THE POISON GARDEN website      Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 

Search thepoisongarden.co.uk:

This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Wednesday 28th March 2012

The optimistic part of me thinks UK Members of Parliament work very hard to fulfil their functions. I say this because, today, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) has published the first batch of written submissions made to its inquiry into government drugs policy. It runs to 728 pages and over 340,000 words so it is a big read even if, like the committee members, you’ve been able to read the submissions as they arrived from January to March.

The pessimistic part of me, however, worries that some of the committee members could have passed the full submissions to a researcher asking for each 2,500 word (maximum) document to be reduced to an easy to read 100 words.

I confess that in the time I’ve had available, today, I have cherry-picked certain submissions to read so I have no idea what gems I may have missed. That said I do know I’ve missed out on seven submissions that are not included in the published document. The guide for submitting evidence to select committees does say it is possible to request, but not demand, that one’s evidence remain confidential. It would have been nice for the HASC to give some indication of why the material has been withheld.

A number of the submissions are from people or organisations I’ve written about before. So, we have Kevin Sabet, not content with being, in part, responsible for the application of the drug policy that has caused such widespread harm in the USA, putting forward his views of what the UK is doing wrong.

As usual with Sabet, he presents himself as a moderate in the centre-ground before putting forward opinions that are part of the lexicon of the archetypal prohibitionist. This he does by the use of incomplete truths. He suggests that researchers found that no-one convicted of possession of cannabis received a custodial sentence but does not go on to explain that the research was not looking at this point.

Similarly, when discussing Portugal, he claims ‘there has been a surprisingly few number of rigorous analyses on the policy change’. The Hughes and Stevens paper was published online on 2nd January (I wrote about it on 6th January) and Sabet’s submission is dated ‘January 2012’ so it is not credible to suggest that he was unaware of it when he made his submission. The problem for Sabet is that the Hughes and Stevens paper is a rigorous analysis of the policy change and concludes that the results of the reform were ‘nuanced, albeit largely positive’. We know that is a point Sabet doesn’t like because he similarly ignored it at the conference I wrote about on 9th March.

On the USA, he says that ‘less than 0.7% of all state inmates were behind bars for cannabis possession only’ but doesn’t explain that the criminal justice system will often bring a charge of intending to supply against someone whose ‘possession’ offence includes a small number of growing plants.

But, in his conclusion, he goes from incomplete truth to outright lie. He says ‘the international experience with legalization’ when there is no such experience since these substances have not been legal for a very long time. Unless, that is, you accept his premise that the situation with alcohol and tobacco shows what would happen with the illegal substances but, also like Sabet, you cut the analogy short of concluding that, as with alcohol, prohibition doesn’t work.

I’ve suggested, call me cynical, that the main purpose of the HASC inquiry is to demonstrate that moving drug policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health is a mistake and, therefore, reformers who want to see drugs dealt with as a health issue are, probably, wasting their time. But, from the submissions I’ve read, today, it does seem that it is the prohibitionists who are treating the committee with disdain.

I assume the submission by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) was written by Kathy Gyngell. It comprises, mostly, a copy of her blog entry condemning the temerity of the HASC in daring to ask whether existing policy is right. I’ve written about that before so I won’t say any more about the CPS submission.

Peter Hitchens also has an odd view of what sort of written submission will impress the committee. Of course, he repeats his mantra that there is no war on drugs but there should be one but he does it by quoting extensively from his forthcoming book. I know he has done this because he finishes his submission ‘(extract from Manuscript of my own forthcoming book, ‘The War We Never Fought’)’. It takes a very special sort of arrogance to believe that giving evidence to a parliamentary select committee is the perfect opportunity to promote a forthcoming commercial venture.

The submission by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs makes a number of important points. It calls for alcohol to be dealt with in exactly the same way as the illegal drugs and it points out that the newly implemented Temporary Banning Orders (TBO) for novel substances are flawed by their very nature. A TBO can be granted before a full review of evidence is available. The TBO last for twelve months and after that time the substance must be moved into one of the established classes or not classified. As the ISCD points out, not classifying would amount to declaring a substance to be safe so it is inevitable that substances placed under a TBO will end up classified. The only question is which class will be applied but the well-known position of the ISCD is that the classification system is not evidence based and has no relationship to actual harms.

Just scrolling through the document, quickly, I noticed a number of submissions by individuals, some quite short, setting out their reasons for using Cannabis sativa to treat medical conditions. It is encouraging that ordinary people are willing to stand up and be counted when it comes to the harms caused by current drug policy.

I haven’t, yet, read the ACMD’s submission but I did read this blog about it.

I did search the document for any reference to Catha edulis, khat, but only found one in the submission from Sarah Graham Solutions and that just an ‘in passing’ note. I would have thought someone might have felt the way drug policy is being applied in a current situation was worth consideration but, there again, I didn’t so I’m to blame as much as anybody.

 

Full Entries

2016

Tuesday 25th October 2016
Saturday 20th August 2016
Sunday 6th March 2016
Wednesday 3rd February 2016

2015

Saturday 28th November 2015
Friday 27th November 2015
Monday 17th August 2015
Wednesday 15th July 2015
Friday 26th June 2015
Thursday 25th June 2015
Thursday 30th April 2015
Wednesday 29th April 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Saturday 28th February 2015
Sunday 22nd February 2015

November 2014

Monday 24th November 2014
Saturday 8th November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

Wednesday 24th September 2014
Monday 1st September 2014

August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014
Saturday 16th August 2014
Tuesday 5th August 2014
Friday 1st August 2014

July 2014

Sunday 27th July 2014
Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Sunday 13th July 2014
Sunday 6th July 2014
Tuesday 1st July 2014

June 2014

Wednesday 25th June 2014
Tuesday 24th June 2014
Sunday 22nd June 2014
Monday 9th June 2014
Wednesday 4th June 2014

May 2014

Monday 26th May 2014
Sunday 18th May 2014
Wednesday 14th May 2014

April 2014

Sunday 13th April 2014
Saturday 5th April 2014
Thursday 3rd April 2014
Tuesday 1st April 2014

March 2014

Monday 31st March 2014
Tuesday 25th March 2014
Friday 21st March 2014
Monday 17th March 2014
Sunday 16th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Thursday 6th March 2014
Wednesday 5th March 2014
Saturday 1st March 2014

February 2014

Thursday 27th February 2014
Monday 24th February 2014
Wednesday 19th February 2014
Monday 17th February 2014
Thursday 13th February 2014
Monday 4th February 2014
Monday 3rd February 2014
Saturday 1st February 2014

January 2014

Thursday 28th January 2014
Thursday 23rd January 2014
Friday 17th January 2014
Wednesday 15th January 2014
Monday 13th January 2014
Thursday 9th January 2014
Tuesday 7th January 2014
Wednesday 1st January 2014

December 2013

Monday 23rd December 2013
Friday 20th December 2013
Tuesday 17th December 2013
Friday 14th December 2013
Thursday 12th December 2013
Sunday 8th December 2013
Wednesday 4th December 2013
Sunday 1st December 2013

November 2013

Friday 29th November 2013
Wednesday 27th November 2013
Tuesday 26th November 2013
Friday 22nd November 2013
Monday 18th November 2013
Friday 15th November 2013
Thursday 14th November 2013
Sunday 10th November 2013
Thursday 7th November 2013
Wednesday 6th November 2013
Friday 1st November 2013

October 2013

Thursday 31st October 2013
Sunday 27th October 2013
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Monday 21st October 2013
Friday 18th October 2013
Friday 11th October 2013
Wednesday 9th October 2013
Tuesday 8th October 2013
Monday 7th October 2013
Tuesday 1st October 2013

September 2013

Monday 30th September 2013
Saturday 28th September 2013
Friday 27th September 2013
Monday 23rd September 2013
Sunday 15th September 2013
Monday 9th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

August 2013

Sunday 8th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

Tuesday 27th August 2013
Sunday 25th August 2013
Monday 19th August 2013
Friday 16th August 2013
Tuesday 13th August 2013
Friday 9th August 2013
Friday 2nd August 2013
Thursday 1st August 2013

July 2013

Saturday 27th July 2013
Sunday 21st July 2013
Wednesday 17th July 2013
Monday 15th July 2013
Saturday 13th July 2013
Friday 12th July 2013
Thursday 11th July 2013
Wednesday 10th July 2013
Tuesday 9th July 2013
Saturday 6th July 2013

June 2013

Friday 28th June 2013
Tuesday 25th June 2013
Friday 21st June 2013
Thursday 20th June 2013
Wednesday 19th June 2013
Saturday 15th June 2013
Sunday 9th June 2013
Saturday 8th June 2013
Saturday 1st June 2013
 

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012 blog

June 2012 blog

May 2012 blog

April 2012 blog

March 2012 blog

February 2012 blog

January 2012 blog

December 2011 blog

November 2011 blog

October 2011 blog

September 2011 blog

August 2011 blog

July 2011 blog

June 2011 blog



IMPORTANT NOTE

The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.