Friday, July 27, 2007

More Reefer Madness

This is why it’s so hard to get to reality on drugs, particularly marijuana. A British study getting wide play in the media today finds a slight association between pot use and later psychosis, more pronounced the more pot you do.

Dr. Wilson Compton, a senior scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington, called the study persuasive.

"The strongest case is that there are consistencies across all of the studies," and that the link was seen only with psychoses _ not anxiety, depression or other mental health problems, he said.

Okay. Seems pretty straight forward and will certainly be used to justify harsher penalties (we know this because it already is by reviewers). But then there’s this:

Scientists cannot rule out that pre-existing conditions could have led to both marijuana use and later psychoses, he added.

Uh, isn’t that the point? And then there’s this:

Two of the authors of the study were invited experts on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Cannabis Review in 2005. Several authors reported being paid to attend drug company-sponsored meetings related to marijuana, and one received consulting fees from companies that make antipsychotic medications.

The study’s already drawing some arrows, although, interestingly, you don’t get them in the hyped-up news report:

Too many outside factors contribute to the disorders, and the studies Zammit used were too vague to draw hard conclusions, [Dr. Victor Reus] said.

"There's a limit to what you can do with the data that's in these studies," he said.

And also note that apparently absolutely no effort was made to compare the “psychotic” effects of marijuana with those of other drugs, including legal ones, so that we could do a fair cost-benefit analysis.

So once again we have a “study” that may be onto something but didn’t clear anything up and will frankly rightly be ignored by anyone suspicious of the authors’ motives and omissions but will be used by the pot warriors to ignore better uses of their time and resources. It gets tiring. And old.

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