2.pdf

Now, even if you have done so recently, is the time to contact your MP and ensure he or she has copies of these documents. Crucially, make it very clear that you expect them to attend the debate and you want them to represent your views. If you can, arrange to meet your MP at their constituency surgery to explain in person what you want them to say.

You can find out who your MP is by entering your postcode on this website

You can find out your MP’s email address by looking their name up here

You can also Google your MP’s name which will lead you to their personal website and more contact details.

You can write by letter to your MP at: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

mcte front coverWrite To Your MP

Most important is that you must include your full postal address and postcode to show that you are a constituent.  Without this your email or letter will be ignored.

Either an email or a letter is fine but you might want to consider doing both!

Write in your own words.  MPs are now wise to what they call ‘campaign emails’.  The large number of campaigns by groups such as 38 Degrees have really swamped MPs with repetitive correspondence.  It doesn’t work to send what is clearly a template or automatically generated email.  You will just be ignored.  Many MPs actually warn against this now on their website.

So, in your own words, make these points:

1. Legal regulation of cannabis will be much safer for everyone than the present criminal market.
2. £6 billion every year is spent on cannabis and it all goes to criminals.
3. I want to see cannabis available to adults only through licensed outlets with proper labelling and quality control.
4. I want to see cannabis taxed so that, as in Colorado, we can invest millions more in schools and hospitals.
5. Many people need access to medicinal cannabis for which there is now strong scientific evidence.
6. Please will you support and vote for legal regulation of cannabis?

You can link to these four pieces of evidence in your email or letter

Cannabis is 114 times safer than alcohol:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311234/

No link between adolescent cannabis use and later health problems:
http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/adb-adb0000103.pdf

‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’:
http://clear-uk.org/static/media/PDFs/medicinal_cannabis_the_evidence2.pdf

Taxation of cannabis market net annual gain to the UK economy up to £9.5 billion:
http://clear-uk.org/media/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 8, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Why I Have Joined the Liberal Democrats.

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Coalition first 100 days

In my view the only rational choice for the next UK government is another Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition.

The Labour Party is simply a joke.  Miliband is an out-of-touch, Hampstead-socialist buffoon who was part of the team whose reckless borrowing meant that the banking crisis destroyed this country’s economy.  It is ludicrous that we should even consider giving the same people another chance.

Cameron is an oily, two-faced oaf who has transformed the Conservative Party into the Bullingdon Club Party, dominated by out-of-touch posh boys with quasi-fascists like Theresa May, Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling as their attack dogs.

The only redeeming factor about the Tories is a basic competence in managing the economy. Osborne knows what he is doing but left unrestrained he would devastate our society: trashing the benefits system, care for the disabled and access to justice.

We must have the decent, fair, rational and conscientious Liberal Democrats in government with the Tories. Crucially they must hold out for a much tougher coalition agreement which will see the disgusting policies of Duncan Smith and Grayling reversed.  I think it’s too much to hope that we will see the back of Theresa May but definitely, in my area of special interest, the Liberal Democrats will insist on drugs policy reform.  The evidence-free, prejudice-based, self-defeating and cruel drugs policies of the past must be overturned. They have caused too much harm, suffering and promoted the interests of organised crime and the alcohol industry over common sense and the national interest.

So, in February I joined the Liberal Democrats. I was free to do so because that month the CLEAR Executive Committee resolved that we would no longer be a political party. An explanation of that decision is here.

My decision had a lot to do with drugs policy but, as I have explained above, was considered across the wider issues.  I think it reflects the fact that the LibDems are less ideologically-driven, more rational, evidence-based and fair in their policies.  All my life I have been a Tory voter for the crucial values of individual liberty, regulated free markets and opposed to the cloying, repressive ideas of socialism and the overbearing state – but the Tories have lost their way, their moral compass and their integrity.  I will never, ever vote Tory again.

CLEAR has worked closely with the LibDems since I first led a delegation of medicinal cannabis users to meet Norman Baker, then drugs minister, in July 2014.  Just a few weeks later he publicly called for a change in policy on medicinal cannabis, the most significant breakthrough in the UK cannabis campaign for nearly 50 years.  This year we have worked closely with Nick Clegg’s team and the LibDem manifesto incorporated CLEAR’s policy on medicinal cannabis word for word.  I had the privilege of personally briefing him on medicinal cannabis just a few weeks ago.  Julian Huppert, Norman Lamb and Lynne Featherstone, also LibDems, have been of great help to the CLEAR campaign and demonstrated outstanding sincerity, honesty and commitment, uncommon qualities amongst politicians.  Personally, I also greatly admire the courage of LibDem David Ward in standing against Israeli war crimes and in support of Palestine.

On the narrow issue of drugs policy, once again, Labour is a joke.  It doesn’t have one.  With a few honourable exceptions, such as Paul Flynn, David Winnick and Bob Ainsworth, the party is stuck in reefer madness, terrorised by tabloid editors and prefers prejudice and scare stories to science and evidence.  The Tories have more individuals who support reform but the party as a whole is in a corrupt relationship with the alcohol industry and also terrorised by the tabloid press.

As far as the Greens are concerned, yes they have a sensible drugs policy (originally drafted, in fact, by Derek Williams, my colleague on the CLEAR Executive Committee) but they have no chance of any influence in the new government.  Caroline Lucas did a good job on getting the drugs debate in Parliament last year but I cannot support her party’s bizarre behaviour in the illiberal ‘No More Page 3’ censorship and fracking campaigns.  The Green’s attitude to fracking is as evidence-free and based on prejudice as is Labour’s attitude to cannabis.  Also, CLEAR gave the Greens an opportunity to present their drugs policy to our supporters but despite repeated efforts they couldn’t get it together.  By contrast, the LibDems welcomed us enthusiastically and at the highest level.

I am a Eurosceptic LibDem, which is unusual.  In fact, I voted for UKIP in the last European elections and although the party itself is confused on the issue, I have talked with Nigel Farage in person at length on drugs policy and he is progressive, intelligent and pragmatic on the subject.

CISTA, the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party?  Well, I know a number of the candidates personally and I would recommend voting for them in constituencies where the LibDems stand no chance. Overall though the party is a waste of Paul Birch’s money and I can say that with the experience of CLEAR’s 16 years as a political party.  It’s great that they are bringing some attention to the campaign but it’s a futile strategy and Birch has spurned all efforts at support and assistance from CLEAR.  Had he even returned our calls we would have endorsed and promoted CISTA candidates in some constituencies.

So in conclusion, for drugs policy reform, particularly for access to medicinal cannabis, but also for a fairer society where policy is based on evidence and compassion rather than prejudice and vested interests, vote Liberal Democrat!

Politicians’ Negligent Response To The Drugs Debate

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Shamefully Slandered

The Independent in its leader today, says “It is depressing how stale and weary have been the responses” to Bob Ainsworth’s initiative on drug policy reform.  See here.  As with all the media it has failed dismally to point out that he was supported by Peter Lilley, former deputy leader of the Tory party,  Tom Brake from the LibDems and Paul Flynn from Labour.

The BBC, with appalling inaccuracy, stated that  “all three main parties at Westminster remain opposed to legalisation”.  See here. In fact the LibDems’ published policy is “In the longer term, seeking to put the supply of cannabis on a legal, regulated basis”.  It matters little though because almost never has any political party been more irrelevant.   The LibDems now command less respect than the Monster Raving Loonies.

The Most Dangerous Man In Britain

The responses of our political leaders are not just depressing, they are grossly irresponsible and negligent.  James “Broken Britain” Brokenshire is the most dangerous man in Britain and will be responsible for far more death, misery and degradation in our country than any terrorist.  As The Independent says, “such is the hysteria about drugs in Britain that there is no political space for a reasoned debate by those in authority.”  The evidence that the war on drugs is an expensive failure is overwhelming but politicians prefer to waste money and lives rather than grasp this nettle.

The cowardly hypocrites, Cameron and his poodle, sit back while they allow Brokenshire, a preppy-faced apologist for gangsters to oppress, pillage and brutalise our fellow citizens.

Brokenshire is doing all he can to break Britain and British society.

He is a criminal of the first order.

Breakthrough In The Drugs Debate!

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Bob Ainsworth

Tomorrow, Bob Ainsworth MP, former Home Office drugs minister and Secretary of State for Defence, will call for the legalisation and regulation of drugs. He is to lead a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall, at 2.30pm on Thursday 16th December 2010.

Great credit for this must go to the inestimable Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which has led the fight against prohibition.  This is an extraordinary breakthrough.  The news literally brought tears to my eyes.  We have fought so long for such progress.

Mr Ainsworth said;

“I have just been reading the Coalition Government’s new Drugs Strategy.  It is described by the Home Secretary as fundamentally different to what has gone before; it is not.  To the extent that it is different, it is potentially harmful because it retreats from the principle of harm reduction, which has been one of the main reasons for the reduction in acquisitive crime in recent years.

However, prohibition has failed to protect us. Leaving the drugs market in the hands of criminals causes huge and unnecessary harms to individuals, communities and entire countries, with the poor the hardest hit. We spend billions of pounds without preventing the wide availability of drugs. It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children.  We must take the trade away from organised criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists.

As drugs minister in the Home Office I saw how prohibition fails to reduce the harm that drugs cause in the UK, fuelling burglaries, gifting the trade to gangsters and increasing HIV infections. My experience as Defence Secretary, with specific responsibilities in Afghanistan, showed to me that the war on drugs creates the very conditions that perpetuate the illegal trade, while undermining international development and security.

My departure from the front benches gives me the freedom to express my long held view that, whilst it was put in place with the best of intentions, the war on drugs has been nothing short of a disaster.

Politicians and the media need to engage in a genuine and grown up debate about alternatives to prohibition, so that we can build a consensus based on delivering the best outcomes for our children and communities. I call on those on all sides of the debate to support an independent, evidence-based review, exploring all policy options, including: further resourcing the war on drugs, decriminalising the possession of drugs, and legally regulating their production and supply.

One way to do this would be an Impact Assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act in line with the 2002 Home Affairs Select Committee finding – which included David Cameron – for the government to explore alternatives to prohibition, including legal regulation.

The re-legalisation of alcohol in the US after thirteen years of Prohibition was not surrender.  It was a pragmatic move based on the government’s need to retake control of the illegal trade from violent gangsters. After 50 years of global drug prohibition it is time for governments throughout the world to repeat this shift with currently illegal drugs.”

Peter Lilley MP, former Conservative Party Deputy Leader said;

“The current approach to drugs has been an expensive failure, and for the sake of everyone, and the young in particular, it is time for all politicians to stop using the issue as a political football. I have long advocated breaking the link between soft and hard drugs – by legalising cannabis while continuing to prohibit hard drugs.   But I support Bob Ainsworth’s sensible call for a proper, evidence based review, comparing the pros and cons of the current prohibitionist approach with all the alternatives, including wider decriminalisation, and legal regulation.”

Tom Brake MP, Co-Chair, Liberal Democrat Backbench Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities said;

“Liberal Democrats have long called for a science-based approach to our drugs problem. So it is without hesitation that I support Bob Ainsworth’s appeal to end party political point-scoring, and explore sensitively all the options, through an Impact Assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act.”

Labour’s Paul Flynn MP, Founder Council Member of the British Medicinal Cannabis Register said;

“This could be a turning point in the failing UK ‘war on drugs.’ Bob Ainsworth is the persuasive, respected voice of the many whose views have been silenced by the demands of ministerial office. Every open rational debate concludes that the UK’s harsh drugs prohibition has delivered the worst outcomes in Europe – deaths, drug crime and billions of pounds wasted.”