Psychosis, Hype And Baloney

Discussion in 'Cannabis Activism' started by DdC, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. DdC

    DdC Member

    By Bruce Mirken and Mitch Earleywine
    CN Source: AlterNet March 07, 2005

    The mainstream media is eating it up, but a new study claiming a link between marijuana use and psychosis should be approached with great caution.

    As the month began, the worldwide press jumped all over a study in the March issue of the journal Addiction purporting to show a causal link between marijuana use and psychosis. "Drug Doubles Mental Health Risk," the BBC reported. "Marijuana Increases Risk of Psychosis," the Washington Times chimed in.

    Such purported links have lately become the darling of prohibitionists, but a close look at the new study reveals gaping holes unmentioned in those definitive-sounding headlines.

    Before we look at the study itself, let's consider some basics: If X causes Y, it's reasonable to expect a huge increase in X to cause at least a modest increase in Y, but this has not been the case with marijuana and psychosis. Private and government surveys have documented a massive increase in marijuana use, particularly by young people, during the 1960s and '70s, but no corresponding increase in psychosis was ever reported. This strongly suggests that if marijuana use plays any role in triggering psychosis, that effect is weak, rare, or both.

    For this reason, researchers should approach "proof" that marijuana causes serious mental illness with great caution. The researchers in this case, a New Zealand team led by David M. Fergusson of the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, seem to have done just the reverse.

    Fergusson's team looked at a group of 1,265 New Zealand kids who were followed from birth to age 25 and assessed at various points along the way for a variety of physical, mental and social problems and issues. At ages 18, 21 and 25 they were assessed for both marijuana use and supposed psychotic symptoms. Having found a correlation, with daily users reporting the highest frequency of psychotic symptoms, they then applied a series of mathematical models. These models are designed to adjust for possible variables that might confound the results and to assess whether the marijuana use caused the symptoms or vice versa.

    Whatever model was applied, the correlation held up. But the reported "growing evidence" that "regular use of cannabis may increase risks of psychosis" depends completely on the validity of the underlying data, and those data raise some screamingly obvious questions.

    Psychotic symptoms were measured using 10 items from something called Symptom Checklist 90. Participants were asked if they had certain ideas, feelings or beliefs that commonly accompany psychotic states. The researchers did not look at actual diagnoses, and the symptom checklist is not identical to the formal diagnostic criteria listed in the DSM-IV manual. Perhaps most important, they only used 10 "representative" items from a much larger questionnaire.

    These 10 items focus heavily on paranoid thoughts or feelings, such as "feeling other people cannot be trusted," "feeling you are being watched or talked about by others," "having ideas or beliefs that others do not share." This presents a big methodological problem, because it is well known that paranoid feelings are a fairly common effect of being high on marijuana.

    But the article gives no indication that respondents were asked to distinguish between feelings experienced while high and feelings experienced at other times. Thus, we are left with no indication at all as to whether these supposed psychotic symptoms are long-term effects or simply the normal, passing effects of marijuana intoxication. While it's possible the researchers had these data and didn't see a need to report them, the failure to do so is downright bizarre. It's like reporting that people who go to bars are more erratic drivers than people who don't, without bothering to look at whether they'd been drinking at the time their driving skills were assessed.

    Even if these were long-term effects, the researchers seem not to have considered that what might be an indication of psychosis in other circumstances could be an entirely normal reaction for people who use marijuana. Consider: Someone using a substance that is both illegal and socially frowned-upon almost by definition has "ideas or beliefs that others do not share." This is not a sign of mental illness. It's a sign of a rational person realistically assessing his or her situation.

    The same goes for "feeling other people cannot be trusted." Just ask Robin Prosser, the Montana medical marijuana patient arrested last summer on possession charges by the cops who came to save her life after she'd attempted suicide because she was in unbearable pain after running out of medicine.

    Fergusson reports very little raw data, so we don't know which symptoms came up most often, or whether the differences in average levels of symptoms between users and non-users came from a few people having a lot of symptoms or a lot of people having a couple symptoms. The heavy-user group, with the highest levels of supposed psychosis, reported an average of less than two symptoms each. So it is entirely possible that the entire case for marijuana "causing" psychosis is based on marijuana smokers having the completely reasonable feelings that they have beliefs different from mainstream society and thus should be a tad suspicious of others.

    "Proof" that marijuana makes you psychotic? No. Not even close. But don't expect the mainstream media to figure this out.

    Bruce Mirken is communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., is associate professor of psychology at the University of Southern California and author of "Understanding Marijuana" (Oxford University Press, 2002).


    Related Articles & Web Site

    Marijuana Policy Project
    Cannabis Raises Risk of Psychosis
    Text of Dr. Mitch Earleywine Interview on NPR


    Soft line needed on recreational users - professor

    The following article was published in various forms in The Press (18 Oct), Christchurch Star (19 Oct), Wairapapa Times-Age (18 Oct), Nelson Mail (18 Oct) and Evening Standard (18 Oct)

    Policies governing the use of cannabis need to avoid criminalising the large number of occasional recreational users who pose no risk to themselves or others, says a Christchurch medical researcher.

    Professor David Fergusson, of the Christchurch School of Medicine, said although cannabis may have harmful effects on a minority of heavy or vulnerable users, there was little evidence to suggest the occasional use of cannabis was harmful.

    "However, potentially large numbers of young people who use cannabis are, in theory at least, at risk of criminal prosecution for their actions.

    "There is a clear need for policies releting to cannabis to avoid criminalising the majority of occasional recreational users who do not appear to pose a risk to themselves or anyone around them." continued...
    Recreational cannabis users 'low risk'
    By Lois Watson, The Press, 18 October 2001

    Recreational cannabis users pose little risk to themselves or others, says a leading Christchurch medical researcher.

    David Fergusson, of the Christchurch School of Medicine, yesterday told Parliament's health select committee that policies on cannabis needed to avoid criminalising the majority of recreational users. continued...

    Govt's stand on cannabis law a 'missed opportunity' (Excerpted)
    New Zealand Press Association - 31 Oct, 03
    Christchurch School of Medicine senior lecturer Fraser Todd said yesterday he and other colleagues working at the school's National Addiction Centre believed decriminalising cannabis could potentially reduce the health risks associated with the drug. Changing the current laws warranted further investigation, he said. "I think they're missing an opportunity to look at dealing with health issues around cannabis a little more proactively." In other countries and regions where cannabis use was restricted, but possession of small quantities had been decriminalised, there was no significant increase in use, he said.

    US Jamaican Study 1974
    "... as a multipurpose plant, ganga is used medicinally, even by non-smokers. ....There were no indications of organic brain damage or chromosome damage among smokers and no significant clinical psychiatric, psychological or medical) differences between smokers and controls." "No impairment of physiological, sensory and perceptual performance, tests of concept formation, abstracting ability, and cognitive style, and tests of memory" "[Cannabis smoking] does not lead directly to mental or physical deterioration... Those who have consumed marijuana for a period of years showed no mental or physical deterioration which may be attributed to the drug."

    Lester Grinspoon
    Tod Mikuriya

    Medical Marijuana Information Links

    Can Cannabis the Antibiotic Treat/Prevent Anthrax?

    Prenatal Cannabis Exposure and Neonatal Outcomes in Jamaica:
    An Ethnographic Study


    Excerpts from Jack Herer's Emperor Wears No Cloths, Chapter Fifteen:


    After 15 days of taking testimony and more than a year's legal deliberation, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young formally urged the DEA to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana in a September, 1988 judgement. Judge Young ruled: "The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record. In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer
    than many foods we commonly consume marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." Yet DEA Administrator John Lawn and his successor, Robert Bonner, who finally resigned in November 1993, both refused to comply and have continued to deprive persons of medical cannabis, based on their own personal discretion and claims like the following:

    * Wasting Time & Lives
    * Doublespeak
    * Brain Damage Reports
    * Lingering Effects
    * Lung Damage Reports
    * Radioactivity in Tobacco
    * Nahas' Studies
    * & So On
    * Alcohol
    * Studies the Feds Don't Talk About
    * Coptic Study
    * Jamaican Studies
    * Costa Rican Study
    * Amsterdam Model
    * Bush Strikes Again
    * Corruption/Carlton Turner



    More than 100 years have passed since the 1894 British Raj commission study of hashish smokers in India reported cannabis use was harmless and even helpful. Numerous studies since have all agreed: The most prominent being Siler, LaGuardia, Nixon's Shafer Commission, Canada's LeDain Commission, and the California Research Advisory Commission.

    Concurrently, American presidents have praised hemp, the USDA amassed volumes of data showing its value as a natural resource, and in 1942 the Roosevelt administration even made Hemp for Victory, a film glorifying our patriotic hemp farmers. That same year, Germany produced The Humorous Hemp Primer, a comic book, written in rhyme, extolling hemp's virtues. (See appendix I of the paper version of this book.)

    Yet even the humane use of hemp for medicine is now denied. Asked in late 1989 about the DEA's failure to implement his decision quoted above, Judge Young responded that administrator John Lawn was being given time to comply.

    More than a year after that ruling, Lawn officially refused to reschedule cannabis, again classing it as a Schedule One "dangerous" drug that is not even allowed to be used as medicine.

    Decrying this needless suffering of helpless Americans, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Family Council on Drug Awareness quickly demanded Lawn's resignation. His successor retains this policy.

    What hypocrisy allows public officials to scoff at the facts and deny the truth? How do they rationalize their atrocities? How? They invent their own experts.


    Since 1976, our federal government (e.g., NIDA, NIH, DEA,* and Action), police sponsored groups (like DARE*), and special interest groups (like PDFA*) have proclaimed to public, press, and parent groups alike that they have "absolute evidence" of the shocking negative effects of marijuana smoking.

    * National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Inst. of Health, Drug Enforcement Agency, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, Partnership for a Drug Free America.

    When U.S. government sponsored research prior to 1976 indicated that cannabis was harmless or beneficial, the methodology of how each study was done was always presented in detail in the reports; e.g., read The Therapeutic Potential of Marijuana (1976) and you will see exactly what the methodology of each medical study was.

    However, when our government bureaucrats deliberately sponsored negative marijuana research, time and time again Playboy magazine, NORML, High Times, etc. had to sue under the new Freedom of Information Act to find out the actual laboratory methodology these "experiments" employed.

    What they found was shocking. continued in the book...

    The Hype: Brain Damage and Dead Monkeys
    The Facts: Suffocation of Research Animals

    The Hype: It Stays in Your System for 30 Days
    The Facts: Government's Own Experts Say That Metabolites Are Non-Toxic, Harmless Residue

    The Hype: More Harmful Than Tobacco
    The Fact: Not One Documented Case of Cancer
    Lab Studies Fail to Reflect the Real World
    No radioactivity exists in cannabis tars

  2. DdC

    DdC Member

    Incredibly, a famous study which found that cannabis reduces tumors (see Chapter 7) was originally ordered by the Federal Government on the premise that pot would hurt the immune system. This was based on the "Reefer Madness" studies done by the disreputable by Dr. Gabriel Nahas of Columbia University in 1972.

    This is the same Dr. Nahas that claimed his studies showed pot created chromosome, testosterone (male hormone) damage, and countless other horrible effects which suggested the breaking down of the immune system. Nahas' background is in the OSS/CIA and later the UN where he worked closely with Lyndon LaRouche and Kurt Waldheim.

    Nahas is still the darling favorite of the DEA and NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) yet no anti-marijuana studies of Nahas' marijuana research in a specially-called press conference in 1975!

    Old, discredited Nahas studies are still trotted out by the Drug Enforcement Administration today, and deliberately given to unknowledgeable parents' groups, churches, and PTAs as valid research regarding the evils of pot.

    The dissemination of Nahas'* dangerous horror stories is paid for with your tax dollar, even years after the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1976 specifically forbade Nahas from getting another penny of U.S. government money for cannabis studies because of his embarrassing research in the early 1970s.

    *Nahas, in December, 1983, under ridicule from his peers and a funding cut-off from NIDA renounced all his old THC metabolite build-up and unique chromosome petri dish tissue damage studies, conclusions, and extrapolations.

    Yet the DEA, NIDA, VISTA, the "War on Drugs", and now-deceased writer Peggy Mann (in Reader's Digest articles and her book Marijuana Alert, with foreward by Nancy Reagan) have used these discredited studies on parents' groups such as Parents for a Drug Free Youth, etc., often with Nahas as a highly paid guest lecturer, without a word of how his studies are really considered by his peers.

    This, we assume, is done to scare parents, teachers, legislators, and judges, using scientific terminology, bogus non-clinical statistics, ultimately aimed at selling more urine testing equipment and creating more profits for the drug-rehabilitation clinics and their staff of
    professionals, and to maintain funding for the DEA, local police, judicial, penal, corrections, and other government pork barrel, police state interests.

    The "War on Drugs" is big money, so the shameless petitioning for more police and more cells continue. And we still have thousands of judges, legislators, police, Reader's Digest readers, and parents who have for years used and cited his studies in particular as the prime reasons to continue these unjust laws and to jail millions of Americans over the last decade.

    The DEA, after Nahas' 1983 waffling renouncement, consciously and criminally continues to use his studies to polarize ignorant judges, politicians, press, and parent groups, who are unaware of Nahas' renouncement. These groups trust the government to tell them the truth their tax dollars paid for. Most of the media, press, and television commentators still use Nahas' 1970s, unreplicated studies as gospel, and much of the frightening folklore and street myths that are whispered around school yards spring from this deceitful "scientist's" work.

    Refuted and never replicated results are still taught, while the honest researcher faces prison if he attempts to test any thoughts about the medical use of cannabis.

    In fact, using Nahas' refuted and unreplicated synthetic THC petri-dish studies on the immune system, hysterical Families for Drug Free Youth, or "Just Say No" organizations have gotten the press to say marijuana could cause AIDS which has no basis whatsoever, but the press published all this rhetoric creating more Reefer Madness!

    Gabriel Nahas is now living in Paris and goes around Europe teaching the same lies to the uninformed Europeans. When asked to debate us (H.E.M.P.) on cannabis in front of the world press on June 18, 1993 in Paris, he first enthusiastically accepted until he found out we would be speaking on all aspects of the hemp plant (e.g., paper, fiber, fuel). Then he declined, even though we met all of his requirements.

    Marijuana Ingredient Helps Head Injuries

    Compound May Reduce Brain Trauma Damage

    Marijuana: Good for The Brain

    Cannabis Blocks Irreversible Brain Damage

    Cannabis prevents brain damage


    In all the research this author has done about the misapplication of public funds and trusts, nothing, it seems, compares with the either totally ignorant or willful manslaughter of fellow Americans by the bureaucrats and politicians of the following story:


    The U.S. government policy, starting in the Nixon and Ford administrations and continuing under Carlton Turner* (Drug Czar under Reagan 1981-1986)

    * Poisoning Pot Smokers
    * Phony Paraquat Kits
    * A Wanton Disregard For Life

    Turner said that he doesn't even care if hundreds of kids die from smoking pot the federal government has deliberately sprayed with paraquat.

    * Urine Testing Company
    "Soon after Turner left office, Nancy Reagan recommended that no corporation be permitted to do business with the Federal government without having a urine purity policy in place to show their loyalty. Just as G. Gordon Liddy went into high-tech corporate security after his disgrace, Carlton Turner became a rich man in this urine testing growth industry."

    "Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there."
    - William E. Dodd, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, 1937. Continued...

    Shadow of the Swastika

    "Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise."
    From Benito Mussolini contributing to the "London Sunday Express," December 8, 1935

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
    -- Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

    Americans Funding Fascist'

    Follow the money. When the government spends $10 billion arresting cannabis smokers each year, someone is also profitting on that $10 billion. Perpetuating the war is what profits. Not common sense ending it.

    The Kaiser Permanente study
    "Marijuana Use and Mortality" April 1997 American Journal of Public Health". "Relatively few adverse clinical effects from the chronic use of marijuana have been documented in humans. However, the criminalization of marijuana use may itself be a health hazard, since it may expose the users to violence and criminal activity."

    Reefer Madness By Abbie Hoffman
    The Nation, November 21, 1987

    Abbie List: Reefer Madness

    The Great Marijuana Hoax By Allen Ginsberg

    Marijuana Revolution by John Sinclair


    “In the past we have had officers of this department shot and killed by marihuana addicts and we have traced the act of murder directly to the influence of marihuana, with no other motive. We have found from long experience and dealing with this type of criminal that marihuana is probably the most dangerous of all our narcotic drugs.”
    J.F. Taylor, Chief of Detectives L.A.P.D -
    [Fraternal Order of Police Journal - Jan. 1933]


    Investigator found abandoned in fields in Iowa and Minnesota between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds of harvested hemp -- enough to make thirty billion [Marihuana] cigarettes and to drug the whole population of the United States.
    THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY - June 29, 1938

    "Marihuana produces a wide variety of symptoms in the user, including hilarity, swooning, and sexual excitement ... it often makes the smoker vicious, with a desire to fight and kill."
    Scientific American - March 1936:

    “Marihuana is “a more dangerous drug than heroin or cocaine.” Authority for this statement is United States Commissioner of Narcotics H. J. Anslinger. . . . the drug is adhering to its Old World traditions of murder, assault, rape, physical demoralization, and mental breakdown.”
    Scientific American - May 1938

    Will Foster 93 Years For Medicinal Cannabis

    "[Marijuana] is highly intoxicating and constitutes an ever recurring problem where there are Mexicans or Spanish-Americans of the lower classes.
    "New York Times- Dec. 3, 1933 - Pg. 6, Sec. 4.

    Mama Coca wants Colombia's fumigation to end
    Sign a petition to end anti-drug sprays

    Plan Colombia and 'Maria Full of Grace'

    Mrs. Hamilton Wright, (representative of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics) characterized marihuana as the "most pernicious" of drugs. She said it produced in smokers of the weed a temporary sense of complete irresponsibility which led to sex crimes and other "horrible" acts of violence.” New York Times - May 4, 1937

    U.S. prison population largest in world

    Prison Rape: Relax Your Muscles as Much as Possible

    Study: Marijuana Eases Traumatic Memories
    Pot Blocks Painful Memories, Study Says
    Pot-Like Chemical Helps Beat Fear

    "Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye,
    step on white men's shadows and look at a white woman twice."

    Hearst newspapers nationwide, 1935

    Proven : Cannabis is a safe medicine by Ian Williams Goddard

    BOSTON, Jan. 30, 1997 (UPI) -

    The U.S. federal government has failed to make public its own 1994 study that undercuts its position that marijuana is carcinogenic - a $2 million study by the National Toxicology Program. The program's deputy director, John Bucher, says the study "found absolutely no evidence of cancer." In fact, animals that received THC had fewer cancers. Bucher denies his agency had been pressured to shelve the report, saying the delay in making it public was due to a personnel shortage.

    The Boston Globe reported Thursday (1-30-97) that the study indicates not only that the main ingredient in marijuana, THC, does not cause cancer, but also that it may even protect against malignancies, laboratory tests on animals show. The report comes on the heels of an editorial in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine that favors the controlled medical use of marijuana, and calls current federal policy "misguided, heavy-handed and inhumane."

    The Clinton administration has said that doctors prescribing marijuana could be prosecuted for a federal crime. continued...

    "Marihuana makes fiends of boys in thirty days --
    Hashish goads users to bloodlust."

    Hearst newpapers nationwide circa 1936

    "Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing"
    Federal Bureau of Narcotics Chief Harry J. Anslinger, 1948
    "Marijuana leads to homosexuality ... and therefore to AIDS."
    White House Drug Czar Carlton Turner 1986

    Conservative Addiction Good, Liberal Addiction Bad!
    Unrepentant Junkies:
    Noelle Bush, Sen.Joseph McCarthy & DJ Rush Limbaugh

    "Permanent brain damage is one of the inevitable results of the use of marijuana."
    Ronald Reagan 1974

    Cannabis Shrinks Tumors: Government Knew in 74

    High Times for Alzheimers
    'A younger sibling of mine accidentally let grandma eat the wrong brownies... You could tell she had AD --Alzheimer's disease -- but nothing so prominent. It was like it took her back 3-4 years." Postings such as this one on the Alzforum website intrigued Dr Nathaniel Milton, a biochemist at London's Royal Free and University College medical school. continued...

    Alzforum Website - Marijuana

    "Marijuana is ten times more dangerous than twenty years ago."
    Presidential candidate Bill Clinton 1992

    Welcome to Reality

    "The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than a small one"
    Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf.
    Quoted by Alisdair Milne in memoirs of a British Broadcaster p. 269

    Selected quotes from major cannabis reports & studies

    quotes from Nixon's 1972 Shafer Commission

    Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts

    Toronto Hemp Company (THC) - Information - Marijuana Myths

    The USA Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy 1987
    "Cannabis can be used on an episodic but continual basis without evidence of social or psychic dysfunction. In many users the term dependence with its obvious connotations, probably is mis-applied... The chief opposition to the drug rests on a moral and political, and not toxicologic, foundation".

    D.E.A. Confirms Grounds To Remove Cannabis from Sch#1

    Drug Czar Manipulating Data in a Report to Congress

    The report the WHO tried to hide

    America's Private Gulags

    Drug War' Opponents Blast White House Policy

    Drug Czar Accused of Supporting Terror Deceptions

    DEAth Flunky

    Police officials lied to toughen laws...


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