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  • Cefyn Jones

Address The Double Standards Between Us And Them With Cannabis!

Updated: Apr 21

The Hemp Hound Agency petitions the Cabinet Office for key data in the fight for access to the good herb.





In a bid to help release cannabis users from the unjust and immoral confines of prohibitionist policy, The Hemp Hound Agency has requested the intervention of the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in a Freedom of Information (FOI) case.


"I would like to request all data, emails and records from January the 1st 2018 to the current day in regards to: Requests for investigations for breaches of the ministerial code by Theresa May MP as PM, and Victoria Atkins MP as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. I would also like to request all data, files and records from January the 1st 2018 to the present day which include references to: GW pharmaceuticals, British Sugar, conflict(s) of interest(s), and cannabis."


The FOI request focuses on whether or not these two high profile politicians evaded investigation, which is called for in line with the Ministerial Code of Conduct (MCC) when politicians are perceived as having a conflict of interest. That investigation should have taken place due to both being in positions of power over the public with respect to cannabis possession, production and supply.


It was reported by mainstream media in 2018 that the administrators of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 were hypocrites, and in a position to potentially profit through their husbands connections and from the continued prohibition of cannabis. That information was provided to the public on the eve of medicinal cannabis being made legal, which is exactly where the perceived conflicts of the two in question lie.


Intention


This FOI is to determine if one MP complained about May or Atkins - if there was, then the question moves to why the public weren't informed of whether or not there was a conflict to answer.


And if there was just one MP who questioned these reported conflicts, extra focus would need to placed on how Mrs May as PM dealt with a complaint of that nature, because the MCC itself specifies that the sitting PM is judge, jury and executioner in regards to all cases involving conflicts of interest.


Change is coming!


There is real movement with cannabis in the UK right now, which could signal a change for the better. But for that change to happen there needs to be honesty between we the people, and those who write the laws we follow.



At a time when the public opinion favours the legalisation of recreational cannabis - and when the Home Office and MP's have accepted that there needs to be an overhaul of the guidelines, the time for a debate on cannabis is coming, and there is the potential for real change as the UK prepares for a post-covid green economy.


But if sanctions over public activities with cannabis were to be amended, either through widespread exemptions from state interference, or at least decriminalisation of the good people caught up in this overly-restrictive net, the government needs to be transparent.


This means allowing for an investigation to determine if any MP's past or present have had their fingers in the pies they shouldn't have.


But...


The FOI has now been refused twice by the Cabinet Office which included a requested Independent Internal Review, who itself upheld the initial refusal on the grounds of cost, personal data and the public interest.


The Hemp Hound Agency has now sought the intervention of the ICO to dismiss the Cabinet Office objections, and to respectfully request the release of the specified data.


We are drawing attention to the Data Protection Act 2018 Part 2, Chapter 2 Section 8:


Lawfulness of processing: public interest etc

In Article 6(1) of the GDPR (lawfulness of processing), the reference in point (e) to processing of personal data that is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of the controller’s official authority includes processing of personal data that is necessary for—


(a) the administration of justice,

(b) the exercise of a function of either House of Parliament,

(c) the exercise of a function conferred on a person by an enactment or rule of law,

(d) the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown or a government department, or

(e) an activity that supports or promotes democratic engagement.


If the FOI is obliged it would be the starting point to determine whether the MCC has been followed to the point of investigation (a), it would show to the public that ministers view the MCC as legally binding and in keeping with the functions of Parliament (b), it would go along way in showing that those in office are not above scrutiny (c). It would also determine whether or not persons of interest allowed their personal connections to influence guidelines, or if guidelines were created in a way that allowed for their contacts to gain insider knowledge, and as such an unfair market advantage (d).


Most importantly - the FOI needs to be obliged because if there is any wrongdoing or conflict exposed, a serious level of 'democratic engagement' (e) would be required by politicians with a focus on whether the MCC should be enshrined in law or not.



And there's more than sufficient grounds for the MCC to be enshrined!


How many times have we seen politicians answer to scrutiny? And how many times has that scrutiny been followed through in the name of the public interest?


Here's some hypothetical questions for you:

  • If I lied about weapons of mass destruction and got the UK involved in an oil war which resulted in the death of over 500,000 people, should I not then be tried for crimes against humanity?

  • If I have been identified as someone who awarded contracts to companies I get shares in 10 minutes later, should I not be investigated for conflicts of interest?

  • If I maintain cannabis laws, have the power to alter those laws and dictate to the police how they are enforced, should I not be investigated if it became public knowledge that my wife was connected to a firm that grows and makes products out of cannabis?


In essence...


The level of hypocrisy in politics when it comes to 'Us Vs Them' is unreal - in a simplistic sense it's a case of 'do as I say and not what I do', but trying to describe this situation with cannabis isn't something you can do with one sentence, if anything that would cheapen what could be a massive case of duplicity and dishonesty.


Despite those conflicts being highlighted, the 2 MP's in question have chose not to comment directly about them, yet thousands of people have been arrested and charged every year since for using cannabis to relieve medicinal complaints.


If the term 'legalised illegal dealing' doesn't exist, I'm coining it from here and now!


Before I introduce the 2 protagonists, I must point out that cannabis in itself isn't illegal.


It's the action of the individual with the plant that carries the penalty, because you can't really prohibit a plant in its entirety, not least cannabis which has a myriad of uses outside of smoking to get high.


Here lies a fundamental problem; how can a government prohibit an un-licensed action if that action causes no harm or consequence to anyone? There's more harm and consequence as a result of caffeine consumption, and we all know about the associated health risks with tobacco and alcohol, so why is cannabis different?



Political skulduggery


Cannabis has never killed anyone, and the government has accepted this in statements from various agencies, but it has less health implications than all of the other drugs (heroine, crack, ketamine, etc), and in some cases people use cannabis to 'get off' those other drugs.


We have what's know as the Endo Cannabinoid System (ECS), this too is recognised by government and has been openly talked about in parliament. It's accepted that the ECS is a vital part of the body and helps regulate core bodily functions, it was also recently ruled at EU level that cannabis (hemp) extracts are essential for health and well-being, and it was also recently recognised at UN level for having medicinal qualities.


If we were to delve further into cannabis, we can see just how marvellous a plant it is in it's ability to sequester vast quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere, as well as it's phytoremediation abilities which make it the perfect plant to help rejuvenate soils and eco-systems. It can also offer alternatives to plastics and fuels, which means it's perfect for the environment as a whole


Yet we can only wonder why cannabis is still illegal, especially when it's known that the origins of prohibition stem from racism, which is even recognised by The Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Criminal...


The government state that drugs including cannabis lead to organised crime which contributes to destroying communities, but if peaceful activities with cannabis were legalised or decriminalised, there would not be a viable criminal element to talk of.


The government is in fact chasing its own tail on this which is shameful, claiming criminals are destroying communities when in fact the action of criminalisation allows for the development of that criminal element.


The justification for this criminalisation? THC Delta 9 and its potential ability to trigger psychosis, which has been trumpeted with those racist undertones as 'Reefer Madness' since the 1920's, but we'll come back to that later.




Above are 4 'legal' drugs, what if I told you that each and everyone of them causes more cases of psychosis than cannabis does? In addition to this, did you know that Cannabidiol (CBD) from cannabis is being used to treat people with psychosis?


The fact is that EVERYTHING on this planet has the potential to cause psychosis, so cannabis isn't the demon you've all been lead to believe.


Food, lack of sleep, having a new tattoo done, dealing with a debilitating illness, personal tragedy... these all have greater chance of causing psychosis than cannabis!



So if that's the case...


If cannabis is so dangerous, why have the UK government granting growing licenses to explore the medical potentials? And if the government awards these licenses to research something which they themselves have historically said (and up until recently) has no medicinal benefits, how is it that we find there's 2 MP's potentially making money from it whilst others would get jailed?


And why are politicians scared to bring cannabis into parliamentary debate? Maybe they believe the racist rhetoric that has been bounced about from as early back as 1920's USA, maybe they believe in 'Reefer Madness' despite there being clinics in the UK that treat psychosis with cannabis, or maybe they're scared of being labelled as potheads?


'May'be there's another reason, 'May'be they're scared of the political backlash for exposing a potential conflict of interest, something the general public became aware of not too long ago, and something that as a result of that mainstream exposure MUST be investigated.



Theresa May MP


Mrs May is known predominantly as the Ex- UK Prime Minister (PM) between 2016-2019, she was also the Home Secretary (2010-2016) where she was caught ignoring specialist drug data which resulted in the prohibition of another herb (Qat). In 2018 it was reported that her husband's company was in line for a windfall through the introduction of legal medicinal cannabis on November 1st of that year, and as the PM at that point she would have had a hand in policy drafting and/or the sign off of any legislation.


Whilst the fact is that her husband Philip doesn't own a company, he is a Relations Manager for Capital Group. They are a company who controlled a 22% stake in GW Pharmaceuticals (GW), a company who's sole focus is to create cannabis based medicines.



But what exactly is a 'Relations Manager'?


The clue is in the name - it's a position that everyone should question when a person with this profession is the spouse of the serving PM, to absolutely ensure that they are not able to supply sensitive information to their clients. When Mrs May became PM in 2016, Capital Group thought it necessary to release this statement about Philip May:


“He is not involved with, and doesn’t manage, money and is not a portfolio manager. His job is to ensure the clients are happy with the service and that we understand their goals,”


To break this down to the bare facts: Theresa May - who has been caught ignoring data on drugs whilst having authority in that area - is the PM and resides over the introduction of medicinal cannabis in the UK. Her husband - who is a Relations (Gopher) Manager for an investment firm who owned a 22% stake in a cannabis focused company - is highlighted when mentioned in the press that 'his company' was inline for a windfall upon the legalisation of medicinal cannabis.


Alarm bells should be ringing really loudly here, and I personally think that those revelations in 2018 should have prompted a Public Enquiry.



Hold my beer!!!


Despite the bomb being drop by the press in 2018 - there was more to come, and if anything Victoria Atkins' introduction to this story was more of a slap in the face to the millions of cannabis users all around the UK than anything else.

Appointed as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State in 2017 with the responsibility over drugs, on the 23rd of October 2018 Victoria Atkins was filmed by a fellow MP 'recusing' herself from questions on cannabis in a debate on drugs due to her husbands job.


Her husband is Paul Kenward, and he is the MD of British Sugar. He allegedly got that position in 2016 as a result of being instrumental in redirecting their tomato growing concerns towards cannabis in 2015, with a focus on supplying GW.


You will notice that those are dates before she was appointed as the minister with the portfolio for drugs, she remained in that capacity late in 2019 despite admitting there was a potential conflict of interest.



So what is a 'recusal'?


"the withdrawal of a judge, prosecutor, or juror from a case on the grounds that they are unqualified to perform legal duties because of a possible conflict of interest or lack of impartiality."


There are 2 points I would like to raise in regards to Mrs Atkins recusal:


1) At what point does that definition include MP, Minister, or Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State? Surely it's unprecedented that a serving Minister of the Crown could perform such an action to remove themselves from a topic of debate of which they hold the Government Portfolio for, let alone still reside over for 1 year AFTER the conflict was mentioned, and by the very Minister in question!


I think we can all agree that cannabis is of higher standing in the world of politics against other drugs, so despite her recusal there's no doubt that she would have been in some part involved in the drafting of the UK's policy on medicinal cannabis (as it altered the dynamic of her power and responsibilities) and the UK's approach to the UN meeting in December last year where it was recognised that cannabis had medicinal value (another FOI story on that coming soon).


2) In line with the Ministerial Code of Conduct (MCC), there MUST be an investigation!


And it's not just Atkins', every PM since 2010 has released their own updated version of the MCC upon being elected, and in 2016 Theresa May was no different.



And it's deeper than you think...


Cannabis is a touchy subject when it comes to politics, multiple sources online can point you towards the true reasons for prohibition and it's not pretty by any means. But look into the racism and lobbying a little deeper for a second, and then bring your focus back to the two persons of interest that are mentioned prolifically so far.





We know that up until recently you were 6 times more likely to be stopped on the basis of the smell of cannabis if you were of African origin, and the police have only just started to recognize that those actions were evident to most and as such have stopped 'stop and search' on the basis of the smell of cannabis altogether.


But who upheld the policing on cannabis from 2010 to 2016, who was caught ignoring data both scientific and cultural to freely write laws to prohibit Qat which disrupted Somali communities in the UK, and who was also more than aware of GW as license renewals would have gone through her department whilst Home Secretary?


Mrs May - and there's a little bit of similarity to someone in recent history who took lying about a herb to a global stage, but let's not compare her too much to Harry Anslinger.


lets also look at the Big Pharma cannabis connection, something that was once described as a conspiracy theory. In 2018 - the same year as these alleged conflict were first reported on - It was announced that the UK was the worlds largest exporter of medicinal cannabis products, a distinction it held from 2016 and still holds to this day. The basis of that global domination is off the back of GW and British Sugar, and you have to ask if that is off the back of their interests being protected from the inside, so to speak.


And whilst the UK sells medicinal cannabis based products all around the globe, its citizens are still at risk of arrest for possession of a plant that's historically proven and accepted to have zero fatalities.




There are easy arguments to make that as a result of not addressing the public in regards to their perceived conflicts, they have broken multiple articles and sections of the MCC. But my focus in this article is on what are known as the '7 Principles of Public Life' which are: Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership.


Consider these if you will:


  • Selflessness

Concern more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own. "a noble act of selflessness"


Is it selfless or selfish when an MP or PM doesn't explain themselves to the public? If they are viewed as being conflicted with the position of power that they hold, should they not invite investigation to determine the validity of that conflict?


The fact that this never happened, yet people are still arrested for cannabis offences whilst there's uncertainty over those who had authority over the plant. This is neither selfless or moral!


  • Integrity

The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. "a person of complete integrity"


Hypothetically speaking - If I've maintained drug laws and I had been pointed at as having a potential conflict of interest, not answering to those I served would surely be a blatant lack of integrity.


Mrs May seems to have little integrity, in 2018 it emerged that she barred a credible expert from joining the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) just because that person had been critical on social media of the scale of cutbacks to the NHS that she introduced. In 2016 she was also accused by Nick Clegg (MP 2005-17) of "attempting to delete sentences from a Whitehall report after it concluded that there was no link between tough laws and the levels of illegal drug use".


Mrs Atkins... this is more of a blatant kick in the chops though; I have a conflict, you know I have a conflict but I'm going to use an escape route that's more designed for someone who doesn't retain a government portfolio which gives them power over that of which they are recusing themselves from debating on. Then I'll just wait for the press to get distracted by Brexit and Jeffrey Epstein's 'death'...


  • Objectivity

In philosophy, objectivity is the concept of truth independent from individual subjectivity (bias caused by one's perception, emotions, or imagination). A proposition is considered to have objective truth when its truth conditions are met without bias caused by a sentient subject.


This point is more for the people as a whole, how can we have a clear picture of what has and has not happened if the two that were implicated refuse to explain themselves?


The perception of all of the UK canna-community is as such that emotions are agitated, and imagination is running rife due to May and Atkins being unable to provide a clear answer as to whether or not they had conflicted interests.


  • Openness

1. lack of restriction; accessibility. "our hallmark was openness to all comers"


2. lack of secrecy or concealment; frankness. "a democratic society committed to openness and transparency"


We can all agree that without a shadow of a doubt, there's been no openness to speak of.


  • Honesty

Think about all of the people who are arrested everyday for cannabis offences - it doesn't matter about the severity of the charge, mainly because there's very little chance that someone else has a growing facility the size of GW's or British Sugar's.


You may argue that when you see busts involving 1000+ plants which include guns and knives that at that point we're talking serious crime, and I would personally agree however if you were to look into the business of Mr May's employers Capital Group you would see that they are no stranger to organised crime (tax avoidance), and certainly sell a gun or two.


How many cannabis cases do you think are actually attributed to organised crime? Whilst I haven't got figures for that, I can speak from personal experience and tell you that for big fish removed from the pond, it would've taken in excess of 100 small fry to get it.


Let's go back to the hypothetical questions:

  • If you're arrested for possession of a plant that I allow my wife to grow, is it honest for me to continue to allow her to grow and for me not explain why that is ok, whilst I insist others face the judicial system for the same actions?

  • I grow 1 plant in my greenhouse without a license to manage my medical condition, you grow 40,000 with a license to help thousands of people with medical conditions. Why should I be arrested for not buying your cannabis?


There's no honesty here - and as long as there is silence, there is the perception of corruption.



But then there's 'Leadership'


If you look at the MCC on the basis of what was reported by mainstream media, it's easy to argue that May and Atkins have both breached every Principle of Public Life simply by not being honest with the UK public, and that the MCC calls immediately for an investigation. What it doesn't account for though is for a PM that themselves break the code, because the document itself indicates that the sitting PM is judge, jury and executioner.


No one is higher in the chain of command than the sitting PM, surely there's a joke in there.



But that's where the jokes end


When is it fair that a politician isn't held to account for having a publicised potential conflict of interests? When is it fair that a politician has power over a prohibited substance, yet their spouse is potentially making money from that which they are denying the public? When is it fair that an MP potentially makes money through their spouse for something that is restricted on proven racist ideology?


Most importantly, when is it fair when a sitting PM can dismiss any investigate into themselves whilst not answering to the public, the ones they SERVE.



And who do they serve?



Regardless of colour, that would be you and I - and at the very least we deserve an explanation! As long as people are still arrested for not being able to afford a medicinal prescription or for the colour of their skin, questions need to be asked. And as long as GW and British Sugar ensure that Britain's export interests remains world beating, these women need to answer those questions, whether there's basis in what the press released in 2018 or not.


If there are questions to answer, every bit of input from Mrs's May and Atkins into laws that affect cannabis in some way must be scrutinised.


So what has The Hemp Hound Agency been doing?


Asking the questions is the short answer, but then the founder of The Hemp Hound Agency has been doing that long before the creation of the agency itself.


The original FOI went out to the Cabinet Office on the 23rd of October 2020, exactly 2 years to the day that Victoria Atkins recused herself.




The reply to the FOI was received on the 20th of November which quoted Articles 5 (1) (a), and Sections 12 and 40 (2) of the FOI Act.



This is where you need to focus!


The intention is to determine if one MP lodged a complaint - if one did, the manner of which it is dismissed will determine how certain politicians view the MCC, and if they view it as legally binding just as they imply to us that they see it as.


Article 5:

This relates to the public interest on the basis of May and Atkins were 'just doing their jobs', and as such the information requested would be breaking GDPR rules.


This of course is absurd in that they are public figures who were once in a position of power, and that position of power was called into question in the eyes of the public through various mainstream broadcasters and publications. The public have the absolute right to know that there was an investigation, and what the outcome of that was.


That starts by finding out if there was a complaint, and how it was handled.


Section 40 (5):

This instructs the receiver of the FOI to 'neither confirm nor deny' the existence of the requested information when it comes to Personal Information, if anything it is a follow on clause from Article 5.


The argument against this section is the same as for Article 5, there was a question mark raised in regards to their spousal connections whilst they were in public office, and those spousal contacts could have been in a position to benefit from any guidelines and laws that May and Atkins both had a hand in drafting and implementing.



And last of all, Section 12


An FOI cannot take up more than 26 hours or cost more than £600 to compile.


This section was employed for the first part of my request: I would like to request all data, emails and records from January the 1st 2018 to the current day in regards to: Requests for investigations for breaches of the ministerial code by Theresa May MP as PM, and Victoria Atkins MP as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.


How many complaints do you think there could be for the Cabinet Office to claim a search on this topic would take too long, and cost too much?



And this is where we need you!




The Public Interest needs to be heard, but the public need to galvanise if they are to get their voice loud enough.


That voice needs to demand one thing of the Government, and that is to prove that there is no conflicts of interest with cannabis at a time where people are still at risk of arrest for possession.


And it's not just consumers either; businesses, farmers, activists, anyone ever arrested for cannabis offences and everyone in between needs to shout as loudly as possible, because it's about time that MP's and Ministers recognise the public interest without distorting the opinion to suit their narrative.



The response to the Cabinet Office, and the request to the ICO


The ICO are now investigating this case, and in all likelihood a senior case manager will be assigned due to the high profile nature of a request involving and Ex-PM.


If you would like to help the public interest be heard in this case, please send a link to your MP requesting them to ask questions.


The reference numbers for this case are:

Home Office IR2021/01824

ICO IC-43077-N3Z1
















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