Wednesday, 27 April 2011

More than 2,000 drugs arrests in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire

There is still a massive amount of uncontrolled drugs on our streets despite the ongoing efforts to reduce it through arresting dealers ("More than 2,000 drugs arrests in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire", Evening News, April 26).

One could imagine the problems we would have if the sale of alcohol was to be made an offence - would it stop people drinking? No.

Would it stop people selling? - no.

It would simply introduce crime and prevent control.

It's the same with drugs.

Throughout history people have taken substances (plants and plant products) to ease their suffering, escape or simply "get high" - and no doubt they will continue to do so.

But instead of granting them the same protection in law as the users of alcohol get, the users of some drugs become criminalised and forced to either go to dealers or else risk growing their own, in the case of cannabis.

Those users, whether they benefit or are harmed, whether they harm others or not, risk arrest - all at taxpayers expense - a massive amount running into billions annually. Only the dealers profit and don't even have to assure quality or pay tax.

We can go on and on arresting users - but there will be more; we can continue arresting dealers but there is a seemingly endless queue or would be profiteers willing to replace them.

Forty years down the line and all we have achieved is the criminalisation of people many of whom did not harm at all. It is time that the politicians admitted that the present "war on drugs" has failed and an alternative approach is required.

Otherwise I confidentially predict we will read articles similar to this one over and over again

Judging the Judges on Cannabis Justice - or lack of it?

Considering that all Judges would claim to represent the Law of their land and Justice, it is puzzling how they differ in their attitudes to the same plant that brings relief and relaxation to hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.

Just look at these headline sand quotes  from this week's press:

Five cannabis plants not punishable | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

“The quantity and the weight of the cannabis crop obtained from a cultivation limited to five plants are irrelevant.”

Plea for longer sentences for cannabis growers - Local - Evening Telegraph
“The seriousness of this offence is not reflected in sentences that we are able to pass and I appeal for revised sentencing guidelines from the guideline council.”
In a recent case at Northampton Crown Court, Truong Luu, 30, was found guilty of setting up and running a cannabis factory capable of netting thousands of pounds.

He was jailed for four years for producing the Class B drug on a commercial scale in Kettering. He will be deported when his sentence is complete.
 Bandar Seri Begawan - The High Court has received three defendants facing the death penalty for drug charges after a preliminary inquiry into the case had been carried out.
Mohammad Ameer bin Salleh, 24, Noor Sa'adah binti Emran, 21, and Abdul Razak bin Matali, 27, face a charge of importing 1266.786 grammes of cannabis from Bangkok, Thailand on August 7, 2010.
So for an amount that can legally be grown and possessed in The Nethrlands, less than allowed for Dutch Coffeeshops, if grown in the UK will attract a prison sentence that the Judge feels is too little, and in other countries can lead to a death sentence.

Where is the Justice in laws and guidelines that differ so much between countries?   When will some body such as the United Nations that is ultimately responsible through their Treaties for so much unjustifiable and excessive punishment step in and sort this out?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Pot-laced food sickens local middle schoolers

“All of the children are fine,” Brandais said.

Whilst being thankful that no harm was done by the cannabis cookies - which were intended for "medical" purposes - it comes as no surprise, for according to Judge Francis Young, cannabis is one of the safest therapeutic substances, and Prof Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School described it as " remarkably safe".
Seven Serra Mesa middle-school students were taken to a hospital Friday morning after reports they were hallucinating or feeling sick after ingesting a cannabis substance.  Officers were called to William H. Taft Middle School on Gramercy Drive about 9:35 a.m., San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Maurice Luque said.
The students told authorities they had eaten a brownie bar laced with marijuana.

The students reportedly ate the brownies on a bus on the way to school in the morning, said Jack Brandais, spokesman for the San Diego Unified School District. All of them had recovered by Friday evening, he said.
“They seemed to be excited about the prospect of going to the hospital,” Luque said.
Cannabis is indeed an almost unique plant that ought to be fully utilised, for it seems to be beneficial for so many medical conditions and yet is far safer than expensive pharmaceutical productions including the cannabis-extract medicine called "Sativex"

Of course we don't want schoolkids taking cannabis, but praise be that it was cannabis that they took and not some pills that may have killed them

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Is This Why They Bust Cannabis Growers

Every day we read in our papers that another cannabis growing operation has been closed down - not just the large professional and profiteering growers but also those run by people in dire medical need of the relief from much of their pain and suffering.

Cannabis the plant is now well known and widely accepted as having medicinal and pain-easing properties, used effectively and safely by many tens of thousands of sufferers of a wide-range of ailments from Multiple Sclerosis to Epilepsy, pain to loss of appetite or sleeplessness, depression and even cancers.

In fact it has been used for hundreds of years and was listed by Culpeper in his"Complete Herbal and English Physician" in 1826 where he wrote 
"It is so common a plant, and so well known by almost every inhabitant of this kingdom, that a description of it would be altogether superfluous."
That was until 1971, when the UK, as lacky to the UN Single Drugs Convention of 1961, banned the sale of the medicine (then available as a tincture", claiming that cannabis had no medicinal value and was being misuses as a "recreational drug".

Since then the Government has fought tooth and nail to stop people from gaining medical benefits and pain relief from the plant they can easily and cheaply grow at home - despite literally thousands of testimonials and acceptance in countries such as the USACanada, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany,and Israel.

Then, a few years ago, along comes a Pharmaceutical giant to produce extracts and test them - now they produce "Sativex", an alcohol and peppermint spray containing exactly the same beneficial chemicals (THC and CBD) found in the plant itself - and of course charging extortionate fees and making huge profits for their shareholders - at public expense.

It seems to me that the UK taxpayer loses out all round for they must pay both the NHS bill for the prescription medicine and the cost of seeking out and prosecuting the growers.

So one is forced to ask - is the potential profits for the same people that sell us highly priced and dangerous fuels to heat our homes and run our cars, the toxic chemicals dumped as side-products of the environmentally-damaging plastics and other synthetics the reason for the prohibition of the possession or cultivation of the plant  - described by one of the world's foremost experts on cannabis, Professor Lester Grinspoon of Harvard University, as "remarkably safe".

It may not be coincidental that the cannabis plant, also know as hemp, can also enable production of safe and cheap alternative fuels, plastics and even foodstuff.

see How cannabis was criminalised.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Ontario court strikes down Canada’s pot laws

I was pleased to read today that at  a  Canadian Judges recognise the value of the cannabis plant as a medicine that Governments have wrongly barracaded away and tried to put into the arms of Pharmaceutical Companies.

Whilst we read that in the UK that GW Pharmaceuticals has  signed exclusive licence pact with Novartis to commercialise Sativex in Australia, Asia, Middle-East & Africa, governments continue to prosecute individuals (and indeed threaten imprisonment) individuals that grow their own.

Sativex is licensed to Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd in the United States, to Almirall SA in Europe (excluding the United Kingdom), to Bayer HealthCare AG in the UK and Canada, and to Neopharm Group in Israel/Palestine. Sativex is approved in the UK, Spain, Canada and New Zealand in the treatment of spasticity due to MS. In addition, a further six European countries (Germany, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Czech Republic) have recently recommended Sativex for approval and are expected to grant national licences in mid-2011.

Yet these Pharmaceutical companies that produce the Sativex sprays merely use extracts of chemicals from the cannabis plant itself, dissolved in alcohol with a hint of peppermint flavouring charge so much money that it has become inaccessible to many of the thousands of UK citizens that could benefit: one dose of Sativex costs many times more than one dose of cannabis.

Now, in Canada, a judge has seen through the Government charade and the obstacles they have created, and ruled against Canada's laws against possessing and growing cannabis as part of a ruling that found the country's medicinal marijuana program is failing to provide access to the drug for those who need it.

Globe and Mail, 13 April 2011
The ruling means the government must either improve its system for licensing medicinal marijuana patients within 90 days, or it will become legal to use or grow the drug for any purpose. The government can, however, buy itself more time by appealing the ruling. 
 The court decision hinged on the difficulty medicinal users have in finding a doctor willing to sign the necessary paperwork. The problem, Judge Taliano ruled, is that the government requires patients to obtain the approval of a doctor to take marijuana legally but does not give physicians adequate training or fund sufficient clinical trials of the drug. As a result, much of the medical community refuses to approve its use.
"Rather than promote health – the regulations have the opposite effect. Rather than promote effective drug control – the regulations drive the critically ill to the black market," he wrote. "Surely, the right to choose belongs to the patient, not to government that has failed to create the environment for better research into the drug’s effectiveness and harmful qualities."

The case was brought forward by Matthew Mernagh, a 37-year-old man from St. Catharines, Ont., who couldn't find a doctor to approve his use of marijuana to relieve the symptoms of several illnesses, including fibromyalgia and scoliosis. He was charged with cultivating his own cannabis, charges that were also staid by Judge Taliano.

Several other medicinal users of the drug testified they faced similar problems, and that Health Canada would take months to process their applications.

Judge Taliano agreed with Mr. Mernagh's argument that criminally charging patients who had to resort to illegally buying cannabis amounted to a violation of their Charter right to liberty.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

UK: Barrow: NHS Suffolk decision leaves MS sufferer living in pain

UK: Barrow: NHS Suffolk decision leaves MS sufferer living in pain

By Natalie Hoodless
East Anglian Daily Times

Monday 11 Apr 2011

A LEADING doctor is appalled by a health trust's reluctance to prescribe a revolutionary new drug that could drastically improve an MS sufferer's quality of life.

NHS Suffolk says it is not convinced Sativex, a cannabis derivative that reduces pain and spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, is safe but Dr William Notcutt refutes the trust's claims and argues it is simply not prepared to spend the money.

"This is all about cost," said Dr Notcutt, a consultant in pain management who is based at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston.

"I think it is appalling, I really do. I have been battling to get Sativex used but the primary care trust have not really given the green light for its widespread use."

Sativex was licensed for use in June last year and NHS Suffolk told the EADT that while their GPs would not be prescribing the drug, patients who were prescribed it by a specialist would be able to obtain it through the hospital.

However, MS patient Diana Hunt, of Barrow, near Bury St Edmunds, has been told by her neurologist that she still cannot have the drug because the health trust will not fund it.

Mrs Hunt, a former teacher who is now unable to walk as a result of the debilitating illness, said: "Originally we were told by the pharmacist that patients would be able to obtain the drug if specialists prescribed it and my neurologist is prepared to prescribe it but NHS Suffolk won't pay for it.

"It doesn't make sense. They said they would pay for it one minute and then they said they wouldn't.

"I don't know anyone who has been able to get funding for it. My neurologist said the only way for me to get it is to pay for it myself.

"Even then, I would have to find someone who would oversee it and take responsibility."

Mrs Hunt explained the drug costs £11 per day, and she would have to pay for private medical fees on top of that.

She was diagnosed with MS in 1996 and now has the secondary progressive form of the debilitating illness.

"I am in constant pain, I wake up in the night with spasms and it is like having cramp all the time.

"It is not so bad during the day because you can think about other things but at night there is nothing to take your mind off it.

"This derivative of cannabis is sprayed under your tongue and is supposed to reduce the spasticity. It doesn't give you the hallucinations that street cannabis would. It could relieve some of my symptoms."

Mrs Hunt added: "I don't know if it will help me because I haven't tried it. I am not being given the chance to try it."

Defending the cost, Dr Notcutt explained the drug had been trialed for 10 years before being approved because of its cannabis content.

He added: "You can tell within two or three weeks if a patient will get benefits from it. It is almost impossible to tell if some drugs are working so it is easy to trial it for a patient."

Andrew Hassan, NHS Suffolk's medical director, said: "It is important that any new drugs are proven to be safe and effective. At present there is inadequate information to support the prescribing of Sativex as an effective treatment for symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Should new evidence emerge we will look again at prescribing guidelines for this drug."