Sunday, July 29, 2007

21st Century Reefer Madness! Marijuana May Increase Psychosis Risk! This Conclusion Is Total Bullshit!

Time to call bullshit!

Marijuana may increase psychosis risk, analysis says

LONDON, England (AP) -- Using marijuana seems to increase the chance of becoming psychotic, researchers report in an analysis of past research that reignites the issue of whether pot is dangerous.
The new review suggests that even infrequent use could raise the small but real risk of this serious mental illness by 40 percent.

Doctors have long suspected a connection and say the latest findings underline the need to highlight marijuana's long-term risks. The research, paid for by the British Health Department, is being published Friday in medical journal The Lancet. [READ THE REST]

Sounds compelling, right? But wait - this research was paid for by the British Health Department - a government body with a vested interest in propping up the state's policy of prohibition. The needles of my bullshit detector are starting to twitch...

The researchers said they couldn't prove that marijuana use itself increases the risk of psychosis, a category of several disorders with schizophrenia being the most commonly known.

There could be something else about marijuana users, "like their tendency to use other drugs or certain personality traits, that could be causing the psychoses," Zammit said.

So, correlation is not causation? Thanks, professor. What else ya got?

Dr. Wilson Compton, a senior scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse [emphasis added] 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.

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

So, people with pre-existing conditions may self-medicate with substances like alcohol and marijuana? You don't say. But wait, it gets better:

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.

In other words, these guys are firmly in the pockets of governments and their paymasters in the pharmaceutical industry. Who else benefits from the demonization and prohibition of marijuana? Cui bono?

At least The LA Times report on the study closed on a skeptical note:

Dr. Victor Reus, a psychiatrist at UC San Francisco who was not involved in this study, said he was unconvinced by Zammit's conclusions for both psychotic and mood disorders.

Too many outside factors contribute to the disorders, and the studies Zammit used were too vague to draw hard conclusions, he said.

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

Thank you, Dr. Reus. Every time a new study comes out linking marijuana to something bad, you can pretty much disregard it. Seriously. Because it is, inevitably, junk science. These kept "scientists" are actually distorting science in the service of political and pharmaceutical interests, and it's despicable.

If a study is funded or commissioned by a governmental body or the pharmaceutical industry, recalibrate your bullshit detectors, and remember that cannabis has been safely used by humans for literally thousands of years.

[h/t to FARK]

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