Meducation of the Nation

Before you read this article, is it vital that we all understand the importance of shared understanding.  It’s why we use dictionaries so that we are all clear.  I’ve blogged previously about the importance of language in the debate, you can read it here: https://cannabiscafecardiff.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/the-importance-of-language-in-the-debate/

In this article, I’ll be exploring and challenging the flawed rationale for treating cannabis as a pharmaceutical.  So the accepted definition of a pharmaceutical is:

Pharmaceutical, noun: A compound manufactured for use as a medicinal drug

Back in October I put a tweet out to warn the cannabis consuming community that they will need to have their wits about them as the UK starts its slow, painful arthritic movement towards the regulation of cannabis.  I described the situation as peak prohibition, forecasting that the worst was yet to come.

Roundly derided at the time, it would appear that my (and others’) cynicism has been vindicated.  Here we are, a full 6 months on since the UK supposedly made cannabis available on prescription and it was ‘job done’ as campaigners and PR agencies slapped themselves collectively on the back.  So let’s just have a look where we are so far:

 An estimated 5 million people are still being criminalised on a daily basis
 Less than 10 prescriptions have been issued on the NHS
 A private prescription will cost you in the order of £1,500 for a 40g supply
 Mythical harms about psychosis are still being ramped up
 Prohibitionist reformers have divided the cannabis consuming community into medical (worthy) and recreational (not worthy).  
 Patients remain forced into black market channels to obtain their preferred medicine
 There are hundreds of millions of pounds sloshing about London as big canna and government insiders decide how best to carve up the industry for themselves

When we examine more closely how this is all being handled, we realise just the gross levels of incompetence on hand, from government to reformers themselves.  We realise just how poorly understood cannabis is, and how the cult of CBD is actually holding wider reform back.

A very British idiosyncrasy, is the arrogance with which we dismiss anything foreign when it comes to scientific or medical evidence.  You see, after hundreds and thousands of years of documented use, and more recently under an intense degree of scientific scrutiny, the evidence is in.  It’s all been done.  California has remained the 6th largest economy in the world despite having had a medical cannabis programme for decades.  It hasn’t turned into a free for all, a wasteland of civil breakdown and pandemic levels of psychosis. Neither has Colorado, or, closer to home, Spain, Portugal or most famous of all, the Netherlands.  So when we see in the UK, that cannabis is obviously so radioactively toxic that the MHRA have to put it through the same process that they put gabapentin or fentanyl, then I’m sure you’ll allow us a little bit of collective eye rolling.

We have to disentangle this mess.  There is now, an ever-decreasing circle of insanity attached to reform and it’s being fuelled by a diet of exclusive red herrings.  Bear with me…..

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK.  So effectively, they are there so that compounds manufactured for use as medicinal drugs are safe and have been tested before being used on humans, have trials for efficacy and so on.

They are there so that novel drugs never before exposed to human biology don’t kill us when doctors prescribe them.  A good thing.

So before we go any further, we need to determine if cannabis is a medicine, or, whether is it simply a plant with medicinal properties.  Like, say, lesser celandine, the roots of which you can brew into a tea to ease discomfort from hemorrhoids; or elderberries,which make a great cold soother and also have great anti-inflammatory properties.

Given that cannabis has been around and used as a medicinal plant for a lot longer than the MHRA, and certainly all of the other modern compounds manufactured for use as medicines, maybe we are going about this in the wrong way.  We are applying a pharmaceutical regulatory procedure to a plant and it’s clear it’s a process that’s not appropriate here.

Is it any wonder the whole thing is gnarled up in misinformation, misinterpretation and misunderstanding? When you layer onto this attempt to regulate, the unproven and unfounded myth of cannabis induced psychosis; the cult of CBD and this new obsession with isolating and commercialising other individual cannabinoids you can start to see how long all this is going to take and in fact why for millions, nothing has changed.

It’s also fundamentally wrong to segment cannabis into ‘types’. It’s all the same cannabis people just consume it for different reasons. Pink Kush from Tilray racks in at a very respectable 25% THC and 0% CBD.  Similar to well-grown Haze. This is despite the UK obsessing about, and some notable voices wrongly asserting, that cannabis without CBD content is not medicinal. Medicinal cannabis and recreational cannabis ARE the same cannabis irrespective of their cannabinoid or terpene profile.

Bedrocan use Sensi Seeds as a supplier of seed stock.  Sensi Seeds (and their offshoot White Label Seeds) are responsible for some legendary strains –Super Skunk, was one of theirs and today they claim to be the worlds largest seedbank with over 500 strains under their banner.

Bedrocan grow Jack Herer, yes, that knock out old school favourite Sativa dominant hybrid. And it’s the same for every medicinal cannabis producer on the planet.  To develop new strains they sow hundreds of seeds and then over time select, clone and cross particular phenotypes which they roll out under a trademarked name.  But it’s no more medicinal cannabis, as it is recreational cannabis and they aren’t doing anything different from you and I in our grow rooms and gardens.  It’s just cannabis.  In fact, Bedrocan’s version of Jack Herer is a Haze, crossed with Shiva Skunk (NL #5 x Skunk #1), and Northern Lights #5.

So now that’s out of the way, we can all finally agree that medicinal cannabis is no different from good quality street cannabis.  And badly grown poor quality medicinal cannabis (yes there is such a thing), is no different from badly grown, poor quality street cannabis, but the messaging from some wings of reform won’t share this information with you or they flat want to shut down this really inconvenient aspect of the debate.  

In the UK, they often maintain that THC causes psychosis and only their medicinal cannabis contains CBD (which they also wrongly describe as being the good cannabinoid to counteract the bad cannabinoid, THC).

Now, because of prohibition, our medical establishment have been prevented from education about cannabis so they simply only listen to what they believe is the credible source of information.  People like the government (being briefed by lobbyists) or the Royal Society of Psychiatry and, as a result, we are at now a point in the UK where people who know nothing about cannabis, or have ever used or grown it themselves are leading organisations or campaigns or running training programme for clinicians and others without any understanding of what has just been described.

So, as a result the medical establishment do not understand the endo cannabinoid system in the same way that they understand other human biological systems. Cannabis consumers do however, we know that the endocannabinoid system is highly personalised.  We know this because of the variance in effect from person to person from the same source – ever been in a group with everyone using the same weed? The range and variance of effect from person to person can be considerable, but not dangerous. It is further the case that what one person finds pleasant, another may not. Or one strain for patient A may not be effective for patient B even though they have the same condition.

Patient B may require less CBD and more THC, or a different terpene profile because they don’t get on with Myrecene dominant strains. 

There are not many pharmaceutical drugs that are comparable to cannabis because they generally don’t contain over 400 active ingredients.  They generally only have one active ingredient.  And the fact that we are seeing an obsession over THC vs CBD demonstrates the complete collective lack of knowledge or willingness to accept that this needs a different approach.  People are waging a war over which is THE most important (profitable) single active ingredient.  The fools!

You cannot use MHRA proceduresdesigned to regulate single-molecule pharmaceutically-manufactured medicines, to regulate a plant that is grown and has flowers, leaves and roots and everything that’s about as non pharmaceutical as you can get.  It won’t work because the plant is too complex at a molecular level.   It’s not a compound manufactured, it’s grown. And it’s a plant with (incredible) medicinal properties, not a pharmaceutical.  Clever old cannabis.

So what to do?  Whilst we watch epileptic kids have life threatening seizures day after day, or provide counsel to friends and loved ones who are being criminalised simply for undertaking non-damaging life enhancing activities, the cohort of insanity rumbles on.

The government could, and should therefore do this tomorrow in order to clean up this car crash:

1) Most urgent is the immediate decriminlisation  of personal possession and remove all sanctions from UK citizens wishing to grow their own cannabis.  
2) Reschedule all cannabis and derivatives to schedule 4 – WHERE SATIVEX IS ALREADY SITTING! (I know, I know !!) For those of you that don’t know, Sativex is a FULL PLANT EXTRACT adjusted to a ratio of 1:1 THC CBD which is why many MS sufferers find it ineffective because it is too low in THC but it does nevertheless get you high…
3) Use the Herbal Medicines Sub committee of the MHRA to approve products for prescription which should be dispensed separately from pharmacies in specialist dispensaries a la California, Colorado or Canada – this means tailored advice and a personally tailored dispensation of the strain and cannabinoid profile that would be right for that individual and their condition and WOULD enable flowers and concentrates to be approved in a safe, proportionate way to the level of risk vs benefit we are talking about here.
4) NHS should partner with the current recreational underclass – they have the knowledge and the grow how.  They could and should teach the NHS how to grow it’s own raw material.  This would bring the price of intensive extraction down massively and enable significantly improved clinical outcomes and access for patients, providing jobs and significantly reducing costs and harms across the board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Very British Scandal

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).

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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.

HO: Correct

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.

Regulating Cannabis the Cardiff Cannabis Cafe Way

Foreword.

There’s been in increase in proposals for a regulated market of late. Increasingly they are based on bunk science, political dogma or ensuring that a regulated cannabis market is even more restrictive and less enjoyable than the current black market arrangements.

In Canada, we are horrified to see the way that regulation is being used as a cover to continue oppressing cannabis users and to ensure that many long-standing activists are wiped out of the picture (e.g. police power to now search without warrant).  We cannot approve of anything like this happening in the UK. Our model is therefore very liberal. The only regulation is around age restriction and obtaining a licence to run a retail outlet. Because that’s pretty much all there needs to be.

We can do all of this within a very short timeframe.  Our biggest challenge will be servicing the significant demand for recreational cannabis and processing applications for licenced establishments. Legal access to medicinal cannabis would be achieved within a matter of days (once stocks were purchased from Holland, the States or other such countries already delivering a medicinal access programme).

All previous criminal records relating to cannabis will be immediately rescinded.

Access under prescription:

With immediate effect we will allow GP’s to prescribe herbal cannabis, cannabis tinctures, cbd oil and any combination of extracts and preparations for an unlimited number of medical conditions. The decision to prescribe cannabis will be based on a consultation between the GP and patient.

Supply Chain:

Cannabis grown for medicinal use and preparation can be done by any company or individual provide they adhere to national standards and codes and that the cannabis they produce meets the minimum requirements for use in a medicinal setting.  Investment will be given to the NHS to commission the production of a consistent supply of high quality cannabis for medicinal use, that it will be responsible for quality assuring.

Access and Use, Recreational and Retail:

Cannabis may be bought from and consumed in licensed café’s. Any quantity may be purchased and there will be no cap on THC levels or potency. All products must be clearly labeled and the vendor must maintain a full inventory of stock including laboratory test reports. All retailers will be required to keep good records and to obtain a laboratory report of the product for sale.

Labels must include: Strain name; harvested date; Grower ID; THC content, CBD content as minimum although good practice would be to include full cannabinoid profile.

Age restriction:

No sales to Under 18’s.

Retail Supply Chain:

Cannabis for recreational sale can be grown by any company or individual provide they adhere to national standards and codes and that the cannabis they produce meets those required standards. Cannabis containing any of the following contaminants will be immediately rejected and must not be sold: Only organic growing medium and additives will be allowed.

  • Mold, mildew and other fungus spores
  • Any organophosphates
  • Non organic fertilizer
  • Any introduced chemical other than listed above

Licencing:

Licencing will be issued via local authority as per now for pet shops and premises to sell intoxicating liquor. There will however be an automatic granting of all applications in every local authority area until there are an equal number of licenced outlets for cannabis sales as for alcohol as at November 6th 2017. Existing licenced premises for alcohol will not be allowed to sell cannabis at the same venue. Hotels may apply for a cannabis retail licence provided they are licencing a discreet and dedicated space in the hotel for the retail and consumption of cannabis only (subject to inspection).

Home Grow:

Individuals may grow at home for personal use in any quantity they decide.

Social Clubs :

Social clubs will be encouraged as a means of helping people to learn about cannabis and supporting self-sufficient medical use. There is already a well-developed social club network in the UK and my model would see that network invested in and properly supported.

Research, Development and Teaching:

All of the money saved by a reduction in prescription drug costs and generated through licence applications will be reinvested in providing a network of regional laboratories charged with providing a testing facility for recreational and medicinal products as well as nationally co-ordinated research and development into new medicines and uses.

The endocannabinoid system will immediately be introduced as a mandatory module on the UK medical school teaching syllabus.

Qualifications in cannabis horticulture and chemistry will be developed in partnership with further education.

 

Should we have a Royal College for Misinformation?

The Royal College of Psychiatry. “Improving the lives of people with mental illness”. That’s the strap line. Presumably terrifying people with a load of horseshit about mythical harms of cannabis improves the lives of people with mental illness.

I refer of course to their seminal read and finest work to date. “Cannabis and Mental Health” you can access a copy here. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/cannabis.aspx

It’s a really well researched and structured information leaflet explaining why you will turn into a psychotic drug addict and start projectile vomiting if you use cannabis. It’s all backed up with absolute rock solid evidence of course. Their leaflet claims it “ looks at the research on the effects of cannabis use and mental health and is for anyone who is concerned about the issue. We hope that this will help people to make informed choices about using ­ or not using ­ cannabis”

It then goes on to be the most one eyed, ill informed, misleading dodgy bit of public information I think I’ve ever read. Fuck knows whom they’ve got on their ethics committee or their patient and professional information teams but they might need to see a psychiatrist for “delusional horsehsitting disorder”. That’s a very real mental illness and I’m not making it up at all. Trust me, I’m a Doctor.

See how easy it is? That’s all they do – take shit evidence or even fantasy, wrap it up as negative information, pitch it in the same language as anti drug government propaganda (just say no kids?!) and somehow they seem to be able to directly influence government policy. Although, to be fair, this current government would listen to advice coming from the bottom of my recycling bin and so that might explain why the government finds them so credible.

A bit of standard preamble about the types of cannabis and legal penalty, standard fayre but that’s as correct and factual as it gets.

The leaflet then looks at the effects of cannabis. It says under the heading for “Pleasant”; “A ‘high’ – a sense of relaxation, sleepiness, colours may appear more intense, music sounds better”

That’s it folks. Instead of exploring more how these pleasant effects might improve the lives of people with mental illness (like what it says on their tin), such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, anorexia and so forth, it leaves them right there.  The remaining 5 pages of the document focus entirely on negatives and it is laughable, but you have to scrutinise what they are referencing. Any other credible profession would have its membership leaving in droves if it’s professional body put out such crap.

Full of words like suggest; may; possible. No mention of the words ‘scientifically proven’.   It talks as though these statements are positions of fact – so it suggests that cannabis interferes with education and learning. However, it has to concede that the paper it refers to: Cannabis and educational achievement (2003) Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ & Beautrais AL. Addiction 98(12):1681­92, found no direct connection between cannabis use and poor educational achievement.

I’ve read the paper. It’s a study of just over 1,000 kids in urban Christchurch, New Zealand over 25 years. It’s a well written paper, but it’s sample size is nowhere near enough to draw any sensible conclusions. It takes into account variables that may have an effect such as socio economic status, parental criminality, childhood sexual abuse, parental attachment and the like.   It looks at child behaviour problems, cigarette smoking (28% are classified as regular tobacco smokers, quick, move on because we know tobacco smoking does cause psychosis) and, deviant peer affiliations.

All these are real and serious things that would have a bearing on educational achievement by themselves. But why bother when you can simply add cannabis into the mix and then draw a correlation between that and poor educational performance in an urban town in New Zealand on a 1000 kids over 25 years.  If they ran the study and ignored cannabis they would come up with a different reason for poor educational outcomes. Probably a more credible correlation too. It’s simply no basis to present it as a “fact” to the British public by one of the Royal Colleges.

Apparently cannabis is addictive too. (I know!)

“Is cannabis addictive?”

“Yes”.

It’s incredible. This pearler is based on…. wait for it…a study of 12 (yes, that’s right, 12) people over 16 days (yes that’s right over 16 days). (Marijuana abstinence effects in marijuana smokers maintained in their home environment (2001) Budney AJ et al. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58, 917­924).

It is an imbecilic piece of fiction at best. These 12 participants smoked cannabis as they normally would days 1-5 then abstained days 6-8 then smoked again 9-13 then abstained days 14-16. 25% of the 12 participants were tobacco users and all were allowed to use alcohol, caffeine and tobacco freely throughout. They were then asked questions and conclusions were drawn about irritability and other such nonsense. I don’t know about you, but if someone fucked with my cannabis using routine and asked me a succession of idiotic questions, urine tests, breathalysers etc, I’d be pretty irritable by the end of it too. The participants were paid $525 each. So a paper with the integrity of Nigel Farage at the European Parliament is being presented, again, as fact. “Is cannabis addictive? Yes”

Shouldn’t they be legally forced to remove this fake propaganda from their website? How can any credible professional clinical body tolerate this?

And then the usual crap about it causing schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis etc. Small study numbers, questionable clinical coding of admissions (synthetic cannabinoids fall into the same classification, people generally do not produce a sample of the drugs they’ve been taking for testing when they are admitted).

The papers themselves freely admit their own shortcomings but the Royal College of Psychiatry jump on the mere mention of the word cannabis like the salivating psychotic skunk addicts that they are.

“Both alcohol use and cigarette smoking had independent associations with later mental health disorder” A longitudinal study of cannabis use and mental health from adolescence to early adulthood (2000) McGee R, Williams S, Poulton R, Moffitt T. Addiction; 95: 491­503. Computer says no. It’s the cannabis. It’s one of the papers they referenced and selectively quoted from.

So where is the Royal College of Psychiatry’s leaflet on smoking fags? Their website freely publishes links to papers identifying a causal link with tobacco and mental health issues but they don’t seem to attack the tobacco lobby with anything like the zeal with which they demonize cannabis.

We can’t of course let it go without their reference to our beloved skunk, which is apparently 3 times stronger than cannabis was 30 years ago (it isn’t and we provided a coherent rationale for that in an earlier blog) “Used by some as a substitute for Ecstasy or LSD” it says. What?

It also causes projectile vomiting. I know, you’ve really got to read the leaflet. Projectile vomiting. … I’m currently vaporizing some sour diesel; it’s 50% Superskunk 50% Chemdawg ’91 (a phenotype of Thai sativa). Haven’t projectile vomited yet. But then my cannabis isn’t plastered in organophosphates, chemical fertilizers and other nasty chemicals used in mass-produced cannabis.

The sort of cannabis sold to teenagers in parks or other vulnerable groups who buy cannabis from commercial street dealers  and after smoking then mysteriously present to various services with various physical and mental health symptoms, which are more attributable to organophosphate poisoning than what the psychiatric and some reformers are effectively saying is THC poisoning. THC is not poisonous.

I couldn’t find any reference to projectile vomiting in any of their referenced papers so I can only assume I either missed it, or they just made it up to give the whole leaflet a bit of impact.  I have found loads on the effects of organophosphates on mental and physical health though. Don’t half sound like cannabis-induced psychosis to me….

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4271398/

https://academic.oup.com/toxsci/article/72/2/267/1691274/Neuropsychiatric-Evaluation-in-Subjects

http://www.neurologyindia.com/article.asp?issn=0028-3886;year=2000;volume=48;issue=4;spage=308;epage=13;aulast=Singh

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/167726-clinical

http://downloads.hindawi.com/journals/bn/1994/683275.pdf

Don’t worry though the RCPsych link you to lots of other crap if you want to get help with your organophosphate addiction.

There are some fundamental underlying issues with the whole of the science thus far. None of the papers, any of them, can show laboratory test results on the cannabis consumed which trigger all this psychosis and projectile vomiting. The fact that much of their research relies on self reported use or worse still, case note reviews on individuals with mental health problems is a weak basis to draw any definitive conclusions. We know from many US studies and live patient testimonies that cannabis for mental health disorders like anxiety and depression is a viable and useful medicine.   I suspect though that if you suffer from anxiety and you smoked industrial pesticide that it wouldn’t possibly be the best thing in the world for you. There is absolutely no way of proving THC is the cause of all this – given that due to prohibition its been impossible to test anywhere near a credible sample size of all the cannabis consumed daily anywhere, from small town to large city.

This is now possible in places like the States though, and, because of common sense and production standards, places like California, the 6th largest economy in the world, population of circa 40 million people with many years access to cannabis, know that you can’t prove a causal link (or at least not yet) to cannabis and mental health.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4033190/

But the evidence IS there about all those other nasties in pesticides and tobacco that do cause psychotic episodes (http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpsy/PIIS2215-0366(15)00152-2.pdf )

That’s just inconvenient truth though. Too many UK psychiatry careers have been built on a fabric of lies that are being disproven the world over. We are just watching those careers in their death throes. Clinging to anything to keep the research cash and advisory positions and chairs of this and that for another £20k for a few hours a month rolling in. Gettit? They collude with treatment services that demonize cannabis because that scares governments and the public and their cartel continues to protect its cash and future.

This organisation, “Improving the lives of people with mental illness”, should in my view take a good long look at credible scientific evidence before they go ahead and publish 2+2=5. I’ve managed in a week or so, in between work, family stuff, kids etc to read and rebut their referenced papers, and help them out with a few links for when they need to write a new leaflet (I’d say this weekend if your reading chaps).

It is also a real shame that more of the reform community wasn’t pushing back harder on this bollocks with a bit more force instead of jumping on it (and anything else) as a “reason to regulate”. Come on, we are better than that. The reason to regulate is in order to normalise cannabis in the wider public perception and remove the negative effect the threat of arrest and persecution has on the mental health of millions of users. We have a culture and a substance that should be celebrated and shared in a far more open and normalised way.  But we have to tackle head-on, the lies and the misinformation.

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Language in the Debate

Over the last few weeks the debate around Skunk has in some circles, reared its head again.

In my circle, the debate is always there and the position is clear. Skunk is a favourite strain of many close friends and myself. Not some psychotic inducing evil and dangerous form of cannabis.

Skunk has, depending on who you listen to, come to be a word which defines badly grown cannabis, or ‘Street Weed’ if you will. Since we do not know definitively what triggers psychosis we should stop immediately attributing the cause to ‘skunk’. Why aren’t we attributing it to Kush instead?

Because “everyone agrees that skunk causes psychosis” (it doesn’t, I made that quote up for effect), there is simply not enough will to develop alternative theories because “the science is settled”. Science is never settled and so we cannot accept the position that high THC causes or triggers psychosis. What about smoking fertilizer in poorly flushed weed? What about mixing it with tobacco (harmful behavior as a result of prohibition)? What about smoking pesticides in cannabis produced en masse and by people who don’t care about the contamination of their product with serious chemical agents which if smoked could well trigger a psychotic episode. Using cannabis correctly simply doesn’t trigger anything apart from a trip to the fridge…

Cannabis has been around since man was standing upright. I think we’d know if it caused psychiatric illness. We don’t need modern psychiatry or treatment services to present lies dressed up as empirical evidence. Our modern day hybridized cannabis isn’t that much different to it’s landrace parentage.  For those who disagree, come and smoke some Durban Poison or Malawi or Thai stick with me and we’ll see what you think about ‘strong cannabis’ being a result of prohibition. It’s a result of good husbandry and horticulture.

I digress, (forgive me, it’s easy to go off topic because these points are important and need to be hammered home on a continuous basis.)

The point of this blog was neither to debate what skunk is, (if you don’t know, look it up); nor to re-open the debate about the fake news that is Cannabis induced psychosis. The point of this blog was to discuss the importance of language and even more so, the importance of language when in battle. Because friends, we are in a battle, a very real battle to preserve our cannabis culture.

When the day of regulation comes I do not want it to be the day that prohibition got a revamp. I do not want to be buying government weed online (or even worse from Pharmacies) and only being allowed to buy “balanced strains’. I want to be able to access all sorts of strains; strengths and I want to consume it with fellow ‘cannaseurs’ in an adult environment free from prejudice and judgment. I want to have Super Skunk and Orange Hill and all the fabulous strains of skunk as they were originally bred. I want my haze to be 30% THC and 0% CBD. I don’t want people who haven’t got a clue about cannabis and legislators restricting what we can and cant have.

Now, why do I get my knickers in such a twist over the word skunk? Many activists and reformers speak to me. “Give it up”, they say; “it’s only a word”. We have to get traction and then build from there. Better to get some form of legalisation in and the rest will follow. I absolutely get that tactic but I don’t believe it is well thought out. It is in fact extremely short sighted.

DON’T BE FOOLED!!

All Warfare is based on deception  There fore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy and does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

I spent time in Amsterdam recently and chatting to staff working in the many fantastic coffee shops we visited, they were literally lost for words when our party explained how the word skunk is being used. And not just by the prohibitionists, but by some in the reform movement.

We don’t refer to moonshine alcohol as Gin do we? The Gin enthusiasts would be up in arms, and what about the negative reputational impact on all the Gin Palaces and specialist Gin Bars out there?

Quite. So we call it what it is. Moonshine and not Gin. Then, the public knows that when they hear or use the word moonshine it means illegally produced alcohol, probably very high in strength and potentially deadly. And then when they buy Gin they are not scared that it might be Moonshine.

And we need, no, absolutely MUST to get to that position with Street Weed. So that when the word ‘Skunk’ is used, it is used to describe one of the greatest strains of cannabis there is. One with phenomenal medicinal qualities. Fantastic recreational benefits, from a gardening perspective are great fun to grow (yielding massive crops and can often catch out even the most experienced grower!). Moreover, and most importantly, everyone understands what it is.

When words stop meaning anything then there are no more answers, only better and better lies and lies won’t help us in this fight” (John Snow, Game of Thrones)

It’s a pretty good quote isn’t it? The cannabis community has a real problem (and I speak for all of us on this I know) with the way in which the public have been duped, lied to, mislead and downright brainwashed when it comes to the truth about cannabis. What’s happening across the world is testimony to that. So it’s staggering that when we are in full battle mode, instead of correcting those mistruths and educating we’ve just shrugged our shoulders and said ‘nah, it’s only a word mate, yeah skunk causes psychosis so give us legal cannabis and it won’t be a problem anymore’

My daughter came home from school recently and told me that if you take skunk you can go blind. The schools liaison police officer pumping this bullshit into them should be sacked for gross negligence but why should we be surprised?  Skunk is after all wildly dangerous.

So what’s happened, is we have unwittingly enabled the lie to be reinforced. In fact we’ve stupidly been coerced into taking the position that the danger of skunk is a key reason why we need a regulated cannabis market.

What happens on day one of regulation when I want to buy a bag of Super Skunk, or Lemon Skunk, or whatever and I get told, ‘no, sorry we are not allowed to sell skunk because it causes psychosis. Here have some 1:1 THC:CBD ratio cannabis, thank your lucky stars those reformers sorted it all out?

Fuck that.

In science, language and nomenclature are everything. We don’t have half the world referring to rain as snow, and snow to rain. They are both forms of precipitation but we all understand what each one is because the word is true to the matter it is describing. It’s gut wrenching to hear heavyweights like David Nutt using the word skunk to mean ‘street weed’ but then maybe not be into gardening that much. So lets help him out guys please!!

We HAVE to set the agenda. And we have to do that through education. The Romans were experts at assimilation. Christmas and Easter both Pagan feasts widely celebrated in very different contexts in the British Islands until the Romans came, imposed Christianity on us as part of their conquest, stole the language and gave us back our feast days repacked as something entirely different. No going back from that. Lets not repeat those mistakes.

I don’t want the same thing to happen with cannabis because we were incapable of seeing the bigger picture and taking a longer-term view. As a species we learn nothing from History. We are useless at it, let’s not let that be our downfall.

Why cannabis use will never be legalised in the UK

I’ve let off enough steam on my twitter feed this week to power the flying Scotsman.  In my last blog I expressed my absolute frustration around the misappropriation of the word ‘skunk’.  Helpfully, this triggered a number of really wholesome and eye-opening interactions, phone calls and face to face meetings with those involved in the lobbying game. My first tangible window into the world of the reform movement in all it’s disparate groups and guises.

The only thing that these people agree on, is that prohibition has failed and we cannot arrest our way out of it. And I’m with them on that all the way.

However, increasingly that point is where any commonality ends. Professor David Nutt, a man for whom I have huge admiration and respect, this week summed up all that is wrong with the current debate on cannabis is concerned.  He wrote an article entitled “Why are the British so scared of cannabis?”.  You can read it here.  In it, he absolutely crushes the founding principles of prohibition :  “drugs are harmful – cannabis is a drug, and so it is harmful, so we will keep it illegal”.  Brilliant! Succinct and absolutely impossible to refute from any angle.

He then, superbly goes on to summarise the historical use of cannabis in the UK, and how the prohibition of it came about.  Astute observations on the political influence and party politics which have singled out and persecuted cannabis users in particular, over and above all other illegal drugs for decades.  He ousts the Daily Mail as one of the single biggest contributors to the UK mindset being totally out of step with most of the modern world.

By this point in the article, I’m working myself up in to a proper lather.  It’s like watching Anthony Joshua dismantle Wladimir Klitschko.  I’m jumping out of my seat “sock it to em Dai my main boy!” as I punch the air whooping with delight.  Smash! he lays into the paper’s underhand tactics of terrifying the population with lies and misinformation; WALLOP! The uppercut almost detaching prohibition’s head from it’s neck – smashing the biggest hit on most British of all reasons – the fear of cannabis induced psychosis. That this fear is also perpetuated by academia who receive millions of quids to keep the bullshit flowing.  ‘This is it’ I think to myself, he has just irrefutably knocked the British governments intransigence on the matter flat on its arse. Now they really have to let us have socially lawful access and use

And then, in a mere 23 words he totally undermines any credibility he has amongst the cannabis using community – and there are about 5 million of us so we’re more a community these days and less a minority.  He states that “it appears that only skunk, not herbal cannabis, poses a risk’.

What? What the actual fuck?  Did Klitschko just get back up?

There’s more… “the reason skunk is so prevalent is that our prohibitionist stance has led to the near-complete block of herbal cannabis imports from overseas”.

Now he’s totally lost me.

Before I go on some qualifying information.  I am not a qualified scientist, nor a botanist. I am a very experienced gardener and a regular cannabis user of some 25+ years. An expert hobbyist if you will.  So I am, from a users perspective pretty well qualified to be able to talk rationally about cannabis.

What is this herbal cannabis he keeps going on about?  Hashish? The good old low THC of yesteryear? That myth was busted in the previous ramble.

Here is some herbal cannabis.  It’s called ‘Killer Skunk’. But don’t panic! It hasn’t killed anyone because nobody has ever died from a cannabis overdose.

killer skunk

Herbal cannabis is just cannabis.  Medicinal cannabis is just cannabis yet it’s talked about as if it’s called medicinal cannabis it is somehow given magical powers and is completely safe.  Maybe if we prefixed everything with medicinal it would make it safe. Medicinal fags, medicinal beer, medicinal heroin, medicinal cocaine…. it’s a winner and I cant believe the home office hasn’t thought of this already.

The main reason that the British are scared of cannabis is because they are terrified about skunk because it has been an intentionally invented threat which does not actually exist.  That’s why. They think it causes psychosis like the Americans were told marijuana causes reefer madness in the 1920’s.  It’s prohibition at its most effective

What did for the oversea’s imported hash (which I think he means by herbal cannabis) was the advent of hydroponic technology and a rapid adoption of this by cannabis users to grow their own.  The prohibition of this import hash hadn’t led to the UK successfully stopping it coming in, rather that the criminal nature of production and sale led to a massive influx in ‘soap bar’ awash with plastic and oil and all sorts of horrible contaminants particularly in the late 1990’s.  As soon as the cannabis community realised they could produce their own high quality product in a 1m x 1m grow box with a light and a fan, soap bar was finished and import hash went back to being high quality in order to remain viable against this new competitor.

Anyway, I digress, here is some information on medicinal cannabis, produced by the Dutch company Bedrocan.  It produces a variety of strains with a broad range of thc/cbd ratio’s.  This is because various medical conditions require different mixes of these two main cannabinoids in order for the user to get effective relief or treatment.

Here is a THC/CBD breakdown of a few of their strains:

Sativa Flos – THC 22% CBD 1%

Bedica – THC 14% CBD 1%

Bedrolite – THC 1% CBD 9%

Now lets have a look at the THC/CBD breakdown of some of these new deadly skunk strains that Professor Nutt and others are so fearful of

Powerplant THC 12% CBD 2.1%

Blue Dream THC 24% CBD 1%

Super Skunk THC 19% CBD 0.6%

So, whats the difference?  No, really, whats the difference?  You see reformers want you to believe that medicinal cannabis is good and recreational cannabis is bad and therefore needs to be regulated.  It’s hypocrisy of the very argument used to fight for end of prohibition in the first place.

There is nothing different between the two groups.  Cannabis is just cannabis.  It can be used recreationally or medicinally.  That is not the reason to regulate it.  The reformers are starting to confuse politics with morality and that, dear reader, is where things will go tits up for cannabis users if we are not careful.

The real reason to remove the threat of arrest from cannabis users (whether they are recreational or medicinal users or both), is to end the needless persecution of a sizeable chunk of the population and the denial of relief to thousands of people suffering with a range of horrible conditions.  It is this persecution that forces people to live double lives, engage with a dangerous black market and buy goods which are contaminated with all sorts of crap, with no labelling, with no advice or customer service.

Those are the primary reasons.  Not because there is a problem with skunk because that is simply a ridiculous fabrication, born out of lies, ignorance and underlying vested interests.

The reformers who use skunk as a threat are simply giving the prohibitionists a reason to keep cannabis use illegal.

Here’s what Peter Reynolds said about skunk in his recent alliance with Lord Monson who tragically lost two sons due to the dangers they were exposed to because of the prohibition of some drugs.

Skunk is a form of cannabis with zero or very little CBD that can be harmful to young people and the vulnerable”

Monson weighs in with a call for “severe penalties in place for those dealing in skunk”

Hope he’s got a good commercial lawyer since GW Pharma would absolutely disagree with that position.  GW Pharma get government support to grow skunk.  They are a £billion going concern and growing rapidly.  Their G1 and G5 strains are both descendants from skunk #1.  They use these to make sativex which is a whole plant extract used to treat a M.S in particular.  As you can see.  G1 is a high THC strain with little or no CBD.  They’ve also helpfully compared the medicinal profile with recreational just so you can be assured I’m not making this up.

C9bHtOwWAAAweWUC9bIOzRWAAAlh0E

Mr Reynolds and Lord Monson believe that high THC low CBD strains are a direct product of prohibition and therefore should be banned and that this is the reason to regulate cannabis.   So you can ban skunk and have everything else.  Even though almost everything else is derived from skunk #1 the very first hybridised strain. Not sure how that gets enforced but there you go.  I suppose we would still grow Super Skunk, or Lemon Skunk, or Big Bud, or Orange Hill or Skunk #1 or Northern Lights or White Widow but we could call it ‘Medicinal O.G’ or something equally snappy and they wouldn’t know any difference…

What is happening here, right now people so you’d better listen up, is that the vast majority of the reform movement in the UK are moving to an ‘anything is better than nothing’ race to the bottom.  Which one can come up with the strictest arrangement for regulation that appeals to the conservative nature of middle England and the Daily Mail readership wins the kudos.  Have freedom to use cannabis, except not the strains you enjoy, and not the quantity you’d like to buy or grow and certainly no using it socially. Heaven forbid!  People might stop looking at their mobile phones and talking to each other again or even worse, switch from using alcohol and we cant have that now can we?!

I say bollocks to that.  Double skunky bollocks.

I say, let’s inform people honestly about what cannabis actually is.  Let’s teach them about it.  Let’s explain what CBD and THC actually do.  Let’s look at the anatomy of the plant. Which bits to use, learn about trichomes, the ways to maintain their integrity, optimum time to harvest so that the cannabinoid profile of the end product is properly balanced therefore delivering the desired and intended effect.

I also say let’s remove criminal penalties from growing, possessing and using cannabis. Stick an age limit on it absolutely – but that’s all you need to do, and tax profits of clubs or business holding a licence to sell it.  Like erm alcohol.  You don’t have to regulate strength, quantity or number of plants an individual can grow.  We all know if you buy a bottle of whiskey and drink it all in one go that you may well die and it certainly won’t be pleasant.  But we know that because we have information which means we can make an informed choice and so not many of us try to do that.

What we really need is some help to navigate the hundreds of strains so that we are selecting the ones that are right for us.  Can you imagine having to buy alcohol and guess what it is just by looking at the bottle to know what the ABV% is or if its rum or wine or lager?

What we don’t need, is people claiming to want to regulate cannabis for moral reasons but who are actually confusing morals for politiking the whole process.

The reform movement simply needs to do this:

It needs to get police and crime commissioners together across the UK to endorse and support cannabis social clubs.  The police will know whats going on because they will engage with the clubs at a local level so they will be able to see exactly what is going on. It would be a socially responsible contract to begin with.  Don’t push your luck, don’t disturb or cause a nuisance, don’t allow under 18s in and we wont bother you.  Step over the line and we won’t be able to keep our side of the bargain. I could live with that.

If that happened across the UK then the government would be left with very little alternative.  The only way we are going to get to a position of sensible reform is not by pandering to politicians and ending up with a really bad model.  It’s about taking non violent direct action and showing the law up for what it is – a tragic cause of harm and persecution on 5 million odd people.

Until we break into that headspace, the UK reformist movement will disappear up it’s own arse and the politicians will simply continue to prevaricate on progress, ignore the rest of the world, and listen to lies and misinformation.

Please, please please would reformers stop using the term skunk in the same way the United States used the term marijuana to demonise the plant and the communities who use it.  That’s all that is about, demonisation.  There is no scientific or botanical rationale for the use of the term in it’s hijacked form and it’s absolutely dreadful to hear supposedly educated adults fall into the perfect prohibitionist trap.  In fact using it in the same way that prohibitionists use it is unscientific, it’s disingenuous to the plant and it really offends every cannabis user that I’ve talked to about it.  We just roll our eyes and carry on.

Exploding the myth that strong cannabis is a new phenomenon.

Aside from the hijacking of the term skunk by the prohibitionist/addiction industry (they are one and the same thing but more about that another time), one of my biggest bugbears is that this new form of cannabis aka ‘skunk’ is presented as a life threatening, psychosis causing dangerous drug that is tearing communities apart.

Now I don’t know about you, but as a long term functioning stoner, I smell bullshit. The first thing to remind yourself when the hysterics start is that this is nothing new. In the 1920’s ‘reefer madness’ was used to try and scare the population into thinking that smoking cannabis turns you into a murdering rapist!

Such claims are patently absurd, and led by the ignorance of the press and governments, we haven’t really moved on. The use of the word ‘skunk’ to mean any high potency strain is nothing short of ignorant and demonstrates a complete dearth of user input into the whole cannabis debate. Why doesn’t someone just ask a cannabis user? You’d get the truth and a coherent answer instead of the current drugs clusterfuck that the UK establishment has colluded to preside over.

There are many well-meaning people in that debate that are open minded, pragmatic and willing to listen. But within the world of policy lobbying and professional rehabilitation services there is an equal, if not greater number of people who think they know what’s best for you and will dismiss your opinion as irrelevant because you don’t have a PhD in such and such and they are an expert and you should listen to them even though they’ve never rolled a joint in their lives. Many experienced and mature ‘cannasseurs’ intimately know cannabis at a pharmacological level and are hugely informed and competent when it comes to talking about this particular drug.

A little research will tell you that GW Pharma, one of the only producers of cannabis under licence in the UK use a strain derived from an all time classic known as Skunk #1 from which they make Sativex, a whole plant extract (i.e. it gets you high) to treat Multiple Sclerosis.

Now tell me this. If ‘skunk’ is so dangerous and causes psychosis, a plant with no medicinal benefit (their words not mine), ask yourself why it’s ok for a large pharmaceutical company to make psychoactive medicine out of the very strain so demonised by media and politicians alike. Then you will start getting some sense of who really controls the prohibition agenda.

You see, the prohibitionists love to pretend the weed of yesteryear wasn’t as strong whilst in the same breath, they handover lucrative contracts and tax breaks to big Pharma to grow the very strain they have demonised and misrepresented so badly.

Another trick of these prohibitionists is that they like to sound like scientists by saying that old fashioned hash had a higher ‘CBD’ content so was less dangerous from a psychosis causing hysteria perspective. We know that Cannabis does not cause psychosis because 100 odd years ago, the Indian Hemp Commission undertook what is still the largest population study of cannabis use and scientifically and systematically proved that cannabis does not cause psychosis.

Prohibitionists have used all this as a major scare tactic for decades. That this new street skunk stuff turns you into a psycho… Reefer madness anyone?

We’ve been here so many times before. But let’s just bust the myth, often trotted by the prohibitionists (who incidentally probably smoked themselves at university without becoming heroin addicts) is:

“That the old hash we smoked was much milder than this modern stuff”

Well, actually, no it was in fact much stronger. I recently tweeted about the time that the cannabis supplying network of the small Welsh village in which I was brought up, managed to get it’s hands on 2 Kg of yellow Lebanese hash. It was 1993 and was a summer to remember.!

To this day, I have not smoked anything stronger than that fine hessian wrapped Yellow Leb. I can still smell it now, a beautifully crafted artisanal product. Soft, yellow a sticky it was so fresh you could break it open with your hands and its aroma was so complex it was simply mouthwatering.  It remains the finest form of cannabis that I have ever sampled and believe me, I’ve sampled a pretty good selection of cannabis in all its various forms over the years.! Bordering on the hallucinogenic, the effects of this fantastic hash were further accentuated when taken in edible form since the body receives the full hit of cannabinoids providing they have been suitably activated (usually by heat in the cooking process). All cannabis is much stronger when you ingest it so strength is also determined by how you use it.

Hashish, is made by collecting the resin glands of the plant – these trichomes are then usually pressed and the type of hash is determined by the collection technique. In Morocco and much of the Middle East, cannabis plants are harvested and dried. They are then sieved and this seivieing action removes the THC laden resin glands from the leaf and flowers of the plant. The collected sift is then pressed under weight into the blocks of resin that ‘we’ all remember so fondly (it never really went away though – another myth peddled to distort reality).

In Asia, specifically India, resin is collected by hand rubbing the plant whilst it is fresh. This ‘live resin’ produces a beautifully sticky perfumed and potent hash.

Both of these forms of hashish are a concentration of THC. They are therefore significantly stronger than any modern herbal form. So when we hear – “the hashes are milder” arguments I cant stop laughing. Go to Amsterdam; find yourself a menu of a coffee shop that shows tested THC content. Look at all the weed, and then look at the Hash. It’s like beer or wine vs spirits. And if we start thinking of cannabis in such comparative terms then we might start helping the public who don’t know anything about it, to begin to understand it by referencing to a social norm that they most probably are familiar with.

Notice that you don’t ever hear anyone shrieking about super strength alcohol. Even though you can purchase whiskey at 60%abv and many spirits at even higher potency. We don’t go for those with breakfast on a Monday morning before going to work though do we? The Italians may have a shot or two of grappa after a big meal. We may enjoy a cold beer or two on a nice summers afternoon. We may chose a fine bottle of red to have with our Christmas Lunch.

We don’t round scaremongering, referring to all alcohol as meths and saying that even a sniff of it will turn you blind, so lets not make the same mistake with cannabis.  Let’s stop this bullshit, hanging onto prohibition like a dear friend, clinging to any negative we can, rather than admit that cannabis is ok. Morally we cannot say otherwise if we actively encourage alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and sugar can we? All of those drugs can lead to limb loss, cancer, blindness but lets not dwell on that too much because it will affect sales.

The current vogue for claiming that street weed is much higher potency is spurious at best. Give two seeds to two different people to grow of the same strain and you will get huge variations in THC content between plants of the same strain. The person doing the growing will also affect (intentionally or otherwise) THC content. Analysis of samples may well show an increasing potency but take those figures with a pinch of salt. How long have we been collecting analysis on seized cannabis? THC content is not uniform across all plants and certainly not strain dependent.

As a regular cannabis user I can tell you all now that there IS a call for high strength cannabis. It’s perfectly enjoyable just as a glass or two of malt whiskey is. But there’s a time and a place for it as with everything in life. Given that you can’t overdose on THC there really are bigger things we should be putting our energies into rather than creating an industry of false concern about strong weed!

Whilst we’re at it, lets start using the correct terminology. Skunk is a heritage strain. It has fantastic medicinal value as GW Pharma will testify. It’s forgiving, and easy to grow, producing some huge yields even for the first time grower, a delight! And most ironically of all, the skunk family have a relatively high CBD content, the very anti psychotic chemical that is somehow missing in all modern cannabis.   How ironic then that killer psychosis causing skunk is actually anything but and in fact resembles more closely the old harmless hash that Cameron and Blair used to chug through with Howard Marks in Oxbridge!

Prohibitionists have run out of excuses. “Super strength killer street skunk” type headlines will soon be recognised for what they are – hysteria.   They’ve lost the gateway drug argument, they’ve lost the psychosis argument only this week, and now, they’ll lose the ‘killer skunk’ argument also.

First Post!

So why didn’t I think of this earlier? Somewhere to break out in more than 140 characters.  To try and set out my views in a coherent fashion, to invite debate and share information with more discourse and to maintain a library for others to use.  To do my bit for the cause.

Welcome to cannabis prohibition in the UK!