How do you know when you are being softened up for something? One sure sign is when what you are being asked to give your support to is sold to you as entirely unproblematic or as a panacea to a host of problems. Never believe it.
My antennae began twitching when the latest round in the campaign for legalised ‘medical cannabis’ began back last autumn. The instigator was the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drugs Policy Reform chaired by one Baroness Molly Meacher and its ammunition a misleading and derivative report: Accessing Medicinal Cannabis: Meeting Patients’ Needs.
With a general election under way it seems the good Baroness and her backers have decided to give their ‘medipot’ campaign another crack of the whip, ever hopeful of a change of government heart over legalising so-called medicinal cannabis.
What could be wrong with that, I hear you ask. Well, if I was sceptical about the stated purpose of this report when it was first published, I am even more so this time. Why? First, because the case for medicinal cannabis is based on a false premise, which the recent licensing of cannabidiol demonstrates again. Second, the scientific research on its efficacy doesn’t stack up too well. And third, there no safe way of using the unprocessed plant for recreational let alone medical purposes.
To recap, contrary to received wisdom, no one has stopped or is stopping the scientific study of the chemicals in cannabis for medicinal purposes. Two approved cannabis-derived medications, Marinol and Sativex, exist already and a third, Epidiolex is undergoing clinical trials at the moment. In addition to this, the non psycho-active CBD or cannabidiol has been approved by Britain’s medicines regulatory authority, the MHRA, and the compound is now to be licensed and regulated as a medicine.
Evidence of the efficacy of the derived compounds of cannabis for the wide range of symptoms they have been tested on is at best weak. This is what a dispassionate systematic research review conducted by the American Academy of Neurology and endorsed by the American Autonomic Society, the American Epilepsy Society, the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses, and the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, shows.
There are indisputable scientific and safety reasons for why the whole unprocessed cannabis plant is not and will never be approved as a medicine; that’s unless we chose to revert to medieval quackery and throw all scientific and safety advances out of the window. It is not just that cannabis risks (addiction, psychosis, cancer, impaired cognitive functioning, to name but some) outweigh any possible benefits, but that as a natural ‘herb’ it is untested for pathogens and bacteria. Who is their right mind would chose mould over an approved antibiotic? And where is the luminary who thinks smoking is a sensible medication delivery system? – which is how most cannabis users chose to ingest the weed.
But rational science hasn’t stopped the medipot activists in their tracks. Over the last few months they’ve been relentlessly pressing their victimhood status on the media and the inequity they suffer of not having a free and easy access to their preferred untested drug, i.e. dope. They have really been doing rather well at convincing the media of their non-existent problem. The Daily Mail even fell for it this week, reiterating the campaigners’ victim meme of being sick people unjustly prosecuted by harsh and uncompromising authorities for the crime of tending to their pain when, in fact, it is the regulatory authorities who are protecting people from poisoning themselves.
No wonder Baroness Meacher, chair of the aforesaid APPG, sounded so triumphant on the airwaves yesterday as she pushed the case for medipot to an all believing radio host. Even the Mail (all that has stood between us and drugs legalisation, she as much as said) had finally written a balanced article on the topic, she crowed.
She herself certainly was not balanced. I cannot make up my mind, given her ‘economy with truth’ regarding drug statistics on previous occasions that I have taken her up on, here, and here whether the Baroness is just daft and deluded, genuinely ingenuous, or, more worryingly, actively disingenuous.
Running true to form, Baroness Meacher failed in her interview (go to circa one hour, 6 minutes into the programme) to either mention the medicines approval system or the recent licensing of cannabidiol as a medicine. She also misled the public, deliberately it seemed, by giving the impression that the UK government has actively frustrated cannabis-based research when it hasn’t. In fact, the opposite is the case, as drugs policy analyst David Raynes made clear on the same programme. The UK government broke ground when it licensed research into cannabis in 1998.
In the absence of research, her spurious argument went, there remains a medical need for public access to the raw cannabis plant and therefore an end to its classification as a harmful recreational drug. There we had it.
The truth is that the APPG on Drugs Policy Reform she chairs is hardly an independent or dispassionate body. It is funded by The Open Society, which is in turn is a George Soros front. According to the Washington Times (Source: www.washingtontimes.com 2nd April 2014) this is the billionaire philanthropist who, with a cadre of like-minded, wealthy donors, has dominated the pro-legalisation side of the marijuana debate in the US by funding grass-roots movements in every state. No wonder so many capitulated. Through a network of nonprofit groups, Mr. Soros has spent at least $80 million on these drugs legalisation efforts since 1994. And more in the last three years.
I fear the APPG’s effort (ably backed by Nick Clegg who also seems oblivious to the relationship between cannabis and mental illness) is but the latest in a line of such campaigns whose objective is effectively to legalise recreational cannabis.
These go back to 1979 when Keith Stroup of NORML, the group “that speaks for pot users’ originally admitted that medipot was a red herring to get pot a good name. More recently he revealed that he was not too keen on cannabis compounds being subjected to scientific drug research trials. He said that the “pharmaceuticalisation” of cannabis was a battleground to be fought in order to protect ‘the options of patients’ – to smoke dope as it is.
I wonder if this too is why Meacher is so reluctant to give a full account of cannabis research and medical regulation? It rather pulls her medi-pot carpet from under her feet.