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APPG Launch - Help


APPG Launch - Help

Information on Launch Event

September is going to be HUGE for 



* 100+ Peers and MPs launch campaign for cannabis as a medicine



 publish Patient Survey

* Top UK Neurologist publishes "game-changing" study of evidence

* (Many More Exciting Details to come)

Facebook Posts/Tweets/etc - ALWAYS and Every one!

  • Follow us on Twitter: @upallianceuk
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Like all our FB posts and tweets
  • Comment on posts/tweets - this spreads the word (much wider)
  • Share posts/Retweet - spreads the word (much much wider)
  • Share posts in other groups you think are appropriate
  • LIKES – Likes are the throwaway gesture of social media. When you like the Page Update. Facebook assigns very little weight to it in the Newsfeed algorithm.
  • COMMENTS – When you comment on a Page Update, Facebook’s Newsfeed gives more weight to comments than likes. 10 TIMES BETTER!
  • SHARES – A share is the brass ring on Facebook. This is huge in terms of exposure, word-of-mouth recommendation, and credibility. Facebook assigns the most weight to shares. 100 TIMES BETTER!

Letter/MP Writing <- Click link for help - Old reason, right actions!

  • Write to your MP
      • Inform of APPG Launch/#EndOurPain #UPA Mike Barnes Medical Report
      • Highlight your own condition/situation
      • Ask for support
      • Ask for Face to Face Meeting
        • Highlight launch and all its information/initiatives
        • Highlight your own condition/situation
        • Request support for APPG and #EndOurPain
        • Ask for a statement regarding both/either
        • Ask for Face to Face Meeting
        • Newspapers/Magazines
          • Patient Stories (Pref Public but can be anonymous)
          • Articles (individual or groups?) for publication about the APPG Launch and #EndOurPain 
            • Be supportive, but can suggest that it does not go far enough for you/your group...because.....(GYO, Extracts, Choice/Range, etc.....)
            • "Have your say" sections of newspapers like (Metro, Sun, Mail, Telegraph, etc)
            • Published Articles
              • Share
              • Comment
              • Share your comment

On the day(s)

  • Tweet and post about events/activities 
    • With structure: Hashtags, Memes, Tags, wording
    • Night before launch News at 10 will have a special exclusive segment
    • Launch day will have many activities/media showings etc

Other Activities

  • Help organise UPA UK Tour and Grassroots showings (2 separate events...probably?)
    • Brighton, London, Bristol, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow + any others you would like to suggest
    • Ideas for improving event nights
    • Finding + booking suitable venues
    • Event Admin/Advertising/Leafletting/Posters
    • Recruiting in local area
    • Hosting event in local area
    • Become Regional Admin and recruit local help?
    • Meme Making
      • Ideas for good memes
      • Graphic Design for branded memes (#UPA #APPG #EndOurPain)
      • Video Shorts
        • Short video clips (with branding and subtitles) say 30s on why you choose cannabis for your condition - The more the merrier!
        • Blogging (Need content for brand new website due for launch soon)
          • Writing blogs about almost anything in relation to Cannabis as a Medicine
          • Writing opinion pieces about #UPA #EndOurPain, APPG Launch, Mike Barnes' report, UPA Patient Survey
            • No opinion will be censored but would strongly prefer "supportive" Eg: Brilliant and a great step forward, thanks, blah BUT: Better if, needs that, should be like this because.....etc....
            • Other website content:
              • Guides
                • GYO
                • Care Giver/Community Sharing
                • Extracts
                • Harm Reduction
                • Dosage guide
                • General consumption advice
                • Legal Advice
                • Any other ideas
                • Research for Soundbites from UK based sources
                  • Politicians/Celebrities etc
                  • Search Hansard/TheyWorkForYou

Be a Patient

  • We are always looking for patients willing to speak out publicly and be available for media interviews/events
  • I hate saying this, but it is just TRUE - The more emotional your story, the better. The more debilitating your illness, the better. Wheelchairs/Walking sticks all welcome! The more eloquent you are the better. The more presentable you are, the better - We put patients forward, it is (ALWAYS) the media who select who they want!
  • Particularly looking for:
    • Veterans
    • Medical Professionals
    • Elderly
    • Child
    • Mothers
    • Anyone who can demonstrate "live" the "rapid" impacts of cannabis consumption 
    • Mental Illnesses - Unique Opportunity - Maybe not at launch but v shortly afterwards
      • For the very first time, this campaign will have significant focus on the benefits of cannabis to mental health conditions, especially: PTSD and Anxiety
      • We need willing patients with these or related conditions also with broader/other mental health conditions who get benefit from cannabis to step forwards

There really has been nothing like this happen before. NOW is the time to make a difference. NOW is the time to be heard. NOW is the time to support Cannabis as a Medicine.

Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance

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Summary and Opinion - Parliamentary Debate On Legalising Cannabis - October 12th 2015

Parliamentary Debate in Westminster Hall - October 12th 2015

There are 4 things that I and all the medical cannabis patients that United Patients Alliance represent and ultimately the estimated 3.6m cannabis consumers will take from the debate that took place in Westminster Hall on 12th October 2015

  1. The government don't care about evidence
  2. The government believe that banning things works in spite of all the evidence to the contrary (see point 1)
  3. The government wish to continue criminalising all cannabis consumers even if they have a medical need (see point 1)
  4. The government's petitions process is nothing more than smoke and mirrors

Shifting the Debate into the small Westminster Hall did give the public an opportunity to attend the debate in person, though it was "rammed" and most, including myself could not get a seat, however it does also speak of the priority this debate was given, and being that a very small number of MPs actually attended the debate, perhaps the government got exactly what they wanted. The problem with this is that the 221 000 people who signed the debate, the estimated 1m medical cannabis patients and the estimated 3.6m UK citizens who consume it regularly certainly did not and will be deeply disappointed about that and disillusioned further regarding the democratic and petitions processes. 


Summary of the main points and contributors during the debate

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)

 leading and opening the debate spoke in detail about the ineffectiveness of the existing policy and the succession of governments who have dodged the issue for over 40 years:

"The [Government's] response could have been written 20 years ago. It does not reflect our current knowledge and experience or the serious case that has been made for decriminalising cannabis......No Government have had the sense to introduce a policy that could be described as intelligent.

We jail more people as a proportion of the population than anywhere else on the planet, except the United States. We end up with all the problems that emanate from the abuse of drugs, but we gain none of the medical advantages that we would have if we liberated people so that they could use their medicine of choice. The Home Office has admitted [in the International Comparator's Report 2014] that there is no correlation between harsh punishment, harsh penalties and the use of drugs."

He then went on to talk about what has happened in other places that have made changes to policy:

"People in America suggested that if cannabis were decriminalised for recreational purposes, there would be all kinds of consequences, but in Colorado and Washington, decriminalisation of cannabis took place a year ago, and the disasters have not occurred. The evidence shows no spike in cannabis use among young people and no increase in road fatalities. What there has been, of course, is a large reduction in the criminal market"

He finished off his opening statement thus:

"Cannabis is the oldest medicine in the world. It has been trialled and tested by tens of millions of people over 5,000 years. If there were any problems with natural cannabis, that would have been apparent a long time ago. The case for medical cannabis, including in its natural form, is overwhelming. It is barbaric to deny people their medicine of choice. There can be no justification for doing that."

Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con):

"My constituent Bernadette McCreadie suffers from Crohn’s disease and psoriatic arthritis, and she is allergic to most of the pharmaceutical medicines that are prescribed—in fact, they have given her ulcers. She has found effective pain relief only through cannabis"

Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con):

"When looking at the evidence, I conclude that we need not just to decriminalise cannabis, but to legalise its sale and use.....the medical arguments are overwhelming. I cannot think of any good reasons for not allowing the use of cannabis and its derivatives for medical purposes"

"A Lancet review of all the medical evidence on the use of cannabis said that “on the medical evidence available, moderate indulgence in cannabis has little ill-effect on health, and decisions to ban or to legalise cannabis should be based on other considerations.”

“It’s surely better that it’s readily available but regulated, than unregulated and readily available anyway. The increasing strength of cannabis is a symptom of prohibition, much as people switched from beer to spirits in prohibition America, because it was easier to make and transport.

The truth is that it is only the criminalisation of the supply of cannabis that makes it into a gateway drug. Because cannabis users can obtain it only from illegal sources, they are forced into contact with the illegal gangs that will try to persuade them to move on to hard drugs. Prohibition of cannabis drives soft drug users into the arms of hard drug pushers. Only by providing some legal outlets for cannabis can we break the contact between cannabis users and those pushing cocaine, crack and heroin"

"Our Government should stop hiding behind largely spurious and bogus health concerns which at very best are greatly exaggerated and at worst, non-existent.It is policy-based evidence—evidence that has been looked for to justify a policy, rather than being found and leading to a policy. It is similar to the sort of thing we find in the global warming debate

Dr Paul Monaghan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (SNP):

"I have had the privilege of being the director of the Inverness Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre. Cannabis has brought some relief to some sufferers of MS, and I am anxious to support those individuals."

"Cannabis is already an important medicine. The many applications of cannabis as a medicine are impeded by its inclusion in schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Schedule 1 drugs are controlled substances considered to have no medicinal value. A simple change to schedule 2 would recognise the drug’s undoubted medicinal value and place it on a par with opiates. It would also enable research to be carried out into the vast potential for a range of medical applications and facilitate relief for thousands of people, including the many who suffer from MS and epilepsy who are not helped by other medicines"

"More than 20 states in the USA have provision for the supply of medicinal cannabis. In Europe, medicinal cannabis is produced in the Netherlands, and it is available on application by a physician in the following European countries: Italy, Finland, Switzerland and Germany. Recently, Canada also legalised the use of medicinal cannabis."

Dr Daniel Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) (Con):

"Many people see cannabis as a harmless substance that helps people to relax and chill—a drug that, unlike alcohol and cigarettes, might even be good for their physical and mental health. I will come to the point that that is clearly not the case"

He then went on to echo quotes the Royal College of Psychiatrists web page which says,

“Over the last 15 years, skunk has invaded the street market and its THC content is about 2-3 times higher than the ‘traditional’ cannabis used in earlier years. There is growing evidence that people with serious mental illness are more likely to use cannabis or have used it for long periods of time in the past.

However he does them go on to recognise that there is a legitimate discussion about reverse causality or whether people with these disorders use it as a medication?"

He also accepts that the current situation impacts medical research which he said needed to be looked at so we can provide easier and more effective support of the potential medical benefits in pain control in terminal and progressive illnesses.

"A number of studies in the United States have shown that cannabis has potential medicinal benefits for pain relief in palliative care, so will we in this country be able to consider some of those issues? If we can help patients use pain control better to manage the symptoms of terminal or progressive diseases or illnesses, that has to be a good thing. We would not want the unintended consequences of the current legal framework to get in the way of achieving that."

Please note the the research to which he is referring is from 2002 since when there have been many, better and more up to date papers and research pointing to exactly the opposite. I have asked him why he feels that 13 year old research really is the best evidence he could find. I have sent him a few more recent studies such as this one from Keele University. 600000 people over 7 years.

Norman Lamb (North Norfolk) (LD):

"If a product is potentially dangerous, it is better to purchase it in a regulated market, with controls, rather than purchasing it from a criminal? It is precisely because of the potential health risks to that make me conclude that cannabis should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue. Surely it is absolutely inappropriate to criminalise people the way we do at the moment."

"I am acutely aware of the co-morbidity of mental ill health and drug use, but often people who suffer from mental ill health resort to cannabis for relief. Then we choose to criminalise them. It is a remarkable thing to do in a so-called civilised society."

"Senior politicians are frequently challenged about their use of cannabis and other drugs in their teenage and early adult years. Those who admit to such drug use laugh it off as a youthful indiscretion, apparently comfortable with the fact that tens of thousands of their fellow countrymen and women—usually people less fortunate than the politicians who reach the top of Government—end up with a criminal record for doing precisely the same thing."

"Change is happening, and I desperately want the United Kingdom to consider the evidence and not base policy on fear, stigma and prejudice. The case [for legalisation] is overwhelming. I urge the Government to act and listen to the evidence"

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green):

"This Government, like successive Governments, have set their face against the evidence? If we look at an evidence-based approach, there is absolutely no correlation between a drug’s legal status and the amount it gets used. In other words, prohibition simply does not work"

A quote from David Cameron 2005:

“Drugs policy has been failing for decades. We need fresh thinking and a new approach. It would be disappointing if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at.”

"Sadly, all too many politicians do once they have secured power—ignored the evidence and, in the face of what can be a hostile media environment, retreated to the status quo"

"I am fully persuaded, because a strong evidence base justifies looking in much more detail at exactly how we should regulate the production and supply of cannabis for medicinal purposes."

"Successive Governments have used carefully calibrated snapshots in time in an attempt to illustrate that the laws are working to reduce drug use, but if one looks at overall trends over time the only thing that is really certain is that there is no link between illegality and use"

Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP):

She says people with long term mental illness are more likely to have taken cannabis. She also cites a study that suggests adolescents that use cannabis daily are five times more likely to develop depression later in life.

She did have to admit that her conclusions did not take into account wider statistics that do not support them.

Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East) (SNP):

Anne McLaughlin pointed out the divide in how drugs can affect the life chances of middle class and working class young people caught doing drugs. She says working class young people are much more likely to have trouble getting work with a drug conviction.

She also claims, probably correctly, to be the only MP in the room with a Rastafarian partner. While she says he doesn’t take cannabis, the drug is a part of his religion - and he asks where his civil liberties lie in that respect.

She believes that there should be more research on the issue

Lyn Brown MP (LAB)

Spoke of a postcode lottery in policing and convictions, and racial and socio-economic disparity. She said that criminalisation hinders job prospects and whilst she doesn’t want to see cannabis legalised for medical use as we have Sativex she urges change on this aspect to free up access to this prescription medicine. 

Mike Penning MP (Hemel Hempstead) (CON) and Minister for State for Justice

Justice Minister Mike Penning refused to consider the decriminalisation of cannabis though did make small and coded references to “looking at evidence” for how the current act is affecting people.

“I am not going to stand here and say we are going to legalise cannabis. From a moral position, from a government position, from a personal position.”

He did concede that there may be scope for doing research on the effects that some of the legislation has had:

“There is conflicting evidence in studies across the world.”

He says in Portugal they have a completely different strategy with their health service, and its “too early” to see what’s happening in Washington.

He was interrupted once by Caroline Lucas who with incredulity stated that:

It was shocking that despite his lip service to the medical professionals who spoke in the debate, Penning appears to have “little interest in the evidence” available.

In  his closing argument, Paul Flynn begged the government to "think again and help MS sufferers to ease their pain" - to a quickly admonished round of applause from the public gallery.

and added “Does anyone believe that that law is sensible? That law is an ass! For so long, this House has been held back from full-scale reform by the timidity of Members of Parliament, because of a reluctance to reform for fear of being attacked by the media and losing votes. Now is the time for compassion and courage"

I agree with him!


My Summary:

The debate has provided a huge amount of compelling evidence and from the MPs who were present, took part and who I would like to extend the thanks of all

United Patients Alliance

patients for their passion and commitment. The government through their Minister for Justice, Mike Penning have once again ignored justice and have stuck firmly to their evidence free position without offering any reasonable or rational justification. He seemed particularly proud of the information, based on 14 year old, inaccurate research from a single organisation, The Royal College of Psychiatry, which presumably he had to try really hard to find but ignores the comments from these other expert organisations:

For Mike Penning to say "

I have every sympathy for my friends and members of my family who have had MS and the terrible pain and anguish that they go through because of an incurable disease. So I start from the premise of having sympathy"

and then to ignore most of the points raise and restating the government's intention to continue their criminalisation is uncaring, ignorant, insulting and ultimately totally unsympathetic. My Penning, you are a 


 and a liar and you should be ashamed of yourself. 

He did concede that legal medical access to cannabis based pharmaceuticals and addressing the research difficulties were things for them to “look at”, he completely ignored every other point made which challenged this harmful, costly and ineffective law. 

We, the 3.6m regular cannabis consumers of the UK demand that the government provide a detailed, referenced and properly considered response to all the points raised within the debate. Anything less would show this process to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. 

I would ask them directly the 2 questions asked by Norman Lamb to which Mr Penning refused to answer:

  • ·Does the Minister really think it is appropriate to give someone who is perhaps suffering from mental ill health a criminal record?
  • ·Can the Minister give any explanation of why it makes sense for that more dangerous product to be legal while a less dangerous product is illegal?”

We really must NOT let the government get away with ignoring this very important issue any more, The evidence of the medical, legal, financial and social benefits is available and unquestionable and the evidence for its harms, sparse and flaky at best. The evidence for the damage that prohibition causes to a significant proportion of the 3.6m cannabis consumers in the UK is irrefutable But the worst of it is that there are up to 1m active British citizens who consume cannabis to help with their medical conditions, 30000, we know of, with the blessing of their doctors, choose to consume something that helps them manage their symptoms, treat their illnesses and improves their lives will still be forced to live in discomfort and pain or risk accessing a criminal market and run the risk of criminalisation for doing so.

It is time to redouble our efforts. Write again to MPs and demand a proper, respectful response. Be in their email boxes, in their media, in their offices and in their faces. We absolutely will not stop until they listen and ACT.

Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance

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Sky News - Labour Debate - Should Cannabis be Decriminalised?


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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Product EARTH Alternative Future EXPO - Great fun....


Product EARTH Alternative Future EXPO - Great fun....

Product Earth Expo

From the over 18 to the over 70, from a postman to an ex-chief constable, from mothers to teachers, from artists to venture capitalists from those living with cancer, to those trying to live with themselves, horticulturists to entrepreneurs, impassioned speakers to cool and groovy musicians. People. Simply people, feeling relaxed, enjoying the atmosphere, the surroundings, the tangible human friendliness and enjoyment. The freedom to let go of that small, but chronic, nagging, insidious feeling that being oneself can lead to trouble.

Did I enjoy the Hemp and Alternative Future Expo this last weekend. Oh yes I did and it moved me......several times.

It moved me because it wasn't expecting any trouble; "Oh, this event is going to be money for old rope, nobody here is going to make any trouble" said one of the security guards as we stood next to the adequately flimsy boundary fence, which I am sure didn't get touched for the whole event, however convenient it might have been, walking from camp site to venue. Respect, you see, goes both ways and when it does - everyone just gets along. It moved me to see how much effort the organisers had made, not only to look after its guests and its attendees, but also its exhibitors. The quality of the refreshments and facilities were excellent

It moved me that the only intervention I saw from security, was to bring one chap, carrying a glass beer bottle, a plastic glass to put his beer in! You see there was a visibly stated "No Glass" rule on the premises. It seems, this rule didn't apply to the hundreds of glass bongs and pipes being utilised. One can only conclude that it's only those who put alcohol in their glass that cannot be trusted. It moved me further to see a few people surreptitiously and rather guiltily carrying different types and strengths of alcohol in their bags, whilst the vast majority of the community chose a different substance to consume without fear of disapproval or, frankly, arrest.

It moved me to hear new stories meet growing and recent friends, meet and make new friends. To be able to help and guide sufferers of many conditions and from all walks of life through the maze of information and misinformation about cannabis as a choice and as a medicine, as a flowering plant and as an oil. To help those in trouble with the law as a result of possessing the medication needed to most effectively manage their symptoms, being able to point them towards another section of our community. To be able to just point to a place where a medical cannabis patient can find information on strains that help them, and to be able to acquire the seed. It moved me that all the stands were helping each other as well as festival goers, sharing with each other, that so many aspects of the hemp and cannabis movement were represented in solidarity.

It moved me to see how the entire industry is coming along. The artistry, the engineering and the manufacturing, the genetics, the technology and the horticulture. It was also pretty cool to be at an event where lighters and rolling papers were cheap :)

Those who stood up to speak moved me. So much reason, so much passion, so much compassion and so much activity. The message is hopeful, it is heartening and the volume is rising.

It moved me that this event was happening and that it was in the UK. I do hope it can happen again next year. I do hope it can get bigger and better, without interference. I hope more people in the UK can see, that all a large and wide population of cannabis consumers and enthusiasts ever seems to be, is a peaceful, accepting and welcoming community.

Thanks to the entire community for a really great weekend. Just what a lovely place to be. So full of beautiful, varied, colourful and friendly people.

Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance

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Cannabis Community and Solidarity


Cannabis Community and Solidarity

I think we are all reasonably comfortable with the idea that there is a significant correlation between mental health and cannabis. The argument that remains is in the nature of that correlation. Most (if not all) of us are in little doubt that people who suffer from a variety of mental health problems find that cannabis helps them. Consumption of cannabis, in this case, is effective self-medication.


If you accept this premise, then logically one can conclude that in a wide community of cannabis consumers and moreover a community of cannabis activists/campaigners will inevitably contain a high proportion of people who suffer from mental health problems.  Add to that those that live with chronic physical problems plus all those who have been treated unfairly, vilified, persecuted, threatened, insulted, arrested, abused, supressed and generally made to feel “pushed to the fringes” for what adds up to a personal choice, then is it any wonder then that our community contains so many personalities, egos, agendas, angles, experiences, attitudes, approaches and beliefs?


That is a lot of angry, frustrated, sensitive and irritable people in one community. It is also not surprising that many within the community take their part in the cause deeply personally and can feel threatened by challenges, criticisms and/or alternatives. As a result things boil over too frequently, too loudly, too personally and most unfortunately too publicly. People act like people do, then other people get offended and over reach their response and you have a perfectly vicious little circle. There’s conspiracy and paranoia, suspicion and accusation. Not surprising, perhaps, given all the above, however it damages us all and when I see it, I can’t help but feel disappointed and a little deflated. 


We are all flawed characters; none of us are perfect (most of us, far from it – and yes, I am speaking for myself!) and isn’t one of the things that we are all passionately fighting about; being judged without reason, truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth and yet we do it to each other.  I’m not saying that challenges should not be made or that inappropriate behaviour should not be called out, but as people, I would have hoped that we could all show rather more empathy and be more supportive of each other and as a group we need a professional and credible public face to be effective and there is no way that this is going to happen whilst ever we can be seen to be focused on attacking each other.


There is one thing that ALL of us agree on. It is the single thing that has brought us together to fight for something that we all passionately believe in – the reasons why are interesting but ultimately unimportant.  The effectiveness of each of our individual methods is up for (respectful) debate, but ultimately isn’t it the goal that counts?


“Legal access to Cannabis for Adults, Medicinal Cannabis for all”


So, next time someone from within our community does something/says something/produces something (or reacts to something) and you don’t like it, before you make a judgement, try to remember how YOU would like to be judged by our criminal justice system and apply the same criteria to your own judgement AND before you publicly (re)react, stop for a minute and with compassion, think about whether, for our common goals, your anger, energy and resources are best directed at an ally in our fight or at our common enemy? If you chose the former over the latter, then aren't you running the risk of being part of the problem rather than the solution?

Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance

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United Patients Alliance - January 2015 Tour


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 withCannabis 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 


 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 


: 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 of United Patients Alliance

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My Response to The Mail Online


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.

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

Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds


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: