Thursday, 13 December 2012

Give us more good cannabis! Not Criminal Convictions

There is talk of "help" being offered to "drug users" instead of punishment - presumably those drug users without victims and those with victims may still be punished for "other" crimes? 

" I don’t see why those convicted of drug offences cannot be offered medical and therapeutic help, where appropriate as an alternative to fines or custody." - says one MP

But cannabis is itself "medical and therapeutic help" for most users - so what will they do with us?

Answer: what they ought to do - give us more good cannabis!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Another Royal Commission on drugs / cannabis is not needed

Another Royal Commission is not needed, it would take 5 to 7 years and the previous two Royal Commissions on cannabis were not just ignored but Government actually moved the other way to their recommendations.

In the report they spout about offering treatment rather than punishment, as if the two cannot be the same thing for some people, what a choice!  But since cannabis users are not addicts there can be no treatment which means all they can do to us is punish us.

Is it time for civil unrest / disobedience:  There have been plenty of studies and inquiries, few even recommend legalisation as an option, we do not need more delaying tactics, we need change

If they ignored us as users - it would be like decriminalisation - they need to legalise us and PROTECT us so long as we do no harm to others

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Soon disagreeing with Government policy could become a criminal offence - what can we do to stop it?

They already not only ignored the advice of experts on cannabis but then sacked the Chair of the Committee for publicly speaking against Government policy --- now this, police invading a disabled lady's home because she dared argue with Government policy aimed at making peoples' lives more difficult - on FACEBOOK - just as I AM DOING NOW.


Police raid activist’s home for ‘criminal’ posts on Facebook. China? No – Wales
27 Saturday Oct 2012
 Posted by Tom Pride in hopeless naivety
 (Not satire – I’m sorry to say.)
  A female disability activist had her home raided yesterday by South Wales Police who attempted to intimidate her into stopping posting comments on Facebook critical of government cuts and specifically the Department of Work and Pensions and their attacks on the rights of disability claimants.

In her own words:
I’ve just had the police forcing their way into my flat near midnight and harrassing me about my “criminal” posts on Facebook about the DWP, accusing me of being “obstructive”. I didn’t know what in f**k’s name they were on about. They kept going on and on at me, it was horrifically stressful, and they only left after I started crying uncontrollably.

The police officers did not charge her. They clearly were just attempting to scare her into stopping her political activities.
The woman was alone in her own home. She was left feeling frightened and vulnerable – by the very people who should be protecting her.
If the police wanted to talk to her, why did the officers choose to enter her home at midnight on a Friday? Why didn’t they inform her in writing or interview her at a police station so she could arrange for a lawyer to be present?
At best this is unprofessional behaviour on the part of South Wales Police, at worst it is political harassment of an individual worthy of a dictatorial state such as China or North Korea.
Well done South Wales Police. You must be very proud of yourselves.

Drugs damage cultures not just individuals? So does drug prohibition law.

Since the enforcement of cannabis prohibition is aimed at destroying cannabis cultures, that ought to be considered too.

Cannabis culture - the belief and practice that cannabis is beneficial, has been around at least since the times of the Ancient Chinese and Egyptians, and in the UK it has been used for centuries: medicinally and as a  natural resource for products from its hurd, fibre, seeds and resins.

There was little problem with cannabis use for smoking until the introduction of the prohibition in 1928, and then the commercial  cultivation and supply was put firmly into the hands of criminals: it became far more profitable to import cannabis for UK users and then came the 1960's and the so-called drug-using hippies, and profits soured.  In 1971, cannabis medicine was banned under the new Misuse of Drugs Act: seemingly unenforceable and costly prohibition of cannabis, thrown in with other drugs, enabled far larger profits to be made, enabled dealers to take people though the gateway to other drugs, enabled the more recent increase ins all scale commercial cultivation of super-strong hybrids ( strong in THC but not in CBD creating unbalanced product).

In fact in 1928, the UK abstained from the vote at the Geneva Convention, saying we had no problems.  Moreover, it appears that the banning of cannabis was largely to with demands from Egypt and Turkey, about to lose their opium-profits, in an attempt top eradicate the form of cannabis called hemp, to boost their own trade in cotton.  They would replace cannabis fibre with cotton fibre, replace opium profit with cotton profit.

There are now millions of cannabis smokers in the UK, both those that claim medicinal benefits or simply use it to relax.  There are massive numbers of people using other drugs, millions using alcohol and smoking tobacco - that is the way our society has gone.

Whether drug use is good or bad for an individual or society, we must consider people's Rights for that too is now law.

Could we justify banning the possession, production or supply of alcohol?  Could we then justify the punishment of drinkers that do no harm because of those drinkers that do harm?

Can we justify invading a person's house and their Private Life, interfering with their lifestyle or stop them using medicinally beneficial plants - because of what others do?

Surely it ought to be a question of whether a drug user or drinker harms or puts at risk, others or their property of their Rights - just as it is demanded in the Human rights laws before any justification exists for the authorities to interfere?

Whether one thinks drugs (cannabis / alcohol) use is damaging to culture is a question for the individual; even where such damage exists there is no justification for punishing people that use drugs in their private lives and do no damage.

Whether it is right or wrong, sensible or daft, to drink, smoke tobacco or take drugs is not an issue for Government, police, judges or lawyers.

The issue is whether the person has done harm - are there victims?  If there is no victim, then there is no crime.

On the other hand, the harm done by unjustifiable laws that exists only n the interests of multi-national petrochemical, pharmaceutical and criminal justice industries, is non-debatable.

Drugs damage cultures not just individuals
Conservative Home Blogs: The Deep End, October 31 2012

When people claim that cannabis doesn’t kill anyone, what they seem to be suggesting is that people don’t die from overdosing on the drug. In this limited sense, they may be right. But, make no mistake, cannabis is a killer.

For a start, smoking pot is a really good way of delivering a variety of toxic substances directly into your lungs. Then there’s the well-documented impact on mental health – especially among the young – triggering psychotic episodes, some of which result in suicide or violence to others. To these tragedies you can add various lower-level impacts on mental and physical functioning and the consequent toll of accidental deaths.

Determining the extent of cannabis-related deaths is difficult – it took decades of research to establish the facts for alcohol and tobacco. But the fact that conclusive studies exist for one set of substances and not another says nothing about their relative harm.

In any case, the comparison of harm done to individuals is not the only issue – one also has to consider the harm that different drugs do to entire cultures. Writing for the Telegraph blogs, Colin Freeman thinks through the impact of decriminalisation on British society:
“The working assumption for the authorities would have to be that there could be a big increase in use, as people who were previously deterred by illegality began indulging. How much punchier would market towns be after midnight on a Saturday, for example, if the average male reveller had had half a gram of coke as well as six pints of Stella?”

The mind boggles, but there’s a serious point here. Criminalisation rarely succeeds in eliminating a drug altogether, but it does limit its availability and therefore contains its use. Freeman explains why this external constraint is important:
“…the few nations where drugs, rather than booze, are the intoxicant of choice, do not make particularly encouraging examples. Alcohol is at least an honest poison: anyone who over-indulges will suffer a hangover the next day, which acts as a built-in limiter on consumption… Other substances, such as opium, marijuana, and khat, the amphetamine-filled leaf popular in Somalia and Yemen, exact no such immediate penalties on the constitution. Instead, they act in a much more insidious fashion, which can allow their use to become far more widespread.”

Mr Freeman knows Somalia well – not only as a foreign correspondent, but also as a former hostage of Somali pirates – he has therefore seen what happens when drugs take hold of an entire culture:
“…the fact that khat has no immediately debilitating side-effects – save for aching jaws for novices like me – means that Yemenis and Somalis are prone to overindulging, to the point where it has seriously cramped their work ethic. Trying to get anything done after 2pm is all but impossible, as most menfolk, rich and poor, are busy chewing…
“Yes, of course, somewhere like Yemen is very different to the UK. But if anyone wants to know what a society where drugs are an accepted part of life looks like, this is a glimpse. It may not be the end of civilisation as we know it, but it isn't exactly the pinnacle either.”

Yemen is indeed a very different place to Britain, but imagine what would happen to our culture if alcohol could be consumed in, say, pill form – and without causing hangovers. Do you think that, in such circumstances – and in the absence of legal prohibition – there’d be less drunkenness or a great deal more?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Worthing school calls in police because of drugs, police search, find nothing - there is something wrong here.

"A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “No drugs were found and no further action was taken. The matter has now been left in the hands of the school.” "

So, another waste of police time and taxpayer's money - school calls in police because of drugs, police search, find nothing - there is something wrong here.

Whilst of course most of us don't want schoolkids taking drugs, it is time that we realised that it is the unlawfulness of cannabis possession and cultivation that has made it highly profitable for an endless line of people itching to make money, completely outside of the law - and the minimum "age" for customers is more like a ten pound note.

Legalise and license commercial cultivation and supply to adults and let people grow their own at home without interference, that will take the supply out of the hands of street dealers and help keep it out of the hands of schoolchildren.

The present system is clearly not working.

Drugs reported at school in Worthing but police find none

The Argus, October 29 2012
Education bosses have vowed to take a “strong stance” after reports of pupils bringing drugs into school.

Police were called to Durrington High School in The Boulevard, Worthing, last week after reports of youngsters having cannabis with them.

While no drugs were found by officers a cannabis grinder, which is used to shred the bud of the plant so it can be smoked, was confiscated.

Sussex Police said the matter had been left with the school to deal with.

Head teacher Sue Marooney said: “Student wellbeing and safety is our priority.

“We always take a strong stance against anything which threatens this and when appropriate will involve the police.

“We would not wish to comment on individual students.”

According to the Government cannabis is the most widely-used illegal drug in Britain, although the number of people using it is believed to be falling.

It is a class B drug, which means it is illegal to possess, give away or sell.

The maximum penalty for possession is five years in jail while supplying someone can result in a fourteen year prison term and an unlimited fine.

More common actions include a police warning, a reprimand, a formal caution or a fixed penalty fine.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council, which runs the school, said: “Safety and wellbeing of young people is at the centre of the county council approach to all matters.

“All schools have robust policies on drugs and the county council encourages its schools to have a well planned drug education programme, a drug policy developed in consultation with the whole school community, which outlines the school’s response to all drug matters.

“We also encourage strategies in place to identify and support young people for whom drugs may be a problem and staff who are confident and skilled in addressing drug issues.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “No drugs were found and no further action was taken.

The matter has now been left in the hands of the school.”

Earlier this year officers in Worthing and Adur carried out an education drive and leaflet drop in a bid to curb the rising use of class B mephedrone by young adults aged between 17 and 25.

Within a month seven people were arrested for possession of the drug with intent to supply.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Cannabis-using mother convicted of breast feeding cannabis to her baby - yet the cannabinoids are already in us naturally!

In the last feed days the world press have been reporting that a New Zealand mother has pleaded guilty to supplying cannabis to her baby through her breast milk.. yet most have failed to report another recent press article that claims that cannabinoids are natural constituents in breast milk.  In fact the claims go further than suggesting that cannaboinds are present naturally and claim  "If it were not for these cannabinoids in breast milk, newborn children would not know how to eat, nor would they necessarily have the desire to eat, which could result in severe malnourishment and even death. Believe it or not, the process is similar to how adult individuals who smoke pot get the "munchies," as newborn children who are breastfed naturally receive doses of cannabinoids that trigger hunger and promote growth and development." ( see below)

First, the nonsense: The New Zealand Herald wrote:
"A woman has been convicted of giving cannabis to her 3-month old baby through her breast milk, in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in New Zealand.

"The 29-year-old Wanganui woman was charged with administering a class C controlled drug, namely cannabis, to a person under the age of 18.

"She pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Wanganui District Court last week to six months' supervision."
adding a comment from Allison Jamieson, a Plunket clinical adviser, who said ..
"organisation advised mothers against using cannabis, tobacco and other drugs.

"Most drugs, including cannabis and P, pass through the breast milk and are known to affect babies.

"It is safest for breast-feeding mothers to avoid smoking and taking drugs because the long-term effects of this on the baby are unknown." she said.
This of course, has been jumped on and repeated my many other news agency around the world.

Now the facts:

However, just a few weeks earlier, seemingly unknown to the mother, her legal representatives that afiled to do their jobs, the courts or the press, it was claimed that cannabinoids are in fact present naturally in all of our bodies including breast milk:
Cannabinoids, like those found in marijuana, occur naturally in human breast milk
Jonathan Benson
Natural News
Friday 20 Jul 2012

Woven into the fabric of the human body is an intricate system of proteins known as cannabinoid receptors that are specifically designed to process cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the primary active components of marijuana. And it turns out, based on the findings of several major scientific studies, that human breast milk naturally contains many of the same cannabinoids found in marijuana, which are actually extremely vital for proper human development.

Cell membranes in the body are naturally equipped with these cannabinoid receptors which, when activated by cannabinoids and various other nutritive substances, protect cells against viruses, harmful bacteria, cancer, and other malignancies. And human breast milk is an abundant source of endocannabinoids, a specific type of neuromodulatory lipid that basically teaches a newborn child how to eat by stimulating the suckling process.

If it were not for these cannabinoids in breast milk, newborn children would not know how to eat, nor would they necessarily have the desire to eat, which could result in severe malnourishment and even death. Believe it or not, the process is similar to how adult individuals who smoke pot get the "munchies," as newborn children who are breastfed naturally receive doses of cannabinoids that trigger hunger and promote growth and development.

"[E]ndocannabinoids have been detected in maternal milk and activation of CB1 (cannabinoid receptor type 1) receptors appears to be critical for milk sucking ... apparently activating oral-motor musculature," says the abstract of a 2004 study on the endocannabinoid receptor system that was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology.

"The medical implications of these novel developments are far reaching and suggest a promising future for cannabinoids in pediatric medicine for conditions including 'non-organic failure-to-thrive' and cystic fibrosis."

Studies on cannabinoids in breast milk help further demystify the truth about marijuana
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors in the body -- the CB1 variety which exists in the brain, and the CB2 variety which exists in the immune system and throughout the rest of the body. Each one of these receptors responds to cannabinoids, whether it be from human breast milk in children, or from juiced marijuana, for instance, in adults.

This essentially means that the human body was built for cannabinoids, as these nutritive substances play a critical role in protecting cells against disease, boosting immune function, protecting the brain and nervous system, and relieving pain and disease-causing inflammation, among other things. And because science is finally catching up in discovering how this amazing cannabinoid system works, the stigma associated with marijuana use is, thankfully, in the process of being eliminated.

In another study on the endocannabinoids published in the journal Pharmacological Reviews back in 2006, researchers from the Laboratory of Physiologic Studies at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism uncovered even more about the benefits of cannabinoids. These include their ability to promote proper energy metabolism and appetite regulation, treat metabolic disorders, treat multiple sclerosis, and prevent neurodegeneration, among many other conditions.

Sources for this article include:

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sad Justice in Singapore for Cannabis User That Treated His Epilepsy

Seems a sad day for Justice in Singapore when a man in possession of of what seems a tiny amount of cannabis for his own use and to fight his epilepsy - having harmed nobody and caused no threat, is taken to court and sent to prison at huge expense to the taxpayer - just how much was this cannabis worth and where are the victims?

What will happen if he suffers an episode whilst in prison - will he be given pharmaceutical drugs that often have bad side-effects and will cost the taxpayers even more?

Wake up Singapore - No Victim, how can there be a crime? - change your UNJUST laws.

Meanwhile, in the UK, GW Pharmaceuticals are hoping to make massive profits out of selling whole-cannabis extracts to treat Epilepsy.

UK: GW Pharma’s cannabis based epileptic drug on its way
Samaylive. October 23 2012

An Indian national , XXXXX   working as auditor in Singapore has been jailed for six months for smoking banned drug cannabis.
XXXXX, 25, was arrested in August last year along with a group of others suspected drug users from an apartment.
Defence lawyer .... told the court that XXXXX suffered from epilepsy and had taken the cannabis believing it would ease his condition. But Deputy Public Prosecutor Seraphina Fong pointed out that XXXXX had been smoking cannabis regularly since February last year.

Being an educated man, he should have known about Singapore's harsh anti-drug penalties, Fong said. Announcing the verdict yesterday, District Judge John Ng accepted medical opinions that XXXXX was not addicted to cannabis, which could have got him a longer sentencing period.

XXXXX, who graduated from the Indiana University and worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, took to the drug when studying in the United States.

He gave up using the drug for about a year but relapsed in February last year.XXXXX pleaded guilty to consuming the controlled narcotic and possessing a grinder with 0.21g of cannabis mixture.

Both possessing and consuming of drugs carry maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of SGD 20,000 under Singapore's harsh anti-drug laws.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Catch 22 - Marijuana is too risky for legalization?

"Marijuana is too risky for legalization" ?

So what about banning alcohol?  That would carry so much risk, based upon what we saw happen when it was prohibited to produce or sell, that it would be out of the question for most Governments.

Strange we would then seem to be stuck in Catch 22-type scenario.

We can clearly see the harm done by alcohol prohibition and we can clearly see the harm that happens under cannabis prohibition, yet we are too afraid to move - or rather the politicians are.

Truth is of course, the law is about people, not alcohol or drugs - it is about what some people are allowed to do with some drugs.

IT OUGHT to be about what harm people do to others - if there is no harm then they should not only be left alone regarding police action against them I would say they deserve the protection of law whether it is alcohol or cannabis that they choose to take.

WE need to question whether prohibition actually worked / works now.  Obviously not.

We need to question the harm that comes from prohibition itself:

it exposes users to bad quality, other drugs offered by street dealers.

it punishes people even though they have harmed nobody.  It results in criminal records, loss of jobs, loss of careers, travel restrictions, often unable to but insurance, sometimes prison resulting in family difficulties even loss of family or home.  It forces victimless "criminals" to live amongst "real" criminals.

don't forget here I am talking about growing or possessing a plant for own use - hardly comparable to heavy crime - disproportionate punishments.

if we could weigh the harm done by cannabis users against the harm done by prohibition itself, we would logically be forced to change the law on cannabis.

it will take  a brave politician to try that - and we seem top be lacking in them!

it has noting to do with morals or even common sense - it is about Justice

it prevents those in medical need from accessing quality controlled pure cannabis unless they risk prison by growing their own.

Marijuana is too risky for legalization, October 21 2012 By Bill Dickinson

Initiative 502 causes more harm than good. It promotes "legalization" of marijuana (cannabis). "Legalization" fosters a perception that cannabis is harmless and less risky. This will be associated with more people trying and using cannabis, both adults and teens. Marijuana is neither safe nor harmless. There are more than 400 compounds in the cannabis plant and 60 or more cannabinoids (the active substances in the marijuana plant). Only a few of these substances have been studied.

Smoking marijuana produces harmful substances similar to those produced when tobacco is smoked. Smoking causes lung problems similar to tobacco. Cannabis causes a decrease in short-term memory, attention, learning, and concentration. This causes problems in school, at work and with driving. For some users, the psychological effects are even more troubling. Anxiety and paranoia can be crippling. Studies with schizophrenics have shown that cannabis use made their schizophrenia worse.

Teenage brains are the most affected. The earlier that cannabis is used, the more effects are seen. Sophisticated imaging studies known as PET scans show that cannabis delays the maturation process of the brain. A New Zealand study of 1,000 teens over a 25-year period showed that teens who regularly used marijuana had lowered IQ scores, 8 IQ points on average, that persisted into their 30s. An 8-IQ point reduction is very significant. The delay in maturation of the brain and lowered intelligence plus the declines in attention, concentration, memory, and learning show up as school, work, and driving problems. Currently one-third of high school students are using cannabis. Why would society foster "legalization"? This sends the wrong message. Youth perceive this as less risk of cannabis problems. Less risk translates into more use. This will affect more teens.

Proponents of this initiative say that some of the taxes raised by sales of this drug will pay for the increased education and treatment needed. I am against creating more teens and adults who need treatment. Also, this initiative does not guarantee that funding for treatment will be available after two years. After a period of two years, the Legislature will be able to redirect any and all taxes collected to other priorities if they so choose. Treatment for teens who use cannabis should be universal since the use of cannabis is very damaging to their development and success in society.

I-502 also has severe legal consequences for youth (under age 21) who are tested and found to have cannabis in their system when driving. A positive test means an automatic conviction without any possible defense or mitigation. This harms people under age 21 while not providing any treatment options to help them stop marijuana use.

Marijuana is addictive to 9 percent to 10 percent of users. Proponents of "legalization" argue that this is no big deal. Tell that to the people who are dependent. I am able to get people off of cocaine and heroin, but they are not able to stop using cannabis. The more people who use cannabis, the more people who will need treatment. For the last 30 years, people have been hybridizing the cannabis plant to make the cannabinoids stronger. Most of this has been focused on what was thought as the most "high" producing cannabinoid, d-9 THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or often just called THC). The amount of THC in the cannabis plant was 0.5 to 2 percent 20 to 30 years ago. Now it is common to find cannabis with 4 percent to 6 percent THC and some strains can have 10 percent to 20 percent. People who used cannabis many years ago remember a substance with fewer effects. They may be inclined to think "what's the big deal." The cannabis sold today is rocket fuel compared to the cannabis found years ago. The effects, especially the negative effects, are much more profound. I-502 does not state what THC or other cannabinoid percentages may be acceptable.

I-502 only tests for THC. The other cannabinoids and their variants go undetected. Any drug tests for marijuana and cannabis abuse must detect all of the cannabinoid substances.

I-502 sets up the framework for an extensive growing, processing, and retail distribution system for marijuana throughout the state. This has not been tried on a small scale. The proposed initiative does not have enough monitoring and enforcement for this huge system. This is alarming as the state of Washington has had problems monitoring and enforcing the current "medical marijuana" laws. How are we to believe that the state can monitor this larger and more extensive system? The proponents believe that taxation of the system would bring in many millions of dollars. Initially this would be used for the first two years to help with public health problems, the general fund, drug prevention and treatment, education, and research. The funding is only guaranteed for two years. After this, the Legislature can put more or all of the taxation into the general fund if they desire and eliminate funding for public health, education, and treatment.

This initiative states that making a legal means to grow, process, and sell cannabis will put the illegal market out of business. Unfortunately this is not true. The illegal market is very sophisticated and well established. It will be able to undercut the legal market prices and will be able to infiltrate some of the legal operations. The illicit market will vary its price to compete with retail outlets that are being taxed. I believe the illicit market will have no trouble setting prices that are below the retail outlets.

Advertisements to vote yes for this initiative say it is time for a conversation. This proposal is not about a conversation. It is about full legalization and the establishment of cannabis growing, processing, and retail sales in your neighborhoods. And finally, I-502 is about a direct confrontation with the U.S, (federal) government which has been clear that marijuana is illegal. That also does not sound like a conversation.

Reject legalization. Decriminalization has worked in other states. Decriminalization addresses legal concerns without the harmful and risky position of legalization. Decriminalization does not set up an immense marijuana growing, processing, and retail sales system fostered by the state of Washington as does I-502. Decriminalization does not foster increased use by teens and adults. I-502 will increase the number of adults and teens using marijuana. Decriminalization does not set us on a collision course with the Federal government as I-502 does.

Reject I-502 because it trades more use of marijuana by adults and teens leading to more physical, psychological and social problems in exchange for a huge growing, processing and distribution system of marijuana fostered by Washington state with the promise of tax money to solve our budget woes. This is shameful.

Bill Dickinson is an addiction medicine physician in Everett.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Peter Hitchens does not make sense over cannabis laws

Somehow it just does not make sense to punish victimless cannabis users or growers (for own use), and it certainly does not make sense to try to enforce a ban of growing what Mr Hitchens describes as "successful agricultural product in the UK today" at massive cost - billions of pounds every year - to the taxpayer.

Peter is correct, "Mental health is not a clearly measurable thing. ", especially by journalists, but I must ask - with him calling for more severe laws - why on earth would he want to send somebody to prison if they are suffering from mental illness whether or not they have used cannabis - if there is a risk of them hurting themselves or others (or history of it) then surely they need doctors, not policemen and prison officers.

And, for that matter - what sense in punishing any cannabis users unless they harm others - where is the justice in that?

What Peter Hitchens calls for just not make sense - in the name of Justice the law on cannabis need to be changed to stop the punishment of users that have done no harm and start giving them the same level of protection (consumer rights) as those that drink booze.

Pair lock horns over legalisation of cannabis
Oxford Mail, October 19 2012

FORMER drug smuggler Howard Marks and Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens locked horns last night to debate the legalisation of cannabis.

An audience of about 70 people were at Waterstones in Oxford to listen to each argument before firing questions at the pair.

Mr Marks, once called “the most sophisticated drug smuggler of all”, said: “Over two thirds of voters aged in their early 20s use cannabis. The war against drugs has failed to reduce supply and it has failed to reduce demand.”

He said this had fuelled the black market, allowing gangs to make vast sums of money and meant it was often mixed with potentially dangerous substances.

Mr Marks added: “The prohibition of cannabis is an extremely dangerous failure and should be dismantled as soon as possible.”

Arguing that drug laws should be stronger, Mr Hitchens, author of The War We Never Fought, said: “The most successful agricultural product in the UK today is cannabis, even though it is illegal. Mental health is not a clearly measurable thing.

“What we can say is that there is a powerful correlation between cannabis and mental illness.”

He added: “If we legalise a drug, it is fantastically difficult to close the door again.”

Voting at the end of the debate showed the audience was split in their view of the issue.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Charitable Cannabis Growers sent to Prison

I read with dismay that cannabis-growing couple Michael Foster and Susan Cooper who lived in Norwich, were sent to prison for three years for making money and giving it towards charitable work in Kenya.

Can anyone point us to the victims of their crime that the judge thinks so worthy of imprisonment?

Why are our judges seemingly so blind to common sense and common Justice?

Cannabis could very easily be grown to feed and house the world, to heal many ailments through it's oils and constituents, to be used in the production of cheap and environmentally safe and non-polluting fuels, used to make cloths, books, plastics ... so many uses.

That a minority of vulnerable people claim to suffer through using strong cannabis at an early age is no reason to punish them or those that claim medical benefits or even those that use it simply for fun or relaxation.

The Government would not even consider a ban on alcohol, which although used sensibly by the majority of people, for some causes illness, addiction, violence and even premature death.  Alcohol appears to be the "drug of choice" to many MP's - there are over 30 bars in the House of Commons!

Cannabis prohibition is an expensive failure for sure - costing taxpayers billions of pounds ever year just to punish people most of whom have done no harm.

Strange thing is - had this happened in The Netherlands there would probably have been no court case and no punishment - and those poor and needy people in Kenya that need help would still be getting the help from Michael Foster and Susan Cooper.

They should be released without delay.

Norfolk couple jailed for £400,000 cannabis operation which funded charity work in Kenya
Eastern Daily press, October 17 2012

A Norfolk couple jetted off to Kenya to dish out money made from their cannabis factory to villagers and charities.

Michael Foster, 62, and Susan Cooper, 63, who lived in Norwich, pocketed hundreds of thousands of pounds during the sophisticated six year operation - but used much of the £400,000 of their ill-gotten money to help locals in the Kenyan village where they were regular visitors.

Described in court as the “most unusual cannabis growing case of its type” - the couple paid for life-saving surgery, bought computers for a local eye hospital and secured schooling for poor children.

But they were living a double life, selling kilos of cannabis, grown at their farmhouse in Little Sutton, Lincs, and another site in Terrington St Clement, to a drugs baron.

Lincoln Crown Court heard on Monday that the couple were caught after a police raid at Home House Farm, Little Sutton, in June 2010.

The couple moved to Garrett Court off Sprowston Road in Norwich while police investigated the finances and operation of the cannabis farm.

Jon Dee, prosecuting, said: “It perhaps can be best summed up by Mr Foster who told police in his own words during his interview that this started off as a hobby and turned into a business.”

The pair, who were jailed for three years, were only caught when a police officer pursuing a burglar near the couple’s home in Little Sutton recognised the distinctive cannabis smell coming from the property.

Mr Dee said: “At the time this couple were completely off the police radar. They were caught completely by chance.”

When the officer knocked on the farmhouse door Mrs Cooper answered. Inside police found 159 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of around £20,000.

Two of the buildings had been converted into a growing room and drying room.

Officers also recovered £20,000 in £1,000 bundles from a carrier bag.

Mr Dee added: “This was a professional and commercial set up.”

A note from a man called “Jess” found in the farmhouse led police to search a second property linked to the couple in Terrington St Clement.

“It gave the impression of being cleared in a hurry after the balloon had gone up in Long Sutton,” Mr Dee said.

“There was plenty of evidence of cannabis plant growing. Windows had been boarded up, there was a false partition and the impression of the plant pots was still on the floor.”

Investigations showed the annual electricity bill for the Little Sutton farmhouse had risen by £2,000 which the couple explained by claiming to run a pottery business with a kiln.

Bank statements showed around £300,000 had been paid into the couple’s joint account over the six year period between 2004 and 2010. A further £100,000 had gone through an account held in Mrs Cooper’s maiden name.

Mr Dee added: “The Crown accept some of the money will not have come from drug dealing, at some point the home of Mrs Cooper’s mother was sold, but not all the money would have been paid in and £400,000 represents a fair assessment.”

When finally caught in June 2010 Mrs Cooper “apologised profusely” for being unable to answer police questions.

Mr Foster admitted regularly selling wholesale deals of around £1,500 to one buyer who he was introduced to through a loan shark.

Gareth Wheetman, mitigating for Foster, said the couple did not use the cash for lavish living. “The very fact they were repeatedly flying off to Kenya in itself required money,” Mr Wheetman explained.

“But the evidence demonstrates much of the money was being put to charitable and good use.

“While in Kenya they bought a computer for a local eye hospital, paid for children to be put through school and paid for a life saving operation on a man’s gangrenous leg.”

Chris Milligan, mitigating for Cooper, said: “Susan Cooper is a good person who has done a bad thing.

“There is another side to her - she has been a good mother, wife and partner to Mr Foster.”

Cooper had also offered care, to locals in the village near Mombasa where they regularly stayed.

“When a young adult called Wilson got a gangrenous infection in his leg he was given two days to live. She paid for that treatment,” Mr Milligan added.

The pair admitted four charges of producing cannabis and a single offence of possessing criminal cash between March 2004 and June 2010.

Passing sentence Judge Sean Morris said he accepted they were a previously respectable couple of “positive good character”.

But Judge Morris told Foster his own cannabis habit may have led to the psychosis which contributed to his crimes.

“Cannabis does that, it is a dangerous drug too often belittled,” Judge Morris told the couple.

“You were growing it on a significant scale, jetting off to Kenya on it.

“I have seen the pictures of your property, it was a pleasant place to live.

“When police raided it there was £20,000 in a carrier bag.

“Lots of money was going into your bank accounts, over a number of years hundreds of thousands went into your account.
“I am sure you were doing good things in Kenya with your drugs money, whether that was to appease your consciences I can only speculate.”

Monday, 15 October 2012

Would you call in a panel of experts and then simply ignore what they say? Cannabis and Drugs.

Today the press is full of the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) conclusion that the Government's attempts at reducing drug use and drug harm has failed - and the Government's simply insisted its approach to tackling drugs is the right one. 'Drug usage is at it lowest level since records began,' a spokeswoman said.

About 42,000 people in England and Wales are sentenced each year for the possession of drugs, with 160,000 people given cannabis cautions, according to the commission.

The penalties for drug misuse should be relaxed so that possession of small amounts would no longer be a criminal offence, the government has been urged.

The recommendation comes in a report from the UK Drug Policy Commission, which undertook six years of research.

Its detailed report concludes the UK is wasting much of the £3bn it spends each year on tackling illicit drugs.

In fact - ask your MP - it is now considerably more than that every year and the majority of arrests are still for cannabis.

The report, called A Fresh Approach to Drugs, says the annual estimated cost to England and Wales of class A drug use is £15bn.

The commission called for parliament to 'revisit the level of penalties applied to all drug offences and particularly those concerned with production and supply. However, it stopped short of calling for the decriminalisation or legalisation of most drugs.

Commission chairwoman Dame Ruth Runciman said: 'We spend billions of pounds every year without being sure of what difference much of it makes.'

The Home Office says drug use is falling and it does not plan to alter its approach.

So, OK, so the Government is going to insist that their present approach is the correct one, despite the cost to the taxpayer and despite the fact that it is obviously not working.  Of course we need to arrest those that harm others or their property, or pose a risk, but the use of a drug, whether possession and sale is allowed or banned, in itself harms nobody except possibly the user.

And of course addiction creates problems for families and communities, as does fund-raising crime.

The Government's approach to SOME drugs is different to others; for example, alcohol is well known to cause illness, violence, vandalism and absenteeism, is SOME people - those responsible for the violence, vandalsim etc, are punished by the courts - those that get sick are helped by the medical profession (if they seek it).

Yet with "drugs" (plants" like cannabis, and "drugs" like heroin and cocaine, ALL USERS are arrested and punished, if caught, with anything from a warning to a court appearance, a fine to prison - even those that use cannabis to their medical benefit

Who pays for the police and courts - we do - the taxpayers - whilst those that make the law get paid a fortune to arrange for panels of experts that will not be listened to unless they support present policy - remember Prof David Nutt, the head of the Government's previous ACMD (Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs) who was sacked after he stuck by his panel's conclusion that policy was failing and that cannabis ought to be downgraded to class C again - Nutt was simply sacked.

Meanwhile, most of the press, stuck in prohibition, continue to write bad reports about bad consequences of drug use - seldom covering claims from those that drugs have helped, in particular cannabis, referring to growers as some sort of social menace even if they are growing only for their own medicinal use.

Where are the reports of the countless lives ruined by drug prohibition laws,  those with criminal records yet no victims - banned from some overseas travel, some jobs, some insurance policies - and for what?

For nothing more harmful and dangerous than would be opening a bottle of beer or wine at home and often less dangerous than drinking a bottle of whiskey - something that many of our MP's are probably good at, considering so many subsidised bars in the House of Commons.

Come on Britain - lead the way to a common sense approach to drugs and take control - stop punishing victimless users and start protecting consumers through properly regulated outlets for adults with accurate and credible advice, tax on profits, and separation from the world of crime

Drugs Experts Call For Major Policy Review

Decriminalise drug use, say experts after six-year study

Cannabis 'no worse than junk food', says report

Possessing small amount of drugs 'should not be crime'

UKDPC Urges Decriminalization of Drug Use

Britain's £3bn war on drugs 'waste of time and harms lives' says watchdog

Light drug users 'should not get criminal records'

Friday, 12 October 2012

Mob-handed police called in to search school children based upon a rumour

Rob Haring, school principal, said: "It was a very quick operation, we wanted to check a rumour and there was nothing substantive in it."

So they call in police to search schoolchildren based upon a rumour that was obviously unfounded and then tell the kids it was a one-off - bet the kids will be pleased as punch

what total nonsense - how much did this cost the taxpayers.

Ivybridge College uses sniffer dogs to search for drugs
BBC News, 12 October 2012

The headmaster of a Devon school has defended using ten police officers and a sniffer dog to search pupils following rumours about drugs.

Ivybridge Community College searched 2,000 students but no drugs were found.

Rob Haring, school principal, said: "It was a very quick operation, we wanted to check a rumour and there was nothing substantive in it."

Vicky King, a parent, said she thought it could have been handled better.

She said: "I was quite shocked. I would have preferred to have known."

'Not mob-handed'

Mr Haring said: "It's about education, about students being informed and knowing what's right and what's wrong and there being a very clear message that we won't tolerate things that aren't right.

"It certainly wasn't mob-handed."

Ten police officers, teachers and a sniffer dog were involved in the unannounced search on Friday.

Philip, a teacher at a Plymouth school who did not provide his surname, said: "As a parent and teacher and being a recovered alcoholic and drug addict this is a necessary way to deal with the problem."

It is the second time this year the search has been carried out at the school. The first resulted in action being taken against a student.

Sgt John Livingstone from Ivybridge Police Station added: "It was a one off and there's not the intelligence to suggest that it would warrant it [again]."

Sheriff Prefers People to Suffer Rather Than Use Cannabis

Can somebody please point me to any Justice in this case?

So a man grows a few cannabis plants in his own home for his own use in topping up his prescribed medication to try to ease the pain in his back (spondylitis), and the Sheriff forces him into unpaid work and tells him “I trust you now realise you can’t do this."

Then, on top of the unpaid work, he gives him £100 fine for £150 worth of cannabis and one plant.

Where are these judges, sheriffs and magistrates at?

What are they thinking?

Have they no compassion?

For some cannabis, this may just be a fine and forced labour - for others they get the fine, the labour and the pain.

I ask again - can anybody point me to the justice in these cases - or is it simply an attempt to make people stay within an unjust law?

Man grew cannabis for health reasons
Oct 12 2012 by Colin Rutherford, Kilmarnock Standard

A Kilmarnock man who grew cannabis for health reasons has been ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.
At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week, 28-year-old Michael Boland pleaded guilty to producing the class B drug at his home in MacKinlay Place last month.

He was also fined £100 for possessing cannabis on the same occasion.
Scott Toal, prosecuting, said that police went to Boland’s home at 9.40am with a search warrant.

He was asked if he had any drugs in the house and “told police that he was a user and had some personal”.Boland pointed to a box and said that he had some more in a cupboard.

Police found cannabis in a box in the livingroom and discovered more in a plastic tub and in two jars.
Said Mr Toal: “The rest of the house was searched and items used in the production of cannabis recovered.”These included plant food, lights and a foil growing tent.

The cannabis found was worth a total of £150.

Boland was interviewed at Kilmarnock police station and accepted that he had grown the cannabis that police had recovered.
Said Mr Toal: “He said he used it as pain relief for a medical condition.”

Paul Gallagher, defending, told the court that his client had suffered from the back condition spondylitis for around three years.
“This is a case where he has been topping up with medication not prescribed,” said the solicitor.
His position was that he grew only one plant at a time.

Rather than have to go out and look for the drug, “he took matters into his own hands”, said Mr Gallagher.
Sheriff Iona McDonald noted that Boland had no similar previous convictions, with only one minor matter on his record, and told him: “I trust you now realise you can’t do this.”

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Recorder says Vietnamese man was slave and sends him to prison to for 8 months

A Recorder at Bolton Crown Court described the cultivation of cannabis by an illegal Vietnamese immigrant as "slavery" but still sent him to prison - where is the Justice in that?

Recorder Stephen Bedford heard that Tien Bui, aged 19, was smuggled into the country by people traffickers, and then got involved in growing the drugs to pay back debts that he owed.   Tien Bui was found sleeping on a mattress in a house with 105 cannabis seedlings, and 86 small plants.  He had
pleaded guilty to producing cannabis at an earlier hearing.

Mr Bedford then told him: ""I understand the difficulty you found yourself in. What you were doing was a form of what can only be described as slavery that I rule is at the bottom end culpability."I put it to you that Mr Bedford did not understand the difficult at all, and did not understand that the only victim in this case was the man he sent to prison.

UK: Jail for Vietnamese cannabis grower


Wednesday 10 Oct 2012
A VIETNAMESE man who was caught growing £60,000 of cannabis at a house in Westhoughton has been jailed.

Tien Bui, aged 19, was smuggled into the country by people traffickers, and then got involved in growing the drugs to pay back debts that he owed.
Bolton Crown Court yesterday heard the house was raided by police on September 13 and Bui was inside transferring plants from small pots into bigger pots.
There were 105 cannabis seedlings, and 86 small plants.
The court heard the house appeared to be lived in, as a single mattress and food was also found.
Antony Longworth, defending, told the court he came here illegally when he was aged 17.
He said: "As a teenager illegally in the country he was vulnerable to exploitation. At first he found employment with a Vietnamese family as a housekeeper.
"He owed $20,000 and in two years he paid off $5,000. He was targeted and recruited by a criminal gang. He did not realise how criminal the activity was that he was involved in."
Bui, of Manchester Road, pleaded guilty to producing cannabis at an earlier hearing.
Recorder Stephen Bedford jailed him for eight months.
He said: "I understand the difficulty you found yourself in. What you were doing was a form of what can only be described as slavery that I rule is at the bottom end culpability."
The court heard at the end of his sentence he could be deported.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

This happened under prohibition - we need to legalise sales of cannabis to adults to protect the kids

Quote: "Jade, 16, gave up her habit after her mother discovered she had been meeting a local drug dealer on a regular basis"

Just about sums it up - so nobody knows the strength or purity, what it was cut with, how much she bought or smoked / ate.

Of course had cannabis shops been allowed for responsible adults with accurate and credible advice at point of sale, indications of strength, age restrictions etc -- this may have never happened - such shops would take many dealers off the streets and make it much harder for 13 year-olds to buy.

Jade was lucky if her street dealer-profiteer did not offer her any harder drugs as she would have had a more serious problem ...

and of course lucky she did not get into alcohol as she may well be dead.

and it's LEGAL to give alcohol to c a child over 4 in the home - although of course totally irresponsible.

Lastly, irrespective of those that claim to have benefited and those that claim to have been harmed, through cannabis, there is NO REASON TO PUNISH people for possession or cultivation of a plant if they have done no harm to others or put them at risk.

If there is NO VICTIM, then there ought be NO CRIME

"Cannabis made me a monster" warns teen

A TEENAGER from Poole has made a television film to warn other young people about the dangers of cannabis - widely regarded as a “soft” drug.
Jade Clement started smoking cannabis when she was 13 and had become addicted by the time she turned 16. Now drug-free, she says: “I don't want anybody going through what I went through.
“Cannabis turned me into a monster. I was selfish, paranoid, and ultimately hurting the people I love and who love me.”
Jade, 16, gave up her habit after her mother discovered she had been meeting a local drug dealer on a regular basis. “When my mum found out, it hit me that I must give up,” she says.
“I was stealing money from her, distancing myself from her, and just destroying my relationship with her. I had already lost my friends, and it looked like I was losing my mum too.”
She became a “fixer” under a Public Service Broadcasting Trust scheme funded by the Big Lottery. It helps youngster of 16-25 take action to change things for the better with creative help from media professionals to make their own promotional material.
Jade's story will feature on ITV's Meridian Tonight at 6pm tomorrow. She also hopes to take her film around Poole, with talks and workshops for groups of young people who may be exposed to cannabis.
“If I could put just one person off trying cannabis, then I will have done my job,” she says. “It is quite an easy drug to get hold of, but that does not mean the effects are easy to deal with.”
Mental health professionals have long warned that cannabis can contribute to mental health issues. In vulnerable individuals, just one use has been known to trigger psychosis, or serious mental illness. Habitual and prolonged smoking of cannabis also increases the risk of developing lung disease, including cancer.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Man bought cannabis to ease crippling arthritis pain" (Sept 30) - leave him alone!

Sirs, I refer to your report "Man bought cannabis to ease crippling arthritis pain" (Sept 30).
In defence the lawyer is reported to have said "He doesn't want to keep attracting convictions but he has to weigh up the balance between being in agony and unable to move and taking cannabis."
So the magistrate sentence shim to a conditional discharge - gives him the very same choice again.
Well I ask you, the reader, if given the same choice, what would you choose - pain or a plant that eases it far more effectively than dangerous pills with unpleasant side-effects.
There is a third choice - allow him or his carer to grow a limited number of plants at home for own use.
If he is not hurting anyone, it ought not be a matter for the police and the taxpayers ought not to be footed the bill for taking people to court when they have done no harm.
Alun Buffry

You can write to:
subject "Letter to the Editor" - include your name and address and refer to title of article and date (30 Sept)

PLEASE SUPPORT CLARK and leave comment and RATE those good and bad already there

PLEASE SUPPORT CLARK and leave comment and RATE those good and bad already there

my comment:

Well done Clark French for standing up and telling the honest truth - and to those that try to contradict that truth by saying cannabis causes this or that, you miss the point.
Most medicines have side-effects, and often the pills from the doctor need more pills to counteract the side-effects - those side effects that are possible are often listed on the sheet that comes with the pills, in small print - they range from paranoia, through drowsiness to depression, even suicide tendencies, impotence, rashes, sleep and digestion problems, constipation --- well, look for yourself.
Secondly, not ever medicine works for every person that uses it.
Clark was brave enough to try a PLANT product that helps him - that does not mean that he suffers from any side-effects, apart from maybe a "high".
Other people have said they have had bad effects from cannabis - that does not mean that they or those that benefit should be punished - and THAT is what the law is about
We have a choice here: first we must accept that cannabis is one of the most widely used substances / drugs,. possibly excluding beer, and caffeine drinks - that both have serious side-effects and are a risk to health.
People are not allowed to grow their own even in their own homes for their own use.
Therefore the only access is illegal dealers where there is no consumer protection, no quality control, no age restrictions, no credible advice, no tax on profits and possible exposure to other drugs and crime.
On the other hand, the Government could do its duty and stop spending tax-payers money chasing growers, users and dealers, and set up a system of legal distribution for adults - outlets that are controlled and the profits taxed.
Cannabis use will continue in this country because so many people find so much benefit for so many terrible ailments, conditions and pains.
We can either remove the control from criminals and protect the consumers that do no harm - or else boost the illicit market and continue to spend billions annually in the so-called "war on drugs" - which is in fact a war on people

Sunday, 16 September 2012

My message to Adam Lotun, independent candidate in Corby by-election

my message to Adam Lotun, independent candidate in Corby by-election 

 I think you will make a mistake by limiting your call for law change to people with certain illnesses or conditions or by saying that they should get doctor's permission to be allowed to possess or use cannabis for their own use in their own homes.

TWO points - sick and hail people should have equal rights - the issue ought to be the question has their possession, use, cultivation - done any harm to or put at risk other people or their Rights, property etc - if not then they should all be left alone by the authorities - in fact they deserve the protection of the law when buying cannabis from licensed premises where quality is assured, credible information provided, and PROFITS taxed.

secondly, cannabis has a great vale as it relieves stress - it is a preventative medicine for all users - stress being one of the biggest causes of illness, violence, absenteeism and even premature death - why should well people be banned from such a substance?

I believe you would do well to STAND UP for all victimless cannabis users - in fact all victimless drug users - and also to promote the CANNABIS SOCIAL CLUB proposal:!/pages/Cannabis-Social-Clubs-Proposal/145368762174099?v=wall

Good luck in the election - please be our voice in the name of freedom of choice

Adam Lotun's Manifesto on Drugs

  • It is my opinion that there should be a Royal Commission set-up to investigate, once and for all, the question of drugs use in our society, with it being clear that current prohibition through criminal sanctions is not working. In the interim, I call for an immediate suspension of all prosecutions for cannabis possession and use where it can be shown to be used for treating an illness where cannabis is recognised as a beneficial treatment, i.e. MS, Fibromyalgia, Cancer, Aids, neurological pain, Glaucoma & Epilepsy, (the list goes on). This can be done before primary legislation is passed by recommendations to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). It is morally wrong that a person should be persecuted and prosecuted for their choice in using what is proven to be a safe and effective alternative medicine for their illness, i.e. with Sativex, a tincture of cannabis plant extract that is licensed for medicinal use is so expensive that many PCT’s refuse to fund prescribing it. (Sativex is a cannabis derivative that is no different to what can be cheaply produced in any home kitchen).
  • There needs to be more “honest” education in schools and public information about drugs and the changes in recreation drug use. Much of what is currently taught about drugs is propaganda, and not evidence based truths.
  • There needs to be a change in the Law on Alcohol, so that the sale of Alcohol can only take place between 11am to 3pm and 7pm to 11am in local community public houses, clubs, supermarkets and off licences. There will be an argument for some venues that will continue to hold special all day licence, but this move will mean that local communities will not be subjected to drunken anti-social behavior at all hours of the day.
  • It is my opinion that there should be smoking and non-smoking pubs and clubs, so that people can make their own choice as to where they go and what they choose to do or not do. Expanding the Royal Commission remit to look into all addictive drugs would help to ensure that a balanced view and cascading of educational information to support such ideas.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Public Must Pay for An Unjust Law

"Does anybody really think that locking this man up will help him or anybody else.

"So he tried to overcome his grief with alcohol which made him violent, so replaced it with cannabis that made him non-violent, then he gets locked up?

"And how could the cannabis have been worth any money unless she intended to sell it, yet the Judge accepted it was not for sale!

"It is a shame that this man is locked up and it is a shame the taxpayer will have to pay - EVERYONE loses except the police and court officials of course, who earn part of their living out of this sort of injustice"

The Sentinel, September 14 2012
GRIEVING Daniel King has been jailed after setting up a cannabis factory in his loft.
The 27-year-old turned to drugs following the death of his parents, and grew cannabis plants at his Joiners Square home to avoid contact with dealers.
But police raided the Cornes Street property in December and found 22 plants and equipment such as heating lamps, transformers and hydroponics trays.
They also discovered that King had bypassed his electricity meter in order to power the farm.
King was jailed for 16 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court after pleading guilty to producing cannabis and abstracting electricity.
Prosecutor David Bennett told the court that King's factory could have produced cannabis worth up to £3,500 in a single crop, while the stolen electricity was valued at £1,743.
Mr Bennett said: "At 10pm on December 14 police officers attended the address after being told there was a burglary in progress at the premises. They could smell cannabis, and saw a trail of cannabis leaves leading from the rear living room up the stairs.
"In the loft area they found a greenhouse-like structure with three hydroponics trays and 22 cannabis plants. The officers left the premises and when the defendant returned they arrested him in the street outside."
Mr Bennett told the court that at the time of King's arrest he had a suspended sentence of six months hanging over him.
This dated from a conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm from 2010.
Angela Berrisford, mitigating, said King had struggled to cope with the death of his parents and had suffered mental health issues.
She said: "His parents died in relatively quick succession and he has struggled to deal with that. His mental health deteriorated and he has suffered from depression and psychosis.
"What he realised following his conviction for assault is that he was drinking too much. Unfortunately he did not go back to get medical support, but effectively substituted the alcohol with cannabis.
"He didn't want to associate with the people who supplied him with cannabis, and so he decided to produce the cannabis himself. He undertook limited research on the internet, but a lot of the equipment was not set up, as he did not have the knowledge to work out what went where."
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones sentenced King to 12 months for growing cannabis, three months consecutive for abstracting electricity, and activated one month of his suspended sentence.
He said: "You clearly and deliberately set about establishing sufficient equipment at your disposal to successful grow a crop of cannabis in the loft of your home.
"But I accept that the cannabis was for your own use."

No Victim, No Crime

The issue about cannabis has always seemed simple to me - two points:

1.  If there was nobody harmed or put at risk, then why punish a person in possession or cultivating the plant cannabis?

2.  If the user / grower has no victims then they should be getting the protection of the law - just like victimless alcohol drinkers - not punished by it.

The Antigua Observer, September 14 2012 
Decriminalise cannabis? Public weighs in

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – OBSERVER Media has taken the debate about decriminalisation of marijuana to the streets of Antigua & Barbuda, getting the viewpoint of the people of the nation.
Walking the streets in town, surrounding Heritage Quay, OBSERVER media reporters asked the timely question, “What do you think about the prospect of decriminalising small amounts of marijuana on island?”
The responses from everyday people were as varied as those pundits, lawyers, detractors and politicians that weighed in on the debate last week on the Voice of the People.
A middle-aged woman working in vendor’s mall said that relaxing the laws that currently prohibit the use of marijuana could be a Pandora’s box for the nation, saying as a Christian, she cannot support such an initiative.
“I don’t think that it should be legalised in Antigua, not at all. I don’t believe in any type of drug … I know it does a lot to the brain because of smoking it and they are mixing it with other substances.”
She added that it might be the gateway to more crime in the nation, saying, “I do believe it will (cause more crime) when they smoke this drug. The high can be very dangerous. It is going to be very, very bad if they legalise it.”
However, a security guard in the area said that decriminalising the drug would help “heal the nation”, stating that is has healing purposes and a calming effect on the youth.
“I don’t think it is a threat to nobody’s life or any craziness about people getting crazy. They should leave it alone and don’t charge anybody for it. But ask people to use it accordingly, don’t smoke it but boil it (as a tea),” the guard said.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Magistrate tells drug farmer: Cannabis killed my brother so jack it in

I feel I must comment on your article "Magistrate tells drug farmer: Cannabis killed my brother so jack it in" (August 24).

Whilst of course I agree with Magistrate Yvonne Davies when she says "“If I can stop one family going through what I went through it will be worth it.”, I feel she is wrong to blame the cannabis plant or use of it for the terrible ordeal her family went through leading to the death of her brother. It is prohibition that was the real cause.

It is indeed sad that her brother's mental health deteriorated after he used cannabis, but is there any evidence that it caused the problems? - He would of course have been well-advised not to consumed cannabis, especially the dreadful stuff sold on the streets under prohibition. The prohibition law leaves cannabis in the hands of often unscrupulous dealers and profiteers who care little or nothing about quality or contamination, and may often sell it alongside other drugs. Those dealers are hardly likely to offer such advice.

So what help was the law to Ms Davies' brother and we must remember that it was under prohibition that these events leading to his death occurred.

Prohibition helps nobody except the dealers - it results in the punishment of people that the law is really meant to protect, boosting profits for suppliers and leaving consumers exposed to the world of crime. Anyone suffering from bad effects of cannabis will of course be reluctant to seek help due to fear of arrest and prosecution.

Had he been drinking and developed problems, it is probable that he would have been helped - but with cannabis consumers seem to be thrown to the mercy of the courts not the help of doctors.

I would ask reader as well as Ms Davies, this: "If you discover a family member consuming drugs, what would you do, call a doctor or a policemen?"

Magistrate tells drug farmer: Cannabis killed my brother so jack it in
Manchester Evening News
Friday 24 Aug 2012

A magistrate revealed to a man she was sentencing for growing cannabis that addiction to the drug had led to the death of her own brother.
Chairman of the bench Yvonne Davies told defendant Christopher Duncan that the tragedy had been a 'horrendous' time for her family.
And – as she ordered him to do 200 hours of unpaid work – she warned: "Cannabis is serious, jack it in."
Duncan, 55, has been hauled before Manchester magistrates' court after pleading guilty to the production of cannabis.
Police found six mature plants and 18 seeding in the conservatory of his home in Harding Street, Ancoats.
Mrs Davies, a magistrate of 12 years’ standing, told him how her own brother, Glen Harding, had died aged 34 after becoming addicted to cannabis.
Mr Harding went on to develop schizophrenia and threw himself in a canal.
Mrs Davies told Duncan: "That was a horrendous time for the family. Cannabis is serious. It puddles the brain apart from anything else.
"You have got to stop using it so jack it in."
Mrs Davies, a part-time volunteer magistrate who also works as a mental health counsellor and psychotherapist, said after the case she had no regrets about speaking out.
And she revealed it wasn’t the first time she had used her family's experiences to warn a defendant of the dangers of cannabis use.
Mr Harding, who died in 1984, had been a successful technical engineer before falling prey to addiction.
He used cannabis for several years before developing schizophrenia, depression and epilepsy – losing his job in the process.
Following a row he stormed out one night with the family dog which came back soaking wet on its own several hours later. Glen's body was found in a canal 10 days later.
Mrs Davies, a grandmother-of-seven and great-gran of one who lives in Partington, said: "People say cannabis is not a big deal but to me it is enormous.
"When Glen's body was found 10 days after he disappeared, it had been a living hell for the family.
"When I tell people about happened, some look at me like I've got two heads but one woman defendant burst into tears.
"It's important to talk about it because I am a member of the community sentencing other members of the community.
"Cannabis ruins the lives of those who use it and their families.
"If I can stop one family going through what I went through it will be worth it."

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Leeds lawyer’s stark cannabis plea

This DEFINITELY needs responses - here is mine, simply register first and leave your comment to:

So does anyone think that this article or the words of a solicitor is likely to stop many from using cannabis, if any at all? 

It is very one-sided article and does not mention the COUNTLESS people with serious illnesses that already benefit from cannabis use in the UK, albeit illegal to possess or grow - and those that benefit from its value as a preventative medicine?

Not forgetting those  being damaged by addictive and dangerous pharmaceutical pills that could be better off using the medicinal plant - as they do in many other countries.

Surely it would be better to legalise the supply and let people grow their own - less profit fro the solicitors of course and less work for them and the police and courts - greater savings to the NHS and taxpayers - greater protection for consumers.

OF COURSE no young people should not take cannabis especially when bought on the streets - but TRUTH is that the law seems powerless to stop them.

Published on Wednesday 15 August 2012 11:29
Leeds solicitor Grahame Stowe has been involved with mental health tribunals for 24 years. During that time he says he has seen countless cases of lives that have been permanently damaged as a result of cannabis use. He told crime reporter Sam Casey why he believes the drug is being taken too lightly.
When it comes to the debate on cannabis, Grahame Stowe is unequivocal.
“Cannabis has this evil streak for bringing on mental illness,” he says.
“Rarely does a week go by when I don’t see a case of pyschosis that has been induced by the drug.”
The Leeds lawyer – senior partner at Grahame Stowe Bateson, based on Portland Street in the city centre – has chaired mental health tribunals for 24 years.
The hearings are carried out to review cases of patients detained under the Mental Health Act.
Mr Stowe told the YEP he was seeing worrying numbers of young lives wrecked by cannabis.
“It’s something that hasn’t suddenly sprung up, but it has been underplayed for too long,” he said.
“The problems with heroin and crack cocaine are that they are addictive and they destroy lives because of their addictive potential.
“Cannabis is less addictive but it is dangerous because of the impact it can have on your mental health.”
According to the last British Crime Survey (2010-11), 7.7 per cent of 16 to 59-year-olds in Yorkshire reported having used cannabis in the past year – the highest figure of any region in the country.
One in three people in the county said they thought it was ‘OK’ to take cannabis, at least occasionally.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists says about one in 10 cannabis users will have unpleasant experiences, including confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia.
It says there is growing evidence that people with serious mental illness, including depression and psychosis, are more likely to use cannabis or have used it for long periods in the past.
Regular use of the drug has appeared to double the risk of developing a psychotic episode or long-term schizophrenia, the Royal College says.
Mr Stowe said he had seen tragic cases of bright and capable people whose lives had been ruined.
“I have seen the most gifted students admitted to psychiatric hospitals under the compulsory detention powers of the Mental Health Act. The most promising futures can be irrevocably destroyed.
“In some cases it can be a one-off – they are detained for, say, 28 days, then they go back to their careers, they’ve learned their lesson and they get on with their lives.
“But if it’s repeated foolishness it can lead to great problems. In cases that are not uncommon it can cause schizophrenia, which is a lifetime sentence.
“I recall one guy who was an Oxbridge student, but he fell foul of cannabis and developed schizophrenia.
“You just think, what a terrible waste. It’s not just a stimulant, it’s not something to enhance a social occasion – it can very easily ruin your life irreparably.”
Mr Stowe’s experiences are substantiated by consultant psychiatrist Stephen Wright, who is employed by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
He works with the early intervention team at Leeds-based Aspire, a mental health service that supports young people exhibiting signs of psychosis.
Dr Wright said cannabis was often a factor, especially in young people.
“It’s important to be clear – not everybody who smokes it develops psychosis,” he said.
“If there was no such thing as cannabis, the number of cases of psychosis worldwide would probably only decrease by 10 to 15 per cent.
“But we see people every day for whom cannabis is a factor to a greater or lesser degree.
“A large proportion of our clients are using or have used cannabis.”
Dr Wright said there was growing evidence young people were more susceptible to the effects of the drug – and that the harmful potential of street cannabis was growing because its potency was increasing.
“We routinely ask when our clients started using cannabis. It’s very common that people start at 14 or 15.
“If kids take it during puberty it can have a disastrous effect on brain development.
“The age of the user is quite a key factor – the earlier they start, the more likely it is to cause psychosis.
“There is also evidence that the THC content [the primary psycho-active compound in cannabis] is growing.
“The danger is it’s become more like whisky than beer.”
Caroline MacKay, chief executive of Leeds addiction support charity Multiple Choice, said one in nine of the people who attended structured day programmes designed to help people recover from addiction cited cannabis as their primary problem drug.
She said: “There are some people who are predisposed to mental health problems who may be affected by heavy cannabis use.
“There’s no doubt we have seen people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia or psychosis because of it.”
Ms McKay said she was in favour of decriminalising cannabis for medicinal uses.
She is not the only one.