31 May “MS Patients Denied Licensed Cannabis Drug By NHS”, The Guardian, 30th May 2011

This excellent article by the Guardian’s Denis Campbell can be seen here.

I have today sent the following letter for publication.


The whole Sativex story is a scam predicated on a confidence trick which relies on the stupid and self-defeating policy of prohibition.

Both the US and UK governments deny the medicinal benefits of cannabis, despite the huge wealth of peer reviewed scientific research to the contrary. The US government’s hypocrisy is best demonstrated by the patent it registered in 2003, no. 6630507, “for cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants for limiting neurological damage following stroke or physical trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia”. The British government’s hypocrisy is best demonstrated by Sativex.

Sativex is cannabis. It is the product of two strains of the plant, one sativa grown to be high in THC, one ruderalis grown to high in CBD. The medicine is manufactured by a CO2 extraction process which uses ethanol to precipitate a tincture of cannabis containing all the cannabinoids, terpenoids and other compounds present in the plant. GW Pharma led the government to believe that Sativex is an extract of THC and CBD, some sort of sophisticated pharmaceutical preparation but this is not true. It is pharmacologically identical to the cannabis grown illegally in people’s own homes or by government approved growers in Holland, 16 US states or Israel. Sativex is sold at something like 10 times the price that the organised crime bosses charge.for the same product on the streets of Britain. An identical medicine can be grown easily and safely in people’s own homes or greenhouses for virtually nothing. It is a confidence trick to pretend Sativex is anything different.

GW does achieve a consistent and standardised dosage in its sophisticated grow rooms but Bedrocan, the Dutch government’s grower, achieves exactly the same thing in the herbal product that it exports all over Europe. It requires no more skill than do consistent crops of tomatoes, cucumbers or roses.

The Home Office’s endless repetition that there are no medicinal benefits in herbal cannabis is absolute nonsense and a blatant untruth. It faces a very difficult situation at present because the ACMD has recommended re-classifying Sativex as a schedule 4 drug but it cannot be scheduled under a brand name, it has to be scheduled under a scientifically accurate description. There is no alternative except simply to call it cannabis because that is what it is The Home Office is therefore in full scale procrastination mode.

GW deserves congratulation for bringing the benefits of cannabinoid medicne to market. Massive donations to the Labour party secured its unique licence from the Home Office but this situation cannot continue. It is fundamentally dishonest and is preventing millionms of British citizens from access to the medicine they need.

Cannabis offers enormous therapeutic benefits for many conditions other than MS. Crohn’s, cancer, most neurodegenerative diseases, depression, PTSD, glaucoma, autism, the list goes on and on. It is a scandal of government misinformation and untruths that denies this to British citizens. As the Sativex scam unravels, it seems that the truth may finally be revealed.

Peter Reynolds, Leader, Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR)

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