Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Theresa May

New Drug Strategy Promises More Death, Misery And Ill Health For UK.

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The long overdue update to the UK Drug Strategy is published today by the Home Office.   A copy may be downloaded here.

Sadly, as expected, it is nothing except more of the same.  It offers no new ideas worthy of any note and reinforces the failure of existing policy by further embedding an approach which has already been conclusively proven not to work.

The UK has become increasingly isolated in its approach to drugs policy and now that both Ireland and France are moving towards decriminalisation we are unique amongst modern democracies in maintaining an approach based on nothing but prohibition.  We now stand closer to countries such as Russia, China, Indonesia and Singapore.  In fact, the only thing that separates us from countries with such medieval policies is that we do not have the death penalty for drug offences.  Otherwise our policy is just as repressive, anti-evidence, anti-human rights and based on prejudice rather than what is proven to work.

From Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s introduction, through sections based on repetition of the original strategy, ‘Reducing Demand, Restricting Supply and Building Recovery’, the document is more of the same old platitudes, bureaucratic doublespeak and meaningless civil service and social worker jargon.  It offers nothing but despair to those wracked by addiction, desperate for the proven medical benefits of cannabis or suffering from the tremendous social problems caused by prohibition.  In every respect it mirrors the government’s approach to housing which has led to mass homelessness, depravation and the Grenfell Tower disaster.  It is yet another inadequate response imposed by a government which is out of touch and wedded to policies based on ideology rather than evidence.

UK Government Policy

Current UK drug policy has already led to the highest ever rate of deaths from overdose. Deaths from heroin more than doubled from 2012 to 2015, yet there is absolutely nothing offered in this document that might change this – as if existing policy is quite OK.  Similarly, in what would be farcical humour were it not so tragic, the government seeks to portray the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 as a success.  It trumpets the closure of hundreds of retailers and websites and end to open sales but it doesn’t even mention the burgeoning new criminal market which has led to a massive increase in harm and products which are more potent but also more inconsistent and unpredictable.  All the experts (except those appointed by the government) agree that this new law has been a disaster.  Just like Grenfell Tower, this is government enforcing policies which significantly increase danger and harm without any regard at all to evidence or public opinion.

As before, this strategy doesn’t even consider harm reduction, it offers only a puritanical, moralistic approach based on abstinence.  It fails entirely to recognise that 95% of all drug use is non-problematic, without causing harm to anybody.  It is entirely focused on mis-use and blind to the great benefits, often therapeutic but also simply of pleasure, enjoyment and recreation that many people gain from safe drug use, just as most people do with that most dangerous drug of all, alcohol.  These people, the vast majority, are completely ignored by their government.

By its own title this is a drug strategy, not a drugs strategy. It treats all drugs and all drug users the same, whether they are a prisoner serving a long sentence without access to education or rehabilitation, a ruthless gangster engaged in human trafficking, an affluent clubber, humble festival goer or a multiple sclerosis patient who grows a few cannabis plants for pain relief.  It is a travesty of government, failing entirely to meet the needs of the population.

It also contains some of the most extraordinary factual errors and contradictions.  “Most cannabis in the UK is imported”, it states in defiance of the evidence that the UK has been virtually self-sufficient in homegrown cannabis since the 1990s, even to the extent where we are ‘exporting’ to other European countries.

Unsurprisingly, the report states “We have no intention of decriminalising drugs” but then makes the dubious assertion that “Drugs are illegal because scientific and medical analysis has shown they are harmful to human health.”  This is simply unsustainable in face of the facts about harms caused by legal substances such as alcohol, peanuts and energy drinks.  It is also inconsistent with the stated purpose of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which is about misuse “having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem.”, nothing to do with individual health harms.

The report fails at all to consider the negative effects of current policy and how prohibition rather than drugs themselves is actually the cause of most harms connected with drugs. It doesn’t even mention the worldwide revolution in the medical use of cannabis or that one million UK citizens are criminalised and placed in danger of criminal sanctions or contaminated product simply for trying to improve their health.  Neither does it mention drug testing, a proven method of reducing the harms of club drugs, now being supported by many police forces at festivals.

This report really is as empty, ineffectual and useless as anything produced by this already tired and discredited government.  The parallels between Grenfell Tower and a government which actively maximise the harms of drugs through its policies are extraordinary.  Thousands are dying every year because Mrs May and Mrs Rudd won’t listen to evidence.  They pick and choose whether to accept the advice of their own Advisory Council based on political convenience rather than facts and while the Council includes eminent scientists it also includes specialists in ‘chocolate addiction’ and evangelical Christian ‘re-education’ of gay people.

Whether it’s determining the inflammability of building materials or the relative potential for harm of different substances, what is clear is that this government is more concerned with dogma, vested interests and old-fashioned prejudices than the safety, health and wellbeing of the population. This Drug Strategy is a recipe for failure, for continuing exactly as before.

Theresa May’s Government. A Very British Farce.

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What Could Be More Ridiculous?

That our Queen should be subject to the humiliation of delivering today’s speech is beyond forgiveness.

Mrs May brings our nation and the Conservative Party into deep disgrace.  There is no other period in modern history when we have been so rudderless, utterly without leadership and no prospect of anyone capable of taking charge.

An Absence Of Leadership

Corbyn’s campaign was inspirational. I take my hat off to him, salute, bend my knee, acknowledge as gracefully as I can that he was magnificent.

He made best use of Theresa May’s dreadful mistakes and charmless persona and the result was a triumph, if not a victory.  It was very close to the result I wanted.  In late May I wrote ‘The Best Election Outcome Is A Tory Government With A Weakened Theresa May.’

The prospect of doing a deal with the DUP, a party of socially retarded bigots with links to loyalist terrorism, is disgusting.  It throws into sharp focus the equally disgusting attacks on Corbyn for his efforts at peacemaking.  But even that is failing.

Mrs May is, beyond doubt, incompetent as PM.  The important issue is who can provide desperately needed leadership?

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 20, 2017 at 10:11 pm

Why Is CLEAR Supporting Lord Monson In His Campaign Against So-Called ‘Skunk’?

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Lord Nicholas Monson

Lord Nicholas Monson

CLEAR’s first and overriding objective is to end the prohibition of cannabis.  The tragedies that have struck the Monson family demonstrate all too clearly that prohibition of cannabis is futile.  Not only does it not protect people from harm, it actually maximises the harms and dangers of the cannabis market.

Nicholas Monson’s eldest son, Alexander, was arrested in Kenya in 2012. allegedly for smoking cannabis.  Toxicology reports found no evidence of cannabis in his system. According to both a government and an independent pathologist he died from a fatal blow to the back of his head while in police custody.  Clearly, it was the law against cannabis that led directly to Alexander’s death.

Nicholas Monson with his son Rupert

Just three months ago, Rupert, Nicholas Monson’s younger son, took his own life after a descent into depression and psychosis in which the excessive consumption of so-called ‘skunk’ was clearly a significant factor.  Rupert himself said that he was addicted and there is good evidence to show that cannabis without CBD is more addictive.  It is well established from research as far back as the early 1990s that approx 9% of regular users develop dependence which produces real physical withdrawal symptoms: insomnia, lack of appetite and irritability, sometimes a headache.  For most people these are easily overcome within a week or so but not for everyone.  Most importantly though, cannabis in the early 1990s contained, on average, half to a third as much THC as it does now and always a healthy buffer of CBD.  The addictiveness of so-called ‘skunk’ with zero or very little CBD, is several times greater than the cannabis available 20 to 30 years ago.

It’s important to add that Rupert was also very badly failed by the dire state of mental health services. Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, a specialist provider of mental health and drug treatment services said that he needed to be admitted but a bed was not available.  It was just a few days later that he committed suicide.

Nicholas Monson has called for so-called ‘skunk’ to be made a class A drug but also for lower potency cannabis, with a maximum THC:CBD ratio of 3:1 to be made legally available through a regulated system.  Theresa May wrote to him after reading coverage of the story in the press.  She expressed her sympathy and said how she shared his concerns.  Importantly, she suggested that Lord Monson prepare a paper and a presentation to the Home Office on his proposals.  This is a tremendous opportunity towards introducing measures that will better protect vulnerable people like Rupert and also for wider reform of the cannabis laws that will reduce all the harms presently caused by prohibition.  Cannabis would be purchased from government licensed outlets just like alcohol and the aim would be to collapse the criminal market just like the market in dangerous, ‘moonshine’ whisky.

CLEAR does not agree that raising so-called ‘skunk’ to class A would be an effective measure.  It would be virtually impossible to enforce, requiring a massive increase in laboratory testing of cannabis and the supply of high potency varieties would simply be pushed underground. The price will go up and all the harms of a criminal market will be increased.  All the evidence is that drug classification or penalties have absolutely no effect whatsoever on consumption.  However, Lord Monson suggests that all personal cannabis possession should be decriminalised and police would focus only on dealers in so-called ‘skunk’.  There is a very strong argument that with high quality cannabis available legally, people would turn away from the black market.

Of course, we support the idea of legally available cannabis with a maximum THC:CBD ratio of 3:1.  This could be the basis of a system that could work very successfully. The product would be available only through a limited number of licensed outlets to adults only.  It would be supplied in appropriate packaging with detailed labelling of contents.  Possession of any cannabis not in this packaging would be reasonable grounds for it to be seized and tested.

Lord Nicholas Monson, Peter Reynolds

This will, of course, provoke outrage amongst many cannabis consumers, particularly those who grow their own but it would be fantastic progress.  It would usher in a far more rational, sensible regime where we could establish real data about harms and risks.  If appropriate, this could lead to the regulation of higher potency varieties.  Of course, we recognise that for medical use, a completely different approach to cannabinoid content is required and much higher potency may be necessary in some instances.

CLEAR is in the business of reform and this is the most likely path to reform that has ever emerged in the UK.  We are not in the business of promoting a cannabis market which enthusiasts and connoisseurs would regard as some sort of utopia.  The only purpose of any drugs policy must be to reduce harm and this proposal, if implemented, would massively reduce all the social harms caused by prohibition and reduce the risk of health harms.

Finally, it has to be said that, in typical fashion, a substantial part of the cannabis community has reacted in almost hysterical anger to Lord Monson’s proposals.  The only effect of such behaviour is to hold back reform.  We have been horrified and disgusted at the abuse directed at the Monson family.  It has shown cannabis consumers in the very worst light and demonstrated that some are so stupid that they damage the very cause they seek to advocate.  Nicholas Monson is a grieving father who, despite his agony, has seen the rational way forward and lent his energy and commitment towards reform that will benefit everyone.  We stand alongside him and we urge all cannabis consumers to consider these ideas carefully – and please, lend us your support!

Lord Nicholas Monson adds:

“The motivation for my campaign is to protect the young and vulnerable in particular from ingesting any substance whose contents can have a deleterious short or long term effect on their minds. To watch one’s son spiral into psychosis from a heavy usage of skunk is distressing to behold. Rupert’s psychiatric team put his psychosis down to skunk. This is unequivocal. Yes there are other psychoactive drugs around but skunk is what did for Rupert. It so happens that the remedy for skunk is a legalised and regulated market in cannabis where clear information is available. This should be applauded by the recreational cannabis community. Separately I have long supported the medical community’s initiatives to prescribe variants of cannabis with high CBD for people suffering from a wide variety of conditions.”

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 7, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Theresa May Surrenders To Terrorism.

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Mrs May’s authoritarian, repressive, anti-human rights response to the recent attacks is the action of a coward. She is rewarding terrorism with exactly what it seeks. She is caving in to the most extreme form of blackmail.

If we surrender our liberty then we have nothing.  But Mrs May doesn’t believe in liberty so it is no loss to her.  This is the excuse she has been wanting since she first took over the Home Office in 2010.  If we allow her, she will turn Britain into a police state. Mrs May is the would-be promoter of thought crime, intensive snooping, censorship, rigid and inflexible laws, suppression of dissent, severe punishments and, as she has already demonstrated with asylum seekers, locking people up without trial.

Believe me, she is Britain’s worst nightmare.

Mrs May dishonours those who precede her.  Would Margaret Thatcher have surrendered the very principles that Winston Churchill devised?

She alone bears responsibility for the underfunding and inadequacy of our anti-terrorism strategy so now she thinks she can crack down harder to deal with the consequences of her own mistakes.  Note this is exactly Mrs May’s approach to drugs policy and it has failed time and time again.  In fact it just makes the problem worse.

If Mrs May remains prime minister at the end of this week, I fear for the future of our nation.

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 6, 2017 at 9:50 pm

Our Police Are Under-Resourced To Deal With Radicalisation And Theresa May Is Responsible.

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It is clear that the instigators of the Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge attacks were known to the authorities but the police simply do not have the resources to monitor these people as necessary. Since 2010, Theresa May has been responsible for this and she has failed.

This is another in a long and familiar line of failures.  Given the tragedies of the last fortnight, surely it should cost Mrs May the election?  A terrible, incompetent campaign along with her record on immigration, policing, drugs policy, the Passport Office, asylum, the Snooper’s Charter, the Border Force, her general authoritarian, secretive attitudes – surely this must be the end for her?

I fear not.  Although I am a Conservative on principle, Mrs May has been soundly and deservedly defeated in this election campaign.  Her record, her wobbly policies, her charmless, insincere style must lose her votes.

She is no leader, she is a bureaucrat with deeply puritan, authoritarian instincts.  She is no prime minister for Britain in the 21st century.  But it still seems she will be slithering back into Downing Street, just like the snake that, apparently, most people choose as her animal avatar.

I do not want to see a Corbyn-led socialist government and I think there is little chance of that but Mrs May must be defeated.  At all costs the Conservative Party must find a new and credible leader.  The future of Britain depends on it.

 

My Spoiled Ballot Paper. What Other Choice Is There?

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In case you can’t read my dreadful handwriting, here’s what I have written on my postal ballot paper:

Canning, Andy. Liberal Democrats – “An illiberal and undemocratic party”
Clayton, Kelvin Charles. Green – “Irrelevant”
Letwin, Oliver. Conservative – “I could vote for Letwin but this is a presidential election. I cannot vote for May.”
Rhodes, Lee. Labour – “Socialism is a delusion”

I remain a member of the Conservative Party but Theresa May is not a true Tory. It is she who has made this a presidential election, against all the principles of British democracy and I cannot possibly support her. She betrays all fundamental Tory values. She doesn’t believe in individual liberty and responsibility, she is a repressive, nanny-state authoritarian.  She doesn’t believe in small government, she is a bureaucrat who wants an ever-larger state encroaching into every aspect of our lives. She is not a true Tory.

Please review my previous articles about Mrs May.

22-01-17 – Theresa May Is Not A Tory, She’s An Authoritarian Bureaucrat.

29-03-17 – Thank You Ms May, Your Work is Now Done.

07-05-17 – Theresa May Isn’t Strong, She’s Cowardly, Evasive And Weak – And I’m A Tory!

22-05-17 – The Best Election Outcome Is A Tory Government With A Weakened Theresa May.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 27, 2017 at 5:32 pm

Theresa May Grandstands On The Manchester Tragedy.

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I’m sorry to make this point but every second of airtime that Mrs May gains from this, every image of her visiting victims and encouraging the emergency services is more votes in the ballot box.

Shamelessly, she is exploiting this diabolical act for her own self-interest.  The election campaign may be suspended but the media spotlight is now far more tightly focused on her.  Just as it’s probably true the Jo Cox murder affected the leave vote in the EU referendum and the Falklands War helped Margaret Thatcher through a difficult political period, so Mrs May will gain immeasurably from this horrifying, terrible, heartbreaking event.

We should return to the election campaign as soon as possible.  That is the best way to pay respect to the victims and their families by not allowing terror to win.  Our democracy, poor inadequate version that it is, must go on.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 23, 2017 at 4:52 pm