Police Sniffer Dogs in the UK

What do you say if a police officer stops you based on the actions of their dog?

Under Article 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971,

“the police have the power to search someone if they have “reasonable grounds” to suspect that they are in possession of illegal drugs.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidelines point out that, in their view, an indication by a passive drugs dog does indeed constitute “reasonable suspicion”

That’s their ‘authority’ and in a recent guide, the excellent organisation RELEASE points out that:

Release sniffer dogs

PD Max

Police generally deploy drugs dogs at public events or public locations like train stations or ports, so what happens when a police dog comes and says hello?

I have been stopped on a number of occasions, it generally starts with a lovely, happy Cocker Spaniel sitting next to me and then the conversation goes something like this:

 

 

Officer: excuse me Sir, my dog has indicated that you may be in the possession of controlled drugs, can you explain this?

Me: Maybe your dog has been poorly trained or her (drugs dogs are always female) handler is a moron, I really have no idea

Officer: I have reasonable grounds to suspect that you are in possession of controlled drugs and under the Misuse of Drugs Act, blah, blah

[There then follows a search and after finding nothing]

Officer: Can you tell me why my dog identified you as being in possession?

[most people at this stage say something like “I had a joint last night” but be aware, that if you do this the officer will record it and it will validate their stop & search, so don’t do it!]

Me: as I said earlier officer, your dog is poorly trained. I have no idea

On one occasion I had an officer threaten me with arrest for “obstruction” I pointed out that I wasn’t “obstructing” him, I was merely being uncooperative , which currently isn’t an offence under UK law,

In summary, obstructing a police officer is a criminal offence, so don’t do it, being non-cooperative or even being a “dick” isn’t a criminal offence, it is a fine line but one that every Cannabis Campaigner needs to tread imo.

BTW~ everytime I have been searched in the above situations I have been in possession and the police did not find anything, and NO nothing was inserted into my body, have some dignity for God’s sake.

ask@release.org.uk

www.release.org.uk

HELPLINE: 0845 4500 215

 

Advertisements

Cultivate cannabis for a dying 14 year old, why not?

My Favourite Cannabis Plant

I was asked recently, “of all the cannabis plants you’ve ever cultivated, which was your favourite?”. It turned out that the person asking the question was referring to the variety but their question can also be answered in another way.

14331722_105790353213552_1149878066_n

Jeff Ditchfield talking with Callie & Deryn Blackwell during the filming of Bud Buddies Project Storm

There is a specific purpose for every cannabis plant I cultivate, they are all special in their own way.

During the filming of Bud Buddies Project Storm, the story of six UK cancer sufferers and their journey to obtain cannabis oil extracts, I met Deryn, a 14 year old terminal cancer sufferer,

From the Boy in 7 Billion (available on Amazon)

Capture

That was three years ago, here is Deryn now

“After lunch Jeff helped Deryn plant his very own cannabis cutting. Once the14330915_105790343213553_1882113184_n plant was fully grown, Jeff told us he would make oil out of it for Deryn.

‘We need to label this plant H, Deryn,’ Jeff said.

‘Like H from the pop group Steps?’ I quipped.

‘I was actually thinking of Harry Pot-ter,’ Jeff chuckled mischievously.

Jeff wrote the letter ‘H’ on a marker and pushed it into the ground next to the small plant.”

Five months later

14330842_105790346546886_1984377311_n

img_0132

Jeff Ditchfield and Deryn in Spain planting his first cannabis plant

Cannabinoid testing and labelling is essential for consumer protection

In a jurisdiction where cannabis is prohibited by law there is little if any protection for consumers of cannabis or cannabis extracts. To protect people from contaminated cannabis products, quality control and the laboratory testing of cannabis and cannabinoid preparations is essential.

In an uncontrolled, unregulated market it is very common to find cannabis contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals, toxins and microorganisms. It is also quite common to find products containing mould spores, bacteria and fungus, these contaminants can have a detrimental effect on health, which can be compounded if people are using cannabis for medicinal purposes and they have a compromised immune system.

Producers of pharmaceuticals, food and drink products are strictly regulated and they are required to submit to third-party testing to verify the safety of their products, unfortunately, there is no basic level of safety or quality control under a decriminalised or prohibitive (cannabis) system.

As well as testing for contaminants the potency of cannabis products is also important to cannabis consumers. To protect the consumer and the general public a testing and labelling scheme for cannabis and cannabinoid preparations is required, imagine the chaos if alcohol was not tested and labelled accordingly, the effects of drinking a glass of vodka are very different to drinking a glass of beer.

As the cannabis market develops and matures so will the demand for cannabis concentrates and cannabis extractions.

Cannabinoids are extracted from cannabis plant material by the use of a solvent, butane, hexane, isopropyl alcohol and ethanol are commonly used to produce cannabis concentrates, however, unless the products are tested for solvent residues some of the solvent used in the extraction process can remain in the final product and some of these residues can be detrimental to health.

Cannabis cultivators and processors should have access to the following tests:

  • Microbiological test – testing for moulds, bacteria and fungi
  • Potency testing of cannabis flowers (cannabinoid profile)
  • Solvent residue testing
  • And ideally, terpenoid testing

img_20160306_134731

In Spain Bud Buddies have access to testing facilities, they use HPLC testing for all their cannabinoid extracts

All preparations are labelled.

 

 

 

one2one80-bb

This 1:1 extraction contains 39.5% THC and 37.8% CBD, total cannabinoid content 80.3%

The HPLC test shows that the extraction is fully decarboxylated and based on these results preparations with standardized doses can be produced.

Testing standards

There are two main types of testing, Gas Chromatography (GC) and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

Gas chromatography (GC) is a common type of chromatography used in analytical chemistry for analysing compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition. Typically, GC analysis is used to determine the purity of a substance, samples are converted to a gas and the gas is then analysed.

High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is another process used in analytical chemistry to separate, identify, and quantify the individual components in a mixture of compound, HPLC analysis is more suited to the testing of cannabis extractions and preparations than the plant material itself.

Cannabinoid Testing

Cannabinoids produced by the plant are in their natural acid state and to be bioavailable they require transforming from their acid form to a neutral form, this is achieved by the application of heat (or UV light), this process is called decarboxylation. For example, to make THC-acid effective it has to be converted from THC-a to THC, when you inhale cannabis via smoking or vaporisation THC-a is converted (by heat) from THC-a to THC.

However, if THC-a is orally ingested the acidic cannabinoids will remain in their original state and bioavailability will be greatly reduced s THC-a has a low affinity for CB1 receptors.

HPLC analysis allows us to identify the major cannabinoids present in both their acid and neutral forms, GC testing converts cannabinoid acids into cannabinoids so therefore is unsuitable for the testing of orally administered cannabinoid preparations. As HPLC testing does not use heat it can be used to identify and quantify both the acidic and neutral cannabinoids in a sample and this is our preferred testing method. We would require HPLC analysis for cannabinoid extractions, preparations and other products such as medibles, edibles and topicals.

The decision to use GC or HPLC testing will depend on the type or form of the sample and its end purpose.

 Terpene Testing

Terpenes are the chemical substances responsible for the aroma of cannabis and many express their own medicinal properties, e.g. anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and neuroprotective effects.

Common terpenes present in cannabis varieties are α-Pinene, β-Pinene, limonene, myrcene, linalool, and β-caryophyllene.

Microbiological Testing

Mould and bacteria exist everywhere and while not all forms are harmful, some microorganisms such as E. coli can be very dangerous.

High levels of microorganisms can be avoided by following good hygiene practises during the cultivation, processing and storage stages.

In Spain in 2014 our colleagues at Fundación CANNA at Valencia University carried out a study in cooperation with 31 Cannabis Social Clubs (CSC’s), over 50 individual samples of cannabis were analysed. The aim of the study was to identify and determine the microorganisms present and they were present in 80% of the samples analysed.

Some of the potentially pathogenic microorganisms that can be found in Cannabis:

Aspergillus genus, spores occur naturally in the environment and they develop rapidly in environments with high humidity levels, they can lead to the production of mycotoxins (aflatoxins) which are highly carcinogenic substances.

Their presence can lead to Aspergillosis, ill people with a compromised immune system can struggle with this fungus and its presence is especially dangerous to people with immunosuppressive disorders.

Penicillium genus, many people are allergic to penicillin.

Enterobacteriaceae, are normally found in soil and faeces and their presence is generally indicative of poor hygiene measures, cultivating with poorly formulated organic fertilisers can also result in contamination. Two enterobacteriaceaes which can be present in cannabis are E.coli and salmonella.

The spores of fungi are often inhaled during smoking and although some of the spores are destroyed (via incineration) the ones not subject to the source of combustion can easily reach the lungs. Cannabis that has not been correctly dried, cured or stored provides an ideal medium for the development of fungi.

Labelling

Cannabis bud (flowers) should be labelled with the following (minimum) information:

bud-labelStrain, name of producer, batch number, THC, CBD and CBN content, net weight.

With access to such information a cannabis consumer can estimate their cannabinoid intake, e.g. if a consumer uses half a gram (500 mgs) of this Blueberry haze in a joint then they can calculate that their joint will contain 83.5 mgs of THC (16.7% x 500 mgs)

canna-choc-labelled

In addition to the information required for labelling bud (flowers), there will also be a requirement to inform on dose per serving for edibles and medibles.

This chocolate bar contains 80 mgs of THC and comprises of 8 squares of chocolate, therefore the amount of THC per serving (or square) is 10 mgs.

 

Cannamol is a sublingually applied preparation containing both THC & CBD produced in Spain.

cananmol-labelLabels inform on the total amount per vial of active ingredients (THC & CBD) and per drop.

 

cannamol-label1All products have a batch number, 1ml = 20 drops.

 

Labelling is redundant if the consumer does not understand the information

greenly-los-angeles-cannabis-marijuana-delivery-orange-county-edibles-edipure-sour-gummi-bears-100mg-candy-main-960x960

There is also a need for a public education campaign to inform the public and cannabis consumers on how the information provided on the packaging should be interpreted.

In addition to educating the public on ‘safe practise’, labels should also carry prominent warnings regarding “Keep out of reach of children”

 

gummies

 

One of these Gummy Bears contains THC, but which one?

The one on the left contains 100 mgs of THC

 

 

imageCannabinoid testing kits are available:

Combining the straightforward diagnostic technique of thin-layer chromatography with specific thin-layers and developing fluid, the alpha-CAT test kit can identify six cannabinoids present in your plant material and their levels of concentration.

Each Regular Kit allows the user to conduct between 10 and 40 tests. This simple method enables anyone to expose the active cannabinoid profile in medicinal materials, regardless of your scientific understanding.   Order: Here

 

Cannabis laws driving people mad

Since 2nd March 2015 in the UK it has been an offence for a driver to have in excess of 2µg of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per 100ml of blood. THC levels above this limit are considered to be a positive test and will very likely lead to prosecution.

cannabis-swab-test4UK Police have the power to conduct a roadside swab test for cannabis on any driver they suspect of having THC in their system. Either saliva or sweat can be tested and a positive test will result in the driver being arrested on “suspicion”.

A blood sample for evidential purposes will be taken at the police station.

In court, the prosecution does not have to prove that a person’s driving was impaired, the presence of THC in excess of the prescribed limit is sufficient evidence. The minimum penalty upon conviction is to be disqualified from driving for one year and a fine up to £5,000.

bootleg

Drivers who are prescribed Sativex have a medical defense. However, how the plant derived THC in Sativex is any different from THC in a joint escapes me.

A recent study demonstrating that cannabidiol (CBD) can be converted by the gastric system into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could be a potential defense in court.

 “It is still not clear whether the human stomach can convert CBD into THC, but this study provides important confirmatory evidence that this may be the case,” says Editor-in-Chief Daniele Piomelli, PhD,University of California-Irvine, School of Medicine.

The findings of this study are from conclusive, however the possibility that CBD can be converted to THC in the body could be used as a defence as it raises “reasonable doubt”

“Beyond reasonable doubt (BRD) is the standard of proof used to convict defendants charged with crimes in the English criminal justice system.”

NOTE: If you admit to smoking a cannabis joint then there is no “reasonable doubt”, and if you don’t feel confident in answering a police officer’s questions, remember you have a right to silence.

You think you know cannabis?

Many people are aware of the terms, Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis, however, the vast majority of people are mis-informed regarding their correct definitions.

It turns out that there is just one species of cannabis, with different subspecies.  What people generally consider to be cannabis Indica actually originated in Afghanistan so it is actually cannabis Afghanica,  cannabis Sativa? well that is actually Ruderalis and cannabis Indica is cannabis Sativa, confused?

Cannab2_new

Enter a caption

Traditionally

For the past 40 years, the conventional view has been that there are 4 distinct varieties of cannabis plant, namely: cannabis Indica, cannabis Sativa and cannabis Ruderalis. The fourth classification is given to what is now referred to as Hemp, this is the name given to low producing THC cannabis plants which are grown commercially for their seeds, oil and fibre.

Cannabis Indica

This variety originated from the mountainous regions of Central Asia. Local strains were collected from Kashmir, Pakistan, Northern India and Nepal during the early 1960’s and these native plants became the gene pool for many of today’s varieties. They are characteristically stocky and hardy plants that produce broad, maple like leaves and rarely reach heights in excess of 2m (7ft) outdoors, producing dense, tight flowers.

Cannabis Sativa

Sativa varieties originate from equatorial regions and can reach heights in excess of 15 feet (4.5m)

They are easily identified by their thin, slender, spiky leaves.

Cannabis Sativa varieties are sort after for their high THC content and the associated profound and uplifting experience, a total contrast to the more sedative effects of Indica strains.

 Cannabis Ruderalis

This is a debated third variety of cannabis found in Russia, Poland, and other eastern European countries, Ruderalis varieties do not require a photo-period to induce flowering.

Latest Findings

The above definitions are mainly due to the work of Richard Schultes, who categorised the varieties in his cannabis taxonomy in the 1970’s, however, it seems that he was in error.

From O’Shaughnessy’s:

“McPartland was the first researcher to look at the genetic markers on the three subspecies of cannabis using the plant’s genome to conclusively identify where it originated. He also proved conclusively that they are all the same species, just different subspecies.  As it turns out, cannabis Sativa should have been identified as cannabis Indica, because it originated in India (hence indica) and cannabis Indica should have been identified as cannabis Afghanica, because it actually originated in Afghanistan. Finally, it seems that cannabis Ruderalis is actually what people mean when they refer to cannabis Sativa”

It has been determined by using “DNA barcodes” that cannabis Indica and cannabis Sativa are not separate species, they are both subspecies, separate varieties of one cannabis species.

McPartland traced the confusion that prevails today among cannabis breeders to the 1970s, when botanist Richard Evans Schultes incorrectly identified cannabis Afghanica as cannabis Indica.

Mr C farm3

Cannabis oil treating Epilepsy, 173 years ago

William Brooke O’Shaughnessy

Everyday I read articles about scientific breakthroughs concerning the medical properties of cannabis, this morning I read an article on how CBD is “a wonder medicine for pediatric epilepsy’ and how Amylea Nunez, aged two months was the youngest patient to be prescribed cannabis oil. However, she is not the youngest and cannabis oil as a treatment in paediatric epilepsy is not a new discovery, it is merely a rediscovery.

You can read little Amylea’s amazing story: Infant Overcomes Seizures After Becoming Youngest Patient to Take Cannabis Oil

William_Brooke_O’Shaughnessy_1Dr WB O’Shaughnessy

In 1840, Victorian Doctors were treating people with extracts of cannabis for many illnesses, including tinctures for treating children with epilepsy.

One of my favourite pioneers was Dr William Brooke O’Shaughnessy MD, an irish physician, surgeon, Professor of chemistry, scientist and innovator, he was a pioneer of ‘intravenous therapy’ and he is the man credited with introducing cannabis to Western medicine.

O’Shaughnessy graduated in 1829 with a Medical Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. In 1831, at the young age of 22, he investigated cholera and his early work led to the development of intravenous fluid and electrolyte-replacement therapy.

In 1833, O’Shaughnessy moved to Calcutta, India to work for the British East India Company and during his time there he developed new cannabinoid extraction techniques which he used is preparations to treat patients suffering from, cholera, tetanus, analgesia, rheumatism and epilepsy in infants.

In India, he initially studied botanical pharmacology and chemistry, publishing his first paper on medical cannabis in 1839.

In his paper “On the preparations of the Indian hemp, or Gunjah” published in the Provincial Medical Journal, London on February 4th, 1843, O’Shaughnessey relates the case of a baby just over a month old who he administered  an ethanol (alcohol) cannabis based tincture.

Please remember this was written 173 years ago.

Case of Infantile Convulsions, 1843

“A very interesting case of this disease has recently occurred in my private practice, the particulars of which I have the permission of the family to insert in this paper. A female infant, forty days old, the child of Mr. and Mrs. J. L., of Calcutta, on the 10th of September had a slight attack of convulsions, which recurred chiefly at night for about a fortnight, and for which the usual purgatives-warm baths and a few doses of calomel and chalk-were given without effect. On that day the attacks were almost unceasing, and amounted to regular tetanic paroxysms. The child had, moreover, completely lost appetite and was emaciating rapidly”

“I had by this time exhausted all the usual methods of treatment, and the child was apparently in a binking state. Under these circumstances I stated to the parents the results of the experiments I had made with the hemp, and my conviction that it would relieve their infant if relief could possibly be obtained. They gladly consented to the trial, and a single drop of the spirituous tincture, equal to the one-twentieth part of a grain in weight, was placed on the child’s tongue at 10pm.”
1/20th of a grain is 3.24mgs

“No immediate effect was perceptible, and in an hour and a half two drops more were given. The infant fell asleep in a few minutes, and slept soundly till 4pm, when she awoke, screamed for food, took the breast free!y, and fell asleep again. At 9am, 1st of October, I found the child fast asleep, but easily roused; the pulse, countenance, and skin perfectly natural. In this drowsy state she continued for four days totally free from convulsive symptoms in any form.

“During this time the bowels were frequently spontaneously relieved, and the appetite returned to the natural degree. October 4th, At 1am, convulsions returned and continued at intervals during the day; 5 drop doses of the tincture were given hourly. Up to midnight there were 30 fits, and 44 drops of the tincture of hemp were ineffectually given.”

“Paroxysms continued during the night. At 11am, it was found that the tincture in use during the preceding days had been kept by the servant in a small bottle with a paper stopper, the spirit had evaporated and the whole of the resin had settled on the sides of the phial. The infant had in fact becn taking drops of mere water during the preceding day.”
Always shake cannabis preparations before use and store in the fridge.

“A new preparation was given in 3 drop doses during the 5th and 6th, and increased to 8 drops with the effect of diminishing the violence, though not of preventing the return of the paroxysm. On the 7th I met Dr. Nicholson in consultation, and despairing of a cure from the hemp, it was agreed to intermit its use, to apply a mustard poultice to the epigastrium, and to give a dose of castor oil and turpentine.”

“The child, however, rapidly became worse, and at 2pm, a tetanic spasm set in, which lasted without intermission till 6.30pm. A cold bath was tried without solution of the spasm; the hemp was, therefore, again resorted to, and a dose of 30 drops, equal to one and a-half grains of the resin, given at once.”

Approx: 100mgs

“Immediately after this dose was given the limbs relaxed, the little patient fell fast asleep, and so continued for 13 hours. While asleep, she was evidently under the peculiar influence of the drug. On the 8th October, at 4am, there was a severe fit, and from this hour to 10pm, 25 fits occurred, and 130 drops of the tincture were given in 30 drop doses”

Dr O’Shaughnessy (quite correctly) increased the dose

“It was now manifestly a struggle between the disease and the remedy; but at 10pm, she was again narcotised, and from that hour no fit returned”

“The child is now 17/12/1842 in the enjoyment of robust health, and has regained her natural plump and happy appearance. In reviewing this case several very remarkable circumstances present themselves. At first we find 3 drops, causing profound narcotism, subsequently we find 130 drops daily required to produce the same effect”

He was learning about how tolerance builds, hence the requirement to increase the dose (slowly).

“Should the disease ever recur, it will be a matter of much interest to notice the quantity of the tincture requisite to afford relief. The reader will remember that this infant was but 60 days old when 130 drops were given in one day, of the same preparation of which ten drops had intoxicated the student Dinonath Dhur, who took the drug for experiment”

Dr O’Shaughnessy concludes:

“The preceding cases constitute an abstract of my experience on this subject, and constitute the grounds of my belief that in hemp the profession has gained an anti-convulsive remedy of the greatest value”

The Doctor explains how he prepares his preparations

“The resinous extract is prepared by boiling the rich, adhesive tops of the dried gunjah, in spirit, until all the resin is dissolved. The tincture thus obtained is evaporated to dryness by distillation, or in a vessel placed over a pot of boiling water. The extract softens at a gentle heat, and can be made into pills without any addition”

The alcohol he used was 84.5% ethanol, he was preparing what many people today would refer to as a FECO extraction (full extract cannabis oil).

“Doses, ec.-In tetanus a drachm of the tincture is every half hour until the paroxysms cease, or catalepsy is induced”

 A drachm is 1.77 grams and tetanus is also referred to as lockjaw

“In hydrophobia I would recommend the resin in soft pills, to the extent of 10 to 20 grains to be chewed by the patient, and repeated according to the effect”

10 to 20 grains is 0.65 grams to 1.3 grams, and from Dr O’Shaughnessy’s description of the pill making process it is actually cannabis oil as we now know it, 1.3 grams is a very significant dose. Hydrophobia is a common symptom of Rabies.

“With the alcoholic extract made from the tops in the way I recommend the practitioner has only to feel his way, and increase the dose until he produces intoxication as the test of the remedy having taken effect”

“Of all powerful narcotics it is the safest to use with boldness and decision”

I fully concur