News Release – Corby By-Election -The Great Skunk Scare

    Contact: Peter Reynolds
    Tel: 07880872022


     The Great Skunk Scare

    If there is a problem with ‘skunk’ in Britain, then it is successive governments and their foolhardy drugs policies that have caused it.

    In recent years there has been a lot of press coverage claiming cannabis has changed and is now far more harmful than it used to be. Cannabis certainly has changed but it’s important to understand how and why.

    20 years ago most of the cannabis on sale in the UK was hashish, mostly imported from Morocco. Herbal cannabis was much less common.

    Hashish is a concentrated form of cannabis, the resin rubbed or sifted from the plant and compressed into blocks or slabs of dense brown or black material. Because of the global war against cannabis this supply was reduced through the 1990s and the demand was filled by a new source of supply, herbal cannabis grown indoors under lights, the so-called ‘skunk’.

    The claim often made about skunk is that it is very much stronger than the hashish we used to import from North Africa. The truth is far more complex.

    Cannabis is not a simple, one molecule drug like alcohol, cocaine or heroin. It contains more than 400 different compounds, the most important of which are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The relative proportions of these are crucial to the effect of cannabis. It is this that has changed with the predominance of skunk.

    THC is the component that produces most of the ‘high’ but CBD is important because it counterbalances the effect of THC and makes it more mellow and pleasant. The hashish from North Africa was often as high in THC as is skunk but also included high levels of CBD. Skunk usually has very little CBD.

    The problem is that a very small minority of people may be at risk of mental health problems from cannabis which contains high levels of THC without the balancing effects of CBD.

    The ratio of THC to CBD is determined mostly by the type or strain of plant and also by how it is grown. CBD develops later in the life of the plant and so criminal gangs, growing for maximum profit, harvest earlier and produce cannabis with less CBD.

    So the changes that have happened to the cannabis available in Britain are entirely caused by the laws against it. It was prohibition that created the market for skunk by choking off the supplies of imported hashish. Skunk cannabis is a product of prohibition, one of the many unintended consequences caused by irrational and dangerous drugs policies.

    So when government or the media claims that cannabis is more harmful than it used to be they fail to recognise that in the 5,000 or so years of recorded history of cannabis this change has only occurred in the years since prohibition was introduced. If a problem exists, they caused it.

    Peter Reynolds, leader of CLEAR, said:

    “The government claims that cannabis is a controlled drug but nothing could be further from the truth. Prohibition places all the control in the hands of violent, profit hungry criminals. We must ensure that the huge demand for cannabis is met with a safer product. We could have labels specifying the contents of THC, CBD and the other components. It really is time we took responsibility for this multi-billion pound market and regulated it properly”

    Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) is a political party registered with the Electoral Commission under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) to promote the cause of cannabis law reform, with the aim of replacing the anarchic mess of prohibition with a framework of real legal control which would allow proper control of the trade, ensure proper regulation of the product in terms of strength and purity and provide proper protection for vulnerable people such as children.



    If you would like more information on this topic or an other aspect of the work of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), or to arrange an interview with Peter Reynolds please contact him on 07880 872022

    or contact the CLEAR Press agent Derek Williams 07941 238908

    Cannabis Law Reform, PO Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, Surrey RH1 9BN United Kingdom

    • Glenn Briski

      I don’t see skunk as such a massive problem. If it weren’t for skunk then people would just smoke more to achieve the desired effects, and I always thought that more smoke means more problems. Also the problem with hash was that it was had to be mixed with tobacco when smoked in a joint, which as your Toke Pure campaign points out, is one of the biggest problems associated with cannabis.

    • Les Hall

      The most common Hash was Lebanese, which disappeared when the war in Lebanon started. The problem with skunk is exactly the same as any other GM plant, with the addition of being cultivated by amateurs. Prohibition is the cause, and legalisation is the answer, which will allow the necessary research and quality control, primarily for its medicinal value, most importantly. This truth is now challenged only by the most ill-informed or opinionated critics.

    • Les Hall

      Hash does not need tobacco, and skunk is nothing like the natural plant which it originated from. Smoking more won’t give the same result …… is quality, not quantity, that is important. My experience with cannabis started 49 years ago, and todays produce is inferior in quality.

    • Oliver M

      I recently watch the Joe Rogan podcast with Tommy Chong on it and he stated that the cannabis has stayed the same potency since he started smoking which is atleast since 1978 as that is when up in smoke came out and he had been alive for forty years. I don’t see the evidence that people who smoke weed for a long time are prone to mental illness. Also Tommy Chong talks about what he could have done first to cure his cancer and one of the medication side effects was alzheimer’s. How ridiculous is that taking a medication that can seriously damage people lives as too taking some cannabis flower and smoking it or extracting the oil so its even less damaging.

    • Peter Reynolds

      Ah… Lebanese hash, those were the days! You certainly don’t need tobacco. Oily, soft and sweet, it’s the perfect fuel for a small metal pipe.

      Glenn, I don’t see skunk as a problem either (unless a 12 year old is smoking it) but the public does. True, that is because of misinformation and propaganda but it is the reality. We have to explain.

      Also, Les, skunk has nothing to do with GM. The hundreds of new strains are hybrids, just as you might choose when you buy vegetable seeds. They are achieved with the entirely natural process of selective breeding.

    • Sour Alien

      I think the problem with Skunk is, people think its slang for stronger strains, and prohibitionists have used this term to further the demonization and scare people. Like when Anslinger named Cannabis, ‘Marijuana’ to make it sound Scary and Mexican. Skunk is just a name of a very specific strain of cannabis, bred by the Dutch years and years ago, officially known as Skunk#1 (genetics are Colombian, Mexican and Afghan). But that is one strain out of hundreds! In fact, obtaining the Skunk#1 strain in the UK is rare, dealers only push the stronger stuff and Skunk#1 isnt exactly known for strength.

      Skunk is slang for something though, separating males from females in the growing process, leaving them non pollinated and seedless. But this process has been going on for thousands of years, its nothing new. So you could argue Skunk is actually slang for ‘sensimillia’ meaning ‘Without Seeds’. But in reality, its just the name of a very specific strain, hard to find in the UK but not impossible. ‘Cheese’ and ‘Haze’ varieties are much more common. It really annoys me when people use the term Skunk-cannabis.

    • Peter Reynolds

      Skunk cannabis is a term invented to sensationalise but we have to deal with it for that very reason.

      Sinsemilla is a concept that has been around for ages but let’s not deny it, there is a new type of cannabis, many hundreds of strains, bred more skillfully, grown using more advanced lighting, ventilation and nutrient technology to force high quality and maximum yield.

      What shall we call it?

    • Sour Alien

      We should call this new type of cannabis, cannabis grown to its full potential? To call it Skunk-Cannabis is too strain specific and misleading. Why not call it SourDiesel-Cannabis or LemonHaze-Cannabis if we want the name to be associated with potency?

      I do not deny that unregulated and untested breeding has gone on. Due to the legality, man had to grow indoors, and refined genetics like Dog breeders, keeping the healthiest strongest specimen. The controllable environment and nutrient tech ensures the plants reach full potential, but doesnt necessarily mean stronger cannabis, that would be down to the genetics, and no lighting is more advanced than the Sun (well, With British weather i guess you could argue that).

    • maxwood

      Naming the System:

      Years ago hitchhiking I passed by Richmond, Virginia on an interstate highway and saw a big hotel building downtown with a partly defective sign: HOT.. VIRGIN.. Well obviously the city government had to know about that but were doing nothing about it, they liked the label? Well, I’m reminded of that when I see discussions of “separating males from females… leaving them unpollenated” i.e. hot frustrated virgins. Probably it is that same frustrated passionate female hormone that humans crave and use in their metabolism even after a single toke (see Wikiversity: Ethnobotany). The cannabis plant has stickyized its exsterior, so to speak, in order to trap airporne pollen particles. Hot Virgin Sticiky Baum HVSB?

      All dispute over herbal stength is moot if every individual is equipped to titrate their own dosage by means of a 25-mg-single-serving screened SMALL METAL PIPE with flexible long drawtube. Directions how to make your own one-hitter (including eventually choomette, kiseru, midwakh or sebsi traditional subtypes) are found in Make Smoke Pipes from Everyday Objects and Make a 1/4-inch-diameter Screen for a Single Toke Utensil– please sign in, edit, improve articles, add photos of equipment. etc. An ounce of herb sifted through 1/16′-MESH sieve yields 800-1000 25-mg single tokes– depending on the quantity of twigs ()teaPOT) and seeds (flowerPOT) removed.

      Revised procedural verses for lighting:

      Hold the feu
      an inch below;

      suck slow,
      don’t glow

      till after 19 (igniting)
      seconds or so–

      Thus getting more GO (THC, CBD etc.)
      for your dough (but less CO).

      Thus to PROPER REGULATION OF THE PRODUCT is added PROPER REGULATION OF DOSAGE AND IMPACT, and psychiatric and physical hazards caused by 500-mg HBOMS (Hot Burning Overdose Monoxide $igarette papers, including fateful mix-use with tobacco) but heretofore blamed on cannabis will disappear, removing last vestiges of an excuse for prohibition.

    • Andy Shaman-E

      Cannabis-and by the correct name of the strain.

    • disqus_W2pLTkgaLL

      I agree with this 100%. Quality cannabis should be called just that, quality cannabis. If you wish for further technicality then the specific strain name/cross is of course also helpful. Even ‘high grade’ is better than calling it skunk.

      Even with it being high grade, this means nothing. It’s like comparing a bottle of vodka to a bottle of bacardi breezer. Sure one is more concentrated but isn’t that preferred?

      Anyhow, how likely are you to even find the sativa dom strain Skunk in the UK? Not very.

      And for the love of god, please stop saying ‘skunk is a product of prohibition’. This website is a product of prohibition. So f*****g what? What does that even f*****g mean?

      I am disappointed to see such an article on CLEAR, I thought you’d know better. This isn’t the Daily Mail. Skunk is a misnomer. Using the word skunk is an instant and clear indication that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Perhaps this party isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    • Paul Oakley

      Skunk has become very rare to find in the UK especially since the reclassification from class c drug back to class b. Skunk no1 super skunk and crystal skunk are amongst many different strains available in the Netherlands, non of which are particuly strong, more of a mellow smoke, what the media identify as skunk in the UK is mostly a strain of cannabis known as cheese which is very british indeed just like banks’s bitter or british beef, now sold in u.s dispensarys and Amsterdam coffeeshops as UK cheese.

    • Sour Alien

      True, the parents of the UK cheese are Skunk No. 1 and Afghani. To find an original Skunk strain or phenotype on its own is very rare. In fact, i dont think i have ever heard of someone obtaining it in the UK, in my circle anyway.

      Thanks to ‘Big Buddha’, Cheese has now become famous all across the world, and thanks to the breeders we now have many different Cheese varieties. ‘Blue Cheese’ (crossed with Dj Shorts Blueberry) ‘Chiesel’ (crossed with the Soma’s NY Diesel) and my favourite ‘Cheesus’ (crossed with God Bud from BC).

    • Sour Alien

      It is a big shame prohibitionists have used the term skunk to further the demonization, but i guess, if it wasnt ‘skunk’ it would of been something else. Its a concern, because even anti prohibition cannabis smokers think ‘Skunk’ Means new stronger cannabis. I have to bore them with a lecture every time lol. The more we get people, smokers or not, to understand Skunk is just the name of a very specific strain which is almost unobtainable commercially in the UK, the more people will understand its just a name being used to scare people. As Peter said, Skunk cannabis is a term invented to sensationalise, so lets spread the word, and correct the misinformed.

    • Peter Reynolds

      I think you need to try thinking about it Mr Anonymous instead of just blurting out foul language. Obviously this isn’t an issue for those that understand cannabis but it is very much an issue for those who don’t, who are by far in the majority. A little humility, some manners and the application of intelligence will better advance our cause.

    • Sour Alien

      Nicely said!

    • disqus_W2pLTkgaLL

      My incidental anonymity is irrelevant but have a gold star for noticing Mr Reynolds.

      I think my above message was a little more than just blurting out foul language but again I congratulate you for noticing the two swearwords and ignoring the 171 others.

      It is a given that there are more who don’t understand cannabis than do. This is why I feel it is a must to explain the fact that ‘Skunk’ is just a strain created by breeders, a strain which is almost impossible to find in the UK. It is not a product of prohibition, it is a product of selective breeding.

      However according to the Independant Drug Monitoring Unit, ‘Skunk’ is now a used as a generic term for female sinsemilla flower heads, rather than being specific to any kind of high THC/low CDB variety. This means that any kind of herbal weed that isn’t ‘bush’ is referred to by the less informed as Skunk.

      This means that modern ‘Skunk’ does not pose the same CBD/mental health risk as the historic and unavailable ‘Skunk #1′ strain. The term ‘Skunk’ has become a Homograph, and this is what is confusing the masses – even you yourself in your article seem confused by the terms.

      These are the facts you need to present. The above three paragraphs are far more factual and informative than your article.

    • disqus_W2pLTkgaLL

      “todays produce is inferior in quality”


    • Peter Reynolds

      I agree with you on this. Les, I really cannot understand how you can suggest this. Modern cannabis in its huge variety is of far higher quality than it used to be.

    • Peter Reynolds

      You are wrong. You see it all from your point of view. You need to see it from the point of view of people who do not have the knowledge and understanding that you have and who have been subject to the ‘skunk’ scare stories.

    • Sour Alien

      I agree, we have to treat those effected by the over 40 years of propaganda like they are brainwashed in the sense that we have to slowly and carefully subject them to deprogramming. The ‘skunk’ scare is just one lie out of many.

    • disqus_W2pLTkgaLL

      I am wrong how exactly? My explanation is wrong? My last three paragraphs are incorrect? I don’t understand what you are saying.

      I /am/ explaining it to someone who has been subject to the skunk scare stories. I am explaining that it is a misnomer, a homograph, and the result of sensationalist journalism. I then explain the difference between the two terms, ‘skunk’ being the broad term for all varieties of cannabis plant and ‘skunk’ meaning a specific strain of cannabis no longer present in the UK which had the aforementioned lack of CBD.

      Are you saying that the facts should be dumbed down? Even so, I do not see how my explanation could be brushed off as too technical.

      You mentioned the application of intelligence I’m still waiting for this. Simply saying ‘you are wrong’ does not suffice.

    • disqus_W2pLTkgaLL

      Please educate yourself, you are dangerously misinformed. Cannabis is not nor has it ever been Genetically Modified. Do not criticise amateurs when your own argument is so incredibly flawed.

    • disqus_W2pLTkgaLL

      “there is a new type of cannabis, many hundreds of strains, bred more skillfully, grown using more advanced lighting, ventilation and nutrient technology to force high quality and maximum yield. What shall we call it?”

      There is no ‘new type’ of cannabis. Cannabis is cannabis. There are varieties of all plants, from parsley to tomato. Humans breed plants to increase good traits and weed out bad ones. This is natural.

      What should be call it? A red onion is still an onion. An iceburg lettuce is still lettuce. A cherry tomato is still at tomato. Strong cannabis is still cannabis. It should be called just that.

    • Peter Reynolds

      You say skunk is a term that is the result of sensational journalism” which is exactly what it says in the news release. I don’t understand what you’re really trying to pick a fight about.

    • Derek Williams

      We do have to be careful with the way we talk about this. Stength is not potency. Growing plants to produce their maximum yeild will produce a lot of resin per gram of plant – ie a strong plant, but it’s the genetics that (mostly) produce the THC/CBD ratio (ie the potency). ***

      You can grow low THC hemp “skunk style” (meaning under lights etc), but it will still be low THC hemp.

      What we’re discussing with the “skunk scare” press release is the concern over low CBD strains and there is a vary real issue of public concern here. So it is right that CLEAR talks about it.

      Forget home growers who take a pride in their grows, they are not the issue.The mainstream large scale commercial grower is interested in a high turnover of big bang for the buck looks-good weed. Those are the only considerations for the balck market commercial trade, and the result is a product that has allowed the prohibitionists to mount a campaign aginst cannabis and the term they use is “skunk”.

      Cannabis enthusists are partly to blame for this BTW. A few years ago the big “selling point” of what was called “skunk” back then was how strong it was, no consideration was given to potency, indeed no-one really understood there was a difference in the two terms.

      *** genetics mostly determine the THC/CBD balance but other factors do as well, such as when the crop is harvested. But the genetics are the overarching control, a high THC plant is always going to be just that, no matter how mature it’s allowed to get.

    • Peter Reynolds

      @disqus_W2pLTkgaLL Please moderate your tone and aggression towards everyone. We are all on the same side.

    • Glenn Briski

      I’m sure the Toke Pure campaign would be far less successful if hash was still the primary form of cannabis smoked today.

    • Sour Alien

      Agreed, but i think we have to be careful not to further the demonization of this plant by referring to stronger strains, or plants grown in doors as Skunk. Its a trend that needs breaking, and the only real way to do that is to let people know, cannabis – skunk does not mean strong cannabis. Its simply the name of a strain, or slang for removing males from females to produce seedless flowers. My previous posts shows I acknowledge the fact that genetics are responsible for strength as in high THC, the growing conditions simply allow the plants to reach maximum potential. From what iv heard, lights dont increase resin production, darkness does.

    • Peter Reynolds

      Clearly you know best.

    • disqus_W2pLTkgaLL

      Peter, your one liners are a joke. You counter logic with dismissive sarcasm. How about something constructive? My membership of this party ends here. I now understand why there was a whole fiasco against you. Goodbye.

    • Sour Alien

      We should try and stick together in my opinion. We may not agree on everything, but what we all have in common is to end prohibition.

    • Derek Williams

      In all honesty I think the term “skunk” now means cannabis gorwn under lights with hydropnics – a bit like “Hoover” means vacuum cleaners, or “gay” which now means a dull boring thing, it’s one of those words which has been given a new meaning. Yes it is a strain, but it is also this concept of intensively grown cannabis.

      It isn’t our job to correct mass culture, it’s our job to communicate a bigger concept with it.

      I don’t see a problem.

      And again, you’re confusing strength with potency, don’t do that!

    • Peter Reynolds

      This is absolutely correct. Language evolves and the word ‘skunk’ has come to mean modern cannabis, grown indoors under lights (not necessarily hydroponically). As I said before, it is a new type of cannabis, many hundreds of strains, bred more skillfully, grown using more advanced lighting, ventilation and nutrient technology to force high quality and maximum yield.

      This is what ‘skunk’ now means and there is no point in being hung up on the fact that it originally meant just one strain. Communication is what matters so that we can explain the truth about cannabis to people.

    • Sour Alien

      ”the term “skunk” now means cannabis gorwn under lights with hydropnics”

      Yes but it doesn’t mean that though, even when people misuse that word. They think Skunk means psychosis inducing modern cannabis worlds apart from cannabis grown 20 years ago, which isnt true. By the logic you use, if i use the sun instead of lights, and organic food instead of hydroponic, its not ‘skunk’ any more?

      Your job might not be to correct the masses, but given the opportunity i always make it my job. I think its our duty to correct and educate. It may only be a term used by prohibitionists to create fear and further the demonization, but its still a big issue in my book. Why go along with the nonsense when we can present the truth?

      No, im not confusing potency with strength. Please show me where i am and i will correct myself if needed.