Monday, September 19, 2005

Lunatic claims by the ONDCP

Via Amanda at Pandagon, the ONDCP's latest scare ad claiming marijuana causes schizophrenia.

We've already debunked this claim here about three times I think, but I'll point you to the latest Salon article that does it again. It's worth going through the required ads to read it even though there's not much new information for LOS readers.

Here's a few of the choicer quotes. First from NIDA.
"Our research provides most of the evidence undergirding the campaign and we certainly support its goals," says Dr. Wilson Compton, director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But Compton concedes that the findings cited in the ad are "not completely established" and that experts consider them "controversial" and worth further investigation.
Controversial my eye, they're considered flat out quackery as evidenced by this statistic.
Perhaps the strongest piece of evidence to cast doubt on a causal connection between marijuana and schizophrenia is a long flat-line trend in the disease. While marijuana use rose from virtually nil in the 1940s and '50s to a peak period of use in 1979 -- when some 60 percent of high school seniors had tried it -- schizophrenia rates remained virtually constant over those decades. The same remains true today: One percent or fewer people have schizophrenia, a rate consistent among populations around the world. This is in stark contrast to studies linking tobacco smoking with lung cancer, where rises in tobacco use were accompanied by rising rates of lung cancer.
Of course the prohibitionists are pretty desperate ever since the connection between cannabis smoking and lung cancer was proven to be false. They're lately trying to imply it's the stronger weed that is inherently dangerous and is allegedly causing mental illness in responsible users. Unsurprisingly, this is also a flat out lie.
UCLA public policy expert Mark Kleiman has pointed out that federally funded research by the University of Michigan shows that since the 1970s the level of high reported by high school seniors who smoked marijuana has remained "flat as a pancake." In other words, even if today's kids are smoking more potent stuff, they don't get higher than their folks did -- like drinking a few whiskey shots rather than multiple mugs of beer, they use less of the good stuff to achieve the same effect.
Looking at it logically, if this claim was true we would all be committed to insane asylums by now.

The bottom line is mentally ill people may be inclined to self-medicate with cannabis, but cannabis is not the cause of their illness. Furthermore, as it often mentioned by the experts, this lie-based campaign is infinitely more dangerous to teenagers than casual use of the herb would be.

When they see their peers using marijuana without suffering mental breakdowns, then they won't believe legitimate warnings about dangerous drugs. If anything comes of the 150 million the ONDCP plans to spend on these ads, it will the creation of more meth and heroin addicts because the drug czar insists on crying wolf in order to protect his salary, rather than disseminating facts that could actually protect our kids from drug abuse.


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