UKCIA review of the new CLEAR website

CLEAR is the new cannabis law reform campaign which has grown from the ashes of the old Legalise Cannabis Alliance. This story of how all this came to pass has been covered in this blog with great interest in weeks gone past and now, at last, the new website is online at http://clear-uk.org So how does it stand up?

Well, the first and most obvious comment is that it is a vast improvement over the old LCA effort, not that it was difficult to do that of course. The first impressions are of a well designed site with a striking banner headline which steps through some cannabis issues and invites you to read more.

At the top of the page are buttons which take you to all the really interesting stuff:

About us – what CLEAR is and who runs it.
Aims and objectives – To end the prohibition of cannabis, To promote as a matter of urgency and compassion the prescription of medicinal cannabis by doctors, To introduce a system of regulation for the production and supply of cannabis based on facts and evidence, To encourage the production and use of industrial hemp and To educate and inform about the uses and benefits of cannabis.
Campaigns – CLEAR campaigns you can help with, they do seem to have hit the ground running which is good. Of particular interest here is the “Comment warrior” campaign, getting people to write to newspapers when they see a cannabis article. This was an idea started way back but which seems to have faded in recent years and could be very effective.
News – CLEAR in the news
Video – A rather dull list of worthy cannabis videos. This page would look a lot better if the videos were embedded, rather than having to follow a text link. All the links I clicked took me to Peter Reynolds personal blog. There are some interesting vids here though.
How you can help – how you can join CLEAR
Contact – How to contact CLEAR

There are five issues highlighted with a rotating banner headline;
Cannabis farms
Cannabis and mental health
Medical cannabis
Protecting the young
Tax and regulate.

These Headline features are (I think) supposed to be outlines of the CLEAR campaign points and are apparently issues which CLEAR regards as important, but despite the good graphics they are sadly a little lightweight and more than a little confused in places.

Cannabis farms:

Cannabis Farms are a scourge on society. They are the product of prohibition.

Whoa! There are cannabis farms and cannabis farms out there. What CLEAR is talking about are the criminal run large scale grow-ops, but there are plenty of small scale grows going on which are run by enthusiasts – why no mention of them? There also quite a few non-crim large-ish grow ops around, it isn’t all run by the mob, although a lot of it is.

It is the British government that is responsible for the theft of electricity, the destruction of property, the human trafficking of innocents, the violence, the over-elevated levels of THC and early harvesting that distorts the plant’s natural cannabinoid content.

It is true that the crim-ops are the product of prohibition and the bad things that happen because of them are due to government policy, there are other important issues as well.

Cannabis production has been gifted to organised crime by irrational, self-defeating and idiotic government policy.

True, but this statement really needs more work. It doesn’t explain why (the laws of supply and demand for example) 0r  point out how the police easily shut down the responsible growers, pushing the trade into the arms of ruthless organised criminals. What is the CLEAR line on small scale home growing?

Cannabis and mental health

If this is explaining the CLEAR approach to the mental illness issue it’s very confused and far too defensive.  CLEAR is all about wanting a properly regulated and controlled supply for cannabis, one of the main reasons for wanting this is surely the protection it would provide to vulnerable people, which sort of accepts there are vulnerable people to protect. Now they may be right when they write

Despite hundreds of studies there is still no proven causative link (between cannabis use and mental illness).

but they then go on to say (also correctly)

There is correlation between mental health problems and cannabis use

So there’s an issue here which they seem to accept, but that’s as far as any attempt at an explanation  goes, which fails to get to the nub of the issue. Instead we are told only that other things have a higher risk potential which is arguably irrelevant.

Despite the massive increase in cannabis use in the 60s and 70s, the incidence of psychosis is either stable or declining.  This is a charge against cannabis that cannot be made to stick.

CLEAR accepts there is a correlation – people with mental illness do use a lot of cannabis and people who use a lot of cannabis do seem to be at a greater risk of developing some kinds of psychosis. It is in the nature of mental illness that there are rarely simple causes and effects, its all far more complicated than that and it would have been good to have seen an acceptance of all that here.  We aren’t told how CLEAR’s desired regime would help reduce the problems some mentally ill people have with cannabis and how it would protect that small minority who are at highest risk. That’s a pity, because it would.

But more than that, CLEAR are seemingly talking about cannabis as if it were a single drug, with only one set of properties and of course it isn’t. Different strains having different ratios of THC and CBD (and other constituents) have very different effects on mental illness. Again, all this is a reason to legalise and regulate the sales, but its not mentioned, instead we are simply told

While it is important to be aware of the risk, particularly for young people, a sense of proportion is important too.  Crossing the road is dangerous.

This is simply not good enough. This page is just too glib and utterly fails to put a good case across for how law reform would improve the situation, they fail utterly to make their case. This page needs a re-write urgently, but at least it shows a willingness to deiscuss the issue, so one cheer for that.

Medical cannabis

This page is much better, although far too brief.

Protecting Children

Prohibition provides no protection for children at all. It is easier for them to obtain cannabis than to get hold of cigarettes or alcohol.

Because of course, alcohol and tobacco are controlled drugs although not classed as such while cannabis isn’t controlled, but is classed as being. Simples.

While the brain is still developing, any psychoactive substance has the potential to cause harm. The only ID that a street dealer asks for is a £20 note.

Indeed, a point which could have been made on the mental health page perhaps?

A properly regulated system would mean cannabis was available only through licensed outlets for adults only.

This is proper control of course, but only available from licensed outlets? How about home growing?

Personal cultivation licences would be available and healthcare services and advice provided without fear of arrest or prosecution.

Two issues are mixed up there – quite why the idea of personal cultivation licences are in the same sentence as access to healthcare and advice isn’t obvious. Shouldn’t the cultivation licence issue have been mentioned in the grow op section above?

Children and the vulnerable would be much better protected under regulation. Our political leaders know this perfectly well but they put their personal political advantage and their fear of tabloid headlines above the difficult task of grasping this nettle.  Our prime minister, our home secretary, our drugs minister – simply, they prefer their careers to our children.

Well put.

Tax and regulate

Without going into the figures CLEAR quotes, this is a well argued section showing how a regulated and taxed commercial trade would help the economy.

Below the headline banner are three columns: An invitation to sign up to the CLEAR newsletter, Latest news, a link to the Facebook page, How to donate,  a google news service and “tags” – a somewhat strange list of keywords.

The latest news seems to be the same articles the top button takes you to; news items featuring CLEAR. Actually, isn’t this a CLEAR blog?

The google news service though is a bit strange. Is it really a good idea to have headlines such as “Man jailed for dead body drug burglary – Essex Echo” or “Cannabis-smoking heroin addict almost stabbed millionaire’s wife to death in … – Daily Mail” on the front page? Perhaps this belongs in the Comment Warrior section.

As for the list of keywords, well that’s just plain weird.

Overall the CLEAR site is good, it certainly looks good and has a professional looking design. It’s easy to navigate and simple to use. The only real complaint about content  is with some of the headline sections – particularly the one on mental health – which really do need to be improved.The bulk of the front page is taken up with the three columns though, whereas the most interesting stuff is reached through the relatively small buttons along the top of the page.  Perhaps the google news box and strange “Keywords” box could be replaced by a far more useful “site contents” list?

But at least CLEAR is up and running and a vast improvement on what went before.

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7 comments on “UKCIA review of the new CLEAR website

  1. Peter Reynolds

    Thanks Derek. We will be constantly updating and improving the site. There is an awful lot more content ready to be uploaded. Over the next few weeks, the site will grow very quickly.

    I’m grateful for your comments and input.

  2. Declan

    Well done to Clear for trying. heres hoping the gaps are sorted, but again any effort at this point in history are to be welcomed. Thanks Derek and Mr Reynolds.

  3. Chris

    A constructive and helpful review. What is worth mentioning is the site is set up in such a way so data can be easily added or amended. Aa Peter says, a lot more info will be added over the next few weeks. I’m sure the blanks will be filled in over time.

  4. phrtao

    I too looked at the new Clear site with anticipation. It is great that something is happening and I would not like to over criticise the site because of that.

    I still maintain that the topics mentioned should all be evaluated in light of the main issue – Is prohibition the right thing to do ? I think for all the topics discussed it is very hard to argue that prohibition makes things better. Stick to this idea and then the debate might move to the effectiveness of prohibition rather than the relative harms and dangers. This may make for a less compendious web site (Derek already does a good job of documenting the issues here) but it makes the central aim harder to argue with.

    For example:
    It is very easy to get sucked into a debate about whether cannabis causes mental illness or not. If it does then prohibition will not stop this (because prohibition does not stop people using cannabis !) but regulation could reduce the harm by only licensing those cannabis products less likely to cause the negative effects. It is often said that cannabis is much more harmful than it used to be – regulation and legalisation could ensure that only that older, safer cannabis is available. – Get the idea turn every issue back to the central cause that prohibition is wrong !

    Good luck and thanks for trying 😎

  5. tokedesigner

    “… Prohibition provides no protection for children at all. It is easier for them to obtain cannabis than to get hold of cigarettes or alcohol.”

    This issue requires additional attention. Concerns over alleged dangers to youth from cannabis ignore the likelihood that it can provide a vital service by providing a “smoking” alternative to addictive $igarette tobacco (6,000,000 deaths per year; 40% chance of premature death among all who get hooked). The irony is that though cannabis may be “easy” to get, it COSTS ten to twenty times more than tobacco per weight; children bullied to prove their “manliness” by smoking something are often driven by ECONOMICS to choose the deadlier option.

    Though phrtao makes a good point, I think the myth (however true) of “stronger” modern cannabis is irrelevant– since eliminating hot burning overdose $igarettes and joint$ altogether and substituting the vapouriser and the 25-mg one hitter will eliminate just about all health concerns now surrounding both cannabis and tobacco.

    When the Prime Minister made his regrettable comments about how toxic cannabis was, he was feeding the harmful fallacy that padding a cannabis joint with “molder” tobacco would make it less harmful. This creates addicts and plays into the hands of the Big Corporations.

  6. tokedesigner

    Apology: instead of “‘molder’ tobacco” it should read “‘milder’ tobacco”.

    My understanding is that in 1913 starting with the introduction of the “Camel” brand (from alleged milder strain of Turkish tobacco) the corporations promoted the idea of a tobacco mild enough to inhale (unlike what is in pipe or cigar). This made it possible for soldiers to ingest more nicotine making them more watchful and vigilant for guard duty (cigar = sit guard, get it?) in brilliant unprecedented World War One. (The American commander, Pershing, said, “Tobacco was our best soldier.”)

    Actually not only new “mild” strains of tobacco but also thousands of sophisticated modern drugs are added to $igarette tobacco to suppress coughing fits and tracheal pain and make the sucker “feel” mildness, smoothness and other somatic illusions. (none of it listed on the wrapper, there wouldn’t be room.) The children taught to seek “mildness” by adding tobacco are, it goes without saying, also being steered to hot burning $igarette paper so mildness is more of an issue.

    It goes without saying Clear should emphasize the vapouriser, cannabinoid e-cigarette and tiny low temp one hitters because these achieve true mildness without adding drugs, but also because they build Management and Control into the consumption process itself rather than fighting political battles to force these virtues upon the distribution market.

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