Peter Reynolds campaigning in the Corby by-electionSo last week, NORML UK published a testimonial from someone who had been using cannabis oil to treat his cancer, which had suddenly gone into remission. Our contributor had titled it “Cannabis Cures Cancer!”, which proved very controversial among our membership. To avoid confusion, the title was changed to “Cannabis Cured My Cancer”. That worked for most people. But not Peter Reynolds, who published an article on the CLEAR – Cannabis Law Reform website called, “Two Cautionary Tales For The Cannabis Campaign” – the first cautionary tale being about us.


A well known cannabis evangelist has been promoting his latest efforts in the manufacture of cannabis oil which he has christened pretentiously as “RSO”, an abbreviation for Rick Simpson oil.  While there is some exciting anecdotal evidence around the use of cannabis oil and a lot of good science that supports the theoretical possibility of its effectiveness, claiming that cannabis cures cancer is irresponsible and extremely cruel both to those who have cancer and their families.  It’s also very probably a criminal offence under the Cancer Act 1939 – a crime that has very real victims who deserve protection from such charlatans and confidence tricksters.

This is yet another example of how cannabis campaigners regularly sabotage their own efforts.  There is overwhelming evidence of the efficacy of cannabis as medicine and this sort of wild exaggeration, overclaiming and behaving like snake oil salesmen does nothing but damage our cause.


Heavy stuff. “Criminal”. “Fools”. “Snake oil salesmen”. “Charlatans and confidence tricksters”. Such are what Peter Reynolds thinks of people who claims cannabis cures cancer.

I have to say, I think that this statement might have a little more weight and be less rooted in sour grapes if it weren’t for the fact that CLEAR’s own leaflet says on the second page, “Cannabis oil is now proven to cure skin cancer.”




If posting a cancer sufferer’s testimony regarding his use of cannabis oil is “probably criminal”, what would that make putting a direct claim that cannabis cures skin cancer? 

And it’s not as if this point was not raised when the leaflet was first written, and 30,000 of them printed. On Peter Reynolds’ own blog, Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst for the Transform Drug Policy Foundation and general good egg, warned:


Aside from any other observations I have a major concern about the claim that ‘cannabis oil is proven to cure skin cancer’. Thats a big claim, one that simply lacks credibility and isnt not supported by a credible reference. Overclaiming on the medical issue like that may ultimately undermine your credibility in the debate. Making unsupported claims for cancer cures is also potentially illegal under the cancer act so leaves you vulnerable (albeit you arent selling anything).


Including an actual warning about the Cancer Act 1939! Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Of course, this didn’t stop Peter Reynolds:


I’m sorry but you’re wrong on this. A couple of months ago I wouldn’t have made the claim but the evidence has now been published.


Steve tried again, and Peter Reynolds responded again. Well, you read it:

“I am content that the claim that cannabis (can) cure skin cancer is more than fair. It is a fact.” – Peter Reynolds, 2011. Just to make sure you got that.


These leaflets containing this “irresponsible and extremely cruel” claim that cannabis cures cancer has also been flung up and down the country in the last year:

“Cannabis cures cancer, sir?”


If you look under the camera boom, you can see a fuzzy me.

on the streets…












at events…








“I was gathering evidence that there had been a transgression of the Cancer Act 1939…”


to policemen…















“Cannabis cures skin cancer? What snake oil salesman wrote this?”


to Peter Hitchens…














Cannabis. Cancer. You get the picture.


and also me.











But that’s just a leaflet. It’s not like Peter Reynolds has, say, accused Cancer Research UK of conspiring with pharmaceutical companies to hide the fact that cannabis cures cancer:


I think the phrase is “Misleading, inaccurate, and criminal”?


Admittedly though, this is really like comparing apples and oranges. CLEAR has only produced a leaflet claiming that cannabis cures cancer, it’s not like they’ve directed people to the testimonial of a former cancer sufferer who credits cannabis as their cure. They’ve not done that – this year. Did in 2011, though:



But that *was* last year. It’s not like Peter Reynolds published an article on the CLEAR website in January 2012 telling people to read Granny’s list, a list of studies of medical cannabis that contains thirty pages of studies showing cannabis might cure cancer. It’s not like Victor Hamilton published a document on the CLEAR website in February 2012, part of which stated cannabis was a treatment for cancer (pg 24) (actually, Victor was quoted approvingly saying the same thing on Peter Reynolds’ personal blog in 2010). It’s not like Disqux Cannabis guestposted this in July:


Charlatan! Misleader!


Or Alyx Kerr wrote this three weeks ago:

The rest of the article is about the importance of eating raw cannabis, btw. Each to their own.


To be fair, saying that cannabis cures cancer is a slightly different from saying that cannabis kills cancer cells. We know this because Peter Reynolds says so. Well, 2012 Peter:


2011 Peter has an entirely different opinion.


But, to be fair, that was two days ago. It’s not like, right now, as of the very second that I am writing these words, CLEAR is hosting a documentary about how cannabis cures cancer in their video library:



…ok, I give up. What gives, CLEAR?

So, what can we conclude from this, besides the fact that Peter Reynolds/CLEAR obviously believes cannabis cures cancer and has promoted this idea in their literature, on their website, and while campaigning? Apparently that Peter Reynolds hates other cannabis groups so much that he’s willing to ignore the evidence he’s read (and tells others to read), the articles he’s written (and publishes by others), and his own beliefs (that he’s set down in official party literature), in order to attack them for publishing the story of a cancer sufferer. I’d say I was surprised, but I’m not.


UPDATE: Four hours after this article went up, the leaflet in question, and references to it were removed from the CLEAR website. Guess even Peter Reynolds couldn’t explain away that one.


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