Thursday, 24 January 2008

Cannabis Campaigners Fuming Over Advisory Council Review Agenda

Members of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance campaigning group (LCA) are fuming over the refusal of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of drugs
(ACMD) to give them a slot for a speaker at the forthcoming Review on cannabis classification. The Review is due to be held on February 5th at the London Excel, Platinum Suite.

Alun Buffry, a spokesperson for the LCA, said: “We received invites to the Review along with the Agenda, but upon looking through it we saw no representation from the cannabis-using community itself.”

“Bearing in mind that anti-cannabis campaigners such as Debra Bell (from TAC) , Marjorie Wallace (from SANE) and Paul Corry (from RETHINK) have each been given a 20-minute slot, it is clearly going to be an outrageously biased review.

“So I wrote to the ACMD offering a speaker from the LCA – somebody who has had experience with illegal cannabis; The LCA contains many self-confessed cannabis users, whether it be for medical, religious or recreational reasons”

“The ACMD refused an opportunity telling us: “yourself, and your colleagues from the LCA who are attending the review, will be welcome to contribute during the open forum”, which means during just 45 minutes allocated to the floor, right at the end”

“How can this review reflect the “wide range of evidence” that the ACMD seems to be looking for, when not one cannabis users is being given an equal opportunity to those who seek upgrading.”

Notes for editors:

1) Letter sent to ACMD January 23

Looking through the list of speakers - also noticing a few tbc's, I was disappointed to see that there is no representative from ANY cannabis community or pro-legalisation group.

Considering that the agenda is all about cannabis, one has to wonder how many of the speakers have admitted to having used cannabis.

In the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA), we have a wide representation of cannabis users including many who openly admit to having used cannabis for over 35 years. It includes people of all ages, a range or political and religious beliefs, backgrounds, education and occupation.
It includes people who use cannabis predominantly (or totally) for "medical" reasons, for religious reasons, and / or for so-called recreational reasons.

Although The LCA cannot claim to represent all cannabis users, we are the largest of the UK campaigning groups with over 3000 endorsements: from 1999 to 2006, LCA was registered as a political party and contested over 70 elections, gaining as many as 8% of the vote - and in an "all-up" council election in Great Yarmouth the candidates received a vote from over 16% of the voters!

LCA contains people with a vast experience and knowledge about cannabis - real cannabis! - what it has been like to live under prohibition - the appearance of various forms of cannabis and cannabis resin on our streets for many years, more recently including ground glass having been added to wet cannabis bud.

LCA contains people who have bought cannabis illegally, grown cannabis illegally and even sold cannabis illegally - people who have been through the courts and people who have not.

Considering the inclusion of speakers such as Debra Bell, whom, despite living through what she sees as cannabis-caused tragedies, has no experience of cannabis at all - and no academic qualification to count this makes the Review's presentation seem extremely one-sided.

I therefore would like to apply for a slot for a speakers from the LCA and would be happy to speak under Sessions 1, 3 or 4.

regards

Alun Buffry
LCA Treasurer and Spokesperson

2) Response from ACMD, January 24

Dear Alun,

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) review of Cannabis has been requested over concerns over the mental health effects of cannabis with particular regard to stronger forms of the drug.

The ACMD will consider a wide range of evidence during the two day meeting in February. This meeting will include the presentation of expert evidence on mental and physical health effects of cannabis, its use and social harms. In addition, the ACMD will consider the responses to the Home Office Drugs Strategy Consultation and the results of polling data (undertaken by the ACMD) to understand public perceptions
regarding cannabis, which will inform the Council's advice to Government.

The agenda for the 5th February has now been set and there will be no further places available for presenters. The tbc's you refer to relate to the title of the presentation - all the speakers are confirmed.
However, yourself, and your colleagues from the LCA who are attending the review, will be welcome to contribute during the open forum.

Will

Will Reynolds
Secretary to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
3rd Floor (SW) Seacole Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

2 comments:

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