Sunday, 27 September 2015

United Patients Alliance Press Release

United Patients Alliance Press Release


PRE-PARLIAMENT DISCUSSION ON MEDICAL CANNABIS IN CAMDEN, LONDON

United Patients Alliance, who campaign for legal access to cannabis therapeutics, held a Patient Perspective event on Monday 28th September 2015, featuring Baroness Molly Meacher, former Chief Constable Tom Lloyd and Jason Reed from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition UK.
The event was held at Friend's Meeting House, 173 - 177 Euston Road NW1 2BJ at 19:00-21:00.

The event gave patients a forum for telling their stories and to inform the public of the proven medical benefits of cannabis therapeutics, whilst dispelling the myths about its harms. More than 70 people attended and the event a video and photos from which will be available shortly. 
This is a topical issue with a debate in Parliament scheduled for the 12th October 2015 after more than 200 000 individuals signed a Government petition to Legalise the Sale, Production and Use of Cannabis.

Speaking on the issue previously Baroness Meacher, Chair of the APPG for Drug Policy Reform, has said:  
"Cannabis significantly helps people with MS whose symptoms don't respond to traditional treatments. But cannabis also transforms the lives of people who live with chronic pain, children with very severe epilepsy, cancer patients and many others. Germany is among the European countries who have legalised cannabis for medical use. Britain urgently needs to catch up."

Long term campaigner for drug law reform, Tom Lloyd states:
"Let's be clear, it can never be right for the police to arrest and prosecute someone for growing and consuming cannabis to treat serious medical conditions. Legal access to cannabis for all adults and legal access to cannabis for medical purposes for all."

Producer of the film, The Culture High, Jason Reed speaking for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has said:
“Our drug laws are designed to protect communities, but in practice our drug policy simply criminalises large sections of society and adds a second layer of harm. As an organisation of police, we at LEAP UK have a unique perspective - we have seen first-hand how drug laws are counterproductive, and serve only to fragment the relationship between ordinarily law abiding citizens and the police. If we're serious about addressing all harms in drug policy, then we must first look to reform and end criminalisation.”

Founder of United Patients Alliance and Multiple Sclerosis patient Clark French says:
"Cannabis is medicine for thousands of UK patients suffering from chronic conditions, it is both cruel and callous to seek to arrest someone for consuming something which makes them feel better, we demand the government listens and changes the law to reflect the science and allow legal access to cannabis for all UK citizens who wish to benefit from cannabis' therapeutic potential"

Jonathan Liebling, depression and anxiety patient and Political Director stated:
"For the 8000 medical cannabis patients we represent and the estimated 1m across the UK the law must change as soon as possible. What compassionate society would allow the criminalisation of patients for consuming a medicine that helps them manage and treat their illnesses and improves their lives?"

This event is part of a series of events across London and the UK to inform public opinion and challenge the government, with a growing evidence base for the benefits of cannabis therapeutics. Visitors are always welcome at our events.

ENDS


Editors notes:

Contact Details:
Jon Liebling | Political Director - United Patients Alliance
E: jon@liebling.co.uk M: 07921589237

Event Date/Time: Monday, 28th September 2015 19:00-21:00
Venue: Friend's Meeting House, 173 - 177 Euston Road NW1 2BJ

Guest Speakers:
Baroness Meacher - Chair of the APPG for Drug Policy Reform and Life Peer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Meacher,_Baroness_Meacher
Jason Reed - Law Enforcement against Prohibition UK and writer for Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jason-reed/
Tom Lloyd - Former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire and Chair of National Cannabis Coalition: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/sep/25/police-chief-tom-lloyd-chair-pro-legalisation-national-cannabis-coalition?CMP=share_btn_fb
Paul Birch – Founder of CISTA and Help not Harm: http://cista.org/candidates/18

United Patients Alliance Speakers:
Lesley Reynolds – NORML UK Women's Alliance
Jonathan Liebling - Anxiety and Depression
Clark French - Multiple Sclerosis
Faye Jones - Rheumatoid Arthritis
Alex Fraser - Crohn's/IBD
Jake Barrow – Chronic and Neuropathic Pain
Michelle X – Multiple Sclerosis

Government petition to be debated in Parliament on 12th October 2015: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104349

Please use our FB Page link in any publications: https://www.facebook.com/unitedpatientsalliance?fref=ts

Quotes from United Patients Alliance Patients:

Alex Fraser – Crohn’s Patient
"I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at 19. I cannot be prescribed any traditional painkillers for my chronic pain. Cannabis is my only medicine, it's the only thing that's ever worked. It eases my pain, gives me an appetite, helps me sleep and reduces my nausea. Regular use reduces all of my symptoms to the point where it enables me to work. Without cannabis, my life would barely be worth living"

Faye Jones - Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
"I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 27 and rely on cannabis for pain relief, and to combat the side effects of prescribed treatments for my condition, that would otherwise prevent me from staying in full time employment."

Jake Barrow - Chronic and Neuropathic Pain Patient
"Patients in the UK need access to medical cannabis immediately. To expect anyone to cope or even survive on heavy opiate based medications for their entire lives shows how both cruel and inhumane political ideology can be. We need to remove the stigma from Medical Cannabis use"

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Introducing United Patients Alliance
The United Patients Alliance are a support and campaigning community of over 8000 medical cannabis patients who suffer from a range of conditions including; Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, Anxiety, Depression, AIDS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, ME, PTSD, Epilepsy, Chronic and Neuropathic Pain all of whom have found that various types and strengths of cannabis consumed in a variety of ways has proven to be a more effective medicine than their legal and prescribed alternatives in improving their lives, reducing side effects and treating their symptoms. These patients are forced to either live in unnecessary discomfort and pain or risk dealing with criminals for their medicine and a criminal record for growing it or consuming it.


We launched in June 2014 with the support of Caroline Lucas MP and Professor David Nutt and have since gained the direct support of a number of other politicians, including former drugs minister, Norman Baker. We run Patient Perspective and Cannabis College events around the UK to give patients a forum for telling their stories and to help inform the public of the proven medical benefits whilst dispelling the myths and half-truths about its harms. We estimate that there are about 1m active and current medical cannabis consumers who would immediately benefit from a change in this dreadful situation. In terms of genuine information on medical cannabis and how best to consume it, we are the UK’s experts on cannabis as a medicine.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Your MP has Responded: 2nd Letter



Here is a great example of a follow up letter, in response to a "standard" response from your first.

DON'T GIVE UP :)

Thank you for your response.

It is clear from the content of [MP] message that he has not read in the full the email that I sent to him, he has not addressed a single one of the points I raised. As a chronic pain patient who currently has to rely on the criminal markets in order to stay in work, I would like to know that someone will represent my views on the subject during the debate. Regardless of the assumed outcome, I am entitled to be represented and my views heard.

I would like to meet with [MP] in his constituency surgery so that he can get a better understanding of my predicament, and allow him to explain his point of view to me a little better, as I simply do not see any logic in the very weak arguments for continued denial of the medical benefits of cannabis.

I would also point out that the debate which took place last year, lead by Caroline Lucas on the subject of overall drug laws, did not come any such conclusion as suggested in [MP's] response. There was in fact a broad cross party consensus that our current law is totally out of date, lacking in any evidence base, and ought to be reviewed; sadly only a very small number of MPs attended this debate and [MP] was not one of them, despite my request that he attended. With regard to the claim he makes in relation to the attitude of the Conservatives previous coalition partners, I would point out that the election manifesto of the Liberal Democrats contained an immediate allowance for medical cannabis patients to be able to access their medicine in a safe and legal way. Having met with Norman Baker who was minister for drugs in the previous administration, I can very much confirm that the Liberal Democrats did, and do not share in the outdated views of our current administration. 

One final point which I would like to make in reference to [MP] response, is that I do not advocate 'decriminalisation'. I advocate a regulated market, just like the one we currently use to control alcohol and tobacco. A regulated market will create an entire new growth industry for the UK, remove funding for dangerous criminal gangs, it would protect cannabis consumers in the same way that these other restricted markets do, and it would prevent children accessing cannabis where the current system provides no such protections.

I look forward to meeting with [MP] prior to 12th October, please advise suitable dates and I will confirm.


Lastly and most importantly; Do give United Patients Alliance a mention.

GOOD LUCK! Let us know how you get on.

Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance
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Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Cannabis Conspiracies - The Church, Bible, Moses and Jesus






The Cannabis Conspiracies

There are many people who believe all sorts of conspiracy theories, crazy or otherwise. Whether it is about Illuminati, Vaccines, Chemtrails or Global Warming, there they all are. 

As such there are many who support the legalisation of cannabis who believe that the Prohibition of Cannabis is a conspiracy too: 

A "treatment for cancer", (thanks to the Cancer Act 1939 - it's illegal to advertise to treat or cure cancer) a natural reliever of all sorts of physical and emotional discomfort and pain, saver of children suffering from the severest forms of epilepsy, helping the blind to see, helping the crippled to walk, healing the skin, dispelling demons of all kinds. A safer alternative to alcohol for recreationally, calming, spiritual, creative. A thoroughly useful plant which grows almost everywhere on the planet and could replace plastic, cotton, paper, fuel whist requiring less pesticides and chemical processes and cutting less trees down, even its seeds are uniquely nutritious. The list of potential benefits to the planet and humanity are endless. But is it all being suppressed because of its probable disruptive impact on current powerful industries such as Alcohol, Big Pharma, Forestry and Oil?



Is it really the case that little or no solid evidence of its harms exist even though 96% of all global research over the last 70 years has been to find harms, or is it the "gateway drug" and "evil weed" that causes mental illness and twists the minds of our children.....still. Have we learnt nothing in 70 years of study? Is Cannabis something that can be described as Harry J. Anslinger described in 1937 as "the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind" amongst some other racist garbage I would hate to type out, leading to its demonisation and ultimately to its illegality? Or should we be questioning the veracity of those justifications?

Our government and media today are still jumping on every story of its dangers, no matter how thin the evidence, whilst completely ignoring any evidence to the contrary and all the proven medical applications and indications. Are the motivations today the same as they were then or have they changed? Is it a conspiracy or is it ignorance, laziness, stupidity or cognitive dissonance? Which one or combination of or others would you suggest? Comments, please?


I love a good conspiracy theory and have spent many an evening suspending my disbelief and exploring them as I would a good book or film and the best ones present a plethora of carefully selected facts and omissions that when tied together, without any contrary argument can begin to look pretty convincing. At the same time, it is exactly that "suspension of disbelief" that can be exploited by those on the other side of a debate as once the whole thing gets wrapped into one they can throw stones, point and laugh at the "Conspiracy", whilst conveniently skipping over or completely ignoring any or all of the facts contained within it.

So over my next few blogs I am going to explore "The Cannabis Conspiracies". From the Church to the State, from Business to Industry and from Drug Apartheid to Pharmaceuticals. What are they? Are they credible? What's nonsense, what is conjecture and most importantly, what are the facts you may have missed with a little slight of hand, or shall we just say, "Spin"?

As it is the holy day of Sunday today, I shall start with The Church, Bible, Moses and Jesus:

Part 1 - The Church, Bible, Moses and Jesus

Genesis 1:29 Does, in all fairness, speak for itself. As far as the bible is concerned, there is nothing in there about - "Oh, except this one - my mistake" - Unless of course you want to make an argument for it being the Tree of Life - but I'm pretty sure that was an apple tree, and a very special one at that.

Jesus and the Holy Anointing Oil

Anointing oil, mentioned 20 times in Scripture was used in the Old Testament exclusively for the ordination of the priesthood and the Tabernacle and later extended to prophets and kings. (Exodus 25:6Leviticus 8:30Numbers 4:16). It was forbidden to be used on an outsider or to be used on the body of any common persons and it was forbidden for them to duplicate it for themselves (Exodus 30:32)

The holy anointing oil recipe described in Exodus 30:22-25 is:
·         Pure myrrh (mar deror): 500 shekels (about 6 kg)
·         Sweet cinnamon (kinnemon besem): 250 shekels (about 3 kg)
·         Kaneh bosem (kaneh bosm): 250 shekels (about 3 kg)
·         Cassia (kiddah) 500 shekels (about 6 kg)
·         Olive oil (shemen zayit) one hin (about 4-7 liters?)

The controversial ingredient is Kaneh bosem, which literally translates as "Sweet Cane" and has been linked to several plants, the two most credible being, Calamus and Cannabis.

Calamus


Calamus contains an ingredient called aserone. This is a hallucinogen which is metabolized in the liver as trimethoxyamphetamine or ecstasy, however, the indigenous Middle Eastern version of this plant is far more toxic being deadly to flies and other insects. In 1936, Sara Benetowa (Aka: Sula Benet) an etymologist from the Institute of Anthropological Sciences, in Warsaw argued that the translation of Calamus was a mistranslation  which occurred in the oldest Bible the “Septuagint” and the mistranslation was copied in later versions. The Exodus 30:23 reference refers to "sweet" Calamus

Cannabis

Sula Benet did a study on the word Cannabis. She demonstrated that the ancient Hebrew word for Cannabis is Kaneh-Bosem. "The sacred character of hemp in biblical times is evident from Exodus 30:23, where Moses was instructed by God to anoint the meeting tent and all of its furnishings with specially prepared oil, containing hemp." In the course of time, the two words kaneh and bosem were fused into one, kanabos or kannabus and according to the Webster's New World Hebrew Dictionary the Hebrew for hemp is kanabos.


Jesus Healing the Sick

Many New Testament passages refer to the practice of anointing with oil; In Mark 6:13, the disciples anoint the sick and heal them. In James 5:14, the church elders anoint the sick with oil for healing. In Hebrews 1:8-9, God says to Christ as He returns triumphantly to heaven, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever," and God anoints Jesus "with the oil of gladness."

Jesus is widely reported in the Bible as being able to (miraculously) heal the following:
  • Blindness - (Matthew 9:27-31, 20:29-34) (Luke 18:35-43) (Mark 10:46-52)
Patients with severe Glaucoma would in all practical ways present as being blind, or having significantly restricted vision and we know that this was one of the first conditions identified as being improved and even cured through the use of cannabis.
"The ability of cannabis to improve the symptoms of glaucoma has been demonstrated in various studies and many medical cannabis patients utilize cannabis for glaucoma, and report improvements in various symptoms."
  • Helping the crippled to walk, and other physical disabilities (Matthew 12:10-13) (Mark 3:1-7) (Luke 6:6-11) (Acts 14:8)
Patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, which is a neurological condition, struggle with the correct functioning of muscles and would have appeared to be "crippled" in the times.
There is a clear consensus amongst scientists and doctors that cannabis is safe and effective as a palliative treatment for MS and was the first condition for which medical cannabis was approved for legal access. GW Pharmaceutical's first full plant extract medicine, Sativex, is currently approved for MS, but is too expensive for our NHS at roughly 10 times the cost of growing your own at home.

  • Cured Skin diseases Skin Diseases/Leprosy: (Matthew 8:1-4) (Mark 1:40-45) (Luke 5:12-15,  17:11-19)
Leprosy is a disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis, which belong to the same genus as the tuberculosis bacterium, M. tuberculosis.Cannabis is a historic treatment for leprosy, which has affected humanity for millennia, and continues to infect hundreds of thousands per year.
  • Demonic Healings - (Matthew 9:2-18) (Mark 1:23-28, 2:3-12) (Luke 4:31-36, 5:17-26) - and many many more
Epilepsy, Alzheimer's Disease, Anxiety, Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses could and would all have been diagnosed in those times as "Demonic Possession". 

Individual reports of children with refractory (or intractable) epilepsy who have tried cannabis, usually with high ratios of cannabidiol to THC, have reported marked improvements in seizure frequency, including a report describing the results of Charlotte, a girl with Dravet's syndrome.

Research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease “strongly suggest that THC [the main active ingredient in marijuana] could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.”

It can be a debilitating disorder that affects how people socialize and cope with daily stress. And though there are pharmaceutical options available—including benzodiazepines such as Xanax—the fact of that matter is, those drugs are highly addictive and dangerous. Marijuana is non-toxic and non-addictive, and it is still an effective form of treatment.

GW Pharmaceuticals have unveiled trial data raising hopes that its cannabis-based drug cannabidiol might prove an effective treatment for schizophrenia. The placebo-controlled clinical trial involved 88 patients with schizophrenia who had previously failed to respond adequately to first-line treatment with anti-psychotics.

"These findings further reinforce the potential role of cannabinoids in the field of neuropsychiatric disease," said GW’s chief executive Justin Gover. “We believe that the signals of efficacy demonstrated in this trial, together with a notably reassuring safety profile, provide GW with the prospect of new and distinct cannabinoid neuropsychiatric product pipeline opportunity”


Moses, Mount Sinai and The Burning Bush



All we really know is that Moses got the inspiration to lead his people out of Egypt after travelling to the top of Mount Sinai (Aka: smokey mountains), where he was confronted by a burning bush that spoke to him with the voice of God. 

When he came down, he made the first menorah, an oil lamp with seven flames which could be a reference to the seven points of a cannabis leaf and "smokey mountain" of Mount Sinai could actually be a reference to cannabis intoxication. It was only after becoming intoxicated with cannabis smoke that Moses received the inspiration to make a menorah and lead his people out of slavery. 

Today, many people recognize the inspirational powers of cannabis. For example, Carl Sagan attributed all his important scientific discoveries to inspiration he received after smoking a joint. Louis Armstrong and John Lennon also spoke of the inspirational powers of cannabis. And wherever you find cannabis use, you’ll find spiritual cultures seeking to throw off the chains of oppression, whether it be Rastas in Jamaica or hippies in North America.


Summary and Conclusion

The conspiracy theory that the Church has suppressed the use of cannabis in their Holy Anointing Oil in order to both protect the miracle healing power of Jesus and to keep this privilege to the highest members of the church is feasible but in the absence of a more credible alternative explanation for all of these events and stories, Kaneh Bosen actually being cannabis, used by a healer to heal many sick people from a wide range of illnesses and disabilities does seem most credible, given the growing evidence we have of its therapeutic benefits. 

In addition, anyone who identifies as a Christian and has an issue with the use of cannabis should have a bit of a think about that.


Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance

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Thank you to the following sources:
https://patients4medicalmarijuana.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/jesus-healed-using-cannabis-study-shows/
https://stevenhager420.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/the-true-story-of-mount-sinai-and-the-burning-bush/
http://stronginfaith.org/article.php?page=9
http://www.gotquestions.org/anointing-oil.html
http://contextout.blogspot.co.uk/p/moses-used.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Main_Page








Thursday, 17 September 2015

Write to Your MP

What is Happening?

The House of Commons Petitions Committee have decided to schedule the debate for the Legalisation of the Production, Sale and Consumption of Cannabis in response to the cannabis petition. It will take place on 12th October 2015 in Westminster Hall.

We already have the Government’s initial response which you will find, together with my response here: http://jlieblingcannabis.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-government-have-now-given-initial.html

The debate will be chaired by Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, who has been campaigning for cannabis law reform for over 25 years; “I will present both sides of the argument and hope that MPs will voice the common sense informed views of their constituents and resist the temptation to bury their heads in the sands.”

United Patients Alliance have already made contact with him to offer any support we can to which he has responded by asking as many people as possible to write to their MP asking them to attend the debate and inform them of the harms of prohibition and the of its medicinal benefits for which there is a vast amount of ever increasing peer reviewed scientific research.

Why Now?

This is an exciting time and there has never been a better time to help and to act whilst the subject is in the spot light. In fact I will go further: If you have ever wanted to change this law THE TIME IS NOW AND YOU MUST ACT!

All 4 Labour Leadership candidates have shown their support for policy review with their recently elected leader Jeremy Corbyn saying; 

I don’t think there should be criminalisation of something that is used for medicinal purposes, it is obviously beneficial to many people, particularly those suffering from MS, and I think we should be adult and grown up about this in society and decriminalise.”

You can see this segment of the hustings here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0qSRhBVsUw

In addition, we have the support of the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats who both include it in their manifestos and even Nigel Farage of UKIP has publicly stated his support for reform. There is only one major political party wanting to maintain the effectively and morally bankrupt status quo.

Write To Your MP

Now is the time to contact your MP making it very clear that you expect them to attend the debate and you want them to represent your views and if you can, arrange to meet your MP at their constituency surgery to explain things in person. Saying “NO” by email is much easier than saying it to a medical cannabis patient sat right in front of them.
You must include your full postal address and postcode to show that you are a constituent.  Without this your email or letter will be ignored.

An email or a letter is fine, both is even better and a follow up phone call to their office can be very effective in getting a response.

Write in your own words. Parliamentary email systems can identify and delete “Template Emails” to address campaigns by petitioning groups that have inundated MPs with such correspondence.  

Keep your letter fairly brief. Limited to 3 or 4 paragraphs and a single page is best.

A good format for your correspondence is:

Paragraph 1: Why you are writing? What do you want from your MP?
  • I am/want to be a medical cannabis patient who has suffered from (condition) or I am a recreational consumer
  • What do you expect in return - I want you to attend and represent my situation/opinion/position in this debate....) I want you to tell me your position on this subject. I want to arrange an appointment to see you.
Paragraph 2: Details of condition/consumption/why you believe cannabis should be legalised? It does not have to be every angle or every reason. The ones that mean the most to you will do.

Paragraph 3: I appreciate you taking the time to read this. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you. Grovel (not really)

What do I Write About?

Use your own words; choose from these points if that helps:
  • Legal regulation of cannabis will move the £6bn per year market out of the hands of the criminals, reducing under age consumption and resulting in better quality and known strengths, less prevalence of Skunk and other high-THC strains which are a response to the illegal market. 
  • The potential benefits of taxation of cannabis would allow us to invest millions more in schools, hospitals, drug abuse treatment and re-education
  • Legalising would reduce police costs and time so they can concentrate on more serious and violent crime, whilst improving relationships with the public.
  • It removes the risks relating to dealing with the criminal market for patients in accessing their medicine
  • Provide patients with much needed medicine that is effective and safe
  • It would save the NHS millions of pounds as people would chose cannabis over other more expensive and less effective pharmaceutical medications. An average Multiple Sclerosis Patient costs £30k per year unless they choose cannabis. In US states where available there is 16%-25% take up. With 100k MS sufferers in the UK, that is a minimum of £480m per year, for just MS.
  • Opiate abuse and overdose has reduced by an average of 25% and Alcohol abuse and overdose by 15% in places where regulated cannabis is available as an alternative. 
  • Allows for more research in more places without the 2 year lead time and additional costs of around £160k per year for licences and materials and would encourage competition by breaking GW Pharmaceutical's UK monopoly
  • It would directly and immediately reduce the numbers of trafficked children forced to work on illegal cannabis grows in the UK
  • It's my Human Right
You can link to the following pieces of evidence in your email or letter or add your own but no more than 3 or 4 excellent links.

Lastly and most importantly; Do give United Patients Alliance a mention.

GOOD LUCK! Let us know how you get on.

Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance
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Friday, 4 September 2015

Sky News - Labour Debate - Should Cannabis be Decriminalised?




See the debate here:

Sky News Labour Debate


We were really pleased to see that our question on Social Affairs beat Teachers, Dairy Farmers and Fracking to be asked at the final Labour Leadership hustings on Sky News and by quite a margin.





It is rather sad that politicians seem to giggle like school kids every time the topic is raised and perhaps the laughter of the audience was merely the majority remembering the last time they got stoned, but we at United Patients Alliance don't feel that denying sick people a legitimate, effective medicine that vastly improves their quality of life is a laughing matter. It certainly isn’t to the 8000 medical cannabis patients whose voices and stories we represent, nor to the 1 million medical consumers across the UK not to mention the other (under-estimated) 2 million regular cannabis consumers who find they enjoy its effects as an alternative to other, more dangerous drugs such as alcohol. So for at least 3 million people in this country it is a very important issue in our lives and being that is more than people who regularly attend church, I think that makes us a very significant voice that has the right to be heard.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham got to answer the question first and opened with “There is a case for it” pointing out that for sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis; “The benefits are enormous!” All of our MS patients would whole heartedly agree, Andy, not least our founder Clark French who has been living with the debilitating disease from the age of 24. 

Cannabis reduces my pain, inflammation and spasms. Helps me get an appetite, stops my bladder weakness and helps me sleep, Cannabis allows me to forget the trauma of chronic illness and allows happiness into my life.

Andy recognised the difficulty in regulating medical cannabis over recreational and pointed out some genuine concerns and suggested we “proceed with caution” and look very carefully at relaxing the rules for medical use.

Whilst this is really positive from Andy and we applaud his courage in presenting a pragmatic and compassionate approach it must not be forgotten that medical cannabis patients are suffering today and are constantly under the threat of criminalisation, so we would urge him to consider the significant benefits of immediate decriminalisation. Let’s just stop criminalising patients. We already have more evidence of its safety and efficacy for many conditions today from around the world than for most approved medications on the market.

The first thing Yvette Cooper pointed out was that they had never been asked that question at any previous hustings. Glad to be of service, Yvette. It was unfortunate that she chose to answer a completely different question about our processes for approving medicines in this country, so I was not able to determine whether she believes that we should stop criminalising patients for choosing to consume a medicine that helps them. I must assume that she didn't really want to answer the question. Great politician?

Liz Kendall also called for more research into cannabis whilst accepting that many people are reporting benefits right now, however I suspect she fails to understand that getting medicinal cannabis researched and approved in a country that defines it in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs act 1971 as having no therapeutic applications and high potential for abuse, in contrast to all the most recent peer reviewed scientific evidence on the subject is rather difficult “Normal processes” just don’t work for cannabis. Perhaps she would commit to helping us out here?

Then came Jeremy Corbyn.  Oh Jeremy you lovely man!  I have to admit to literally applauding his response:  
“I don’t think there should be criminalisation of something that is used for medicinal purposes, it is obviously beneficial to many people, particularly those suffering from MS, and I think we should be adult and grown up about this in society and decriminalise.”

I have nothing to add, other than “Here, Here!” and "Thank-you Jeremy"

It is great to see this really important issue being discussed in an intelligent, pragmatic and compassionate way and Labour do seem more up to date in their attitudes than our current government but they still have a long way to go; Andy Burnham has “got it”, but needs to be braver, Liz Kendall needs a little more encouragement and information and needs to learn a little more about the practical implications of its current status in Schedule 1 of the MODA, Yvette needs to take this issue more seriously on behalf of the 1 million people suffering today, and Jeremy, well – “He’s our man”

Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance

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