Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Independent's born-again drug war: Round Two

The Independent on Sunday have followed on last week's Cannabis panic front page splash with another front page splash. This time it is 'The Great Cannabis Debate'. Inside we get more news coverage revelling in the faux-controversy they have stirred up, scary brain scans showing how cannabis 'may' melt your brain, two opinion pieces; one by the head of the UN drug agencies Antonio Costa, another by child psychotherapist Julie Lynn Evans, and another leader defending their retraction of support for cannabis law reform (on the basis that it is more dangerous than they thought).

Jonathan Owen from the Independent on Sunday, who is apparently taking the lead on this latest salvo of cannabis coverage, rang me on Friday. He had read the Transform blog critique on last weekend's IOS cannabis 'apology' and wanted a response for this weeks 'Great Debate' follow up piece. This is what I sent in:

"The IOS makes the mistake of confusing their legitimate concern with the health impacts of cannabis misuse amongst a small group vulnerable young people, with support for the failed ideological policy of prohibition. Rather than supporting an evidence-led regulatory response based on public health and harm reduction principles, they advocate a policy that has not only failed to address the problems they describe (and has arguably created many of them), but also one that offers no prospect of sorting them out. The blanket criminalisation of millions of non-problematic occasional users that the IOS has now re-stated its support for, cannot be justified on the basis of a relatively tiny vulnerable population, especially of teenage heavy users, who have serious problems with the drug (even if this group has grown proportionally with the overall population of users over the last three decades). This is akin to prohibiting cars because of a small population of teenage joy-riders.

Cannabis use undoubtedly involves risk, as does all drug use, legal or illegal. But these risks have been well documented and well understood for generations. The debate around our response to cannabis use is not well served by hype and misrepresentation of statistics on potency, impact on mental health, or treatment and addiction – all of which last week’s IOS coverage was guilty of. This was scaremongering in the cause of an attention grabbing headline, very much in the pattern of many previous cannabis scares and precisely the sort of moral-panic the recent RSA report criticised for historically distorting policy priorities. The IOS also perpetuate the misunderstanding that the cause of cannabis law reform is predicated on the fact that cannabis is harmless. On the contrary – the exact opposite is true: Is precisely because drugs are dangerous that the need to be appropriately regulated and controlled by the State rather than be left in the hands unregulated criminal profiteers. This remains true however harmful a particular drug is shown to be.”

Whilst they have printed some similar-ish sensible comments from others in the follow up (in micro print, beneath the massive banner-headlined UN propaganda fest), they haven't included my comments in their 'great debate', which is mildly annoying since they actually asked for them.

Anyway, there's various things that jump out from the coverage deserving of some sort of response:
  • Owen refers to 'outrage on pro-cannabis websites and blogs' in response to the IOS's cannapology. Read our blog post: it is not outraged and it is certainly not pro-cannabis, any more than advocates of drug policy and law reform generally are 'pro-drug'. They are pro effective evidence-based public health responses to the obvious failings of prohibition. As the late Eddie Ellison, former head of the met drugs squad and Transform Patron, liked to point out, being anti-drug is entirely compatible with a rational pragmatic position on drug law reform (see here and here). Pro drug / anti drug is a false binary that the IOS deploys as part of its own self justification: drugs are bad, we are anti them, we must be right. Once again, they totally miss the point.
  • After last weeks 'drugs bad for you' scoop, the big scoop this week is that the UN agrees with them: 'The United Nations has issued an unprecedented warning to Britain about the growing threat to public health from potent new forms of cannabis, saying there is mounting evidence of "just how dangerous" the drug has become'. Actually this is in no way 'unprecedented', and to suggest so is just poor journalism. Costa, his predecessors, and the UN drug agencies saying exactly this, loudly and frequently, for years, especially since UK cannabis reclassification in 2004. Almost every comment in Antonio Costa's article is copy and pasted from these earlier statements.
  • It is hardly surprising that Costa would say what he does. The UN drug agencies oversee the UN drug conventions to which most countries in the world are signatories. These conventions (1961, 1971 and 1988) enshrine the IOS's beloved criminal penalties for drug production, supply and use into domestic law of over 150 states. They are the legal foundation and ideological bedrock of global drug prohibition. So its hardly surprising that Costa has come out in support of the IOS 's born again war-on-drugs stance. Costa is like prohibition's end-of-level-boss, he is literally the last person on earth you would expect to get a balanced position on drug policy from. Its a bit like an IOS scoop that the Pope sensationally backed their new position on the virgin birth. Indeed, Peter Cohen, in an essay for the International Journal of Drug Policy, titled 'The drug prohibition church and the adventure of reformation', makes a telling comparison between prohibition and religious dogma:
Whatever the origin of the UN Drug Treaties, and whatever the official rhetoric about their functions, the best way to look at them now is as religious texts. They have acquired a patina of intrinsic and unquestioned value and they have attracted a clique of true believers and proselytes to promote them. They pursue a version of Humankind for whom abstinence from certain drugs is dogma in the same way as other religious texts might prohibit certain foods or activities. The UN drug treaties thus form the basis of the international Drug Prohibition Church. Belonging to that Church has become an independent source of security, and fighting the Church's enemies has become an automatic source of virtue

  • Picking apart what Costa and prohibition's other high-level evangelists have to say has been done a million times. The UN drug agency's drug war propaganda is as tediously repetitive as it is economical with the truth. He repeats the myth that legalisation advocates claim cannabis is harmless, and blanket misrepresents all of the theory and practice of alternative policies to absolute prohibition as 'vague, laissez fare' or 'libertarian'. He uses a crackpot quote from a random online head-shop as a source of 'truth' regards the real dangers of cannabis, and has a charming line on not being swayed by 'misguided notions of tolerance'. Anything but tolerance!

  • We then get the utterly ridiculous: "People who drive under the influence of cannabis put others at risk. Would even the most ardent supporter of legalisation want to fly in an aircraft whose pilot used cannabis?" OK. Deep breath... Look, no one, literally no one calling for legal regulation and control of cannabis (or any other drug) is saying driving whilst competence is compromised by drug intoxication is OK or should also be legal. I'm also not aware of anyone ever suggesting that flying planes whilst stoned was acceptable. Decriminalising drug use does not give license for secondary offences committed whilst intoxicated - these will obviously remain criminal, as they should. To suggest different is pretty desperate, and from the rational reformers perspective actually quite offensive.
  • The most egregious nonsense in the Costa piece is where he claims: "drug control works. More than a century of universally accepted restrictions on heroin and cocaine have prevented a pandemic. Global levels of drug addiction - think of the opium dens of the 19th century - have dropped dramatically in the past 100 years. In the past 10 years or so, they have remained stable. The drug problem is being contained and our societies are safer and healthier as a result." Seriously, what can you say to that? How can you argue against that sort of statement that crosses the boundary from shaky institutional propaganda into full-blown Orwellian 'ministry of drug truth' delusion. At this point, I could produce a torrent of graphs, from official government and even UN sources, exposing this statement to be the polar opposite of reality, but hopefully if you are reading this blog, in fact if you can read at all, graphs wont be necessary as you will appreciate that such claims for the success of drug control over the past century are a total joke. It would actually be quite funny - if this man wasn't in charge of global drug policy. If the IOS is relying on this sort of analysis to bolster its case they really have blown it. To find out more about the UN drug policy see this excellent page of TNI publications on international drug policy. See also the recent blog: UN INCB is 'obstacle' to HIV prevention and drug treatment programs
  • The other prominent drug 'expert' the IOS pull in is none other than music / TV / airline /cola mogul Richard Branson. He talks about 'genetically engineered skunk' suggesting that skunk - the ill defined catch-all term for smelly indoor-grown cannabis - is in fact some sort of sinister new species of franken-pot. Actually it's no more 'genetically engineered' than any other farmed plant, flower or vegetable that has been bred to develop certain properties - i.e. everything in your fridge. Rosie Boycott on Radio Four's Today programme last week, despite elsewhere talking a lot of sense, got it even more wrong when she described 'skunk' as 'genetically modified', which is just flat out incorrect. Breeding plants is very different from inter-species DNA splicing. The worst thing about this is that both Branson and Boycott seem to be buying into the hype of the potency panic (explored in last weeks blog and also examined in this week's Guardian Bad Science column by Ben Goldacre). The Independent also seems to imply that Branson is backing their born-again prohibitionist stance when in fact he is not. He specifically only calls for a debate on the harms of cannabis, and also says that people with drug problems should get help on the NHS 'free from blame'.
I could pick more holes in the coverage but I grow weary. Apologies to Julie Lynn-Evans then; its not that your plan to make 'skunk' posession punishable with 14 years in prison, but legalise 'the old stuff' doesn't warrant annihilating, just that I think the point has been made well enough now, and I can't be bothered.

To be honest I'm incredibly bored with the endless recycling of the cannabis debate, the endless retreading of exaggerated claims about the drug itself (either its dangers or its safety). If there is one small mercy in the IOS coverage it is that they spared us the dreaded 'gateway theory'. Most of all I'm bored of the myths, misrepresentations and misunderstandings about people who call for reform of a policy that has manifestly failed on each and everyone of its stated objectives to reduce supply, use or harm associated with the drug.

This has all been going on for literally decades now, in fact generations; bear in mind the original reefer madness film was made in 1936, several decades before the 'good old days' of the flower power era (as Costa calls it) when cannabis was apparently a nice harmless drug used by hippies.

This endless tail chasing has been fuelled by lazy journalists looking for an easy headline and populist politicians looking for a way to score points against opponents. Its just too easy: hype the danger then sound all righteous by coming up with a tough new way to fight it - evidence of effectiveness not required.

At some point we will have to get off this pointless merry-go-round. If nothing else the cannabis debate is a massive distraction from far more pressing issues in drug policy around heroin and cocaine in particular, and the catastrophic impact that those illegal markets have here as well as in Afghanistan, Colombia and elsewhere.

the Independent have changed their position from 10 years ago, and will probably change it again when they realise how the call for a war on pot really isn't the answer to the problems they identify, even if they were half as bad as the make out. Maybe the cycle-time for them changing their minds again will be a bit less than ten years. Maybe next time they will not confuse the debate about drug dangers with the debate about how to deal with them. You live in hope, but this week's spade work suggests they are determined to dig themselves into an ever deeper hole.

It was only last month that the IOS leader was arguing:
"It is true that there is a growing body of opinion that says some of the varieties of cannabis available today, in particular "skunk", are more dangerous than they were in the past. But this does not alter the fact that heavy-handed prohibition is failing."
"There are strong signs that the public is far less one dimensional in its attitudes than parts of the media and the political establishment believe. Almost a third of adults in this country have taken some form of illegal drug. There is a growing awareness that present policies are not working."
Just three weeks ago stablemate, the (daily) Indepedent with whom the Sunday version shares a website, had a leader about the RSA drugs report which argued that:

"Of course, the reason ministers are clinging on to the crude policy of prohibition is that there is still a wide-spread mindset in this country, stoked up by the populist press, that all drugs are "evil" and that, by extension, so are those that take them. The summersaults performed by ministers over the downgrading of cannabis demonstrate just how in thrall to this popular prejudice they remain. The RSA report argues that: "The evidence suggests that a majority of people who use drugs are able to use them without harming themselves or others. The harmless use of illegal drugs is thus possible, indeed common." One can already predict the shrieks of alarm that will emanate from the prohibitionist lobby at this eminently reasonable statement."

Weeks later another leader makes big play of unambiguously calling specifically for prohibition (its an absolutist position, there is only one kind and its always heavy handed), and also stating that the present policy is 'about right'. Its all a bit confused, why, its almost a bit...schizophrenic. Actually I don't really know what they're thinking, and to be honest, I don't think they do either.


Jason Schwartz said...

Thanks for notifying me of your post. The Daily Dose's link didn't work. I'm curious what prompted the change in their long-standing editorial position. Do you take them at their word? Is it really concerns about increased potency and psychiatric damage? Or, is it something else?

Also, you pointed out their inconsistency in quantifying increases in potency. What would be accurate?

Stuart Glendinning Hall said...

Thanks nice to see the Reefer Madness poster again;-)

Steve Rolles said...


Ive no idea why theyve done it. Its probaly nothing more than a well intentioned but misguided change of view point. Maybe one of them had a bad experience with cannabis, either personally or with someone they know. The cynic would suggest they are just fishing for new readers with an attention grabbing headline: It certainly worked 10 years ago. Who knows.

re: potency, check this piece in yesterdays guardian bad science column:

Anonymous said...

Here is my response I sent to the Independent,


Dear Editor,
Every once in awhile you read an editorial that seems wrong
and you feel like you must respond, well this isn't one of those times.

Your editorial from Sun, 18 Mar 2007 titled "Cannabis A Retraction" is
more than just wrong and in need of reply. The editorial seems purposefully
misleading and is dangerous and needs to be retracted!!

First, the editorial states that new "skunk" marijuana is more dangerous
than marijuana of the old days because it is stronger. This fiction is so
ridiculous it is hard to know where to start in refuting it. Number one,
skunk bud isn't new. Second, marijuana isn't more dangerous at higher
THC values, if it was then the synthetic marijuana pill wouldn't have been
recently put into our version of Class "C" in the United States. There
are now three full drug classes between [verboten] whole Cannabis
plant material and the now down-classed synthetic THC pill in the
United States!!

The synthetic marijuana pill is 100% THC!!! Ask yourself, could marijuana
be more dangerous at 30% THC then at 20% THC but then be perfectly safe
again at 100% THC???

The THC synthetic pill is called Marinol but in your country a similar
pill called Cesemet has been on sale for years with no controversy and
yes the horror it also is 100% THC!!!

By the way Marinol is the only drug to ever be down scheduled from
schedule 2 to schedule 3 in the USA. It was down scheduled for
"it's remarkable safety and efficacy".

It is not true to say that marijuana is more potent today. Perpetuating
this fiction allows politicians to say that they smoked marijuana,
apparently a current requisite of attaining public office, while
simultaneously maintaining denial because they were smoking inert
hay! BUNK! I am old enough to know that there was really strong,
extremely skunky Cannabis available in the 1970's. I have smoked
the strongest skunk available in Amsterdam today and it doesn't even come
close to the high from Hawaiian Rainbow of the early nineteen
seventies. If you are going to participate in revisionist history
at least wait until the old stoners die out.

If you really want to limit the potency of marijuana then enact
a regulated sales program that will take the marijuana out
of the hands of gangsters and like with alcohol
and cigarettes today we could limit the potency with regulations
rather then prohibition.

Prohibition has never worked and has always increased
potency of the prohibited substance and violence associated
with their sales. In our country we had Al Capone. Alcohol
became horribly dangerous under prohibition and potency
of alcohol went through the roof. Your arguments are similar
to if someone said, during alcohol prohibition, "alcohol is
more dangerous than ever before and more people are in
treatment for alcohol crimes than ever before so therefore
we need", what?? "more prohibition"???? When will we truly
learn from the mistake of prohibition?

Finally I must address your statement that "the number of
cannabis users on drug treatment programmes has risen 13-fold
since our campaign was launched"

Since I am sure you know that a provision of your new Class "C"
marijuana il-legal status requires youth caught with marijuana
to enter into drug treatment the fact that you left out this bit of
information can be seen as a lie by omission.

The harms from marijuana are increased by it's illegal status.

Your paper is pandering to the police on this issue and your
mis-truths are damaging.

Medical patients in the United States that use Cannabis
as medicine are being rounded up and jailed by our DEA
and your mis-truths are being used by them to justify their
actions. This isn't a game, you are hurting people.

Please act responsibly and retract your retraction.


chrisbx515 said...

Unreal all this rubbish printed by papers is enough to drive us all insane, when you have to repeat the same facts and evidence and common sense out over and over again. The Telegraph are on the bang wagon with IOS to. Are the MP's related to the editors of the papers?!! Its going to be another long ten years .....

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the IOS carry advertisemnets for alcohol? If they do, is it only alcohol under a particular strength? Not reading their newspaper I simply don't know. I do constantly witness though, other newspapers that run equally populist hype re drugs while carrying ads for gin, whisky, vodka etc. - sometimes on the same or adjacent pages. This hypocracy about one drug being advertised while another is demonised must be challenged at every turn!

Eric said...

all blog

Anonymous said...

The observations about how tiring it is that, for decades, we keep going round and round over the same old myths should perhaps tip us off to something important.

I believe we have let the prohibitionists define the debate, and so, cause us to avoid getting at the heart of the matter.

Every major government study (U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and elsewhere) has come to the same conclusion. Marijuana is not addictive (or at least insignificantly so) and much less harmful than alcohol. So that's all in and all done on the "harms" of marijuana. We should just refer to these studies and move on.

Meanwhile, the real issue is being ignored. That is WHY is there such a big push by government and big business to keep marijuana prohibited? I think we as reformers really fail when we just assume they are doing it out of genuine concern for consumers well-being. Why should we accept that canard when, in every other area of life, government and big business have shown that concern for the average consumer/citizen is the LAST thing on their minds?

So, why does government and big business fight to protect marijuana prohibition?

Because police and politicians build their careers and empires on it. Because industries like alcohol and pharmaceuticals don't want the competition. Because other interests like the drug treatment/testing industry and the prison industries depend on it for their life's blood. And because government uses cannabis prohibition as a means of controlling minorities and the poor.

If cannabis reformers are ever going to win the struggle, we must somehow expose and neutralize these powerful interests who consider cannabis prohibition their precious golden goose.

We need some serious and deep investigative reporting.

Steve Rolles said...

there's an excellent blog post on thew IOS coverage on Clive Bates' blog (formerly of ASH and the Number 10- strategy unit)



John Thomas said...

Thanks Steve. That's a great debunking of the harms charges. It's encouraging to see so much good work done on this issue.

I still think it's important to expose the real 'why' of marijuana prohibition, though.

Some think that prohibition has falsely propped up western economies so long, we may face collapse if it were ended. Have you read Catherine Austin Fitts' "Narco Dollars For Beginners." It's fascinating and disturbing!

Anonymous said...

There are certainly serious comercial interests involved in prisons in the US, but that is less obvious in the UK.

However, I dont buy the 'alcohol companies dont want the competition' argument they already have it, and even when people are using lots of other hard drugs they still drink large amounts.

Anonymous said...


Yes, the alcohol industry has some competition now, but nothing like it will be when marijuana is legal. People don't really grasp how institutionalized alcohol is until they really stop and think about it. Beer and wine in almost every store, served at almost every official function, conference, etc., sponsoring entertainment and sports events, commonly considered a desireable social lubricant.... you could go on and on pointing out how alcohol is the "official" recreational drug of Western culture. THAT is the kind of monopoly the alcohol industry wants to protect. They have good reason to fear, since, marijuana has no signficant harms, no calories, is not addictive, does not cause violence, or anywhere near the impairment of alcohol, and no hangovers.

Yes, there are some multiple drug users, but they are not the rule, and good thing, since mixing alcohol and other drugs, especially hard ones, is an often fatal act.

Most consumers of marijuana do not consume other drugs.

Anonymous said...

I dont think alcohol's dominance of the intoxicant world will drop even if cannabis is made legal, not by much anyway.

Can you really imagine spliff's being handed out at functions?

It is well and truely rooted in our culture now and I dont think that will change for a long while.

As for it not causing harm or violence - I think you should read some of the reports regarding young male use, there certainly seems to be a link between that and poor mental health.

Again, I'd disagree with cannabis not having the same level of impairment - thats surely the point of any intoxicant isnt it?

Most of all though I would argue that alcohol will maintain its high use because many people consider it a more socialable drug.

Anonymous said...

bob --

I certainly do believe alcohol will fade. It's just a matter of time. Eventually, reports like the Lancet will finally make people realize it is just as wise to avoid alcohol as it is to avoid tobacco. Cannabis is just hastening that end with its clear improvement over alcohol. People used to think tobacco was too rooted in our culture also.

I don't have to imagine spliff's being handed out at functions, because I'm pretty sure smoking cannabis will also fade with time. Consuming it in food, drink or vaporizers is much healthier. As soon as marijuana prohibition ends, I'm sure we'll see that trend explode as well.

There is no link between anyone's - young male or others' - use of marijuana and violence. There is only a correlation between cannabis use and a small amount of people who are predisposed toward schizophrenia. Even here, correlation doesn't mean causation. This deception by prohibitionists is even more ludricrous when compared to alcohol - which really is a factor of violence and mental illness.

If you will recall the soccer tournament of 2000, it amazed the world because it was the first one without serious fan violence. Why? Because it was held in Amsterdam.

You think the impairment of alcohol and cannabis are similar? You need to read some research. Some studies have shown that cannabis consumers are safer drivers than people who haven't consumed ANY drugs.

There is, of course, a world of difference in the intoxicant levels of every drug. Each one is a different story.

Anonymous said...

I guess you just have a lot more faith in people to choose cannabis, a lot more faith in cannabis being seen as that much better than alcohol. I think we are moving towards a far more poly-drug using culture, not moving away from traditional intoxicants such as alcohol.

I didnt suggest that cannabis intoxication was the same as alcohol, I was just doubting your claim that cannabis didnt have "near the impairment of alcohol". That seems a very odd statement to me, both are completely capable of totally depilitating people if consumed in high enough amounts.

As for cannabis in food and drink taking off, that again I very much doubt, THC when used orally is very variable and can be strongly hallucinogenic. Niether are desired effects for a lot of people.

Whether or not cannabis can cause serious mental health problems is still somewhat up for debate. I think a link will become clearer. Which certainly isnt to say I want to see it illegal, just better controlled.

Anonymous said...

I suppose I do have a lot of faith in people, especially when considering history. Education has been successful in the great reduction of tobacco consumers. There is no reason to believe it will not apply with alcohol as well, especially in these increasingly health conscious times. We may be moving toward a poly-drug culture, but the most popular drugs will be those that are relatively healthy, like cannabis.

I'm certainly glad to offer the studies I have read about cannabis being much less intoxicating than alcohol - especially in regards to impairment. Here are a few:

Assumptions about cannabis impairment are common, but assuming is a risky business. Better to look at the facts.

For those who want a similar experience to smoking cannabis, there is vaporization. It offers the same ability to titrate dosage, but without the harm of smoke. Personally, I believe it will be the wave of the future with cannabis.

The cannabis/psychosis hullabaloo is all prohibitionist hype. We have had 40 years of widespread cannabis consumption, and there has been no concurrent rise in mental health problems. From every indication, responsible use of cannabis is good for you. See these testimonies:

Hicksville said...

This sounds like a more thourough study on the subject..

"They found that people who used cannabis by age 15 were four times as likely to have a diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder (a milder version of schizophrenia) at age 26 than non-users.

But when the number of psychotic symptoms at age 11 was controlled for, this increased risk dropped to become non-significant. This suggests that people already at greater risk of later developing mental health problems are also more likely to smoke cannabis."

Steve Rolles said...

i think we have to be wary about jumping to conclusions about ambiguous evidence that doesnt establish causal links, but also acknowledge the real possibility the data shows that such links may exist - and respnd to that in the appropriate way. Whilst not perhaps of the same intensity, there has also been a lot of misrepresentation of data and bad science by some of cannabis' 'defenders'. A public health approach requires that we look at the data as objectively as possible and respond with interventions that reduce harm. I dont think theres any evodence that that should primarily involve a criminal justice approach. For me thats where the real debate is. as ive said many times already, a drug being dangerous does not justify continuing with a failed prohibitionist policy, that actively increases harm.

Frank Swain said...

Thanks for keeping me up-to-date Steve. Drug policy desperately needs measured and eloquent voices such as yours.

Anonymous said...

More anecdotal Express / Mail-esque bollocks in yesterday's IoS - "I let my son have skunk. It ruined his life" was the banner headline on a two-page personal story. That's it for me, I've cancelled my order and have sent them the following letter to say so:


For a while we hoped that your feature "'I let my son have skunk. It ruined his life'" (April 1st, IoS) was an April Fool. In fact we hoped that your recent U-turn on cannabis was just a subtle, long-winded prank. We realise that we were exercising wishful thinking. Pages 28-29 of the latest edition of the IoS are an exercise in anecdotal evidence and your smaller story, 'Long-term cannabis use raises risk of lung cancer', was a prime example of terrible science reporting. Risk of lung cancer raised compared to what? At no point in this story, apart from a reference to ten-year-old advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), did you compare cannabis use to tobacco use, or indeed to anything at all. So how is cannabis worse than anything else? And if, as your editorial line suggests, cannabis is somehow worse than it was ten years ago, when your now abandoned decriminalisation campaign began, how is the WHO evidence relevant, given that the thrust of your recent pontifications on cannabis is that it has become so bad so recently?

The last three weekends of the IoS have convinced me that, for some bizarre reason, you are intent on turning your newspaper into a sick parody of the Mail or Express. Even if, next week, you decide that it was all just an April Fool's joke, I'm afraid it's too late. We have cancelled our order and shan't be reading your apology.