A wee flurry

For a couple of days at the beginning of last week the hypocrisies of cannabis oil’s legal status were on full display in the establishment news media.

It even appeared for a moment that history was actually shifting, no longer ponderously preserving the status quo, but on the point of breaking under the weight of anachronism, inexorably failing to maintain laws and practices developed in times past, under very different circumstances.

It started with a report on Monday morning of an event at the beginning of June. Customs staff at Heathrow had confiscated a supply of full extract cannabis oil (feco) they had found in the possession of a twelve year old boy returning with his mother from Canada; supply enough to treat his epilepsy for another six months. The child’s mother unsurprisingly kicked up an unholy row, demanding an explanation from state authorities as to why the police had taken away the stuff that is keeping her son alive and the family from a living hell. Eventually she made enough noise to be heard and was given voice by the media.

In the light of this report, the good hacks at the establishment press found other harrowing cases of severely epileptic children whose lives are substantially improved by using feco. The Secretary of State for health was grilled mercilessly on prime time national radio and had to accept that the law was clearly wrong here and needed to be changed.

Later on the same day, the Home Office issued a special schedule one licence enabling the child’s stuff to be imported into the country, and allowing it to be used within the walls of a London hospital, under medical supervision, of course.

Almost overnight feco had changed from snake oil into medicine.

Somehow a decree from an office of state had overturned established scientific opinion, persuaded medical authorities that there is no longer no evidence to suppprt the contention that cannabis oil has any medicinal properties. No triple blind experiments happened. No scientific papers were peer reviewed. Only the so called anecdotal evidence that feco reduces the frequency and intensity of this single child’s epileptic fits, and in doing so decreases the strain put on his heart, thereby prolonging, as well as improving the quality of his life.

It became a bit silly the next day when a former leader of the Conservative Party went so far in an article in The Telegraph to argue in favour of legalisation of both medicinal and recreational cannabis. To which one wit responded that only ex frontline politicians are able to have this opinion, despite the power of the pragmatic argument in its favour – it is so commonplace that it is far too much work for police to uphold any law against it. Indeed, it was soundly rejected every frontline politician whose opinion was sought, as well as by the progression of the story in the media.

An expert from the US, wielding data gathered in the context of the recent legalisation of recreational cannabis in certain US states was brought forward to stress the dangers of psychosis associated with chronic abuse of certain types of genetically altered weed, known as skunk. He also warned against confectionary containing cannabis for the dangers this brings of tempting younger children and increasing the chance they succumb to developmental disorders of one sort or another. The big differences between medicinal and recreational cannabis products, their different uses and very different effects were now on full public display and nobody seemed to be in any doubt that the processes of legalising medicinal cannabis were very much underway.

Later on the same day, the Home Secretary announced a full review of the law as it pertains to medicinal cannabis, with a view to removing it from controlled substances legislation, while reiterating the importance of recreational cannabis remaining illegal. Cannabis would become similar to other drugs that are routinely used for both legitimate medical purposes and illegally as recreational substances, like heroine, ketamine, and very many cocaine based preparations.

In the last news bulletin I heard on the matter, it was added that a number of medications containing certain cannabis based chemicals are in production and will soon be available on the market.

The next day it was reported at the BBC website that the mother who kicked up such a fuss is director of a company that sells hemp products. There was no suggestion here that anything untoward was at hand, simply that her company sells perfectly legal hemp products, like CBD oil, and that she had started the company in an effort to raise funds to buy feco for her son, which she has had to obtain on the black market or illegally import.

The next day there was no more news on the story. Nothing. Like all media events, this too came and went leaving a residual memory that something had happened, but leaving no real trace of what had actually happened. It became just another fragment of the established narrative, more justification for whatever the powers that be are doing behind the scenes, another episode in the series of shifting stories we hear about the world we believe ourselves to inhabit.

In interviews, the mother always declared from the outset she would continue to make a noise until something changed and her boy can have his feco. She is now no longer to be heard on establishment news media. It is no longer a story. In the absence of further reports, the matter would appear to be closed. After all, as a result of her tenacity, she has a supply of stuff for her boy, the country has been made aware of the absurdities of cannabis legislation, politicians are committed at last to the task of sorting these out and pharmaceutical companies have announced that cannabis based medication will be coming onto the market soon.

So that’s it sorted then. A victory is won. Common sense has prevailed.

So …. pharmaceutical companies have been given now the context in which a new array of products can be more straightforwardly marketed. The difference between illegal recreational, uncontrolled use and medically approved use has been powerfully reiterated in popular consciousness. An established moral distinction is maintained. The efficacy of medicinal use is moreover publicly on display and the dangers of misuse repeated. Scientific, political and manufacturing processes are melded together.

So … business as usual then.

Nobody has said that feco is going to become legal, and it is feco that is allegedly doing the work here. The products of pharmaceutical companies are artificial compounds, produced by combining together chemicals in big sterile factories, in order to make profit for shareholders. Feco is the oil of a plant, extracted and prepared using relatively simple processes that can be carried out in any kitchen or domestic workspace. The focus of attention has been diverted.

It is easy for such a shift in consciousness to have taken place in a mechanistic world populated by atomised individuals who are dependent on external powers and authorities for health and well being. Even highly intelligent and well educated people fall for the deception here because it fits with a well established mechanistic world view, upon which they depend; in which every body is the same as every other, composed of organs that work according to the same biochemical principles; in which all substances are compounds and combinations of a few fundamental irreducible elements; in which all events take place according to systematic processes that can be observed and controlled from a position of objective detachment.

Anybody who has read any of the growing literature on medicinal feco will know that it is not just the feco on its own that does any curative work. Also in the recipe are always a good diet of fresh produce, involving certain supplements and excluding highly processed foodstuffs and other toxins, plenty of exercise and a positive mental attitude. Maybe too, stubborn bloodymindedness, healthy scepticism and a desire to know the truth also help. But these are less easy to prescribe than medication, less profitable, more challenging to predominant ideas of health.

We all die. Until then we take for granted that we will be healthy. It is our natural condition. Some would say it is a right. We do not take any responsibility for being healthy because we have come to believe that there is no need, that there will always be something we can take to cure us of any disease which befalls us.

The general idea that consumption of product or substance satisfies needs and desires is fairly well established in these societies – which does not of course mean that it is true or even coherent.

In fact, this is one of the biggest of humanity’s many delusions.

We all succumb to the toxins, both mental and material, that infect this decaying planet, each of us in our own unique and complex way: my cancer is not the same as anybody else’s, the causes of my disease and the effects of its progression are unique to me, my reasons for using or refusing medication are different from somebody else, my life is my own responsibility, what works for me might not work for somebody else.

Which is why I am a very poor advocate for feco. Like all substances it has its uses. Just because it might work in the maintenance of my health, does not mean I should recommend it for anybody else. That would not be my responsibility. I do not believe it is a miracle cure, nor a wonder drug, no matter how remarkable its effects appear – from a particular point of view – to be. I would certainly never recommend anybody even to consider using feco who has not committed to taking personal responsibility for their own health.

Committing to taking personal responsibility for health makes a big difference in any case – even before making any actual decisions about how to go about this.

The biggest challenge to those of us diagnosed with diseases that the medical establishment is unable properly to treat is to not think of what has happened to us as succumbing to a disease for which there is no treatment. But instead to motivate ourselves into a condition of vitality and health, to change the vocabulary we use in relation to our conditions, to look after ourselves and to take responsibility for our destiny. We have to adopt natural, realistic views of the world, which have exiled the confused abstractions of medical science and do not kowtow to dubious authority.

I do not believe that feco should be legal, rather I believe that it should be not illegal. If a person chooses to use it, there should be no more impediment to this than to a horse eating a particular meadow plant in order to alleviate indigestion.

In this toxic world of institutionalised absurdity and arbitrary power, it is simply irresponsible to take life for granted. And it is the height of naïveté to expect any bizarre assemblage of pharmaceutical capital, state legislation and medical science to take genuine responsibility for the health of entire populations, even if it appears prepared to legitimise feco.

I believe there is a natural intelligence within that would know what is best for our well being, if only we had not come to believe that responsibility for this lies elsewhere, outside in some institution of care, inside the chemicals of a pill, in the opinions of medical professionals, and so forth.

Only by actively bringing this intelligence into consciousness and using it to motivate everyday decisions can we maintain any condition of health. But this is no simple effort in a world defined by the complete negation of this principle.

If feco becomes an option for self medication, then it should be available. And that is that. There should be no further discussion. It is not a dangerous drug only a naturally extracted plant oil.

The fact is though that it remains illegal, and despite this wee flurry of media attention, nothing has changed.

All of which is testament only to the continuing dereliction of natural responsibility engendered by these societies, by extrinsic powers we have allowed for too long to make decisions about our lives.

Author: Duncan Spence

Mountaineer, retired bicycle messenger, philosopher, wordsmith, proofreader, Dutch translator.

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