Monday, 30 May 2011

Dutch Coffeeshop weedpass - is it justifiable?

Reports (1, 2, 3, 4) coming from The Netherlands over the last few months suggest that some Dutch politicians wish to restrict the entry into Coffeeshops (and tolerated purchase of cannabis).

The concept, which would effectively ban everyone except those with Dutch residency from entering a Coffeeshop seems to be based upon the idea that the Coffeeshops were originally tolerated in order to control cannabis in The Netherlands for the sake of the Dutch people.

Apart from the question of legality under European Law and Human Rights, that state that the treatment of all individuals must be equal and not based upon "property" (residence being property) one is forced to ask what sense there would be in such a move.

Of course, forcing the massive number of people that visit The Netherlands to be able to purchase and enjoy cannabis in comfort and safety, away from the world of crime and hard drugs would benefit only one section of society there - the criminals that would find a massive increase in potential customers on the streets of Dutch cities.

In reality any Dutch resident would be able to buy a "Weed Pass", enter a Coffeeshop and purchase cnanabis, that coule then be contaminated to boost profits when it is sold to "foreigners" at inflated prices on the streets - and of course those profits would be beyond the reach of the taxman.

Our Governments are supposed to act in the best interests of the people - yet how would such a ban help anyone except criminals?

Many Dutch people say that this is an on-going issue and a bluff!

The question remains, what sort of misguided and bigotted thinking could be behind the idea and why.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Re: Cannabis dangers are highlighted by judge

I was disappointed to read the comments of Karen Walden-Smith about cannabis ("Cannabis dangers are highlighted by judge", Essex Chronicle. 12 May).

Ms Walden-Smith said: ""Skunk, which was being grown, causes misery, with people who are fit and happy turned into shells of themselves."

In fact "skunk" is just one of many varieties of cannabis and it is a name incorrectly applied to most, although we can assume she is speaking about the stronger ones.

Reports from users show that the number of people that suffer bad effects is minute compared to the number of users that claim benefit - and that is under the present system of zero-tolerance prohibition.

What else would we expect but problems with a commodity not legally available yet used by at least ten per cent of the population?

Users must either grow it themselves and risk prison, or buy it from dealers whose crops are hidden away and uncontrollable - we don't know what chemicals they use or what they may add to boost profits.  Those commercial growers and dealers may offer other substances to their customers; they are unlikely to guarantee quality and their profits are not taxed.  And instead of a lower age limit (as in Dutch Coffeeshops) for customers, all one needs is a tenner for a deal.

Growing cannabis for sale is of course highly profitable and no matter how many crops are taken out by police, no matter how many growers or users are locked up, we can see that over the last 40 years prohibition has done nothing to help anyone.  The public purse suffers from these unsuccessful tactics.

How much better if it was grown under proper hygienic and safe conditions, legally, for sale to adults with proper guarantees to quality and good advice about use - and of course age restrictions.

It is undeniable - apart of court from by the cloth-eared Home Office that ignores the evidence - that cannabis is of medicinal benefit to many people and simply helps others to relax.

Chris Pegley, from the Essex Young Persons Drug and Alcohol Service, said "Some smokers function normally and are very sharp and intelligent, while some do turn into shells  - It all depends on the user."

So the real problems is with the users that do not get the accurate and credible advice that they deserve from their dealers.  This does not happen in Holland.

Ms Walden-Smith's comments could well be applied to alcohol - a drug far more addictive and damaging than cannabis - but would she take the breweries to court?

It is high time for a Government rethink.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cannabis Question In the House, 9th May 2011 (UK)

Sativex, The Cannabis Plant and Human Rights - the hypocrisy of the UK Government

SENT TO MY MP Chloe Smith, Conservative:

Dear Ms Smith

I wonder if you could ask the Home Office to explain this to us.

Sativex is a cannabis medicine produced by GW Pharmaceuticals and recognised by the UK Government - it is prepared by extracting cannabinoids into alcohol, with added peppermint for flavouring.

Sativex contains the same active ingredients and chemicals as does the cannabis plant itself.

Yet, in letters from the Home Office, they consistently deny that cannabis has any recognised medicinal uses in the UK - despite the fact that pure cannabis "bud" (the tops and heads of the plant) is prescribed in The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany - at least.

In fact, under the Schengen agreements, residents of those countries that have cannabis bud prescribed to them are entitled to bring their medication with them to the UK without fear of prosecution (they can presumably legally smoke it too), whereas residents of the UK that are prescribed cannabis in one of those countries, can not.  I am talking about herbal cannabis and Sativex can be prescribed here in the UK and therefore covered by the Schengen Agreement, I believe.

So my questions are;

why are residents of the UK treated differently at the UK borders in this respect?

is it not unlawful under Human rights law to treat people differently based upon their property (in this case residence)?

if the Government recognises that Sativex has medicinal value but insist that natural cannabis does not, which are the added ingredients in Sativex that give it those medical uses?

I would appreciate a rapid response (not a standard letter from the HO) as this matter concerns literally tens if not hundreds of thousands of people that could benefit from growing a couple of medicinal cannabis plants at home (at little cost) but risk prosecution because the Government refuses to acknowledge those benefits - and for those people it is a matter of urgency.

I would also point out that Sativex is presently so costly that the NHS refuse to supply it to all but a few patients.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Jail for cannabis user

CANNABIS user Darren Edge has been jailed after he breached a community order.
The order was put in place after Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard police found 41.1 grams of the class-B drug worth £175 and 19.4 grams worth £80 at the defendant's home in Dundee Road, Etruria, on October 22, 2009.
Joanne Wallbanks, mitigating, said Edge, aged 31, uses cannabis for pain relief but has reduced his intake.
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones re-sentenced Edge to five months in prison.
It doesn't sound like Mr Edge has harmed anyone due to his possession of cannabis or breach of the order - and in fact it may well be that he has little choice but you use cannabis to ease his pain .. so .. why has he been sent to prison - I cannot see how it can possibly be in the public interest and as Bob comments - at taxpayers expense

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Drug dealer avoids jail after arrest

So cannabis-supplier Martin Saunders was given a suspended sentence for £270 of cannabis and £190 cash ("Drug Dealer Avoids Jail After Arrest", May 4th)

A step in the right direction?

The cost of taking Mr Saunders to court was far in excess of the value of the cannabis and the money together - not counting the cost of the arrest itself, forensics etc.  Had he be sent to prison direct, it would cost us hundreds of pounds extra each week he served.  All a  burden carried by the taxpayer.

And the chances are that even if Mr Saunders stops selling cannabis, somebody else will step in to fill the small gap in the massive market.

How much better would it be if adults to go to controllable cannabis shops, where credible advice would be available along with quality control and separation from crime and hard drug.

What is more - the profits would be taxable and that revenue would go into the public purse instead of spending billions annually fighting a losing battle.

Let's face it, the vast majority of cannabis consumers choose to use the plant because they either find medicinal relief from their health problems otherwise not adequately dealt with by pills from the chemists - or else they simply enjoy the effect.  This will not stop.

Those that find such benefits, so long as they do no harm to others, deserve the protection of the law; those that experience negative effects deserve the attentions of doctors, not law men.

We just need to wake the Government up to this FACT.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Wheelchair-bound 73-year-old 'used cannabis to ease pain in his legs'

How strange and unjust that a UK court will punish a man that has used a plant product to try to ease his pains and done no harm to anyone else .("Wheelchair-bound 73-year-old 'used cannabis to ease pain in his legs', Bristol Evening Post, 2 May)

Euvil Smith from St Pauls was arrested in February at his home in Byron Street for the second time in three years after police executed a search warrant. He pleaded guilty at Bristol Magistrates Court on Wednesday but was given a conditional discharge after the court heard about his medical condition.

In other words, if Mr Smith uses the cannabis plant to ease his pains and gets caught by police again (in his own home), he risks prison.

So, instead, to secure his continued freedom from prison if not freedom from the pain, he is going to have to use doctors and expensive pharmaceutical alternatives - which may or may not be as effective - and which may well be considerably more dangerous with unpleasant side-effects.

So who pays and who profits?

The taxpayer pays - both for the arrest and court procedure and criminal justice system employees and for the pills from the doctor.

Who gains - well of course the police and court officials that get paid - and then the shareholders of the drug companies.

Who loses?   Mr Smith and the taxpayers.