Thursday, January 29, 2009
Another population study negates moral panic about drugs
A large study of over 4,000 "crack babies" in the US has found very little evidence of any effect, reports the New York Times. Yes, effects are there but they are smaller than the effects of other things like alcohol, tobacco or poverty.
I am finding a strong pattern in the "science" around drugs, which is as politically loaded towards prohibition as it could be. While different critics are claiming that 50% to an astonishing 90% of "studies" end up being wrong, the more credible ones are population-based with large samples like the one quoted above.
Meanwhile two NSW children taken away from their parents by DOCS for 13 weeks because the parents occasionally smoked pot have been returned by the courts, reports The Australian today:
"Judge George Palmer said the children had been removed for "no reason whatsoever". Their parents were recreational smokers of cannabis but there was no evidence they had abused or neglected their children."
In another area, at least three population studies I have read about found no evidence that cannabis consumption increases car accidents. Yet small reductive studies of the kind that get people stoned, put them in front of a computer and measure reaction times show slower reactions and this is used as evidence that cannabis causes car accidents. Then there are studies of the kind that inject rats with pure THC to overdose levels and conclude that cannabis is toxic.
Prohibitionists quote these latter kinds of studies endlessly, creating a moral panic about drugs. Yet when I point out to them that all this terrible damage is happening under prohibition, so it is obviously no solution to such problems that do exist, they go silent...
The very conservative Beckley Commission concluded that cannabis did produce a slightly greater risk of car accidents -- about 15x less than alcohol, I recall.
So, are the fines for drug driving about 15 times less than for drunk driving -- just as the fine for exceeding a speed limit by 10k is a lot less than for 80k over the limit? No.