Monday, September 29, 2008

NCPIC spouts more junk science

The Sydney Morning Herald continues its poor journalism on the topic of drugs by printing without balance or comment yet another AAP story regurgitating propaganda from NCPIC (the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, where I hear the staff are already getting mightily annoyed with its highly paid Director Jan Copeland's focus on demonising cannabis at the expense of balance or truth).

The whole story, showing "links" between cannabis and depression is a transparent beat-up of the kind exposed elsewhere on this blog so I won't analyse the whole thing.

But simply take the lie in the last paragraph which claims that cannabis smoking "leads to brain shrinkage", referring no doubt to the study discussed in the hyperlink above which in reality showed only a tenuous link to brain shrinkage and could equally have shown that unemployment is the cause (and it ignores a larger study which showed no shrinkage, both views backed up in a New Scientist report).

Again in the present case, the sample who mention cannabis to doctors came from atypical minorities, just like the 'brain shrinkage' and the 'cannabis causes violence' furphies spouted by NCIPC and published in The SMH. "Users were more likely to be male, young, unemployed or on a low income and indigenous", says the SMH story. So the study could equally have concluded that being a young unemployed Aboriginal is likely to lead to depression and dope smoking. That's not on NCPIC's agenda though.

They even go so far as to infer that this study shows cannabis is more harmful than amphetamines. This is not only bizarre, it's dangerous if it leads to a reallocation of resources away from the hard drug to the soft drug. Frontline social workers in Kings Cross I speak to are flabbergasted by this tripe.

There is another giveaway in the story, which: "...also revealed that mentioning cannabis use to a doctor was very rare". Jan Copeland is "disturbed" by this, another unscientific assertion about data that could equally show that very few of the 750,000 weekly users in Australia see it as a problem.

It's just like the junk studies that showed that 90% or so of cocaine users had smoked cannabis and concluded that pot led to coke use. But a simple re-examination of the stats demonstrated that only a small minority of regular pot smokers used coke, refuting the first conclusion. Be careful what you believe, dear reader, it's all smoke and mirrors (to use an apt analogy!)

For "balance" the story includes an ideological comment from the AMA's Dr Rod Pearce who essentially argues that cannabis causes harms under prohibition therefore we need more prohibition. THINK about it! 

And if I am right about NCPIC, what a colossal waste of taxpayers' money!

PS: Even NCPIC's own mission statement is nonsensical:

"The NCPIC mission is to reduce the use of cannabis in Australia by preventing uptake and harms associated with its use in the Australian community."

In other words, "The NCPIC mission is to reduce the use of cannabis in Australia by reducing the use of cannabis and reducing the harms associated with its use in Australia". Huh?


Anonymous said...

Why would anyone want to snort Coke, inject smack, use ice, smoke anything, and get plastered? Our bodies and minds are fragile so why invite problems

The Editor said...

Or why would anyone want to drink vodka, fly and ultralight plane, cross the road or climb the mountain K2 (which carries a 27% death rate!). All these are risky activities.

I guess people do it because the benefits outweigh the risks for them. If you think differently, good on you and I would defend your right to free choice. Unfortunately prohibition penalises others who make different choices, for no good reason.

See my next post about someone who has smoked cannabis daily for 40 years with no problems (when I get a minute to write it).

Your link to an NCPIC "factsheet" simply ignores all the points I have made and refers back to the source of misinformation. It's a sign of someone who has a fixed view regardless of the facts, just like NCPIC.

Anonymous said...

The answer to why people do it is so simple as to be overlooked in favour of some psychological, moral, appeal to "common sense" or "root cause" malarkey. The reason why people do it, and listen closely now, is because it is pleasurable- the strongest motivator there is. We are biologically attuned to pleasure above all. That's it. You can't get anymore primal than that.