Friday, May 15, 2009

Balancing the risks and benefits of cannabis

While the prohibitionists and most media keep demonising recreational drugs, amplifying every possible negative finding about them, a more balanced and factual body of data is slowly accumulating.

Much is made of the link between cannabis and schizophrenia, and piles of research is being funded to prove the link. However a Melbourne AOD researcher recently posted the following on the ANCD's Drugtalk email discussion group: 
Using the Lancet meta-analysis we can see that of 6.2 million cannabis smokers in the UK, 800 experienced schizophrenia. Thus 0.00125% of cannabis smokers experience schizophrenia. Or, 99.99875% of cannabis smokers do not.
So prohibitionists who use the mental illness argument to support their position are happy to persecute the 99.99875% who are not affected in a vain attempt to save the remainder, who it seems have contracted the disease anyway, despite prohibition. The stupidity is remarkable. The dishonesty of beating up this problem while obscuring the context of these tiny numbers is unforgivable.

Also The Beckley Foundation is about to research the link between cannabis and creativity. One day adults might be able to balance risk against benefit using credible information, like we can for most activities.

Meanwhile The Wall Street Journal has run a long piece interviewing Barak Obama’s new ‘Drugs Czar’ and it seems change is at least in the air. The report begins:

The Obama administration's new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting "a war on drugs," a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues.

"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country."

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