It’s been a strange but not untypical week in terms of the public’s anger levels at the UK’s intransigence when it comes to dealing with drugs. As we’ll find out later – some aspects of the UK establishment are doing very well out of dealing with drugs. For the most of us though, the car crash continues. Prohibition ruins communities and punishes the sick and vulnerable by keeping their medicine of choice in the hands of criminals.
David Lammy has clearly been extremely affected by events on his home patch. All these poor kids getting killed in his constituency, He rightly drew a conclusion that a substantial driver behind street crime and violence is drugs. We all know this. We all know that the only way to deal with it is to regulate and therefore control all drugs. Lammy stopped short of calling for this, instead reverting to political sound bites, calling for more police, more treatment services and more of everything except not more following of evidence. Heaven forbid that the UK should adopt evidence from elsewhere. That would mean 90% of the House of Commons having to revise their entirely misinformed and wrong view that ‘drugs are bad therefore they must be kept illegal’. How would they explain that to the electorate. I think somebody’s pants are on fire…
The anger was only increased when Amber Rudd the Home Secretary came out promising to clamp down hard on the causes of all this trying to look all presidential and in control of it all. More arrests, shut down the dark web, arrest kids, stop and search black kids with impunity. Fuck it, they all come from single parent households and they all deal drugs and carry knives. Obviously.
What about the demand for cocaine driven by the likes of City traders, bankers, CEO’s, middle class white executives’ after-dinner-pick-me-up? Or are we only talking about further stigmatising the most deprived communities in our society? Again. Remember when all the toilets in the Houses of Parliament tested positive for cocaine? Let’s not talk about that, (most inconvenient), let us instead concentrate on the young black kid living in dreadful social housing, in an environment where he feels the only way to climb out of his predicament is to earn some fast cash. Given that he isn’t going to get a job on a trading floor, but he can ride a bike and ferry charlie around the city for drug cartels. Better take a knife just in case someone tries to nick the drugs or the money. I wonder how many stockbrokers will be arrested for cocaine possession in the next 3 weeks? (give you a clue – none).
Then, Victoria Atkins gets wheeled out – to trumpet the message that this is all about drugs and drugs are bad so we must arrest anybody we think is using, selling, carrying or producing drugs.
Except her husband of course, he’s the biggest cannabis producer in the UK.
I’m sure that by now, most of you will have been aware of the recent report from the UN which found that the UK is largest exporter of legal medical cannabis in the world. This was a shock to many people who had been told by the government that Cannabis does not have any medicinal value. The UK drugs minister Victoria Atkins is against cannabis law reform. Stating the people who profit from it are “ruthless and evil”.
Well her husband Paul Kenward for one profits from cannabis. That must make him ruthless and evil. His company, British Sugar, is growing 45 acres of it under licence from the Home Office for GW Pharma. This has shocked people ever since she announced it in a drug policy debate before going on to claim ‘it’s a very different type of cannabis, the non-psychoactive kind’. There are over 80 cannabinoids in cannabis the some psychoactive like THC and some not like CBD. This implied that the cannabis her husband was growing would be devoid of THC or any of the other psychoactive compounds. It seemed very much like she was bending the truth or perhaps trying to justify it to herself given her stance on cannabis and knowing just how awkward things could get if anyone twigged. Perhaps her husband didn’t inform her that it was a regular old high-CBD low-THC strain that was being grown to then be refined. GW Pharma’s patent application confirms that even after refining the finished product does contain THC albeit in small amounts. If you don’t believe me here’s the proof: http://ir.gwpharm.com/news-releases/news-release-details/gw-pharmaceuticals-announces-receipt-notices-allowance-united
Credit should go to GW Pharma for developing this standardised product Epidiolex like they did Sativex to help people with MS even though if you live in England you can’t access Sativex because it is so expensive. The cannabis that the husband of the drugs minister is growing will be used in Epidiolex, a drug to be used for the treatment of rare forms of otherwise treatment resistant epilepsy in children, like the kind young Alfie Dingley is suffering from. GW Pharma are not ‘ruthless and evil’ and the fact the drugs minister’s husband is growing cannabis does not make him evil or ruthless either and Kenward sums it up himself quite well. “By growing this crop we are helping sick children and doing something socially worthwhile.” He is right about that, cannabis can help sick children and many more. He also believed it would be better financially to grow cannabis rather than tomatoes. “Our glasshouse is very well suited for growing that particular variety of the cannabis plant family and it’s fair to say that the return will be better than on tomatoes. We’re confident of decent yields.”* It’s hard to say how much money British Sugar has made from their massive cannabis operation as the accounts filed at companies house don’t mention cannabis. One thing that was clear is British Sugar were operating at £20m loss, the year they started growing cannabis they made almost £60m profit. Due to the lack of transparency in their account filing its impossible to say what impact if any growing cannabis had on the finances of the company. We can only wonder if growing 23 football pitches worth of cannabis instead of tomatoes helped with the £80m turnaround?
*(By the way, if you want to see how well glasshouses produce cannabis in the UK, check out my diary thread on the twitter feed).
Any of this starting to sound slightly corrupt yet? Bear with us, it’s going to get better……….The public is rightly very critical of the fact that that the UK Government still claim (despite irrefutable evidence) that cannabis has no medicinal value. Recently updated to include ‘in its raw form’. The public and experts alike know this to be untrue as the active ingredients in ‘raw’ cannabis are Identical to those in Sativex or Epidiolex. It is akin to saying Anadin extra has medicinal value but Aspirin does not. The public are rightfully concerned that the home office drugs minister is fighting against cannabis regulation whilst her husband and therefore herself reaps substantial financial benefits from it.
Concerns have been raised about the influence she may have in any future decisions within the home office to grant new licences to grow cannabis. They would after all be competing with her husband who in partnership with GW Pharma enjoys a total monopoly. GW even get to grow their high THC strains at Porton Down Military research facility incorporating the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory. That’s nice for them isn’t it? That entire expensive crop looked after on what is arguably the most secure place anywhere on the British Isles. State subsidy too perhaps?
Theresa May might well be uncomfortable with all this, after all she holds similarly negative and ill informed views about cannabis (used medicinally or otherwise) during her time in charge of the Home Office. She regularly shot down calls to legalise it saying it had no medicinal value, that it destroys communities and ruins lives. It makes you wonder, did Theresa May know that Victoria Atkins husband was in the cannabis growing business before she gave her the role of drugs minister? After all Theresa May is against drugs that she doesn’t use herself and thinks ‘its right to continue the war on drugs’ despite the Government’s own reports stating harsher punishments make no difference on supply or demand. The blatant hypocrisy from the Home Office on cannabis does not sit well with most; the drugs ministers’ husband gets a free pass to grow cannabis whilst she calls on everyone else that does to be criminalised. Some have called it a conflict of interest some (me) say it’s flat out corruption.
Surely, Theresa May wouldn’t knowingly stand for this being so anti-cannabis herself? She wouldn’t openly call for cannabis producers to be criminalised whilst her household benefited from the sale of cannabis would she? Would she? GW Pharmas accounts filed at companies house are thankfully more transparent than those of British Sugar. Clear enough to see that a substantial shareholder with 44,594,160 shares, 14% of the company is none other than Capital Group. Yes, the same Capital Group that employs Philip May, the Prime Minister’s husband.
Her household like Victoria Atkins is benefiting from the trade of cannabis whilst calling on all others to be criminalised.
That’s right. The husband of our Prime Minister has direct links to the cannabis industry. The company that pays his substantial salary profits from cannabis so I can only conclude that part of his salary comes from that profit. Of course, the Capital Group are very aware of the potential for embarrassing the highest office in the land so they issued a statement to clarify everything for us:
“he is not involved with, and doesn’t manage, money and is not a portfolio manager. His job is to ensure the clients are happy with the service and that we understand their goals” Mr May is a relationship manager for Capital Group.
I’m quite sure he understands the goals of GW and British sugar and he has the ear of some very influential people.
I rang the Home Office. I thought I’d apply for a licence to grow pure CBD strains of cannabis. CBD is not a controlled substance any more in the UK you can walk into most high street health shops and buy it now. The online market in CBD and related products is enormous and there are an estimated 250,000 people using CBD daily in the UK (i.e. otherwise non cannabis users)
HO: Hello home office
ME: Hi I’d like to speak to somebody about obtaining a licence to produce and handle controlled substances please
HO: Ok, what substances specifically?
ME: Cannabis but only CBD varieties. Can I just check, CBD isn’t a controlled substance is it?
HO: Hang on……… (2 mins later) yes sir that’s correct CBD is completely legal
ME: So do I need a licence to produce it?
HO: No sir, we only grant licenses for research and development purposes
ME: So I’m thinking about starting a business that would establish a supply chain for British produced CBD, which is legal yes?
HO: We only grant licence for R&D and only for THC and CBD together
ME: So, CBD is legal but I can’t grow the plant that produces CBD other than for research?
HO: That is correct
ME: So, how come British Sugar and GW Pharma can grow and sell and export cannabis commercially but I can only obtain an R&D licence ?
HO: GW is a separate case with different arrangements sir and I’m not going to discuss that with you
ME: Hang on, that sounds a bit unfair. CBD isn’t illegal, just the plant that produces it and you say the Home Office only issue licences for THC/CBD Research and Development.
ME: So if I research and develop a strain of CBD dominant cannabis how do I get to sell CBD which is legal, and possibly seek to export it to foreign markets
HO: You can’t sir. The licence will not allow you to do anything other than R&D
ME: But GW Pharma grow, produce and export? In fact the UK is the biggest exported of cannabis in the whole world……
HO: I’ve already told you sir, and I’m not going to have an argument with you, GW Pharma is a separate case with different arrangements and I am not at liberty to discuss those arrangements.
ME: So your guidance recommends that I phone you to speak to you before committing any resource to a business but you are advising me that there is no business model I could establish even though there are two companies operating in that field.
HO: I am not going to discuss that with you sir.
ME: Fair enough, thank you for your time, goodbye
This is the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in when the government will deny its own people even children access to a cheap, safe and effective medicine that many organisations could produce and people could even make their own Sativex at home. It’s really not difficult.
Imagine what I could do if only I had access to a relationship manager who was married to the Prime Minister, previously in charge of the Home Office, I’m sure someone would put in a good word for me…….
All this posturing about how harmful drugs are, about how cannabis has no medicinal value (in it’s raw form), whilst simultaneously profiting from the sale of cannabis, stinks. It stinks of corruption and conflicts of interest. It’s a very British form of corruption because now we know that the household finances of our Prime Minister benefit from the production, sale and export of cannabis.
Hypocritical isn’t the word…
My thanks go to @afterprohibitionends for co-authoring this piece as well as the sterling detective work.