Dr Gary Potter of London South Bank University has issued an apology to UKCIA and CLEAR on the Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium website . *(see note below)

Over a year ago now in February 2012 I wrote an entry on this blog about a group of people attacking the CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform campaign and in particular its leader, Peter Reynolds (“Small minds discuss people” – read it here). Little did I realise a year ago quite how far they would take this and just how much time and effort they would spend in trying to undermine the work of CLEAR. It isn’t an understatement to say these people have been obsessive in their efforts.

It is worth mentioning in passing that most of these people are well known to me, some in person and some via forums and e-mail. They are well known to me as being individuals almost constantly at war with each other, hurling insults around and generally disrupting forums, opposing initiatives and discouraging new activists. They have been at each others throats for years. It is only with the advent of CLEAR and the involvement of Peter Reynolds – a campaigner who actually gets out there and does stuff – that these people have come together in total unity to face what they see as the common enemy of stoner kind. It’s almost as if history had been re-written.

Over the past year the same small group of people – it’s no more than a dozen or so – have been following every campaign move CLEAR has been making and have done their level best to undermine it.  For example, CLEAR encourages people to write to the media in responce to bad (or on occasion good) reports about cannabis; the so-called “Comment Warrior” campaign. Time and time again these people have added their own comments which not only undermine the anti cannabis prohibition message we were trying to make, but also claiming how unpopular CLEAR has become and how disreputable Peter Reynolds is. When Peter appeared on radio broadcasts, which he has done a fair bit of this year, the same people would phone in to say how much cannabis users opposed the efforts of CLEAR. During the Corby election campaign, they posted comments to the youtube election video claiming Peter Reynolds was drunk and more besides.

These people are examples of what is generally known as the “scene police”. Anyone who has ever been involved with sub cultures will know this term; the people who define what you must do, say and think in order to be a proper punk or a goth for example. In this case these individuals think their role is to uphold the values of the “cannabis community” and they have been doing it with the zeal of a born again Christian who’s just seen the light and converted to Islam.

One of the campaigns these people engaged in was to attack CLEAR and UKCIA after the two websites began promoting a study by the Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium (GCCRC), a group of academics from a dozen or so institutions around the world looking into cannabis cultivation. UKCIA has a proud tradition of supporting research into cannabis and cannabis use by advertising studies looking for subjects to take part and CLEAR is also keen to help in this way. So it was that both sites carried a recruiting advert for the GCCRC study and I announced it on UKCIA in this blog.

Within a matter of days the usual people had flooded the GCCRC forum with anti CLEAR and even anti UKCIA comments. The academic in the UK, Dr Gary Potter, entered into what he thought were private discussions with one of them and believed everything he was told. This resulted in what was in my opinion a spectacularly stupid blog from him disowning UKCIA and CLEAR published on the GCCRC site. It was taken down within hours, but by that time the blog post was spread widely around Facebook and other sites.

It is therefore with some satisfaction that following legal action we can today announce the apology written by Dr Gary Potter and published on their website, which you can read in full here (see note below) . In the apology Dr Potter accepts that the comments posted on the blog from these people were

derogatory and provided no evidence in respect of the allegations made against Mr Reynolds, Mr Williams, CLEAR and UKCIA.

The full nature of the settlement with Dr Potter and the GCCRC of course remains confidential, but suffice to say Peter Reynolds and myself are quite content with it. What I will say is we undertook this legal battle ourselves, with help from supporters who gave legal advice. In doing so we dealt with a well funded professional legal firm looking after the interests of the GCCRS, the institutions and their employees. I’ve never done anything like that before,  ideally will never do so again and I was pleased to reach the settlement agreed on. Whilst Dr Gary Potter was unwittingly dragged into all this the winning of this apology can be seen as the first stage in the fightback against the morons who have been attacking us over the past year.. One thing is for certain, although it didn’t cost us a penny, someone had to pick up what was certainly a sizable tab from the legal firm.

What drives these people to do this disruption campaign? Cannabis is known for its ability to help people dream fantastic dreams and this is a good thing when musicians use it to compose or writers use it to hatch plots and so on, but some of these guys are genuinely ill people who spend all their lives smoking vast amounts of cannabis “medicinally” while building fantasy networks on facebook, imagining themselves to be warriors in the front line of cannabis law reform activism. One of their number is seemingly just bitter and holding a deep and loathing grudge and one of them is a very rich person who has made a lot of money selling so-called “legal highs” including SCRAs, the fake cannabis products like Spice and K2.

For the past year they have been attacking Peter Reynolds and CLEAR, but over the past few weeks I have been on the receiving end of these peoples bile with a series of offensive anonymous Tor mail threats and a ludicrous (also anonymous) complaint to my employers to the effect that I was a “cokehead”. It was, of course, treated with the contempt it deserved by my employers and perhaps demonstrated that single minded and obsessed as these people are, the are not the sharpest tools in the shed.

CLEAR cannabis law reform and the UKCIA site have only one interest; the cause of cannabis law reform. We have been and remain focused on the fight against prohibition, a policy which has blighted so many people’s lives and caused too much suffering for too long. These people fighting CLEAR and UKCIA claim to want the same thing, in all honesty I don’t believe they do.

See also Peter Reynold’s blog

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Update June 2013

The original headline to this article gave the impression the apology was made by the Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium, whereas it was made by Dr Gary Potter personally, I am happy to make that clear. I have also amended the first paragraph of the article for the same reason.

*Note:  Dr Gary Potter’s apology has been removed from the Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium website, a move which is compatible with our settlement. The full statement, which is a matter of public record, can be seen below.

The full text of Dr Gary Potter’s apology

On the 28 November 2012 and 29 November 2012 in response to various third party postings on the discussion forum on the GCCRC website I made certain comments about Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR},  Peter Reynolds, UKCIA, and Derek Williams. The third party postings I was responding to were derogatory and  provided no evidence in respect of the allegations made  against Mr Reynolds, Mr Williams, CLEAR and UKCIA. As such my comments  were ill-considered and  I unreservedly apologise for making them.

I wish to make it clear that the GCCRC is not affiliated with, nor does it support nor oppose  any particular individual or group in the cannabis law reform movement or otherwise. Its purpose is to support the carrying out of important research, and all personal information collected in the course of that research is kept strictly confidential and is never shared with third parties. I would ask that in the  future individuals do not use the GCCRC site to make  public defamatory comments  about  any third party, and in the alternative if they have legitimate concerns these should be raised by email to the GCCRC using the email functionality on the GCCRC website.