Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Published Letter: Law Must Be Changed - Liverpool Echo

I READ your article Cannabis: what you need to know ( ECHO, July 21) with great interest.

About cannabis you reported: “smoking cannabis holds the same risks as smoking a normal cigarette. Psychologically, is to reported to cause anxiety and paranoia in some users.

“The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs found a ‘probable but weak causal link between psychotic illness and cannabis use’. Cannabis is not chemically addictive.”

So I have to ask why the Government is pending billions of pounds taxpayers’ money trying to stop people growing and using it. Why are they so set at treating cannabis users differently to people that choose to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, both known to be dangerous and addictive to some people and with a definite causal link between booze and psychotic illness.

Clearly the law is wrong and the lawmakers have some explaining to do.

Alun Buffry, by email

Ref: http://www.ccguide.org/news/shownewsarticle.php?articleid=16412


Liverpool Echo, July 26 2011

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Cannabis: what you need to know


I read your article "Cannabis: what you need to know, Echo. July 23) with great interest.

About cannabis you reported:

"Aside from a raised heart rate and a feeling of hunger (“the munchies”), most effects are psychological. Getting stoned makes people feel relaxed with time passing slower and a greater awareness of sounds and colours which sometimes brings on fits of giggles.

"What are the risks?

"Physically, smoking cannabis holds the same risks as smoking a normal cigarette. Psychologically, is to reported to cause anxiety and paranoia in some users.

"The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs found a “probable but weak causal link between psychotic illness and cannabis use”. Cannabis is not chemically addictive."

.... so I have to ask why the Government is pending BILLIONS of taxpayers' money trying to stop people growing and using it - why are they so set at treating cannabis users different to people that choose to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, bot known to be dangerous and addictive to some people and with a definite causal link between booze and psychotic illness.

Clearly the law is wrong and the lawmakers have some explaining to do

Alun Buffry

This brief comment sent to the Liverpool Echo at letters@liverpoolecho.co.uk  in response to the article quoted below:

Liverpool Echo, July 21 2011 
Cannabis: what you need to know

Where does it come from?

It is estimated that around 80% of cannabis smoked in the UK is homegrown, either in small clusters of plants by individuals or more industrial-scale cannabis farms.

The rest is imported resin from North Africa, which comes in through Europe.

How pure is it?

Forensic tests suggest that homegrown cannabis is about two-and-a-half times stronger than imported resin. Unlike other drugs, cannabis is very rarely cut with other substances.

In 2007, “gritweed” – cannabis sprayed with tiny glass particles – made its way into the European and UK markets.

The glass was intended to give the impression of cannabis which was sticky and so super-strong, but smokers complained of damage to their throats and lungs and it soon disappeared.

How many users?

The last count estimated there were more than 1m regular cannabis users aged 16-24 in the UK. That figure was doubled for the 16-59 age group. Just under 10m 16 to 59-year-olds admitted to using it in their lifetimes.

How much does it cost?

Average UK prices per quarter ounce of standard quality herbal resin were around £30 in 2010. For good-quality leaf, the average price rose to about £50 while for normal resin, dealers charged, on average, £21. An average street deal is worth about £10.

What are the effects?

Aside from a raised heart rate and a feeling of hunger (“the munchies”), most effects are psychological. Getting stoned makes people feel relaxed with time passing slower and a greater awareness of sounds and colours which sometimes brings on fits of giggles.

What are the risks?

Physically, smoking cannabis holds the same risks as smoking a normal cigarette. Psychologically, is to reported to cause anxiety and paranoia in some users.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs found a “probable but weak causal link between psychotic illness and cannabis use”. Cannabis is not chemically addictive.


In 2009, cannabis was “implicated” in the deaths of 26 people, but almost always mixed in with other substances.

Source: DrugScope

Read More http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2011/07/21/cannabis-what-you-need-to-know-100252-29092231/#ixzz1Sw3hyTuu

Monday, 18 July 2011

Questioning the Application of the Law (on cannabis)

My question is whether it is a correct decision to prosecute a person that grows cannabis for medicinal benefit - the decision having been made by police and CPS,  who are both free to decide not to prosecute - can it be a MISAPPLICATION of the law?

Certainly there are obvious cases where it would be a Mis-Application of the law to prosecute somebody even though they may have broken several major laws - many of these cases are when the unlawful action was deemed to have been a "necessity" .

Imagine, for example, a man who spots a house on fire, kicks in the door, smashes into a room, and tries to rescue a person that struggles, so he knocks them unconscious and carries them out to safety.  Clearly it would be a bad decision - resulting in a mis-application of the law - to prosecute for breaking and entering, criminal damage or assault!

An obvious choice.

To come back to the cannabis (drugs) issue; would it be a correct decision to apply the law to a teacher who has confiscated a drug from a student with the intend of handing it to a higher authority?  Or a policemen handling cannabis in the course of his duty?  forensic scientist likewise.  Of course to prosecute them would not be seen either as in the public interest or a correct application of law.

Although Government legislation grants license (permission) to possess, cultivate or supply cannabis under strict criteria, I am not talking about them.

In cases such as the teacher - or any person claiming to have, for example, found drugs on the street - it is up to the police and CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) - and their legal advisers -  to decide to prosecute (apply the law) or not, and must be up to a higher court in cases undecided?

Police and CPS clearly need to consider issues such as whether a court case would be in the public interest - whether anyone suffered damage, whether the property of others was damaged or taken, whether the interests of public health, national security, public order or the Rights of others had been threatened.

In considering the case of a person that is arrested and charged with cultivation of cannabis, clearly growing cannabis in their private dwelling for their own beneficial use, I am forced to ask would such a prosecution be a correct Application of the law?

Surely, the law (Misuse of Drugs Act) cannot possibly have been intended to prevent people from growing and possessing cannabis for their own medicinal benefit in their PRIVATE lives?

If there is no question of supply our of the cannabis being outside the private dwelling, posed no threat to public health, public order, the rights of others or national security, means that the use of the law to prosecute for possession does not fall within the criteria of Human Rights law that allows authorities to interfere with one's Rights to a Private Life, to one's own choice (and practice) of religion or belief.

The cost to the public for this prosecution makes it doubtful that it is in the public interest for it is of not public benefit - especially as repeat offending is highly probable given the dire medical conditions.

In all cases, the decision to prosecute - whether to apply the law - must lie not with the politicians but with the police, CPS and courts - it is for them to rule on the applications on the law.

Given the above points, I conclude that the prosecution of a person for small-scale cultivation of cannabis for own medicinal benefit is a mis-application of the law.

Such prosecutions and the question of application of the law must be considered by authorities on all levels.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Licences to grow cannabis in the UK for personal use?

In a reply to a letter from Des Humphrey, Sylvia.Williams (Sylvia.Williams@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk ) of the
Home Office Drugs Licensing and Compliance Unit, Drugs Alcohol and Partnership Directorate, says

"The Misuse of Drugs (Designation) Order 2001 also restricts the licit use of cannabis to possession for research or “other special purposes”. Home Office policy with regard to “other special purposes” in this case is to permit cultivation of cannabis plants with a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content for the production of hemp fibre for industrial purposes or the obtaining of seeds which are then, for example, pressed for their oil. For both of these uses, there needs to be a defined commercial end use. The Home Office only licences plants grown for these purposes from EU approved seed types with a THC content not exceeding 0.2%.

"Controlled drug Licences can be issued to individuals or companies; Cannabis cultivation licenses are no exception."

She goes on to say:

"On the basis of the information you give it is highly unlikely that a domestic premises undertaking the activity you propose would be considered suitable for licensing."

A footnote adds: "The opinions expressed in this message are personal and are in no way an official view of the Home Office; neither should they be considered to be an indication of Home Office Policy."On consideration of that reply, my comment is:

they insinuate that licenses are only given for cultivation on low THC hemp for seed for oil or for fibre BUT
as well as it being possible also within the present law to allow the cultivation of the same plant for other uses such as fuel ....
they make no mention that they ALSO allow cultivation of high-level THC / CBD cannabis by the likes of GW and I suspect several universities
So they have ruled and specified that licenses have been given and can be given to those, but try to put you off applying, saying simply "it is highly unlikely that a domestic premises undertaking the activity you propose would be considered suitable for licensing. "
They also say "The opinions expressed in this message are personal and are in no way an official view of the Home Office; neither should they be considered to be an indication of Home Office Policy."
In other words, it is just an opinion and does not necessarily hone office policy - they are simply telling you not to waste your time - i would say go ahead and apply (of course)
The Home Office decision should be based upon questioning the APPLICATION of law. THEY decide when not to apply the law, that is, when to license (To allow what is otherwise prohibited)
And the PURPOSE of the law must be considered when looking at how and when it is applied
They must obviously think it wrong to apply the ban on cases that they give licenses to.
My CASE for you is that it is wrong to apply the law for small-scale cultivation for person beneficial use. - the law cannot have been made for that purpose - therefor they OUGHT to grant licences.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Stop the Death Sentence for Cannabis - Petition

It's almost unbelievable that some countries that are members of the UN still execute people for cannabis offences, often for amounts less than held by Dutch Coffeeshops, Spanish Cannabis Social Clubs or Californian Clinics.

Although the most well know of these countries that give out the death sentence for cannabis-only "offences" such as trafficking are Malaysia and China, altogether there are over a dozen more.   Malaysia kills dozens - nobody even has any idea how many are killed in China because they don't release the figures.

We're talking cannabis here - the plant that has so many uses and that was used without problem for centuries - certainly since the times of the ancient Chinese and Egyptians.

Today we are hearing more and more on the internet about the medicinal uses of cannabis (seemingly still ignored by press, Governments and Pharmaceutical drug companies.

Although cannabis is well-known to ease the symptoms of ailments and pains caused by Multiple Sclerosis, Injury, epilepsy, glaucoma and even everyday stress recent revelations of how using cannabis has been effective in treating tumours and cancers including skin cancers, autism and many other problems - and it seems that government may have known about this for over 30 years.

The possible use of cannabis as a cheap and safe fuel, as a source of fibre for making everything from rope to bricks, from canvasses to paints, from oils to foodstuff - makes us ask why the ban?

That the possession, cultivation and supply such a plant is prohibited - that such a source of fuel, medicine, food and fibre is denied - cannot surely be to stop people getting "high"?

And to lock people away for years for producing or distributing the crop cannot be justified - to execute them is a crime against everything decent in the world.

That is why I wanted to see a boycott or holidays and buying goods and services from these countries, letters to their embassies, and now a world-wide petition - to STOP THESE EXECUTIONS.

I am not saying that the death penalty for anything else is justifiable - just focusing on this issue

I encourage all to sign this petition and spread this message widely.  We can but try.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

UNJUST that Carlisle man Alex Steventon has been punished for trying to relieve his back pain

It is totally UNJUST that Carlisle man Alex Steventon has been punished for trying to relieve his back pain ("Carlisle back-pain man grew cannabis for pain relief", News & Star, July 9).

Mr Steventon apparently grew cannabis at home and used it for pain relief in preference to the risky pain killers with possible dreadful side-effects, produced by the highly-profitable pharmaceutical companies.

Mr Steventon was fined £100 for the production offence and ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a £15 victim surcharge.

On top of everything else, despite the fact that he seemed not to have actually done any harm to anyone, he is made to pay a "victims surcharge" - it is Mr Steventon that is the victim of an unjust law.

Alun Buffry

News and Star, Carlisle, July 9 2011
Carlisle back-pain man grew cannabis for pain relief

A Cumbrian man who suffered from rheumatism and back pain after a car crash started growing cannabis for pain relief.
City magistrates heard how 31-year-old Alex Steventon, of Carlisle, was in “severe and constant pain” after an accident in 2007 and prescribed medicine did not help.
Defence solicitor Geoff Clapp said Steventon, of Vasey Crescent, off Greystone Road, looked on the internet to see how to grow cannabis from seed.
“It was purely for medical use as pain relief,” Mr Clapp said.
Prosecutor Adrienne Harris said police went to Steventon’s home on June 24 on an unrelated matter but, when he answered the door, he asked them if they had “come about the cannabis”.
Officers found a room with specialised lighting and heating, plus drug paraphernalia. He pleaded guilty to the production of Class B drug cannabis, and possession of the drug when he appeared before magistrates.
Steventon was fined £100 for the production offence and ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a £15 victim surcharge. There was no separate penalty for possession.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Recovering alcoholic said he planted seeds because drug was 'too expensive'

Mr Willey ought to be congratulated not punished for staying off the booze and staying away from drug dealers.

Had it been any other plant, he probably would have - but as it was cannabis, one of the most versatile, efficacious plants on earth with thousands of beneficial uses, he could have been given an award.

Clearly he did no harm so why has he been punished? What a stupid and unjust law!!

Source: Surrey Today & Dorking Advertiser
July 8 2011
A GARDENER was caught growing more than 300 cannabis plants – after he invited police into his home about another matter.
Martin Willey, 45, will have to do community work after cultivating the drug, which was discovered after he reported a person missing and officers visited his Capel home.
Mr Willey appeared at Redhill Magistrates' Court, where he admitted one charge of producing 306 Class B cannabis plants.
He told the court that he called the police regarding the whereabouts of his partner, who suffers from bipolar disorder and has tried to commit suicide.
The recovering alcoholic had been looking after his partner's child and even taking him along to some of his gardening jobs, but had been finding life increasingly tough.
He said: "I have been dry for three years and two months now, so I know that I cannot touch the drink, but by God sometimes I need a smoke."
The defendant pleaded guilty to growing the plants, saying that he had turned to growing cannabis because he could not afford the street price of the drug.
Mr Willey said: "I used to buy cannabis, to be honest, but it has got so expensive. All I did was plant a few seeds, I wasn't really expecting anything to come of them."
He was found to have a hydroponics system and all the paraphernalia to cultivate cannabis in his home, but none of the plants had yet been harvested.
Chairman of the bench Tudor Thomas told Mr Willey: "The cannabis had not been harvested and we have no reason to believe that you had the intention of selling on the drug. However, your actions cannot go unpunished and we sentence you to 140 hours' unpaid work in the community. We understand that you are sorry and urge you to draw a line under this offence and move on with your life."
Mr Willey, now of Killicks, Cranleigh, was also ordered to pay court costs of £87.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Cannabis and Drugs Policy and Activism across Europe (ENCOD General Assembly report)

These are the impressions I got of the cannabis (and drug) situations and activism in several countries around Europe represented by people at the ENCOD conference in Prague on June 24th.

20 Years ago the law became more severe against hard drugs - previous to that small scale possession was not prosecuted. In 2000, drug users once again raised their voices against Government policy and harm reduction became an issue. But government resist campaigners and prohibition momentum is still building – there is little sympathy for drug users.


Cannabis is available as a medicine but few people are able to get it from The Netherlands due to expense. Press reports about medicinal cannabis are mostly limited to Sativex, otherwise it is blocked.. Recently a pro-cannabis petition raised 20,000 signatures, the largest mobilisation for 10 years – and people are now waiting for a response. Parliament presently calling for intrusive drug testing procedures. There has been no political comment on the Global Commission on Drugs report..

In public surveys, 35% of people want on-the-spot fines for small-scale possession and 60% want the law changed. In reply to a question on which is more dangerous, alcohol or cannabis, 60% said alcohol and of those 30% , 90% want no change to the law. There is a strong correlation between what people think on dangers and what they think on changing the law.

On usage of cannabis, 24% of 18 to 60 year-olds admit lifetime consumption but only 4% admit consumption within the last year.

80% voted to legalise medical marijuana (the plant) and 20% say health insurance should pay


In 2008 there were 2 votes re drug law. 100,000 people signed to support an initiative to legalise cannabis but this was rejected by the Government although proposals to make heroin available to “addicts” was approved. Now some medicinal use of drugs is accepted, small-scale possession is decriminalised although one has to pay a fine if caught outside of home.

THC will be limited to 1% from July although this is uncertain and may be delayed – on farms producing essential oils..

Cantons outside the big cities want legalisation and some cities want legal distribution. Activists are hoping that some plants may be allowed within the home under new regulations.


The situation is unclear after the election of a right-wing government that wants to limit consumption – hence the government minister proposal to introduce the “weed pass”, and increase in limit allowed for distance of a Coffeeshop from a school (from 250 to 350 metres). There is a call to review the classification of drugs and to raise the classification of cannabis, or some forms. This is due for debate in the autumn and consultation with users and Coffeeshops is planned for September.

At the moment there is no general weed pass but proof of age is requested at many Coffeeshops.


Trek Uw Plant is developing and expanding based upon the Cannabis Social Clubs proposals and structure for shared cultivation. - there have been major articles in mainstream magazines with 200,000 readers. The present idea is 1 plant per adult with 20 grams collected at the end of the growing season, and Trek Uw Plant has 48 members.

There has been an increase in public debate, also a big increase in cultivation and prosecutions.


New policing has put a limit on the quantity possessed before prosecution – this stands at 5 plants or 15 grams – above that there will be a fine.

There were two cannabis fairs last year with a lot of interest generated, in Prague.


Possession of drugs is decriminalised but police formalities often mean attending a Commission at a drug counselling centre – then usually nothing happens..

But the future is uncertain after the election of a right-wing Government.


The Government says it has no intention of changing the law – they admit to knowing about Cannabis Social Clubs but they have no proposals to do anything. Elections are due soon.. The successful scheme to prescribe heroin has been forgotten.

There has been an “invasion” of big-money people into the Cannabis Social Club concept leading to the construction of “fake CSC's) – it is claimed tat some seed companies are trying to create a façade to sell. For example, in Barcelona a CSC had 20 members but after one month had 5000 members so it can no longer be said to be a “closed circle”.

So genuine CSC's have been trying to promote official regulations to, for example, increase transparency and bring the produce under police control, introduce taxes and limits on production and membership.

About 50% of the Basque Government support CSC's and there exists a possibility to create a working group within the Government to introduce regulations.

The actual number of CSC's in Spain is unknown, it may be in the hundreds, but there are only 30 in the Federation of CSC's as many are false. In Catalonia there are many fake clubs openly breaking the rules and the law. This has created some alarm amongst activists that there may be a public outcry. Police reaction varies from region to region.

Activists feel that there is a need to control clubs and check they are staying within regulations.


Recently there has been much more debate on drug policy and an effort to promote safe injecting rooms, but the Government shows little concern. Cities like Bordeaux and Marseilles have shown an interest in experimenting with changes.

In the Million Marijuana March 15 groups participated this year, in 10 cities.

In January 2011, France showed a TV documentary “If we legalised cannabis” based upon the situations in USA, Portugal and The Netherlands.

Several new political parties are stating their positions and there are many calls for access to medicinal marijuana..

It is hoped that we can introduce some debate during the run up to the 2012 elections.

Media has shown little interest in the Cannabis Social clubs proposals and nobody seems to want to talk about home growing or excluding cannabis from drugs policy.

But although 5 years ago there was no public debate about cannabis or hemp allowed, this is changing and there have been several major articles in the popular press



Cannabis Social Clubs Proposal Petition http://www.petitiononline.com/CSC2011/petition.html

Cannabis Social Clubs group on Facebook

Cannabis Campaigner's Guide

Cannabis News

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

New Zealand Courts miss the target on Justice on Cannabis Carer?

Although pleased to read that Peter Davy has not been sent to prison (although he will imprisoned in his own home under detention) I would hate to be in his position - as would most people.

Now he has to decide whether to risk the criminal world and try to buy some, or to risk prison by growing it again.

What a terrible choice New Zealand Law without Justice has put upon this man and what an unenviable position he is now in.

For sure as Mr Davy said, a discharge would have been better - it would also have been FAR more just

Cannabis grower's partner pleased to see him home
Source 3News.co.nz
Date: July 6 2011
By Anna Burns-Francis

A cannabis grower who threatened to go on hunger strike if he was jailed will spend the next six months on home detention - and his partner's delighted he's coming home.
Peter Davy was growing 45 rare cannabis plants in his backyard, but says he was only growing the plants for medicinal purposes - to help his chronically ill partner, Tracey Perrin.
Before court he reiterated that he was prepared to go on a hunger strike if sent to jail - in protest that he wouldn't be able to care for Ms Perrin, who has multiple sclerosis.
Ms Perrin is “truly thrilled” at the home detention, and is relieved her partner’s home tonight.
“For him to come home, it's the absolute best, it truly is,” she says.
One of Davy’s supporters, Jasmine Hewlett, says the outcome is “just fantastic”.
“Convicted and discharged would have been better but in all reality home detention ...he can look after Tracey, get on with their lives,” she says.
The judge has warned Davy that jail's a real possibility if he's back in court again.


Saturday, 2 July 2011

What if Cannabis Was "Legalised"?

Before even considering this, I feel it is essential to point out that it is not cannabis itself that is illegal – it is the possession, cultivation (production) and supply without a license, that is banned. The law is against the people that wish to use the plant to their benefit.

The lame Government excuse I've heard throughout 20 years of campaigning, for not changing the law, is that they believe use would go up – they then go on to tell us blatant lies that cannabis is a dangerous drug and causes this or that problem with people, whilst denying the medicinal and other advantages.

The Government speculates use and therefore harm will go up. I have heard many cannabis campaigners say that it won't, but there I disagree – use will go up – I HOPE SO – simply because the very vast majority of users benefit from the plant and many more will benefit if they can grow or buy cannabis legally. If the vast majority of new users benefit, in comparison the number of those that suffer damage associated with cannabis use will be small and they can seek help sooner without fear of being busted. Because quality will improve and the criminal element removed, all users will benefit from clean cannabis and we will see an end to that disgusting “grit weed” and “soap bar”, that itself causes damage.

My argument is that the overall benefit to society would far outweigh the risk of more harm.

So I'd like to dream for a while, what the world would be like if the law is changed to allow personal possession and cultivation – maybe licensed production and supply to adults.

There's an estimated 5 million cannabis smokers in the UK with at least that many again that have tried it. That means technically some 10 million people in Britain alone, almost 25% of the adult population, are criminalised – many “break the law” daily, out of necessity or choice – and most of them live in dread and stress for fear of that knock on the door, court case and criminal record. How many have respect for the law-makers when they daily live under fear of the law even though they are not actually doing any harm? Millions!

Perhaps strangely and surely hypocritically, our own Prime Minister, David Cameroon and many politicians, along with high-powered businessmen, sportsmen and women and other professionals, and a massive proportion of those involved with the entertainment industry, are included amongst those once-upon-a-time users. And considering most cannabis users share their smokes, technically they were all guilty of supply too.. Now and then they raise their voice against this law but I cannot say I have seen much help for the cannabis campaign, from them, ever.

So, of course, those so- called “medicinal” and “recreational” users (a vague distinction in many cases) would immediately benefit if the law is changed, as they will then be free to grow and possess cannabis without fear of arrest. And if adult supply centres such as cannabis shops or cannabis clubs / cafés are allowed, those that cannot grow their own will have a safe environment, away from crime and hard drugs, with consumer protection, quality control and cleanliness guaranteed. No more back street drug dealers.

The immediate knock on effect will be easing of the burden on the police and courts, the revenue taxation of profits presently being avoided by criminal suppliers and a saving of billions of pounds a year of taxpayers money presently used to fight and unjustifiable and unenforceable law.

Cannabis as a legal alternative to people that over-indulge in alcohol; cannabis available medicinally to replace so many pharmaceutical drugs with risks of side-effects (and drugs to counteract those side-effects) – the feel-good factor!

Take the case of students and young people.  When we reach the age of 18 we are allowed to buy and consume alcohol on licensed premises - despite the fact that it causes so much grief, violence, illness, absenteeism, accidents and premature death - but of course huge profits are made and revenue gained.  At that age most of us want somewhere to go to meet people, and there is little alternative to drinking.  That leads to drinking competitions and binges, and my experience is that there is plenty of that, at least when I was that age.  I certainly over-consumed more than once, and fortunately, I survived.  The problem with alcohol is that it warps one's judgement, and not only did I ignore warnings that i was getting too drunk, if they were ever given, but once when having been asked to look after the car keys so my mate did not drive whilst drunk, I almost got into a fight when he demanded them back - and he too was very drunk.  One only has to visit an inner city at night to see the fights that do happen, fuelled by booze.  But show me a Dutch Coffeeshop where people end up fighting!  Had there been Coffeeshops when I was 18, I think I would have been visiting them and meeting the sort of people I really wanted to meet, not fellow drunks.

Incidentally I have met a few people that have successfully used cannabis to overcome their addiction to booze.  For most people booze and weed do not mix well.

But the breweries, distilleries and off-licenses are not the only people that fear that more people using cannabis would detrimentally effect their profits.  We also face opposition from drug companies and suppliers - both legal and illegal.

Those drug suppliers that offer oft-inferior quality and contaminated cannabis along with hard drugs, whether on the streets, from houses or in clubs, do not relish the thought that their cannabis customers may have somewhere to buy legally - what will they do if they can't get the trade?  hence the vast majority refuse to support efforts to change the law.

Then there's those drug companies that produce pills and potions to "heal" us, or at least ease the symptoms - although of course their drugs often cause bad side-effects so we need more drugs to counteract those effects.  I have met people taking literally dozens of pills daily, at quite a cost to the NHS - and at least some of them, when resorting to a more efficacious substance called cannabis, are able to stop taking many of the pills at all.  Multiple Sclerosis sufferers amongst them.

How strange that GW Pharmaceuticals are able to produce "Sativex", a solution of cannabis in alcohol with a hint of peppermint, to treat MS and pain.  GW say that sativex is Sativex is a whole plant medicinal cannabis extract containing TetranabinexTM (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) and NabidiolexTM (cannabidiol or CBD) as its principal components. The medicine is administered by means of a spray into the mouth.   Yet the UK Government deny the medicinal value of cannabis presumably trying to convey that if dissolved in alcohol (THC is not soluble in water) it suddenly gains value!

So natural cannabis is apparently value-less as a medicine, but available as a medicine if dissolved in alcohol and made into a spray. What nonsense!

That would be bad enough - sufferers of MS being prosecuted for growing the same plant at home that GW grows in warehouses - if limited to MS.

But the list of health problems that are eased by cannabis goes far beyond that.  Here are some examples of where natural cannabis can help: treating cancers and tumours, relieving side effects such as nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy, pain, glaucoma, migraine, epilepsy, rheumatic pains, depression and mood disorders, bipolar, asthma, insomnia, loss of appetite, tinnitus - it can help with anti-microbial effects, dystonias, Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, Chron's Disease, diabetic gastroparesis, psuedotumour cerebri, phantom limb pain, post traumatic stress disorder - and of course stress itself.

Let me also emphasis that for those that choose not to smoke (cannabis is far safer and more effective when NOT mixed with tobacco), cannabis can be consumed using vaporisers, or added to food or drinks (just dissolve in hot oil or butter - or even alcohol as does GW - to extract the essentials, and test dose gradually).  So, although there is no actual evidence that smoking pure cannabis cooly causes lung problems, those that are concerned have alternatives

Cannabis users and non-users alike will benefit both through their physical and financial well-being.. It all seems so obvious to me.

But it doesn't stop there.

It doesn't stop there because cannabis is much more than a drug, if indeed it is strictly a drug at all (not being toxic, addictive, hallucinogenic, stimulant or narcotic).

Cannabis is a PLANT – a quite remarkable plant, and every part of it has a potential use – thousands of products can be made (and disposed of) in environmentally-friendly ways replacing many chemical products we depend on in our lives – from foodstuff to packaging, fuel to plastics, from paper to clothes, and much more. See http://www.ccguide.org/manyuses.php

Cannabis aka Hemp is one of the most versatile plants on the planet. It has been used since prehistoric times. It has been used throughout history until the first quarter of the twentieth century. It’s production was then mostly prohibited. This was at the same time that large American pharmaceutical and petrochemical companies were ready to replace hemp with synthetics ranging from diesel to nylon, plastic to drugs. This has produced huge profits for these companies at the cost of the environment and of personal freedom.

Hemp has been grown for its fibre, for its seeds and for the tops, heads, flowers and leaves.

The fibrous parts of the hemp plant are the stringy threads which come from the stalk and the woody part of the stalk itself, which is called the hurd.

The fibres can be used to produce paper, sails, rope, clothes, shoes, nets, building materials like bricks and chipboard, packing material, animal and human bedding, furniture and even lace. It can also be used to produce blocks or charcoal for burning.

The seeds can be used as a human and animal food (it is more nutritious than Soya) and for oil. The oil can be used as a salad dressing, as fuel for lamps and engines (the original Model T Ford was designed to run on hemp fuel). It can also be used to make lubricants, paint, sealant, varnish, lotions, ointments, lacquer and soap.

The tops and heads, along with some leafy material, can be used as a sacrament, a medicine and as a recreational substance.

Many experts blame the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere primarily on the use of fossil fuels. Biofuels, over time, would actually help restore the level of CO^2 to a safer level. Acid rain is caused by sulphur being released into the atmosphere by industry. Fossil fuels contain sulphur and are a major source of this problem. Biofuels do not release sulphur into the atmosphere. Chemicals are causing the ozone layer to disappear. Hemp cannot solve this but it can withstand the increased radiation better than pine trees, soya beans and other plants.

_Excerpted from 'Energy Farming in America', by Lynn Osborne_.

“Biomass conversion to fuel has been proven economically feasible, first in laboratory tests and by continuous operation of pilot plants in field tests since 1973. When the energy crop is growing it takes [carbon dioxide] from the air, so when it is burned the CO2 is released, creating a balanced system.

“Biomass is the term used to describe all biologically produced matter. “

“Hemp is the number one biomass producer on planet earth: 10 tons per acre in approximately four months. It is a woody plant containing 77% cellulose. Wood produces 60% cellulose. “

_From 'The Report of The FCDA Europe' by Kenn and Joanna d'Oudney, Fourth Edition, ISBN 0 9524421 1 6._
See http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1902848071/webbooks05

"The Cannabis Biomass Energy Equation (CBEE) demonstrates for the first time on record that fuel-energy sourced from the renewable, pollution-free resource of flora in the form of Cannabis Sativa, achieves uniquely economical replacement of fuels, and has always been so. There has not been this century, a single ecologically-pertinent fact, theory or postulation embodying practicable potentials as beneficial to the planet and the well-being of its people as those of the CBEE, given practical application in the CBRPF [Cannabis Biomass Resource and Pyrolysis Functions]; this formulation resolves Mankind's most crucial predicament in macro-Economics and Ecology to have arisen since the incipience of The Industrial revolution."

see also Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy: Emperor Wears No Clothes

Hemp and other biofuels can safely, cleanly and completely replace both - no more oil spills, oil fires, radiation leaks or nuclear meltdowns. The hidden costs of these industries - subsidies, military costs of protecting oil fields, clean-up costs and health costs borne by society - are not paid for at the pump, they are added onto tax, insurance and health care bills, and oil wars, such as the Gulf War in 1991. We, the people, still pay all the costs, they are merely hidden from us. When these hidden costs are taken into account, biofuels are much more economical.

As a foodstuff, hemp seed is one of the most complete sources of vegetable nutrition known to man. It is a source of high quality protein containing all of the essential amino acids in nutritionally significant amounts. Hemp seed oil is a rich source of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) - important for optimum health in the body. In the last hundred years we have learnt that Minerals & Vitamins are essential for our health - it is now considered that EFA's constitute the final part of the health triumvirate. Luckily hemp has significant amounts of all three. Not only that, but the nutrition in hemp comes in the most optimum ratio and also most easily digested

See http://www.thehempshop.co.uk/cat-1.htm

Being so easy to produce almost anywhere in the world, hemp seed offers a powerful part-solution to world hunger: people could grow their own plants even in poor soil, produce their own medicines, fibres, oils, fuels and seed for food – THAT would save countless lives – if indeed that is what the world powers seek. I wonder if it is?

See http://www.ratical.org/renewables/hempseed2.html

So the potential result of the removal of cannabis possession, cultivation ans supply – the “freeing-up” of cultivation of hemp for industrial uses, will be a happier, cleaners society.

So the only question we need to ask is: why do successive Governments just say NO?

I sincerely wish I knew the real answer to that question.  I can only surmise that they have secret reasons, probably financial and concerns over loss of power through loss of votes.

Interestingly, a couple of years back to Legalise Cannabis Alliance (now called "Cannabis Law Reform", a political party but with different structure and policies) issues a postcard to be sent to Labour telling them that if they raised cannabis back to a class B drug, we would not vote for them - they went ahead, then they lost the election.  So 5 million tokers had their say - unfortunately the result was the present coalition that is no better.

Beyond speculation, looking at the reasons that the Government give for not changing the law on cannabis, they cite international treaty and their fear that it would mean increased availability, increased use and increased harm - although they have no evidence to back that up.

A document called "Cannabis: Challenging the Criminal Justice System" produced by Don Barnard and Alun Buffry and sent to the Labour Government, along with hundreds of MP's, initiated the following response from Caroline Flynn MP, then in the Home Office:
"The public discussion document ... represents a carefully considered examination of what I believe you would accept is a complex, multi-faceted issue.
"I accept that you have fairly reflected the main requirements of the UN Conventions, which govern these matters internationally and which largely underpin the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. These provisions provide signatories to the Conventions with a fair degree of flexibility. The United Kingdom Government exercises that flexibility responsibly at every level, having regard both to the terms of the Conventions and to the impact of our legislative actions at home as well as on the international community.

"Central to our thinking is the importance of protecting the health and welfare of the British public. We have taken the view that prohibition is the most appropriate means of doing this. The Government has no intention of either decriminalising or legalising cannabis (or any other currently controlled drug) for recreational purposes.

"Our view is that cannabis is a controlled drug for good reasons. In recommending the reclassification of cannabis, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which, as you know, advises the Home Secretary on such matters, asked for it to be clearly understood that cannabis is unquestionably harmful. It has a number of acute and chronic health effects and can induce dependence. It clearly makes sense therefore for it to remain a controlled drug whose unauthorised production (including cultivation), supply and possession are and will remain illegal.

"To decriminalise or legalise the possession of cannabis for personal consumption would send the wrong message to the majority of young people who do not take drugs on a regular basis, if at all, with the potential risk of increased drug use and abuse. Our target is to reduce the use of all illegal drugs - including cannabis - substantially and the consequent drain upon the health services that would result from increased consumption due to more ready access to increased supply. While our drugs laws cannot be expected to eliminate drug misuse, there is no doubt that they do help to limit use and deter experimentation.

"The Government is aware of the arguments for legalising cannabis in a regulated way and has concluded that the disadvantages would outweigh the benefits. A substantial increase in consumption of cannabis (largely by smoking) could have significant implications for public health. Also, unilateral action on the Government's part would undoubtedly encourage unwanted drug tourism to this country in the event that there were no similar move to legalise internationally. At a time when we are doing much to try to reduce the use of tobacco and alcohol due to ever greater concerns about their safety, it would be perverse to take the huge gamble with public health that would be involved in legalising cannabis."

see http://www.ccguide.org/lca/challengeintro.php

Considering the misery, poverty, illness, crime and pollution caused by cannabis prohibition, not only do they need to be asked – they need to be indicted for Crimes Against Humanity


Alun Buffry

as published in latest addition of ISMOKE Magazine Issue 6 http://www.ismokemag.co.uk/issue-6/