Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘schizophrenia

Even The Guardian Is Now On The ‘Skunk Scaremongering’ Bandwagon.

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guardian cannabis psychosis headline picRead The Guardian’s Editorial Here

In the last couple of years, even the Daily Mail has shifted its stance on cannabis as it sees opportunities to sensationalise ‘miracle cures’ from medicinal use – the epileptic child now smiling, the cancer patient whose tumour has disappeared. Truth and balance are irrelevant when a dramatic headline is all you’re after.

The Daily Telegraph has become the new home of ‘reefer madness’ with bad science, nasty prejudice and booze-fuelled fear of a safer recreational drug threatening the massive profits of the alcohol industry.

Now, even the Guardian jumps on the ‘skunk scaremongering’ bandwagon with the exaggerated claim that “the risks of heavy teenage cannabis consumption should frighten all of us”. In a backhanded editorial it suggests legalisation because cannabis is dangerous. It claims the consequences of cannabis “abuse are devastating. Psychotic breakdowns smash up lives and can lead to full-blown schizophrenia.” There is little evidence to support such hysteria. In reality, such effects are so rare as to be virtually unheard of and it’s impossible to prove they are caused by cannabis.

Of course we must protect young people, particularly from the high-THC/low-CBD ‘moonshine’ varieties that are a direct result of government policy. However, we cannot compromise facts and evidence for the illusory belief that buying into scare stories will somehow reduce harm. The only way to protect children is by legal regulation with mandatory age limits.

The Guardian makes much of Public Health England’s (PHE) figure that “there are more than 13,000 under-18s in treatment for the consequences of heavy cannabis use in England”. It neglects to mention that PHE also publishes more than 69% are referred by the criminal justice, education and social care systems while only 17% are referred from healthcare and just 11% by themselves or their family. Thus, more than two-thirds are receiving coercive treatment and only 11% actually consider they have a problem.

It is government propaganda that thousands of young people are suffering from mental health problems due to cannabis. Why is The Guardian promoting this myth? Last year, in answer to a Parliamentary question, Jane Ellison MP, minister of state at the Department of Health, revealed there have been average of just over 28 ‘finished admission episodes’ (FAE) for ‘cannabis-induced psychosis’ in young people for each of the past five years.

Of course, each of these 28 cases is a tragedy for the people involved and nothing must distract from that but it clearly shows that in public health terms, ‘cannabis psychosis’ is of negligible significance. To put it into perspective, there are an estimated 3,000 FAEs for peanut allergy each year but we don’t waste £500 million pa on futile law enforcement efforts to ban peanuts!

For 50 years, the Home Office has systematically misled and misinformed the British people about cannabis. Successive generations of young people know they have been lied to. Such dishonest health information is counterproductive. As a result, many children may think that heroin or crack are not as harmful as they have been told.

Cannabis is not harmless but neither is it ‘dangerous’. If you apply that description to it you also have to apply it to energy drinks, over-the-counter painkillers and hay fever remedies. Similarly, whatever scaremongering there is about ‘addiction’, the scientific evidence is that dependency amongst regular cannabis users is slightly less than caffeine dependency amongst regular coffee drinkers – and withdrawal symptoms are similar in nature and intensity.

What we need is evidence-based policy. Government needs to take responsibility for the £6 billion pa cannabis market instead of abandoning our young people and communities to street dealers and criminal gangs. The benefits to be gained from cannabis law reform are reduced health and social harms, massive public expenditure savings, increased tax revenue and proper protection for the vulnerable, including children.


Young people’s statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS), Public Health England, December 2015
Drugs: Young People. Department of Health written question – answered on 20th March 2015.
Relative Addictiveness of Drugs, Dr. Jack E. Henningfield, NIDA and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, UCLA, 1994


Chris Grayling, The Lord Chancellor, Takes Hard Line On Cannabis.

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I understand why the giant intellects of our legal profession resent this man who is the first non-lawyer in 340 years to be appointed to the exalted role of Lord Chancellor.

It would be fair to say that his record as a shadow minister and then Minister of State for Employment is mediocre at best.  He is not a justice minister in the relatively liberal style of Kenneth Clarke.  A ‘hardliner’ they call him.  He channels the ‘something of the night‘ that defined his former colleague Michael, now Lord Howard.  He certainly fits with the idea of the Tories being the ‘nasty party’.

There are few more unsympathetic, merciless and intolerant members of parliament.  It’s not clear what other qualities he has that have earned his high office. No surprise then that his opinion on cannabis should be as bigoted and vacuuous as he demonstrated this week.

Chris Grayling MP

Chris Grayling MP

“I’ve always taken the view that the medical reasons for not going down that road are pretty compelling. I’ve talked to many doctors over the years who have highlighted the links between cannabis use and mental health problems.”

Source: Wales Online

He’s simply repeating the government’s tired and false propaganda.

The links between cannabis use and mental health problems are tenuous to say the least. Despite a massive worldwide increase in cannabis use since the 1960s, rates of psychosis and schizophrenia are declining.

The scare stories and myths promoted by the tabloid press do not stand up to investigation. The facts  of NHS hospital admissions and the National Drug Treatment Monitoring Service (inconveniently for government propagandists and tabloid editors) show that cannabis is a very small contributor to mental health problems, insignificant in public health terms.

The real reason Grayling and his cabinet colleagues want to continue the ban on cannabis is that they fear the consequences of legalisation on the alcohol industry which, as we know, successive governments just roll over for in dutiful compliance.

The ban on cannabis has never had anything to do with health concerns. It’s about vested interests and corrupt and weak politicians. The truth is people like Grayling don’t give a damn about the terrible toll that alcohol takes on our society.  They care not one jot for the liberty of the  individual or the hundreds of thousands who are criminalised fro using cannabis as medicine.

Grayling has never been the sharpest knife in the kitchen cabinet but at least he can be relied on to toe the party line. This is the true worth of most of our cabinet ministers.

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm

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.


Cannabis Causes Tennis Elbow Which Could Lead To Cancer

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It Was In The Daily Mail. It Must Be True!

After all the brave and courageous work that the Daily Mail has done in demonising drugs, particularly in explaining how very, very dangerous cannabis is, tonight its editors and journalists gathered in an atmosphere of self-righteous gloom and sanctimonious misery.  The BBC has ruined it all.

The headline reads: “BBC Slammed For “How Drugs Work” Show Which Glamorises Illegal Substances”.  (Snappy, eh?) See here for the Mail’s valiant and noble defence against this wicked tide of reason and common sense.

Surely something can be done to shut the BBC up?

Can’t James “Broken Britain” Brokenshire come up with some ministerial order or something to stop them telling the truth?

Let’s get the punters back on the booze. That’s where the tax revenue come from.  More importantly, that’s where so much of ministers’ jollies, perks and, you know, fun and excitement comes from.  I mean there’s Ascot, Glyndebourne, Henley, Twickers, Eton old boys day, Wembley.  I mean, all these events are founded on a good old piss up – and the brown envelopes from the big booze companies, well they do come in very handy you know!

That’s what we want to get the hoi polloi back to.  That’ll keep em happy and docile. (Don’t tell ’em about Charlie and his snifters.  Let’s keep that between ourselves, eh?)

I know the truth has been allowed to leak out.  More and more are realising how dangerous alcohol is.  You really mustn’t mention it, even alongside heroin and cocaine.  We can’t afford the scientific comparison. It doesn’t support our case.  We must not allow them to realise how bad it is.  All we need to do is come up with some good scare story.  The schizophrenia thing doesn’t seem to have worked.  What about…what about…what about?  Tennis elbow?  Yes, tennis elbow!

What do you think?  You know, all that picking the spliff up, putting it down.  Yes!  That’s it!  Cannabis causes tennis elbow.   Get it out now!

Cannabis causes tennis elbow – which could lead to cancer.  Call the press conference now!


“My Son Played Russian Roulette With Cannabis – And Lost” – More Sensationalist Misinformation From The Mail

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Does Peter Wright, editor of the Mail On Sunday, have any interest in the truth, or is he just trying to squeeze the last drop of sensation, hyperbole and panic from anything to do with cannabis?

Last week, Peter Hitchens penned a disgusting diatribe of untruths which has already been sent to the Press Complaints Commission.  This Sunday’s paper will be the subject of a second complaint.  It is truly appalling, crass and cheap nonsense.  See here for the full story.

This is my response.  Whether the Mail publishes it is up to them but I and the millions of other cannabis users in Britain have had enough.  From now on, no such instance of lies and propaganda will be allowed to pass without being called to account.

My Response To The Mail On Sunday

This is a tragic story but blaming it on cannabis is not justified, nor is it helpful.

Whatever Henry’s story, the data simply does not support the idea that cannabis can cause schizophrenia.  In fact, it more strongly suggests that people who have mental illness may use cannabis to self-medicate.  It is instructive to note that Henry’s crisis arose when he had deliberately stopped using cannabis. Indeed, there is existing and continuing scientific research into cannabinoids as an anti-psychotic therapy.

This is similar to the recent story about Jared Loughner who shot Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona.  He was said to be a cannabis user but, in fact, his friends said that he had stopped using it to self-medicate and since doing so had become more unstable and strange in his behaviour.

The article mentions “Sir William Paton, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University and one of the world’s greatest experts on cannabis” but I am personally acquainted with Professor Les Iversen, a current professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, the current chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and author of many books on the subject of cannabis. Prof Iversen was also the author of an article in The Times entitled “Cannabis. Why It’s Safe” and he delivered a lecture last month entitled “Bringing Cannabis Back Into The Medicine Cabinet”.

The demonisation of cannabis is a grave mistake and a disservice to young people and their parents.  It looks almost certain that cannabis will be legalised in at least one state in the USA either this year or next.  Progress will then roll out across the world.  It’s about time that the  British media caught up to fact that, as Professor Iversen says, cannabis is “one of the safer recreational drugs”, much safer than alcohol.  It also has tremendous actual and potential benefit as medicine and Britain is way, way behind in the world in recognising this.

The Mail On Sunday’s scare stories about cannabis should be replaced with facts and information about this valuable and relatively harmless substance.

Professor Glyn Lewis of the University of Bristol said in 2009 that even on the most extreme interpretation of the data on cannabis and psychosis (a review of all published evidence) that 96% of people could use cannabis with no risk whatsoever of developing psychosis.

Six million people in Britain use cannabis regularly.  We are sick and tired of the lies that are told about us.