Tag Archives: cannabis

12 December 2018 – today’s press releases

So, another day when much has happened, but little has obviously changed. It’s a bit like ‘Waiting for Godot’, in that Brexit is supposedly coming, but never actually seems to turn up…

  • Cable: Conservative spat won’t resolve deepening divisions
  • Agreement Reached Between new First Minister and Kirsty Williams
  • Lamb: Labour’s abstention on cannabis vote ‘deeply depressing’

Cable: Conservative spat won’t resolve deepening divisions

Responding to the reports that the Prime Minister will face a vote of confidence in her leadership, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Theresa May’s deal is a total mess and is the latest backdrop for yet another Conservative meltdown over

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11 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Amidst the chaos that is Westminster at the moment, at least somebody was trying to do something liberal. Admittedly, it wasn’t successful, but as another step towards a more liberal drugs policy, it was certainly worth the effort. Otherwise, another day of national humiliation for our country, as Theresa May found herself child-locked into a limousine. It’s a metaphor for something, isn’t it?…

So, what has gone out in the name of the Party today…

  • Lamb: Prohibition of cannabis is causing harm across the country
  • Cable: Govt economic analysis on Brexit misleading
  • EU confirms May has no room to renegotiate Brexit
  • Lamb: It is

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Radical Drugs Reform Needed

“The case of Billy Caldwell who needed cannabis oil for his severe epilepsy again highlights legalising cannabis not only for medical but recreational use. Although the Home Secretary (Sajid Javid) made an exception for Billy (by allowing cannabis oil use for 20 days) cannabis is still banned for recreational use. Sajid Javid said this week in the commons the position “We find ourselves in currently is not satisfactory”. Cannabis contains active ingredients called cannabinoids. These are used to relieve the pain of muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis or used to relieve sickness in people having chemotherapy for cancer. Other ingredients from cannabis help children with epilepsy. Cannabis does have medical benefits.

Some countries have regulated legal markets for the non-medical use of cannabis. There are Cannabis Social Club, sometimes called a Teapad, that control the cannabis market as non-profit organisations for the purpose of relaxing or for social communion that are only accessible to members. These can be found in Spain and also in the US. There are also cannabis coffee shops that are operating as coffee shops where cannabis is openly sold. These are usually found in the Netherlands.

Also in the US to regulate cannabis they have cannabis enterprise set up like businesses that are tightly controlled and sell cannabis. Uruguay’s has the government-controlled system for cannabis regulation. These are some examples of models for regulating non-medical cannabis being used around the world.

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Davey: Government must look at evidence on medicinal use of cannabis

The Government’s refusal to grant a licence for the medicinal use of cannabis to 6 year old Alfie Dingley has been in the news this week. His mother says that when he was given the drug in the Netherlands, under the supervision of paediatricians there, his Epilepsy improved.

Ed Davey called on the Government to look at the evidence and listening to those who know what they are talking about.

The government’s refusal to consider allowing the use of cannabis for medicinal purpose is criminalising people who simply need to alleviate chronic pain.

A growing number of our European neighbours and other countries around the world now recognise the benefits of medicinal cannabis.

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The drugs which kill the most have been legalised for centuries, so how will legalising cannabis make much difference?

Embed from Getty Images

It was good to hear Vince recently confirm his whole-hearted support for our policy of legalising cannabis. I also fully support the policy, which is actually quite a “baby step” when you consider the plethora of drugs readily available today – with more becoming available (including via the internet to one’s postbox) by the day.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Why the Liberal Democrats believe a legal, regulated cannabis market would improve public health

Nick Clegg has been writing in the BMJ outlining our position on Cannabis.

He compares criminalisation of drugs to the prohibition of alcohol in the States:

Far from controlling and eliminating alcohol use, the “noble experiment” of prohibition drove users towards increasingly potent and dangerous drinks. With no regulatory levers in place except the threat of arrest (which had to be set against the promise of handsome profits for those who defied the law), there was no effective way to control the market. The ensuing public health crisis was one of the key motivations behind the repeal of prohibition in 1933, when President Roosevelt signed a new law allowing the sale of beer with a maximum alcohol content of 4%.

For spirits in 1926, read “skunk” in 2017. “Skunk” is a direct result of prohibition. New cultivation methods have pushed up potency over the past 20 years. Just as 1920s-era bootleggers didn’t bother to produce and smuggle high volume, low alcohol beer, so the illicit cannabis industry has responded to criminal enforcement by developing products that maximise profit, with no consideration for the health of its customers.

He goes on to talk about the merits of regulation:

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The Independent View: What’s the crack?

As more countries and jurisdictions are relaxing their laws around cannabis, many questions have arisen. Will legalisation affect potency? Could some types of cannabis actually reduce psychosis? What are the choices in cannabis legislation, is it just prohibition or legalisation? And if cannabis is legalised, will everyone start using it? These are just a few of the questions answered by myself and two other researchers from King’s College London in the fourth episode of a new podcast; What’s the Crack.

We created the podcast with an aim to improve public awareness of the complexity and reality of addiction, policies, stigma surrounding drug use and drugs scandals in the newspapers by exploring the evidence base. We are all passionate about the drugs and addiction research field and every episode draws upon our collective knowledge and experience, addressing the health, criminal justice, social and individual side to a story. The podcast links the academic world to the public, bridging the gap and filling in the blanks with research evidence that the media have left out. Previous episodes have covered Dry January, Fabric nightclub in London, drug consumption rooms and now it tackles cannabis legalisation.

This episode introduces different policy options of cannabis legislation, providing alternatives to the usual dichotomous choice of prohibition (possession and supply is illegal) or legalisation (cannabis is freely and widely sold). Alternative legislation is discussed; decriminalisation (it is only illegal to supply) and regulation (a government monopoly). In addition, various factors in the legalisation debate are considered, such as psychosis and THC (active chemical that make users feel “stoned”)/CBD (cannabinoid with various potential medical applications) levels and the impact of legalisation on these. Cannabis is made up of the chemicals THC and CBD and emerging evidence suggests that cannabis high in CBD may mean that people experience fewer psychosis-like symptoms when using the drug. Arguably an incentive for controlling the THC/CBD ratios.

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Reforming Drug Policy Shouldn’t Just Be About Cannabis

drugsWe are the party at the forefront of drug reform policy. There are and have been smaller, single-issue parties that have been campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis for years, but we are the only major party to bring the debate on to the political mainstage.

There are different arguments for the cases of decriminalisation or legalisation – though the two main arguments are almost always centred round healthcare. The first is: with decriminalisation, we can treat addiction like an illness instead of a crime – a noble idea, …

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LDVideo: “A new, more rational approach is desperately needed” – Norman Lamb introduces his cannabis bill

Norman Lamb yesterday introduced his ten minute rule bill calling for the legalisation of and implementation of a regulated market for cannabis. You can view the bill and follow its progress here. It will move to second reading on 22 April.

And here is Norman’s Commons speech from yesterday:

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Liberalism vs. authoritarianism in the debate over cannabis

 

In York, conference voted to create a regulatory framework for cannabis. This is a move that I wholeheartedly support and I’d like to draw on the example of Colorado to explain why.

On the 1st of January 2014, Colorado fully legalised cannabis for recreational purposes. Within four months they raised $10 million dollars in tax revenue which they invested in education and infrastructure.

Crime dropped by 10% and violent crime dropped by 5%. The marijuana industry also created thousands of jobs and by October unemployment was at its lowest since 2008.

Colorado also legalised marijuana for medicinal purposes meaning that people suffering from ailments such as chronic pain and cancer could effectively alleviate their pain without fear of prosecution or risking their freedom.

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My response to the debate on motion F7 (Regulation of cannabis)

 

Note: you can view the debate here, about 2 hours 48 minutes in.

First of all, kudos to our party. Who else would not only discuss an issue that is usually swept under the carpet, but broadcast that debate live on the Internet and then keep it there for everyone to watch / listen to. As a result, I shall summarise my thoughts on each of the speeches.

Norman Lamb MP (Norfolk North) is of course, absolutely correct. Reports of this nature take a long time to compile and the panel who came up with this report should be applauded for their efforts. He is also right to bring up the fact that several members of the current Cabinet, through public statements, have admitted using cannabis and therefore are guilty of hypocrisy. Therefore, in conclusion what Norman said is entirely correct, we need to have a debate, and a debate is precisely what I applaud.

Lee Dargue (Birmingham, Edgbaston) who summed up his amendment by saying “What Norman said” which is succinct and to the point, and he is right. We started the conversation about the mental health of this nation and I have to admit that conversation seems to have come to a bit of a grinding halt post general election. However, whilst recognizing that “fourteen year olds are having sex” and that “fourteen year olds are doing drugs”, I would like to counter that when I was fourteen I was not doing drugs nor having sex and I put that down wholly to being brought up by my grandparents and therefore believe that closer family discussions on these subjects would be an avenue to explore.

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Person X supports the legalisation of cannabis

 

“Person X supports the legalisation of cannabis” is quite a headline. For that person to be a sports star or celebrity generates some interest. For it to be a user of cannabis, it often generates derision.

If X is the leader of a political party, or a former government health minister, it surely is big news. This is why I joined, and have stayed a member, of the Liberal Democrats: to have radical, evidence-based policies which strike out as making us distinctive and pleased Norman Lamb has put a motion forward to conference for this policy, and please Tim Farron has supported it.

When it comes to policy-making, we are the party that prides itself most on having an evidence base. Some parties go for populism over evidence, whereas we often prefer radical policies. And some parties go on mainly grabbing headlines. These three elements are often at odds and one usually wins over the other.

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My personal thoughts on Motion F7

I have lived with my grandparents all my life and as a result, especially since 2005 as I have been their registered carer, I have moved wherever and whenever they have moved and this means that since I became a Liberal Democrat in 1992, I have been all over the place.

However, there is one small downside to this and that is being able to get to big Lib Dem events. In those 24 years I have only managed to attend one regional conference, three Welsh conferences and no federal conferences or special conferences, which brings me to the reason for this (as the Americans would say) op-ed: Motion F7 at the conference in York discussing the paper launched a few days ago entitled “A Framework for a Regulated Market for Cannabis in the United Kingdom“.

Now, let me make this clear from the get go, having read the report I agree with a large number of things. For instance, “Each year, criminal gangs generate billions of pounds from the illegal drug trade – money which in turn funds organised crime. And each year thousands of people receive convictions for drug possession which will harm their education and employment prospects for the rest of their lives” is absolutely true.  Similarly “Liberal Democrats argue that we need an evidence based approach to drugs law, one which is based on independent and scientific advice, rather than fear and prejudice” is a statement I think we can all agree on.

However, I have to draw the line at the conclusion of the report that cannabis should be legalised and distributed via dedicated retail outlets, social clubs and via home growing.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Why we should regulate Cannabis

Tim Farron has openly said that he smoked Cannabis as a youngster.

From today’s Mirror:

Lib Dem chief Tim Farron has becomes the first leader of a UK-wide political party to admit smoking cannabis.

The MP’s candid confession comes as he calls for the complete legalisation of the drug in a bid to generate up to £900million for public coffers.

Father-of-four Mr Farron, 46, told the Mirror: “I tried cannabis when I was younger, as did many other politicians.

“But sadly, too many other politicians want to continue forcing our police to waste resources chasing cannabis users when they should be able to take violent crime instead.

“It’s time that we had the courage to look at the evidence and make a decision that will help us to tackle the real criminals instead of the current failed approach.”

On the party website, Norman Lamb has urged members to support the motion calling for the legalisation of Cannabis. He wrote:

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Farron supports bid for cannabis legalisation in UK

Tim Farron has thrown his support behind a motion calling for the legalisation of Cannabis as the Guardian reports:

Farron is to endorse a motion at spring conference which calls on the party to extend its existing support for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use to recreational use.

The motion, to be tabled by the former health minister Norman Lamb, will be debated after the release of the findings of an expert panel appointed by the Lib Dems to examine how a legal market for the use of cannabis would work in the UK. The panel has found that the legal use of cannabis could save the exchequer more than £1bn a year. It could generate between £400m-£900m in tax revenues and could save £200m-£300m in the criminal justice system.

The Lib Dem leader said: “The Liberal Democrats will be releasing a report in due course that lays out the case for a legalised market for sales of cannabis. I personally believe the war on drugs is over. We must move from making this a legal issue to one of health.

“The prime minister used to agree with me on the need for drug reform. It’s time he rediscovered his backbone and made the case again.”

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Give doctors the right to prescribe Cannabis for those in real pain

Nick Clegg’s Standard column this week tackled the issue of Cannabis prescription:

He tells some real-life stories of people whose lives have been transformed by being able to use Cannabis:

Faye, a corporate PA for a big company who was diagnosed four years ago with rheumatoid arthritis, is about as far away from the cliché of the layabout pothead as you can possibly imagine. An ambitious, outgoing and highly able young woman, the pain threatened to derail the career she had been building since the age of 16. She tried a number of prescription medicines but they came with a range of nasty side effects, from hair loss to constant nausea, that often left her too ill to work.

Four years later, her career is back on track. She makes her own cannabis-based skin cream that she can use at work, which has no psychoactive qualities and can easily be disguised so that no one knows she is using cannabis. To her colleagues, it looks like she simply keeps a small jar of normal hand cream on her desk. As a result, she told me that she can “live my life as I used to four years ago”. But she does so at great expense and at the risk of a criminal record. She is also forced to put herself into potentially difficult situations in order to obtain the cannabis she needs.

Nick makes the point that not one of these people wants to be criminals:

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The UK and the EU have a chance to stand up for drug policy reform

 

Nick Clegg made a big announcement on Thursday 1st October that has as yet gone unreported on LDV – he’s going on a jolly around Europe. Well no, not quite. He’s actually going on a tour of the EU to try to convince its leaders to stand together on the subject of international drug policy reform. Nothing like a challenge, eh Nick? But this is a serious issue, and at an absolutely crucial time. In April next year, the UN General Assembly will be holding a Special Session (UNGASS) to debate how to approach global drug policy over the next ten years and beyond, at a point where different parts of the world are diverging ever more rapidly on the issue of how to tackle the problems associated with drug use.

If the EU stands together united at UNGASS in calling for certain reforms to the UN conventions, and I sincerely hope Nick succeeds with his mission and it does, it has a much greater chance of making a positive impact. But what reforms can the EU agree to stand on? At one end countries like France and Sweden do not endorse any kind of change to their (relatively) strict drug laws, whereas countries like the Netherlands and Portugal have lead the way on liberal, evidence-based drug reforms for years. In the middle we have countries moving both ways too, with both Germany and Italy making noises about reforming their cannabis policies, Ireland voicing its support for drug decriminalisation and supervised injecting rooms and the the UK… well the less said about that the better. In fact, it has been noted that the EU can be seen as a near-perfect experiment for comparing the efficacy of a spectrum of subtly varied drug policies on relatively similar populations.

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LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee: It is time to legalise Cannabis for medicinal purposes”

Sally Hamwee has been writing for Politics Home about her attempts to have Cannabis legalised for medicinal use.  She firstly outlined the need:

Medicinal herbal cannabis is very effective for many people (not all) suffering from some very severe and debilitating conditions, the spasms and cramps associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord damage, Parkinson’s Disease and some of the symptoms of cancer and of the treatment of cancer among them.

It is available in 23 states of the USA, Canada, Israel and Netherlands from where it is exported to several other countries of the EU.  But not – legally – the UK.  The Dutch have used genetic alteration to maximise the benign content and eliminate the dangerous, psychosis-inducing component.

No wonder that so many British people go to great lengths to go abroad to get hold of it.  The cannabis-based drug licensed in England is much more expensive and only prescribed on a “named basis” as NICE regards it as not cost-effective (it is approved in Wales).

And then she outlined how both Conservatives and Labour in the House of Lords wouldn’t accept her ideas:

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Opinion: The legalisation of drugs – let’s not take the line of least resistance

drugsIt’s 1977…. a hot summer evening in Chicago (no – this is not the start of a Raymond Chandler novel). I’m getting a lift back from an outer suburb to the city which takes around an hour on the freeway. It’s late. The driver is going illegally fast. He’s desperate to get home he tells me – so he can smoke some dope. I am desperate to get back in one piece.  I suppose the only thing that might have made his driving worse is if he had actually already smoked the stuff. But that’s what addiction does – it makes people a bit desperate. And make no mistake, cannabis can be addictive.

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Opinion: Our flawed drug laws are at heart of riots

David Davis MP, in his appearance on the Question Time “riots special” said: “There are estates in Alan Simpson’s constituency where there are youngsters the age of 12 or 13 who got £30 a day paid for delivering drugs on whose estate the man to look up to was the drug dealers”

Brian Paddick: “Exactly”

Davis “because he had a big car and he lived well. And if we create circumstances like that it’ll be no surprise we get the problems we’ve had in London and the Midlands and the North in the last week.”

This is a fairly astute recognition of …

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Opinion: the lone maverick won’t change drugs policy. An army of moderates might.

As a passionate advocate of drugs policy reform, I was very excited on Wednesday evening about the prospect of a former drugs and defence minister coming out in favour of regulated drug supply. I thought someone with such experience could blow the debate wide open, and we could really start getting to grips with the issue as a nation. Sadly the debate that resulted was again loose and ill-defined. Was he talking about legalisation of all drugs, decriminalisation, prescription of heroin to addicts? Because the debate was poorly defined, it was allowed to spin out into sensationalism and I quickly got the sense that this wasn’t going to be the breakthrough I had hoped.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that drug policy reform is not going to happen soon if we are going to continue this trickling pattern of lone mavericks each proclaiming different varieties of the sensible, progressive message. What we need instead is for all these mavericks to get together with respected stakeholders and work to produce ONE message, one set of policies which can be held up as the first step. Reformers need to engage with other lobby groups outwith the major political parties whose activities aren’t closely monitored by the Daily Mail for any sign of intelligent (and therefore reprehensible) thought. We need to engage children’s charities and talk through how best reform can tackle issues of child neglect and abuse. We need to talk to police associations about how best to reduce serious organised crime and petty thefts. We should talk to retailers about the potential to massively reduce shoplifting. We should invite the teacher’s unions in to talk about how we close off criminal career opportunities for disadvantaged children and help them engage in education as their best means of advancement. Mental health charities can make vital inputs into breaking the links between depression and addiction or between cannabis and psychosis. The list of sensible influential groups who can contribute to the development of and subsequently support a single message of moderate reform could go on and on.

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Daily View 2×2: 5 November 2009

Good morning and welcome to the Voice’s early morning roundup of news and views. It’s 5th November, an anniversary we can all remember, when Guy Fawkes didn’t quite manage to get his suggestions for MPs’ expense reform through Parliament. It’s also Art Garfunkel’s birthday – he’s 68 today.

2 Big Stories

Bloody betrayal raises fresh doubts about Britain’s campaign in Afghanistan

The Times carries the story most papers are leading with this morning.

The killing of five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman raised fresh doubts yesterday about Britain’s mission in Helmand.

Senior political, diplomatic and military figures warned that public support for the British presence was in danger of collapse without a clear and freshly defined strategy.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has one of the more startling headlines I’ve read recently:

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Opinion: The Nutt affair – or, the thin line between evidence and policy

Firstly, a disclaimer: I am a scientist, who is also interested in governance and politics, so the following post may come across as somewhat heated. Apologies, but I do feel that the recent furore over Prof. David Nutt’s sacking as Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) goes right to the heart of why I took up both science and politics as profession and interest respectively.

We begin with Prof. Nutt’s most recent criticism of the government’s drugs policy, which attracted headlines for claiming that alcohol, despite being legal and freely available, was more harmful than the Class A narcotic ecstasy (MDMA). At first sight this may seem like an outlandish statement to make, but the evidence, collated by Prof. Nutt, suggests otherwise; granted, the recent publication from Nutt’s The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) at King’s College London wasn’t peer-reviewed, but the methodologies used to calculate his ‘harm index’ were so, and published in one of the most respected medical journals, The Lancet in 2007 (the full article is behind a paywall, contact me if you want the pdf…). Just to repeat this – using what seems to me to be a robust method, taking into account everything from physical harm to the user to social harms at large, ecstasy does indeed seem to be less dangerous than alcohol, and it’s using this tried and tested method of enquiry that Nutt used to conclude that cannabis should remain a class C drug.

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