27 Jun Nanny State? Tabloid Lies? Now, So-Called Reformers Are Doing It For Themselves.
Skunk scaremongering is blossoming again. This time though it’s not dire warnings from the Home Office or the Institute of Psychiatry drumming up some new research funding. It’s not even the Daily Mail or, more likely these days, the Daily Telegraph, misreporting some obscure study and turning every ‘might‘ and ‘may‘ and ‘could‘ into terrible, scary certainty. No, this time it’s the newbie intake of so-called ‘reformers’, who are doing an excellent job of misleading, exaggerating and overstating all by themselves.
As we’ve fought back the systematic lies of the last 50 years a new intake of people interested in cannabis law reform has emerged. It’s respectable these days to discuss the subject and you’re not immediately dismissed as a loony pothead, which is a very good thing. A large part of this is due to the Liberal Democrats who, after fiddling with the issue for some time, now have a coherent and well thought through policy. Sadly though, many are still confused about the difference between cannabis and heroin. Bless them, they are trying but they’re making some unhelpful mistakes along the way.
We must not compromise facts and evidence for the illusory belief that buying into the scare stories will somehow advance our cause. We need to push back at the scaremongering, acknowledge there are risks but that they are extremely small. This week, in a deeply damaging initiative, so-called reformers are telling us:
“Skunk is bad news. Bad for the health of some ““ though not all ““ of the people who use it. Bad for the public image of cannabis. And bad for those of us who long for a more sensible debate about drugs.”
Of course, ‘skunk’ is not bad news at all. The word has been selected and promoted by the tabloid media because of its obvious, sensationalist, negative connotations. It’s actually the name of one particular cannabis strain and not an especially strong one. Cannabis is available in Britain that is twice, sometimes three times as potent as skunk. The really bad news is that not only are the tabloid media running this false, misleading, scare story but now so-called reformers are as well!
Even worse, the dreadful, irresponsible overdosing of Jon Snow on Channel 4’s ‘Drugs Live: Cannabis’ is advanced in support of this specious argument. Under the supervision of Professor Val Curran of UCL, Jon Snow was required to inhale two full vapouriser bags of cannabis vapour, holding in each inhalation for a count of eight. Of course, anyone with any practical experience and real knowledge of cannabis would recognise the stupidity of this. It’s perhaps akin to asking a teetotaler to drink half a bottle of scotch in 10 minutes. Nevertheless this is what was done and the result was catastrophic, both on Jon Snow’s experience and the consequent, inflammatory reporting.
Val Curran is generally on the side of reform but she made very grave errors in this study. In summary:
1. The cannabis used wasn’t skunk, as claimed, which has 8% THC, it was super silver haze, as marketed by Bedrocan under the brand name Bedrobinol with 13% THC.
2. The dosage was supposed to be equivalent to two-thirds of a regular joint but joints only deliver about 30% of cannabinoid content, whereas vapourisers deliver about 70%.
3. The instruction to hold each inhalation for account of eight is against all good practice and deprived the brain of oxygen whilst the lungs were almost drowned in cannabis vapour. Research shows that most of the cannabinoid content is absorbed immediately without the need to hold the vapour in.
So Jon Snow was irresponsibly and recklessly overdosed and this was used further to demonise skunk, which wasn’t even the cannabis used.
As ever, our aim is to make the truth about cannabis CLEAR. That means we support a cautious approach to reform. Firstly because there are a few vulnerable people who do need protection from themselves but mainly to appease the fears and misunderstanding that persist after so many years of propaganda and organised misinformation. We recognise that we shouldn’t move immediately to allow unrestrained marketing of cannabis without strict regulation. This is a necessary stage in, if you like, the ‘rehabilitation’ of cannabis into our society.
The protection of children is, of course, one of the principal objectives of reform and distributing cannabis through licensed outlets will minimise underage access. The evidence from the Netherlands and Colorado is conclusive. So ‘think of the children’ is at the root of all sensible reform proposals and it’s something we can set aside as we consider other aspects of regulation.
When Nick Clegg gave those first interviews about cannabis law reform, he really did respond to questions about cannabis with answers about heroin. ‘It’s a health issue. Addicts need treatment not punishment’. His key soundbite: “If you are anti-drugs you should be pro-reform“. Then we had the LibDems’ document: “˜A framework for a regulated market for cannabis in the UK’, which is a lightly edited version of Transform’s ‘Blueprint’.
Transform is an estimable organisation which until recently didn’t want to address the issue of cannabis law reform in isolation from other drug markets. However, shall we say ‘market forces’ have changed its view on that and it now regularly weighs in on cannabis policy as a separate issue. The problem is it’s stuck in its ‘drugs are dangerous, therefore they need to be regulated’ mode. True enough for dangerous drugs but not for cannabis which for 95% of people, 95% of the time, causes no problems at all.
Thus the skunk scaremongering is reinforced by those who claim to be on the side of reform. The Volteface article goes on to talk about the importance of CBD which is quite correct but the damage is already done. Why can’t we stick to science, evidence and facts?
We need to tell the truth, not succumb to the skunk scaremongering.
Cannabis is not dangerous except to a tiny proportion of the population. For a far higher proportion of the population, peanuts are so dangerous they are life threatening.
Skunk is a mild form of cannabis with a scary name. Any scientist or doctor, let alone journalist, who uses the word, is almost certainly using it inaccurately.
Cannabis that contains CBD produces a far more pleasant effect which is also more therapeutically beneficial for those who need it as medicine. Regulate the production of cannabis and we can all enjoy a higher CBD content.