Friday, March 23, 2012

More blatant bullshit about cannabis

What is it with The Sydney Morning Herald that as soon as the subject turns to cannabis the broadsheet turns into a credulous tabloid? One Nicole Hasham on Wednesday wrote the following about a paranoid schizophrenic who had killed his fiancee:
His heavy marijuana use had triggered paranoid delusions and imaginary voices which told him that his friends, family and workmates were "part of an elaborate conspiracy".
Really? Dope causes mental illness causes murder? So simple. Let's fix it by banning it. Oh wait, we already have. Fortunately this sledgehammer simplification was corrected on Thursday in the letters column by a doctor:
'Just say no' can be a dangerous message
It is a pity that, having written well about the important matter of mental health services in prison, and illustrated the benefits of good treatment and management through the story of Sunil Hemraj, you chose to head that article, ''Hard road back from deadly habit'' (March 21).How was any purported habit ''deadly''? What was deadly was Mr Hemraj's delusional state, which has been attributed to his suffering with paranoid schizophrenia. The role of cannabis use in either the precipitation or causation of schizophrenia is still poorly understood. But in any case, it is the mental health problem, however caused, which can be deadly, though fortunately not as often as is portrayed in the media.
Some studies suggest that 3000 people would have to stop using cannabis to prevent one case of psychosis, so cannabis use is not the most common risk factor. More often, this association merely illustrates the point that the peak age for both using cannabis and the onset of schizophrenia in males happens to coincide.
The major problem with cannabis use I see as an addiction physician is that if one is unfortunate enough to experience a mental health problem as well, many health workers and services will adopt the view that ''it's all your own fault'' and thus miss the opportunity to intervene early in what could be a serious, but treatable, health issue.
Mr Hemraj was fortunate that his mental health problem was taken seriously and treated well. For many others, what they get may be just a message to go home and stop using cannabis, which will not in general make any difference to the progression of a psychotic illness.
Dr Rod MacQueen Orange

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The issue here is not the use of marijuana or mental health. The accused has wealthy parents who threw him into an exclusive Sydney boarding school with lovely views (in another country) and then paid for top lawyers to use mental health as an excuse to get him off. Unfortunately, lovely views do not compensate for the love and nurture every child needs. Mr Hemraj is still dillusional if he thinks the deceased was his fiance. He was mean to her for years and he killed her because he didnt want anyone else to have her. He obviously has some loose screws but that does not mean you have a mental health issue. I dont understand how he knows what regret is if he cannot remember comitting the crime. I ask the question what did he want to acheive by having such an article publiched. Does he realise how many lives he has ruined, not to mention the people who had nothing to do with the deceased, police people, ambulance staff etc. I would say he only regrets ruining his own life. The smh article was completely one sided and if he wanted to really get his story out there, why didnt he use what new name he goes by?