False media claims young mother dies of cannabis overdose

Cannabis users throughout the UK and the world have been horrified at the sensationalist  claims in the UK media that the first death attributed to cannabis in the UK has been documented, with the tragic death of Gemma Moss, who died last year.

A pathologist, Dr Kudair Hussein, gave the verdict that cannabis was responsible for her death. The Daily Mail, the BBC, the Daily Telegraph, even the front page of the free London newspaper, The Metro, picked up this story in order to demonise weed.

The problems I have is this is a most unscientific verdict and irresponsible reporting by the British media. For starters it is impossible to die from a cannabis overdose, the science says cannabis cannot kill. The LD50 of THS is 1:20,000 –1:40,000, that means the lethal dose of THC is 20,000 to 40,000 the active dose. In other words you would have to smoke a shedload to overdose; this is simply impossible.

The tragic death of Gemma Moss is unscientifically blamed on cannabis toxicity by the mainstream media.

Justice for Gemma Moss

This didn’t stop the media publishing lies that Gemma Moss died from cannabis toxicity; even the pathologist in question did not actually say that, he said she had a heart attack triggered by cannabis because she had cannabis in her system and half a joint was by her bed. While this is not impossible to completely rule out, it is very unlikely that half a doobie would trigger a heart attack and to splatter Gemma Moss’ picture all over the media, claiming she died from a cannabis overdose (impossible) is both wrong and disrespectful to her memory and her friends and family.

As Prof David Nutt, chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs has already pointed out in his blog about the death of Gemma Moss, it is quite plausible that the additional small stress caused by that cannabis joint triggered a one-in-a-million cardiac event, just as has been more frequently recorded from sport, sex, saunas and even straining on the toilet.

The truth is we simply do not know why Gemma Moss died and the chances that cannabis was the cause of death are extremely low indeed. You are more likely to have a cardiac arrest from a hot bath or drinking coffee. In fact, this would make it officially the safest recreational substance known to mankind, if the story were even true, but this didn’t stop the prohibitionists shamefully using it, with total disregard to the feelings of the family, to use it as prohibitionist propaganda.

It has been said Ms Moss suffered from depression, which Prof Nutt states increases the risk of a sudden cardiac arrest.

I’m pleased to see the NORML UK cannabis campaign take up this story and have called on people to write to the Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to inform them the science says cannabis cannot kill and to ask for reinvestigation into the death of Gemma Moss. They explain you can write to the Ombudsman if you do not receive a satisfactory response, which is your right.

I’m going to do this, not only because the truth should be told, but we owe it to the memory of Gemma Moss who has had her memory slurred by the gutter press and media. May she rest in peace.

The levers of democracy – cannabis activism in the UK

th (1)Since the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) sat down with the Home Secretary to have cannabis downgraded to a Class C drug in 2004, the movement has struggled with what to do in making a change. There has been factionalism and no clear leadership (no matter what certain groups believe). Those who choose the liberal, non egocentric approach are working on a variety of different fronts to achieve the same aim – liberalisation of cannabis laws. Over this blog we will examine the various ways of harnessing what some term “democracy” in Britain.

Politicians in the UK are supposed to lead but they in fact follow. Most of them, even in the cannabis movement, are empty husks with no firm idea of what they want except to be on TV or radio where possible. Those in the major parties take their ideas from the newspapers – their leaders augment that with opinion polls which is an expensive way of asking “what do people think after reading the newspaper?” 

Sativa cannabis

The fact is there is so much bias the citizens of the UK are deluded rather than informed. Politicians talk so much rubbish and are frequently so incoherent you wonder what was actually in their teacakes when they sat down to elevenses in the Commons café…

Being confused and morally empty, they are vulnerable too – as any nutcase is on a psychiatric ward. Since they are vulnerable, this leaves them open to influence. One wonders who Theresa May hangs out with when she blatantly banned the legal sale of Qat and handed its supply to drug dealers?

Where one cannot be certain that May spends her summer holidays in a Colombian mansion, if she did this would show how lobbying and activism can work. If we look at something that has certainly happened – the government going soft on alcohol policy. The science is clear that price is linked to alcohol abuse. The NHS could save £1billion a year by pricing people vulnerable to alcoholism off the cheap booze. However, booze suppliers would lose several £ billions in income from fewer people becoming alcoholics.  They lobbied the government with lots of free booze and false science to show that being pissed eases plebs’ lives when their benefits are cut. The government backed away from minimum pricing.

You’re reading this, asking how in hell you would get half the Cabinet stoned on teacakes and to convince them plebs can feel better when stoned about their benefits being cut by Atos? The cannabis movement has to start at the grassroots. On the 20th July UK Uncut have turned a number of HSBC bank branches into food banks. Groups of them went into the branches and offered customers interest free cat food and baked beans to highlight the tax practices of the bank in question.

UK Uncut have seized the global political agenda by doing something similar. In 2010 they went into over 50 Vodafone shops and prevented them from trading. Until that day tax avoidance was a nonentity on the UK news agenda. Since then the G20 has announced a system to shut tax loopholes and one day, may succeed in making major multinationals pay what they owe in host countries. Not bad for a bunch of smelly students sitting in a mobile phone shop!

Stunts in short, work. I argued above that most government policy comes from politicians reading newspapers. If you give newspapers something to write about? Politicians read about you. There are a number of events that have happened – 10 000 cannabis activists in Hyde Park earlier this year, and an upcoming cannabis picnic in Reading. Even the Daily Mail wrote about the Hyde Park event.

Lobbying doesn’t have to be civil disobedience or protest. Some of the most exciting legal changes are coming in law courts. The Courts have almost the same amount of power as Parliament. The Cannabis campaign NORML wrote about Michelle X who hopes the Courts will give her an unconditional discharge for her medical cannabis use. If they do? There will be a de facto medical cannabis law in the UK. As is, she told me that the police didn’t want to raid her home and only did when some lowlife made allegations that kids were in her home and she was dealing.

The police don’t want to bust stoners as it is a waste of time and resources. Tom Lloyd, speaking to the NORML AGM, referred to his former colleagues thinking of cannabis busts as “cleaning sewers” – no matter what you do, more sewage will come through. This opens the door to direct lobbying at a low level. NORML wrote to most of the police commissioner candidates in the UK to get their opinions on cannabis use. Their survey gave an idea of who thought it a low priority and who was a Daily Heil reading monster. The next phase should have been for local NORML volunteers to sit with those identified as waiverers – people who might be bent toward a soft touch on cannabis – and those who are already taking the view that cannabis is a low priority.

In sitting with them and forming a relationship, so you have started low level lobbying. Police Commissioners are all politicians. To be a politician? You have to be an empty husk who likes to be on TV. Making a popular decision will get TV time!

Low level, regional work may well be the way forward. The US has a lot more democracy than we do and at a local level have won many a battle. We all know about the warfare between the Feds and states in the US don’t we? Why not use the local levers of power in the UK?