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The Path Less Taken

..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Tuesday, October 29, 2013



Continuing today with yesterday's theme, let us look at Prime Minister David Cameron.
He is a graduate of Oxford, earning an MA in PPE (that is, Philosophy, Politics and Economics) in 1988. From there he became involved in politics immediately, as Special Advisor to Norman Lamont, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Becoming tired of the hours he was putting in at the Commons, he left politics in 1994 to work for Carleton Communications as Director of Corporate Affairs.
But he was marked by the Conservative Party as an up-and-commer, and returned to serve as Member for Whitney in 2000, and moved through the ranks to become the youngest Prime Minister in over 180 years.
It's interesting to note, that while at Eton College, he was caught smoking cannabis.
Oh dear.
Little came of it though, the punishment amounting to writing 500 lines of Latin verse.
Seems that was a fitting end to the incident, at least in the eyes of the College.

Now once again, we have a case of a politician who knows the effects of cannabis on a first hand basis. Doubtless he, or his staff, have read the recent studies pertaining to the medicinal effects of cannabis, but who has made no move towards either removing the stigma surrounding the drug, or relaxing the Draconian legal prohibition of it.

It strikes a dissonant chord. A strong position against the legalization of medicinal marijuana would smack of base hypocrisy, yet thousands of Britons are languishing at Her Majesty's Pleasure for the simple 'crime' of cultivating for personal use. A significant demographic would see the laws in Briton change, yet the man leading our government appears oblivious to either the hue and cry being raised by proponents of the medicinal use of the plant or the evidence that would support such a change in legislation. That the man himself has used cannabis, albeit for recreational purposes, should give others who use the reasonable expectation that he would be sympathetic to their cause.

It is unacceptable that British citizens should be handed punitive fines or incarcerated for cannabis.

It is unacceptable that a significant segment of the population is marginalized.

It is unacceptable that recent medical studies are ignored by those who wield legislative power.

It is unacceptable. Period.




Monday, October 28, 2013

It is interesting to note the qualifications of those who have been elected to represent our best interests in Parliament. It is especially interesting for those who have taken a firm stance against the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis, despite the groundswell of support for such moves not only in Britain, but across the US and Canada, and EU countries the likes of France, Poland, Spain, to name just three. It might be noted, that in Portugal, it is a Constitutional right to grow cannabis in one's home, and has been for years.
Take one of the most outspoken opponents to any move towards legalization of cannabis in Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May. She is the daughter of a Church of England Minister, which might be a clue to her reticence concerning drugs in general. Before her election to political office, she achieved a BA in Geography from Oxford in 1977, and went on to work for  the Bank of England, and from 1985 to 1997 was a financial consultant and senior adviser in International Affairs for the Association for Payment Clearing Services. From there, she dipped into politics as a Councillor for a London Borough, and stood twice for the Labour Party unsuccessfully, before becoming a Conservative and taking a seat in the Commons for the constituency of Maidenhead.

Now, this lady has no pharmaceutical background. She has chosen to ignore the plethora of reports which have been published of late touting the efficacy of cannabis for too many conditions to be listed here. She has also chosen to ignore historical evidence supporting the same. Yet, she has announced she will fight any move to legitimize cannabis or it's derivatives.

It would seem that her attitude, as might be said for most who stand in the path of legislation aimed at removing the stigma attached to cannabis, is based on nothing more than inherited antipathy. There is no other conclusion that can reasonably be supposed.

It is long past time that those we elect represent the will of the people who cast their vote to give them a seat in Parliament. It is incumbent upon them to research this issue, to understand the pro's and the con's, before announcing their opposition to a change in legislation.

It is not acceptable that gut reactions determine the Law.

It is not acceptable that misinformation be disseminated.

It is not acceptable that those who could benefit for legalization of cannabis be deprived of it's medicinal properties.

It is simply not acceptable.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The human collective mind is an odd beast; we each of us see ourselves to be unique, just like anyone else. Yet we are ruled by memes, which, aimed across the demographic spectrum, lead our steps as surely as a guide dog leads the blind, while swallowing wholeheartedly the concept of 'the greater good'.

Many infringements into the sphere of our human rights have become commonplace, accepted as a necessity in these days when one can never be sure who's plotting what. We abrogate our responsibility willingly, meekly, submitting to that ethos, 'the greater good'. Thus is justified our loss of privacy, of a free media, of the ethic which once led the enfranchised to examine the issues which directly affect various aspects of all our lives. An ethic which questioned authority, and required an accounting for the reasoning which led our elected representatives to adopt a stance, and an indication that representative would follow not only the Party Line, but address issues of current importance to his constituents.

There are indications the British Parliament is aware the War On Drugs is lost. There are indications many Members would support a move to change legislation. There are indications Home Secretary Theresa May will fight any such move ferociously. There are indications several Chief Constables and as many Judges would prefer the laws be relaxed.

There are also indications it will rain here tomorrow.

It can be a frustration, this Scottish winter. What's indicated could well be complete bollox.



Wednesday, October 09, 2013

We have quite a dilemma here.

Our elected government(s), which purport to represent the will of the people, the electorate, for whatever misguided 'nanny protectiveness' are ignoring both rational argument and collective desire, in criminalizing a significant number within our society.
Perhaps even worse, they deny those in medical need of treatments which are far more efficacious and far less addictive than that currently provided by our pharmaceutical companies. This, in spite of recent international developments, and research which is in diametric opposition to claims made during a time in our past which delighted in witch-hunting and asserting the right of those elected to know what is best.
Long gone are the days in which 'politician' isn't compared to 'used car salesman'.
People do not have the same inbred respect for those in power as did those who fought in the Korean War.. or the 'Leave It To Beaver' generation which followed.. More and more are posing questions which those who hold office are uncomfortable with; more transparency is demanded, and more justification for Acts of Parliament.
Yet despite the growing demand for changes to a law which is patently absurd, it remains in place.

Begs the question: 'Why?'

Who benefits from the criminalization of cannabis? Who's holding legislation back which, if passed, would permit hundreds of thousands of the population to enjoy a non-addictive substitute for such as OxyContin or Vicodin?

Who's profiting from the incarceration of users of cannabis?

How can such an enlightened group of legislators stick fast to inherited opinions on the effects of the plant, when current research denies their 'facts'? For what profit?

How deep is the bushel?


Saturday, October 05, 2013


This is worth looking at..

CBD

Contrary to popular belief, the marijuana plant is a whole lot more than just a psychoactive drug that "stoners" use to get high. In raw form, marijuana leaves and buds are actually loaded with a non-psychoactive, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer nutrient compound known as cannabidiol (CBD) that is proving to be a miracle "superfood" capable of preventing and reversing a host of chronic illnesses.

Though you may not have heard much about it, the CBD found in the marijuana plant -- marijuana is technically just a vegetable, by the way -- is a highly medicinal substance with unique immune-regulating capabilities. Since the human body already contains a built-in endogenous cannabinoid system, complete with cannabinoid receptors, inputting CBD from marijuana can help normalize the body's functional systems, including cell communication and proper immune function.

The way CBDs work is that they bridge the gap of neurotransmission in the central nervous system, including in the brain, by providing a two-way system of communication that completes a positive "feedback loop," according to Dr. William Courtney, a medical marijuana expert and founder of Cannabis International. As opposed to a one-way transmission, which can promote chronic inflammation of healthy tissue, the unique two-way transmission system engaged by marijuana CBDs mimics the body's own natural two-way communications system.

So individuals whose systems are compromised by autoimmune disorders, cellular dysfunction, chronic inflammation, cancer cells, and various other illnesses can derive a wide range of health-promoting benefits simply by consuming CBDs. And one of the best ways to obtain CBDs is to juice raw marijuana leaves and buds, according to Dr. Courtney, who currently runs a clinic in Luxembourg that provides raw cannabis medicinal services to patients in need.

"CBD works on receptors, and as it turns out, we have cannabinoids in our bodies, endogenous cannabinoids, that turn out to be very effective at regulating immune functions, nerve functions, bone functions," says Dr. Ethan Russo, a Seattle, Wash.-area physician who is also a senior advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals, a British drug company that is utilizing CBDs in a new marijuana mouth spray known as Sativex.

"There's a tendency to discount claims when something appears to be good for everything, but there's a reason this is the case. The endogenous cannabinoid system acts as a modulator in fine-tuning a lot of these systems, and if something is deranged biochemically in a person's body, it may well be that a cannabinoid system can bring things back into balance."

http://healthyeats-nl.blogspot.com/2013/10/cannabis-leaf-smoothie-recipe-and.html

Friday, October 04, 2013

We are living in tumultuous times. This world around us is fraught with conflict, both from without our various borders, and from within the confines of each of our separate countries. There is mass confusion, and our leaders are apparently not equipped to deal, either on a macrocosmic or microcosmic scale with the problems they are facing. Misinformation is being tossed about like confetti, confusing and confounding the man or woman on the street, and the time for exceedingly clear thought and vision is upon us.

One would think, considering the plethora of medical reports which have been released (and in many cases just coming to light after mainstream suppression) that the issue of legalizing cannabis and it's derivatives would be a simple step towards decriminalizing a significant number of the population. Yet still our legislators drag their feet and worry the old spurious arguments as does an old dog with a favorite bone. They ignore recent (and historical) evidence which demonstrate cannabis is not a 'gateway drug'.. at least no more than are cigarettes and alcohol, while encouraging our physicians to prescribe palliative drugs for chronic conditions, drugs which are in themselves addictive and which have contraindications too frightening to consider. In fact, the campaign of misinformation concerning cannabis and it's effects has such impetus, GP's and neurologists are truly afraid to become advocates for change. Our legislators are equally timorous towards the issue of changing the Law, for fear of being branded 'careless and renegade', and cast from the comfort of the Party Line.

Let's propose a possible scenario, which on the surface may only apply to Scotland, or perhaps Quebec if the Separatists had their way in that Canadian Province.
We have a 'yes' vote for leaving the Union; we have a new country, which has already been told by Brussels that it cannot expect instant recognition by the EU, nor expect immediate entry into that group.
The promises made in the preamble to the taking of the vote concerning 'sustainable and exportable energy' have been shown to be insufficient in actuality to be the basis of a viable exchequer, which can continue to provide the level of Social Assistance currently demanded by the numbers of unemployed. Now this would include those claiming Disability, or Incapacity Benefits, and those on Old Age Pensions. Nor could the infrastructure for this 'energy' development scheme be put in place before real hardship for those who currently claim those benefits reared it's ugly head.  What then for this fledgling country?
Now, supposing another completely new industry was put in place; an industry which provides employment even for those who are physically incapable of entering a normal workplace. Suppose a product which demanded a minimal amount of physical effort to maintain output was brought into the picture.
Such is hemp, and the uses for refined hemp fiber are legion (we will examine the various uses at a later date, but information on materials as diverse as hemp paper and 'hempcrete' are currently available online). Even those confined to a wheelchair, could be granted an allotment which could be seeded by the individual, and harvested by the government. A new industry; a new source of government revenue which, through sales to a foreign market  and for the use of established home industries could expand our sphere of self-sustainability. Imagine a pharmaceutical movement within this new country, which produced medicines which replaced those currently being prescribed, which did not have the terrible contraindications of those currently in vogue. Imagine the decriminalization of a significant demographic and the reduction of those being maintained in prisons for possession or consumption of a substance which harms no-one. Imagine the tax revenue should the government control the distribution of both cannabis and hemp derivatives.
While it would be irresponsible to declare 'the possibilities are endless!', it is equally irresponsible for our Legislators to ignore the reality of this issue and dismiss it out of hand.

We in what has become known as the 'cannabis community' seek not to destroy a way of life, but to improve upon it. We should not be criminalized for using medication for treatment of what ails us. But more importantly, we should not be marginalized.

This is an issue which has been dealt with by countries on the Continent, and should be addressed here in the UK, in Canada, in the US, without preconceived or inherited antipathy, but with clear thought and an eye to the advantages.

It took an Amendment to the American Constitution to repeal the Volstead Act, but it was passed. One would hope it would not be such a complicated issue to legalize cannabis in either a free Scotland, or in the Union as a whole.

The issue is in our hands, and it is our intent to bring it into the forefront of our Legislators minds.

As a coda, This I published in November of 2006:

In response to a comment on our post concerning the economic state Scotland would find itself in should this country leave the Union, a comparison was made with Luxembourg, which indeed has a population less than that of Edinburgh, and thus a much lower tax base than ours.
But, it must be pointed out that Luxembourg has established industries in steel, banking, telecommunications, and agriculture.. It also enjoys a great deal of foreign investment, with the US investing more capital in that country than any other save Canada.. 
The iron and steel industry, located along the French border, is the most important single sector of the economy. Steel accounts for 29% of all exports (excluding services), 1.8% of GDP, 22% of industrial employment, and 3.9% of the work force.The restructuring of the industry and increasing government ownership in Arbed (31%) began as early as 1974. As a result of timely modernization of facilities, cutbacks in production and employment, government assumption of portions of Arbed's debt, and recent cyclical recovery of the international demand for steel, the company is again profitable. Its productivity is among the highest in the world. U.S. markets account for about 6% of Arbed's output. The company specializes in production of large architectural steel beams and specialized value-added products. There has been, however, a relative decline in the steel sector, offset by Luxembourg's emergence as a financial center.
In 2001, through the merger with Aceralia and Usinor, Arbed became Arcelor and now forms one of the largest steelproducer in the world.

Banking is especially important to Luxembourg's economy. The country is a tax haven and so attracts capital fleeing from other countries so they can reduce the costs. At the end of March 2006, there were 155 banks in Luxembourg, with 23,000 employees. Political stability, good communications, easy access to other European centres, skilled multilingual staff, and a tradition of banking secrecy have all contributed to the growth of the financial sector. Germany accounts for the largest-single grouping of banks, with Scandinavian, Japanese, and major U.S. banks also heavily represented. Total assets exceeded €792.4 billion at the end of 2005. More than 9,000 holding companies are established in Luxembourg. The European Investment Bank—the financial institution of the European Union—is also located there.
As for the economic future of Scotland itself, Scotland could become a poorer country than Greece or Portugal within the next 50 years, according to economists.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research said the country needs more entrepreneurs and tax incentives to encourage companies and investment.
The experts also said there should be greater deregulation, allowing businesses to flourish without the burden of red tape. 

In their report, Douglas McWilliams and Richard Greenwood said Scotland had failed to fully enjoy the benefits of the consumer boom in other parts of the UK.
The "global technologies slowdown" has also had a negative impact on Scotland's 'Silicon Glen'.
However, the economists stressed that weak economic performance is not a recent problem.
They said: "Scottish growth since 1995 has averaged only 1.9% compared with 2.7% for the UK as a whole.
"Scottish manufactured exports are running at a lower level than four years ago while the number of people living in Scotland has been falling since 1995. "

"If present rates of growth are projected ahead, Scotland within 50 years will be a poorer country than Greece or Portugal and not a long way ahead of Poland or Turkey."
The economists said Scotland suffers from a "lack of entrepreneurship culture" and they urged Scottish banks to offer more support to business start-ups.
They called for a "tartan tax" reduction of three pence which would mean less public spending but would encourage a more efficient economy and a reduction in red tape.
While the report said there would be no quick fix, it stressed that the suggested measures would start to "turn the economy round". 

With these facts, and projections in mind, it would appear that Scotland would have an exceedingly hard time in setting up legislation which would induce foreign investment, simply because tax breaks would be a difficult incentive to offer..
Luxembourg has an economy that is well established, and trade and financial agreements which are longstanding. 
Scotland would be starting from scratch.




Thursday, October 03, 2013

In the interests of continuing the argument for the legalization of cannabis and it's derivatives, it is of paramount importance that the reasons for the legislation be understood which, when passed, made the herb a criminal offence.

Let me direct the reader to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality of cannabis.. just run your mouse over the blank space following 'to'.

Might it be suggested that those who support the decriminalization of the herb start the process off by writing to their local MSP, or regional variation, to discover their personal stance on legislation that would end prosecutions for possession, cultivation, and eventual legalization.

Understanding the history of the Laws is paramount, if any cogent argument is to be launched proposing a repeal. It must be understood that to end Prohibition of Alcohol in the US, it took amending their Constitution. The process could well be as complex here in the UK, but could well be simpler if and when Scotland declares itself a separate country.

The first step, is to understand what brought us to this point. The second is to become at least as proactive as to ask those we will choose to govern us what they would, or could, do towards changing this abhorrent situation.



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