Thursday, 19 February 2015

Me, Cannabis and The Law

Hi. I'm Jon Liebling, and I am a Medical Cannabis Patient!

I have suffered with varying degrees of stress migraines, back pain, anxiety and depression and suicidal thoughts for most of my adult life, which I have adequately and effectively self-managed through my choice to consume cannabis.

I discovered cannabis at university, learning 2 things:

1: I much preferred being stoned to being drunk and
2: For the first time in my life, I was able to concentrate and focus on whatever I wanted/needed to focus on, my thoughts were significantly calmer and all the pain in my neck and shoulders vanished - immediately. My social anxiety had also, simply, gone.

The only problems I have ever experienced with consuming cannabis have been related to its legal status:
Firstly as a student, caught in possession where the police took my 14 grams of "Soap-Bar" hash and proceeded to steal half, and then charge me with possession of the other half. I received a fine that I could not afford and a conditional discharge. You know, I wouldn't have minded so much if either they had charged me with the whole lot, or taken my stash and let me go, but to do half of each was simply wrong and frankly criminal.

Secondly when I was about 30 for growing 4 plants, outdoors, on a farm in the middle of nowhere. This time I was threatened with imprisonment but after making grovelling apologies and promising that I would seek help and never do it again, I received another (bigger) fine that I could afford even less and another conditional discharge. This is something that must be considered when listening to the number of "Cannabis users seeking help with their addiction", how many of those were just saying they had a problem to avoid imprisonment? I have to say that this was ultimately an act of perjury in court - of course I wouldn't stop; It is medicine for me and I didn't need any help, I just needed the law to leave me be. My own sense of justice has suffered for those lies for many years. It has always felt like I betrayed my own beliefs, sensibilities and this wonderful, beautiful, medicinal plant.

There were more and on each of those occasions the impact on me was loss of a job or education and loss of motivation combined with an increase in my anxiety, feeling disenfranchised from society and let down by our social and justice systems. Other than on those occasions, I have never really stopped consuming cannabis when I felt I required it. I have never had a problem with it and it has never affected my motivation or anything else negatively. In fact for the last 17 years or so I have built a very good career in IT and until recently was a Senior IT Manager for a well known international retailer and for the last 9 years an attentive, present and good father to my daughter. Before that I was a hard working and enthusiastic Psychiatric Nurse - never a day (or night) off sick! I loved that job until my legal issues made it impossible for me to continue. I've also learnt to dance in that space of time, even getting to the finals of a national competition and in all other ways have remained physically fit and healthy. There are times I don't take it at all for weeks or months, and there are other times when I take it most evenings after stressful days to help me relax and sleep. At other times it helps to remove physical or emotional pain and to manage the rest. It is also the only thing have ever found that will stop a migraine or a panic attack in its tracks.

More recently a number of significant personal life events had a devastating impact on me and my anxiety and depression reached unmanageable levels. I knew I needed help and sought it from my local GP. I was honest with him about consuming cannabis and explained what it had been doing for me most of my life. He did not want to listen and chose to respond by telling me that he would not help until he was certain that I was not "using" cannabis. He also told me that he could not refer me to "Talking Therapies" for the same reason, which would have been exactly what I needed and what I was asking for right then.

In any case, I agreed and completely stopped "using" cannabis as directed by my doctor. My anxiety inevitably increased to the point where I stopped sleeping properly and didn't want to leave my home for anything and my doctor prescribed an anti-depressant medication called Fluoxetine (Prozac) together with Valium (Diazepam) to help me sleep. All the diazepam ever did was knock me flat out and gave me a really bad hangover the next day. I stopped those almost immediately! As for the Prozac, at first whilst having little impact on my anxiety did make it impossible to think, move too much, work or play with my daughter and he told me that the dose may not be right, so he upped it. This made the anxiety much worse to the point where I was planning suicide. The "Happy Pills" had made me happy with my suicidal thoughts - Thanks Doc!

I went back for a check up and thanks to my regular doctor being on holiday was able to get a second opinion. This lovely locum whom I saw in a bit of a state spent some time to actually talk and listen to me. She took me off all medications immediately and stated that there was nothing she felt that prescription medications could do to help me and what I really needed was therapy. "I know", I replied somewhat ironically. She also recommended that as I already knew it worked, and was relatively safe, I'd be better off continuing to take cannabis to calm my anxiety and manage my mood. Unfortunately, as she was worried about the impact on her career, she was unwilling to put this in writing for me.

Now, when you buy cannabis "off the street", you have no idea what strain it really is, what strength it is , what THC/CBD balance it is with no guarantees on quality, no idea what chemicals have been used either to boost growth, or in harvesting to retain smell (sometimes sprays of 'god only knows what' are used to make the product heavier and pretty and sparkly). In addition one has to mix with some questionable people in questionable places which is not great for anxiety or safety, and, of course, the price is ridiculous. So I made a benefit/risk judgement call and decided that I'd prefer to grow my own so that I could guarantee high quality, know exactly what strains I was taking, and grow organically rather than to have to buy sub-standard "I don't know what" from "I don't know who" off the street.

I think it is important that you understand that I would not have made this decision if I could not keep it all (logistically) away from my family. I had a house I was in the process of doing up for rent and I knew that it was going to take about a year to complete - perfect! The only person exposed to any risk of any nature was me!

My Favourite Bud
It became quickly apparent that I have a passion and a talent (thanks for the green fingers, mum) and it also became very clear very quickly that I had a deepening relationship with this plant. In fact the mere process of growing was having a very positive effect on my overall well-being and for many extended moments whilst tending my plants or just sitting amongst them I would say I experienced a level of peace and calmness, sadly missing from much of my life. It was an effective medicine and occupational therapy all rolled into one.

Just as the first 4 plants of my grow were beginning to mature, there was a knock on my door, and there were the police who "had received a tip off" and I was arrested. They were more interested in whether I had guns, weapons or was stealing electricity than asking why I was doing what I was doing. I tried to mention my health condition whilst being pinned to the floor and handcuffed, but of course this was totally ignored and my "anxiety" was cruelly mocked. They proceeded to treat me like a hardened criminal and turn a newly decorated house upside down in their search for evidence of my criminality. They have now spent over a year deciding what sort of a criminal I am, whilst withholding my passport, driving licence and my mobile telephone? As you can imagine, this has not done much for my mental well being nor, as previously, my motivation and faith or engagement with "the system".

I have broken the law. This I freely admit. However; 

As far as I am concerned, it is and has always been an unjust law, and I no longer wish to apologise for doing something that improves both my mental and physical well being and does no harm to me or anyone else. I prioritise my health and well being as more important than an unjust law against growing and ingesting a natural and medicinal plant.

When left alone by the law, and in every other aspect I have been and am a productive, tax paying, law abiding citizen, father, son and brother who has never done anything to harm anyone, and don't accept why I, or the countless others who benefit, have to suffer more as a result of this uninvited restriction on liberty. From my perspective, the law itself is a crime. How can you outlaw a plant for goodness sake, especially one with so many far reaching benefits and so little risk. If one believes in a God, then presumably this law implies that God got this one (among others) wrong. It you don't then presumably the blame rests with this beautiful, perfect, little green planet's nature?

Prescription medicine has made me worse. The law has threatened me, hurt me and taken my medicine away. Cannabis has done nothing but help - Ever!

For the time being I await my final hearing in Liverpool Crown Court court on 4th December 2015 where I will be asked to answer to the charge of Production of a Controlled Drug (Class B), and whilst my solicitor tells me it is possible but unlikely that I will be sentenced to any actual jail time for my crime, this charge does come with a maximum sentence of 14 years! Not a very helpful or motivating thing to have hanging over your head.

UPDATE 5th Feb 2016 - I was given a 12 month sentence, suspended for 24 months. No fine. No Community Service. No Ankle bracelet. £100 Victim surcharge. Haven't found a victim yet - other than myself, of course!

I have always been an active and open advocate for legal access to cannabis for adults, and medicinal cannabis for all, but now I have joined a fantastic group of medical cannabis patients at the United Patients Alliance, who seek to advance legal access the cannabis therapeutics in the UK. Here's a little look at our first 6 months:

Isn't it time for change? Why don't you join us?

Jon Liebling - United Patients Alliance
YouTube | Instagram | WebSite

Introducing United Patients Alliance
I am Political Director of The United Patients Alliance. We are a support and campaigning community for 1000s of medical cannabis patients suffering from a range of conditions including; Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, Anxiety, Depression, Rheumatoid Arthritis, ME, PTSD, AIDS, Epilepsy, Chronic Pain, the list goes on, all of whom have found that various types and strengths of cannabis consumed in a variety of ways has proven to be 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 ministers, Norman Baker and Lynne Featherstone and Julian Huppert. 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. I would argue that in terms of genuine information on medical cannabis, we are fast becoming the UK’s experts on the subject.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

United Patients Alliance - January 2015 Tour

I’m Jon Liebling and I’m a medical cannabis patient! What a fantastic month of campaigning for Legal Access to Cannabis Therapeutics we had in January. 

Special thanks for Dale Beaumont-Smith, independent film maker for following us all over England filming for the upcoming Grassroots Documentary: 

Saturday 17th Jan 2015 19:30 Portsmouth The Lodge Arts Centre

We ran our very first Cannabis College where we aim to teach and discuss the latest science on medical cannabis and cascade some tips for effective activism. The venue was a fabulous little Arty place in Portsmouth  free flowing tea, very welcoming hosts who support our cause and a lovely little bar/garden out the back.

For the first hour Faye Elk, Alex Fraser and myself gave talks and presentations starting with  Cannabis and Cancer then covering some of the top arguments used by supporters of prohibition and the status quo, Cannabis makes you Stupid and lazy, Cannabis and Mental health, Cannabis the "Gateway" drug then Clark French ran a session on Speaking their language: Discussing the best way to speak to the media, MPs and other ‘influential and important‘ people.

This first half was received very well by the 30 strong audience, but it really was time for a medication break in the garden! Ah, that’s better! Discussing prohibitionist arguments does get me all rather angry and anxious – in fact bloody furious is closer to the mark, but of course it is rarely a productive thing to vent your spleen though it does make one feel a little better sometimes.

During the second half, I gave a brief summary of the major differences in look/feel and actions of the Cannabis Types mainly Indica and Sativa though having just done that, it would appear that we may just have to change all of this according to a recent article in Leaf magazine so according to some senior biologists they should be: Indica (formerly Sativa), Afghanica (formerly Indica )and Sativa (formerly Ruderalis) <- Only time will tell if this new nomenclature takes with the cannabis culture and community as a whole.

To finish off, Faye and Alex organised an effective fun debating game to help get everyone more comfortable with all the things discuss throughout the event. Then of course it was back to the bar and garden for a little more socialising. Met some lovely new friends, got great feedback so that we can make this even better next time. Success!

Ok so then this month really got moving as we entered the United Patients Alliance January UK tour taking us to 4 locations in 4 days; Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Cambridge. Four of us, Clark French, Faye Elk, Alex Vitagliano and myself together with all our kit stuffed into a Vauxhall Meriva.

Thursday 22nd Jan 19:30 BirminghamThe Eden Bar

Faye and I were picked up in Reading by Clark and Alex travelling from Brighton and but for a few wrong turns we would have been there really early, but as it happened we arrived just in time to get set up.

This time a Marquee attached to a Gay bar in the centre of Birmingham and perhaps it should not have been a surprise that the events room was simply fabulous – Big thanks to our hosts who did a great job and bigger thanks to Bee Troot for sorting out such a great venue for FREE!! Wow!

I’d managed to get a brief slot on FreeRadio and Clark was interviewed on BBC Radio WM too. Local printed press coverage was good and so another room packed full. There were a few bonuses with this event in that there seemed to be a high number of Media and PR students covering the event and offering their assistance in furthering our cause. We want their support, they want to run projects on us – Win (for them) Win (for us)Win (for you)!!

A couple of reporters from Birmigham Eastside News Site covered our event live on Twitter, interviewed Clark and myself and published this great report (with a little questionable English):

We heard patient perspectives from Clark, Faye, Myself and Bee who defeated her nervousness to tell her story – very well done! Biologist Sarah Davis gave her presentation on “Is Cannabis Safe?” and then we heard from Green Party candidate for Birmingham, Margaret Okole, who expressed her support for Drug Policy Review and confirming her parties’ position. “This law needs to be reviewed. Remember that homosexuality was also criminalised in the past so we know we can win. We just have to have the courage to stand up” – That’s what we are doing Margaret and thanks for coming along. I hope we can get many more MPs to “Stand Up” too!

Back to Bee’s for a little getting to know you and social session before collapsing on an available couch. I can’t thank Bee enough for organising the venue, putting us all up in her house, overcoming her public speaking fears and making the event a huge success – Love you Bee!

Friday 23rd Jan 19:30 Liverpool: Neurosupport Centre
Guest Speaker: Jeff Ditchfield from Bud Buddies and Project Storm 

Friday morning…..well Friday afternoon in all honesty, time to get all packed up again and off we went to Liverpool. On this occasion we had my house, you know, the one that I got my grow busted in! Certainly not luxury with no carpets or furniture, but it has a roof, is warm has a shower and facilities and a decent internet connection – all good for preparing for tonight.

What a great venue, again getting so much support for our cause from our hosts. “This is the most exciting event we have ever had here” said the Carolyn, the administrator. “We have a great deal in common as we are both interested in the Neuro protective and reparative qualities of cannabis”

Bursting at the seams this time with over 100 in attendance. The Liverpool Cannabis Club had definitely done their bit promoting the event here. We had people literally crowding around the doors outside to get a looksee.

Jeff Ditchfield, who has done so much both for the cause and for many long suffering patients by repeatedly risking his own freedom to help those in need, gave a brief talk and opened the floor to questions which were asked, answered and received very well.

After the event we were privileged to be invited to meet more new found friends in a relaxed atmosphere. Live music too! Great night. Liverpool you were and are amazing. Thanks for all the support and I am sure we will be back very shortly for more.

Saturday 24th Jan 14:30 Manchester: Friends Meeting House
Guest speakers: Neil Woods (Former Undercover Drugs Officer and LEAP Member) and Kieron Turner-Dave – Green Party Candidate

This would be our first “afternoon” delight! Yet another great venue though in all fairness it would have been better if we could have used the projector, but that would have DOUBLED the price of the hall for hire so we just had to trust our words and impact without powerpoint!

Here we heard from many new supporters and patients including Green Party candidate Kieron Turner-Dave and most excitingly and movingly from David Hibbitt, who told his Medical Cannabis and Cancer story.  "Months after being given a diagnosis of inoperable, terminal cancer and deciding to use cannabis oil, my tumours had shrunk so I could have the operation to remove whats left, I then refused more chemo and stuck to the oil. I was given the all clear recently". He is screaming it (and all the evidence) from the rooftops – Follow David here: We are REALLY proud to have you on board.

We also heard from Neil Woods from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) who gave a brave and emotional talk from his perspective credibly regretting and apologising for his part in the unjust Drugs War highlighting some of the lives that have been ruined and granting his support to our cause. Thanks Neil. Great to meet you. Laura Crossley courageously gave her perspective on how cannabis has helped her with Depression and Anxiety, just like it helps me too and there were a plethora of others too - Sorry if I have missed you out, but I have to be a little careful about publishing names without given permission. 

Sunday 25th Jan 19:30 Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College
Guest Speakers: Tom Lloyd and Julian Huppert

Finally to Cambridge where we were speaking in a lecture theatre at the same college that Dr Stephen Hawking attended. Wow we had such a diverse range of venues eh?

On a personal note, I was so happy to have members of my own family attending – now, obviously converts, and I think they now realise that the need for access to Medical Cannabis is real and important.

Julian Huppert MP opened the show with an impassioned talk about his and the LibDem view on cannabis and overall Drugs Policy. We then had our Patient Perspectives, thank you all, followed by former Chief Constable of Cambridgshire Tom Lloyd who continues to support us and the need for an evidence based and sensible Drug Policy.
Another highly successful event where we made yet more friends and supporters. Thank you Cambridge.

Thank you to all who attended, supported, shared, spoke and helped, it feels like we have some real inertia now which we will be exploiting over the coming months in the lead up to the General Election. The change necessary to free up more research and allow doctors to prescribe this effective medicine to patients that need it can be made right NOW with no changes to the law. It is currently in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which defines it as having “No Theraputic Value” – Lobby your MP to get this change made today. Reduce suffering NOW!

Jon Liebling - Political Director - United Patients Alliance

Sunday, 15 February 2015

My Response to The Mail Online

Original Article Here

Scientists show that unless you smoke a great deal of the strongest strains of cannabis every day from the age of 15 there is NO SIGNIFICANT INCREASE in risk of psychosis or other mental disorders.

  •  Researchers highlight the dangers of synthetic cannabis such as “Spice” whereas natural cannabis has anti-psychotic properties
  • A study found that only those who have a predisposition to mental illness, start at 15 or under, smoke strong strains, daily, heavily and for many years have any significant increase in risk of psychosis
  • Regulated and quality controlled cannabis carries no significant increased risk and has been seen to help with mental illness


Published 18:00 15 February 2015

The study, leaked and completely misinterpreted by the Mail on Sunday ahead of its publication to the Lancet, a journal for medically qualified and intelligent readers, so they can attempt again to reignite the Reefer Madness lies and misinformation campaign of the 1930s against cannabis.

The Mail on Sunday understood that certain strains of cannabis were responsible for up to 25% of new cases of psychotic mental illness, but have missed all the important information that, in fact, this is limited to a tiny proportion of the general population who start smoking at age 15 or younger and have a predisposition to mental illness often through a family history and/or certain genetic markers or from certain birth traumas such as hypoxia or being born prematurely.

In addition they would have to be smoking the drug as opposed to other methods of ingestion and they would also have to be taking large quantities on a daily basis over many years for the increase risk to be significant, making it potentially one of the safest psychoactive substances known to man and certainly safer than alcohol or nicotine which are both far easier to prove are linked to increased risk of mental illness.

Both Professor Robin Murray and, The Mail on Sunday, have completely misunderstood the meaning of the term “Skunk” which actually refers to one of about 100 subsets of strains that contain high THC. Experts in this field will tell you that it is actually the ratio between THC and CBD and not the strength per say that has been seen to produce this tiny increase of risk to a tiny proportion of the general population.

Whilst for the sake of clarity I will continue to use the incorrect term “Skunk” you can find much more detailed and accurate information on what “Skunk” is here.

According to Crime Survey figures for England and Wales, over a million youngsters aged 16 to 24 smoke cannabis. But the vast majority of these consumers are not at risk. Experts warn, however, that whilst cannabis in its natural form appears to have few if any negative consequences, synthetic forms of cannabis which have been created recently to circumnavigate the ridiculous law is far more potent and potentially damaging to mental and physical health.

Cases of severe psychosis related directly to these synthetic forms of cannabis such as “Spice” have increased from 80 in 2009 to 12000 in 2012 and now have their own name within the Psychiatric community: Spice-o-phrenia

The researchers, led by a team at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in London, conclude there is an 'urgent need to inform young people about the risks of synthetic cannabis' and reading between the lines; 'until the world realises that drug laws need to be reviewed against scientific evidence and cannabis in its natural form is legalised' 

The findings will add substance to a 2010 report by the Journal of Schizophrenia Research, which found that schizophrenic patients with a history of cannabis consumption demonstrate higher levels of cognitive performance compared to non-consumers. Researchers in that study concluded, “The results of the present analysis suggest that cannabis consumption in patients with schizophrenia is associated with better performance on measures of processing speed and verbal skills. These data are consistent with prior reports indicating that schizophrenia patients with a history of cannabis consumption have less severe cognitive deficits than schizophrenia patients without cannabis consumption.”

A 2011 meta-analysis published online by the journal Schizophrenia Research also affirmed that schizophrenics with a history of cannabis consumption demonstrate “superior neurocognitive performance” compared to non-consumers. Investigators at the University of Toronto, Institute of Medical Sciences reviewed eight separate studies assessing the impact of marijuana consumption on cognition, executive function, learning, and working memory in schizophrenic subjects. Researchers determined that the results of each of the performance measurements suggested “superior cognitive functioning in cannabis-consuming patients as compared to non-consuming patients.” Little wonder, perhaps, that the UK firm, GW Pharmaceuticals who produce 200 Tonnes of raw cannabis under government license and whose sole purpose is to exploit the huge potential for medicinal benefits of cannabis and hold 40 patents for other indications have patented cannabis’ anti-psychotic properties for the treatment of psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia.

GW Pharmaceuticals Cannabis Patents

This report was chaired by schizophrenia expert Professor Sir Robin Murray, who also played a key part in the new study. It looked at cannabis use in two groups, each containing about 400 people, from 2005 to 2011. Those in the first group had all suffered 'first-episode psychosis'– a diagnosed first occurrence of the disorder. Oddly there is no data available regarding the recorded triggers for their psychosis, which would have been very useful in determining whether cannabis could be implicated.

The second group were volunteers who agreed to answer questions about themselves – including on cannabis use and mental health history – for a study. Some said they had suffered psychosis, others said not. They were not told the nature of the project and no evidence of the veracity of those data were recorded.

The academics found those in the first group were more likely to smoke cannabis daily – and to smoke “skunk” – than those in the second. The researchers say: 'Skunk use alone was sought by 24 per cent of adults presenting with first-episode psychosis to the psychiatric services in South London.' It is highly likely, however, that this would be in an effort to ameliorate the onset of their symptoms.

The latest research, to be published in The Lancet, concludes: 'Only those 15yrs old or under who used excessive amounts of the strongest forms of cannabis every day for a number of years and had a predisposition for mental illness were more likely to have a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.'

But the research appears also showed that natural forms of cannabis with a narrower THC/CBD ratio had no significant increased risk even in such patients.

It can be concluded that other factors such as living in a city, being a migrant, having genetic markers, a family history of mental illness and/or traumas experienced at birth such as hypoxia and premature birth constitute a far more significant increase in risk.

Research has found, for instance, that compared to those born at term, babies born before 32 weeks of gestation were 7.4 times more likely to have bipolar disorder, 2.9 times more likely to suffer from depression and 2.5 times more likely to experience psychosis. 
Professor Sir Robin Murray was keen to point out, however, that even this research must be treated with caution as the factor of tobacco smoking with cannabis for which we already have far clearer link to increased risk of psychosis was not taken into account.

Tobacco use before, at, and after first-episode psychosis: a systematic meta-analysis.

He added that it is not really similar, for instance, to the increased risk of lung cancer from smoking tobacco which stands at a factor of 10 to 15 times, whereas cannabis even limited to the tiny proportion of people who might be exposed to this increased risk, the impact was only 2 or 3 times more likely. “Some people are just unlucky with their genes which makes them more vulnerable across the board to developing psychosis. It looks as if, starting before 15 increases the risk which might be because the brain is still developing and all sort of changes are happening in your dopamine and cannabinoid receptors, but people who started at 18 had a minimal (insignificant) increase in risk”

“It is important to understand that this is also dose related like alcohol. Most people drink sensibly and never have any issues, which is the same with cannabis.  It’s the people who drink something like a bottle of whisky a day or it’s the people who smoke 5 or 6 joints of high potency cannabis every day that get into trouble. The increase in strength of cannabis which people talk about is merely like the difference between lager and whisky.  It is basically the same stuff but more concentrated. However  it is a little more complicated because cannabis contains not just THC but there is also another substance, CBD which seems to have an ameliorating function.”

Most of the cannabis available before prohibition which forced the cultivation and distribution into the hands of criminals with a single profit motive, had the same amount of THC and CBD but modern “Skunk” has 16-20% and almost no CBD as this produces more of the “high” that recreational consumers are looking for, however CBD seems to counteract the psychotic effect of THC. As such a market where the strain, quality, strength and THC/CBD ratio of the substance can be regulated and assured would significantly reduce if not eliminate the harms and risks.

Michael Ellis, a Tory member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, got all of this completely upside down, ignored all the actual science and ignorantly stated: 'This powerful new study illustrates that those in government and the police must be careful to send out the right message. Cannabis isn't a harmless drug: it can ruin lives.' We have asked where the Tory minister got the idea that anyone has ever said cannabis was a harmless drug but was no longer available for comment.

Professor David Nutt said that it really is time that we leave decisions on relative harms of substances in the hands of experts and scientists rather than in the hands of politicians who know nothing "They do not want a discussion on drugs for a number of reasons. One is they'd lose the argument. The second is that senior Tories have got rather spectacularly interesting drug histories."

He also added that “Studying the side-effects of recreational drugs (instead of banning them) on mental well being could help to unblock the logjam preventing much-needed psychiatric medicines from being developed


Jon Liebling (pictured) believes his mental health issues have been effectively managed using cannabis

Former IT Manager Jon Liebling, 47, from Berkshire knows first hand the amazing benefits of cannabis for the management of symptoms of anxiety and depression compared with the terrifying experience of being put onto anti-depressant drugs by his doctor. “When I was arrested which forced me to stop taking cannabis and was prescribed various medications such as Fluoxetine (Prozac) the feelings of anxiety and depression returned and I started to have suicidal thoughts which I had never experienced before. Yes the Prozac made me happy, but it made me happy with suicidal thoughts! This scared me nearly literally to death and I felt I had no choice but to stop using these dangerous prescription medications and go back to taking cannabis, which I had taken since my early 20s. Unfortunately this means that I am breaking the law again, but what am I supposed to do. My health is more of a priority than a law that prevents me from taking a medicine derived from a natural plant that actually works and has no unwanted side-effects. I am sure my wife and daughter would agree. I am now fine and happy that I have stopped using prescription medications. Cannabis is one of the main reasons that I am still alive.

Read more detail about Me, Cannabis and the Law


United Patients Alliance

Does Cannabis Affect Mental Illness: