Tag Archives: cannabis

POLL: Does anybody care about all these Tory leadership hopefuls and their druggie pasts?

Andrea Leadsom: She’s the fourth Tory leadership candidate to admit having smoked “weed”.

Can somebody please tell me how having taken drugs in the past makes someone a better candidate to be the leader of the Conservative Party – let alone prime minister?

Jeremy Hunt was the first; he admitted taking a cannabis lassi (it’s a kind of drink made in India).

Then Rory Stewart said he took opium at a wedding in Iran, prompting speculation in some quarters that he was pre-empting a revelation – possibly by a rival.

And then the floodgates opened.

Boris Johnson took cocaine and cannabis at college. Can anybody say they’re surprised?

Dominic Raab has had cannabis, and so has Andrea Leadsom.

And Michael Gove took cocaine. In his confession, he went on at length about the drug’s harmful effects (“drugs damage lives”) and about his feelings on the subject now (“it is something I deeply regret”). This caused more rancour than the straight confessions of the others.

Green MP Caroline Lucas said it was “rank hypocrisy” to admit to “mistakes” while “backing policies that perpetuate harm”.

Crispin Blunt, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for drug policy reform, said: “Michael has delivered a politically-crafted and deeply unconvincing hand-wringing statement of regret for committing a victimless crime. He should have used the opportunity to join a vital and urgent policy debate.”

Ex-Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron pointed out that all six “continue to back policies that send less fortunate folk to prison for the same thing. It’s disgusting”.

And current Lib Dem leadership hopeful Ed Davey observed: “They might all be historical confessions but the way this Tory leadership is going it’s like they’re all off their heads.”

That certainly appears to be the conclusion of the satirists, who have been having great fun concocting fictional pasts for other MPs. I particularly enjoyed the idea of Jacob Rees-Mogg having used camphorated tincture of laudanum with his nanny in 1899.

And apparently Larry the Downing Street Cat has admitted a continuing fondness for catnip. Well, why not?

In the interests of full disclosure, This Writer is happy to admit a long history of substance abuse including cocktails of diesel, metal polish and (when I can get it) Uranium-239. We journalists run on heavy fuel!

But there is a serious question here.

The issue of illegal drugs has been a major political football for decades. Remember the “war on drugs”? The lives of millions of people have been affected – many ruined – by organised drug-pushers; Michael Gove wasn’t wrong about that. And many people have been punished – sometimes jailed – simply for possession of certain substances.

And the hypocrisy of the mass media should also be taken into account. Remember the thunderous furore after Diane Abbott drank a mojito on a train? In comparison, we get hardly a whimper after people who may become prime minister confessed to serious historical crimes.

Against this background, it is right to question the attitude of these confessors. Let’s have a poll:

Source: Tory leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom becomes 6th candidate to admit drugs past – Mirror Online

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Cannabis-based medicines to be prescribed in the UK from autumn

Legalised: Cannabis oil.

This is a welcome announcement.

Cannabis oil is said to help with cancer, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, gout, glaucoma, opioid dependence, alcohol abuse, epilepsy, psoriasis, anorexia, asthma, adrenal disease, inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia (Mrs Mike will be pleased), rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, multiple sclerosis and other conditions.

I hope someone keeps an eye on trends in the health service, and records the effect of releasing these medicines to the British public.

Doctors in the UK can prescribe cannabis-derived medicine after the government announced a relaxation of laws governing access to the substance.

Thousands of people with drug-resistant conditions will potentially be able to use cannabis-derived medicinal products for treatment after the home secretary, Sajid Javid, announced they should be placed in schedule 2 of the 2001 Misuse of Drugs Regulations, allowing clinicians to prescribe them by the autumn.

Source: Cannabis-based medicines get green light as UK eases rules | Society | The Guardian

Five US states can vote to legalize marijuana on Presidential Election Day

[Image: Getty].

[Image: Getty].


Depending on who becomes President, they may need it!

But seriously, what will it mean for the so-called war on drugs?

Will it demonstrate that marijuana is not the ‘gateway drug’ it has been accused of being, if it is legalised for recreational use?

What are the implications for medical research?

And what do we think about it over here in the UK, where it was recently upgraded back to a level ‘B’ status after a brief period as a category ‘C’ drug?

On Election Day, five states—California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada—will vote on making marijuana a legal recreational drug. In three others—Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota—voters will decide if they want to legalize medical marijuana. In Montana, voters will decide whether or not to ease restrictions on their medical marijuana system.

Voters in California will decide on Proposition 64, a measure that would allow folks 21 ages and up use the drug recreationally. The prop would regulate a 15 percent sales tax and the drug’s cultivation would also be taxed. Most of the profits would go to researching the drug and enforcing regulations.

In Arizona, Proposition 205, would enact laws similar to other states, and residents would be permitted to possess up to 1 ounce and grow up to six plants on their property.

Voters in Maine can legalize the drug for recreational use with Question 1 and place a 10 percent sales tax on the drug. Residents would be required to use marijuana in non-public places. However, Maine’s governor isn’t down with legalizing weed and has even called it deadly.

In Massachusetts, Question 4 would legalize marijuana and allow the commonwealth to regulate use and place taxes on the drug. Residents 21 years and up would be able to use and grow the drug. They would be permitted to keep less than 10 ounces in their homes and less than 1 ounce in public.

Voters in Nevada will decide on Question 2, a proposal that would allow people over 21 years old to possess and grow marijuana. The measure would also authorize marijuana retail stores and testing facilities to open up shop. Forty-seven percent of residents support the measure, according to a recent poll by Bendixen & Amandi International.

Source: Five states can vote to legalize marijuana on Election Day | The Independent

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MPs debate cannabis legalisation; no change made

cameron-hypocrite-cartoon-cannabis

Did anybody think there would be?

The debate in the Westminster Hall today (Monday) followed the submission of an e-petition to the Parliament website calling for the legalisation of cannabis, signed by 220,000 people – more than twice the number needed to gain a hearing among MPs.

Labour MP Paul Flynn, opening the debate, said: “I would like to illustrate how this Government—like all Governments—have handled this issue. It is typified by the response we had to this thunderously eloquent petition.

“The Government response begins with the statement that ‘cannabis is…harmful’.

“Cannabis is the oldest medicine in the world. It has been trialled and tested by tens of millions of people over 5,000 years. If there were any problems with natural cannabis, that would have been apparent a long time ago. However, all we have is this wall of denial by Governments who are afraid of the subject, afraid of becoming unpopular and afraid of it being said that they are going to pot.

I am not unrealistic, and I do not expect the Government to make a volte-face on recreational cannabis, but they should explain their position and realise what is going on. However, the case for medical cannabis, including in its natural form, is overwhelming.”

Some of that case was made by other MPs. Conservative (yes, Conservative!) Graham Stuart said: “My constituent B- M- suffers from Crohn’s disease and psoriatic arthritis, and she is allergic to most of the pharmaceutical medicines that are prescribed—in fact, they have given her ulcers. She has found effective pain relief only through cannabis… Sadly, the current situation sees her forced into the company of illegal drug dealers.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “The biggest scandal is that this Government, like successive Governments, have set their face against the evidence… If we look at an evidence-based approach, there is absolutely no correlation between a drug’s legal status and the amount it gets used. In other words, prohibition simply does not work.”

Former Social Security Secretary Peter Lilley (Con), who co-sponsored the debate, said: “There are practical reasons for wanting to move to legalisation. First, attempts to prohibit the sale and use of cannabis have failed. It is readily available and widely used.

“The second point is that they have failed despite the fact that 80 per cent of the effort in the so-called war on drugs goes on trying to prohibit the use of cannabis. If we provided some legal outlets for cannabis, that enforcement effort, the treatment effort and so on could be diverted to tackling hard drugs, which really do harm people, enslave people and, sometimes, kill people.

“Thirdly, keeping on the statute books a law that is widely ignored and impossible to enforce undermines faith not just in that law, but in law and the legal system more generally.

“Finally, legalisation would deprive the criminal world of a large and lucrative market.”

But Mike Penning, minister for policing, crime and criminal justice, wasn’t having any of it. The most he could offer was: “I am committed to working with other Departments and whoever else wants to work with us to ensure that, in the 21st century, where cannabis can be helpful through pharmaceuticals, we will try to make sure that that happens. I am committed to looking at the research and at what work we should be doing. This debate has been enormously useful, but I cannot support the petition.”

And that was the bottom line.

It’s sad to say that the conclusion to be reached after this debate is not one about whether cannabis should, shouldn’t, will or won’t be legalised, but about the usefulness of government e-petitions – and it is this:

We might as well write our petitions on toilet paper and flush them into the sewers. The Conservative Government we have now would pay just as much attention and respect to that as it will to anything coming in via the e-petitions website.

Bombs and the bong are on MPs’ agendas – Monday in Parliament

Cameron and cannabis: It is said that the Prime Minister smoked 'wacky baccy' at Eton (or maybe in Oxford), but that' doesn't mean he's ready to legalise it! What about other MPs? The debate is today (October 12).

Cameron and cannabis: It is said that the Prime Minister smoked ‘wacky baccy’ at Eton (or maybe in Oxford), but that’ doesn’t mean he’s ready to legalise it! What about other MPs? The debate is today (October 12).

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party will receive its first test today (Monday) with an adjournment debate to be launched by one of his own MPs, who supports military action in Syria – against the wishes of her boss.

Jo Cox should know her proposal for “a three-pronged strategy in which military intervention by UK forces would complement fresh humanitarian and diplomatic initiatives” doesn’t have enough detail to be persuasive, but she’s probably hoping this won’t matter.

As the Graun stated, “it would be a huge blow to the leader’s authority if a vote was passed with the backing of a sizable number of Labour MPs”.

It would also be a huge blow to the credibility of the Parliamentary Labour Party as a whole if a large number of its MPs rebelled against the wishes of the 59 per cent of the party who want to see Mr Corbyn’s policies supported in the Commons.

Ms Cox must be aware of this, so it is difficult to fathom the reasoning behind her actions. Let us hope she will illuminate us all during the debate.

Another kind of illumination is enjoyed by people who partake of the cannabis plant for recreational amusement.

An e-petition calling for Parliament to legalise the controversial recreational drug has achieved more than the required 100,000 signatures needed for it to be considered for debate – and is to get that debate in the Westminster Hall, between 4.30 and 7.30pm.

It has been said that cannabis has many medicinal uses, not least in pain relief, but some doctors say it can cause serious mental health issues also. Attempts to refine the drug, emphasising its beneficial effects, are taking place.

Will that be a feature of the debate? We’ll soon find out.

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Foiled! Lords veto Coalition bid to make being ‘annoying’ an arrestable offence

140108ipna

The Conservative-led Coalition government has suffered a major setback in its plan for an oppressive law to criminalise any behaviour that may be deemed a nuisance or annoyance.

The Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was intended to allow police the power to arrest any group in a public place who constables believe may upset someone. It was rejected by 306 votes to 178, after peers on all sides of the House condemned the proposal as one that would eliminate carol-singing and street preaching, bell-ringing and – of course – political protests.

It seems the Lords are more interested than our would-be tyrants in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Cabinet in the basic assumption of British law – that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

The politics.co.uk website, reporting the government’s defeat, said the new law would have introduced Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs) to replace Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs).

It explained: “Whereas an Asbo can only be granted if a person or group is causing or threatening to cause ‘harassment, alarm or distress’ to someone else, an Ipna could be approved merely if a judge believes the behaviour in question is ‘capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person’.

“Opinion could have been swayed by a mistake from Lord Faulks, the Tory peer widely expected to shortly become a minister who was asked to give an example of the sort of behaviour which might be captured by the bill.

“He described a group of youths who repeatedly gathered at a specific location, smoking cannabis and playing loud music in a way representing ‘a day-by-day harassment of individuals’.

“That triggered consternation in the chamber as peers challenged him over the word ‘harassment’ – a higher bar than the ‘nuisance or annoyance’ threshold he was arguing in favour of.

“‘I find it difficult to accept a Conservative-led government is prepared to introduce this lower threshold in the bill,’ Tory backbencher Patrick Cormack said.

“‘We are sinking to a lower threshold and in the process many people may have their civil liberties taken away from them.'”

It is the judgement of the general public that this is precisely the intention.

Peers repeatedly quoted Lord Justice Sedley’s ruling in a 1997 high court case, when he declared: “Freedom to only speak inoffensively is not worth having.”

It is interesting to note that the government tried a well-used tactic – making a minor concession over the definition of ‘annoyance’ before the debate took place, in order to win the day. This has served the Coalition well in the past, particularly during the fight over the Health and Social Care Act, in which claims were made about GPs’ role in commissioning services, about the future role of the Health Secretary, and about the promotion of private health organisations over NHS providers.

But today the Lords were not fooled and dismissed the change in agreement with the claim of civil liberties group Liberty, which said – in words that may also be applied to the claims about the Health Act – that they were “a little bit of window dressing” and “nothing substantial has changed“.

A further concession, changing the proposal for an IPNA to be granted only if it is “just and convenient to do so” into one for it to be granted if it targets conduct which could be “reasonably expected to cause nuisance or annoyance” was torpedoed by Lord Dear, who rightly dismissed it as “vague and imprecise“.

That is a criticism that has also been levelled at that other instrument of repression, the Transparency of Lobbying Bill. Lord Blair, the former Metropolitan police commissioner, invited comparison between the two when he described the Antisocial Behaviour Bill in the same terms previously applied to the Lobbying Bill: “This is a piece of absolutely awful legislation.”

The defeat means the Bill will return to the House of Commons, where MPs will have to reconsider their approach to freedom of speech, under the scrutiny of a general public that is now much more aware of the threat to it than when the Bill was first passed by our allegedly democratic representatives.

With a general election only 16 months away, every MP must know that every decision they make could affect their chances in 2015.

We must judge them on their actions.

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