Does Cannabis Inherently Harm Young People’s Developing Minds?

With millions of stressed-out teens smoking pot, some parents are apt to attribute their children’s problems to marijuana’s malevolent influence. The adult temptation to blame the weed is reinforced by public officials who continually inflate the dangers and deny the benefits of cannabis. But U.S. authorities have long since forfeited any claim to credibility with respect to marijuana.

Smoke Signals, Martin A. Lee, 2012 (1)

Nearly everyone agrees: cannabis is inherently harmful to young people

One of the most-often heard arguments used by cannabis prohibitionists to justify the War on Drugs is that “cannabis harms the developing brains of the young.”

The position has also been taken – in a modified context – by pot activists (2) and politicians (in both the US and Canada) (3) who say they are in favor of legalization. No matter what your feelings are about drug policy, it’s the thing everyone seems to agree on. As one “addiction expert” recently opined:

Indeed, I’ve spoken to many supporters of legalization. They don’t want their children using marijuana any more than those opposed to legalization do. (4)

It is the one thing both Canadian Conservative PM Stephen Harper and Liberal Challenger Justin Trudeau seem to agree on when it comes to cannabis, and it appears within a majority of the articles about Trudeau’s pro-legalization cannabis policy that is in the news today.

A reporter later confirmed that in fact, Trudeau’s response was that marijuana was dangerous for young people because their minds were still developing and that regulating pot would reduce their access to it. (5)

If media coverage of Vancouver pot rallies is negative, the “harming-of-the-young” narrative tends to be the reason why. (6) Special “round table of experts”-type press conferences by Health Canada are held to re-enforce this “negative impact of marijuana on developing minds” concept, just in case anyone misses references to it in endless news stories on marijuana.

Research has shown the negative impact of marijuana on developing minds. As a child psychiatrist, I have seen firsthand the tragic consequences on young Canadians. We need to do more, and the Canadian Medical Association encourages a public health approach that includes a nationwide marijuana cessation campaign to ensure our youth are aware of the real risks and harms associated with marijuana usage. (7)

Similar pronouncements have come from the UN:

“Medical research tell us clearly that the use of cannabis, particularly at early ages, can be very harmful for the health,” UN Office on Drugs and Crime chief researcher Angela Me told a news conference on Thursday, Reuters reported. (8)

Monopolistic Machinations

The claim is not only used to support the current prohibition on recreational cannabis use by adults – to add the necessary stigma and shame that justifies discrimination in the minds of prohibitionists – but is also used to justify the over-regulation, and a possible crack-down, on medical cannabis dispensaries:

Though the public may not complain about Vancouver’s increasingly-easier access to pot, it leads to more overall consumption, which he said “usually means easier access for the younger population.” That is troubling given the potential harms the drug could have on young people, who are at risk for having troubles regulating their pot use later in life when they use it heavily early on, according to Diest. (9)

Police searched what they called an illegal East Vancouver marijuana shop Thursday afternoon after receiving reports that weed was being purchased at the store then sold to neighbourhood youth. … Fincham said the focus of the department remained on cracking down on violent drug traffickers and “those who prey on youth, the marginalized or the drug addicted.” (10)

The appearance and packaging of many of these items could be potentially very appealing to children. … Our priority remains focusing on violent drug traffickers and those who prey on youth and the marginalized in our community. (11)

Consultants for pharmaceutical companies have used the risk of cannabis inherently harming the young as an implicit justification for multi-million dollar safety and efficacy tests – that would limit the production of cannabis-based medications to big pharma only – because everyone should treat cannabis as if it were a dangerous drug until multi-million dollar safety and efficacy tests can be performed on teens (if they ever get around to it).

Children and adolescents (before puberty): the manufacturer of the registered cannabis extract recommends it not be used in those under the age of 18, because the data on safety and efficacy are inadequate. (12)

A spokesperson for the anti-cannabis group SAM has taken it upon herself to uphold the pharma-monopoly on cannabinoids:

I want children with intractable epilepsy, or with any other illness that qualified medical professionals believe could be treated, to receive a purified, pharmacy-grade CBD oil – meaning a substance free from THC, the intoxicating and addictive component of cannabis that is especially harmful to the developing brain. (13)

I have a sneaking suspicion that this “harm the kids” theory would also be pulled out if someone attempted to remove the massive amount of red tape around Canadian industrial hemp farming. (14) But it’s interesting that the argument used to shut down med pot dispensaries is the same argument used to justify exclusive rights for big pharma to sell cannabis medicines to the sick.

Addiction specialists have now begun to use the “developing minds” concept to justify a government monopoly on recreational cannabis distribution under a legal model. (15)

The Prohibitionist’s Main Weapons

The famous Partnership For a Drugfree America has now changed its name to Partnership for Drugfree Kids (16), maximizing their support by narrowing their focus and tapping into that all-powerful parental-concern-for-child energy.

The addictions treatment industry has adopted the strategy of stressing the harm to the “developing minds of the young” – going so far as to create animated cartoon advertisements to drive the point home to families. (17)

Recent studies done in Boston (18), Philadelphia (19), Baltimore (20), and New Zealand, (21) have all recently come to the attention of the mass media, and all of them allow politicians and cops to send the following message: “Cannabis is inherently harmful to the developing minds of the young”.

If it’s true, if cannabis does inherently harm the developing minds of the young, does this make applying age limits to cannabis sales desirable?

And more importantly … is it true?

Looking at a whack of reports

This author asked his friends Rob Callaway, who has a master’s degree in health and psychology, and Liz Goode, who has a degree in psychology, to use their connections to acquire as many studies as they could find related to cannabis and youth and their association with various medical conditions. They came up with 24 studies from the year 2000 to 2014.

This author has read all 24 of the studies (22) while keeping the following questions in mind:

1) Does the study differentiate between cannabis use and cannabis abuse and/or mention cannabis harm reduction techniques?

2) Does the study argue a causal relationship between cannabis use and existing harms, or just a correlation?

3) Does the study limit itself to studying a small number of individuals, or does it look at increases in problems in the general overall population that matches the approximately 10% to 50% rise in cannabis use rates among youth in Western countries between 1970 and 2001? (23)

4) Does the study consider the possibility of the beneficial use of cannabis and/or of cannabis being used by the young as a preventive medicine – to deal with stress or depression – and consider the comparative risks of use with leaving such conditions untreated or treated with pharmaceuticals or other drugs?

5) Does the study consider the damage to youth done by prohibition (black market-related harms, police-related harms, criminal record-related harms, prison-related harms, other-punishment-related harms) and compare this undeniable damage with the damage done by cannabis use or misuse?

6) Does the study recognize the importance of patient autonomy in medicine?

7) Do these studies cite other studies that run counter to their findings?

If it turns out that cannabis is inherently harmful to the developing minds of the young, then it is most likely that legalization with tight regulations (that prohibit legal access by youth) will be seen by the public, regardless of the regulations’ effectiveness, as the only acceptable form of legalization.

The other possibility is that this is just the latest kind of “Reefer Madness” – some new myth about mis-developed teen brains – propagated by those who know that most people won’t bother with the type of literature review that you’re about to read here. If this other possibility turns out to be true, then it is vital for the marijuana community to expose this latest sham for what it is, the next “big lie.” (24)

After answering the above questions, this author will also review the evidence on the efficacy of drug laws to curtail teen use, the history of “Reefer Madness” (pro-war-against-cannabis-propaganda) and a history of the use of parental hysteria for scapegoating purposes, so that the results of the analysis can be understood in greater context.

Once you read the following analysis, there’s no turning back. I ask all who read the following information – and agree with the conclusions – to share it with their family members, elected representatives, co-workers, church groups, fellow students and Facebook friends.

General Findings

Mason Tvert, one of the primary proponents behind marijuana legalization in Colorado, told CBS4 the campaign was misguided and won’t deter teen usage. “You don’t have to say, ‘You’re going to become a lab rat and it’s going to destroy you.’ This is the same type of fear-mongering that’s failed to prevent teen marijuana use for decades,” he said. Tvert, also the communications director for the pro-pot Marijuana Policy Project, said teens won’t respect the campaign: “All you have to do is be honest with young people. Tell them, ‘These are the potential harms of this substance.'”

– “Human-Sized Rat Cages Target Teen Marijuana Use”, August 11, 2014, CBS Denver (25)

A vast majority of the studies (20 out of 24) did not note a difference between use and misuse, or mention cannabis harm-reduction techniques, including both of the studies that were attempting to prove inherent harm with cannabis use. This would lead a reasonable person to conclude that cannabis’s effects are not being evaluated based upon it being used as intelligently as possible. Instead, it’s being evaluated on its prohibition-related misuse and the conclusions drawn are assumed to be applicable to it’s proper use as well.

As to the beneficial use of cannabis, a vast majority of the studies (19 out of 24) do not mention any beneficial uses. Four studies mention beneficial use in passing, and one explores the beneficial uses extensively. If the beneficial uses of cannabis are not being factored into the equation at all, it means that the pros and cons are not being weighed fairly, and cannabis is being undervalued by those who are blind to its benefits while at the same time being super-sensitive to its downside.

Furthermore, 17 out of 24 studies did not even attempt to prove causation; most of these would only admit to a correlation between cannabis use and medical problems. One study, Malone et al. (2010), claimed causation was possible. Another study, Fischer et al. (2011), assumed causation to be true without attempting to explain it or prove it. Two studies, Zammit et al. (2002) with schizophrenia and Fergusson et al. (2005) with mental illness/schizophrenia, attempted to prove causation. Three other studies, Mathre et al. (2002) with the gateway theory, Macleod et al. (2004) with schizophrenia and Rogeberg (2014) with I.Q., provided evidence that there was no causal relationship.

Let us now go through each question one at a time, first to examine what is meant by each and then to examine in more detail what we can learn from these studies.

1) Does the study differentiate between cannabis use and cannabis abuse and/or mention cannabis harm reduction techniques?

No valid conclusion as to the use of a thing can be drawn from its abuse.
– Lord Denman, Stockdale v. Hansard, 1839

Proper Pot Smoking

According to drug policy experts:

Programs that do not differentiate between marijuana use and abuse are ineffective because they are inconsistent with students’ observations and experiences. … Teenagers can see for themselves that others can and do use marijuana without serious negative consequences that would constitute “abuse,” thus claims of addiction do not fit their experience. (26)

The evidence for cannabis harm reduction is substantial. Dose has been understood to be an important factor in cannabis use – verily, in the use of any medicine – for hundreds if not thousands of years. 16th century Chinese master herbalist, Li Shizhen, explained that “hallucinations” and “an unsteady gait” come through the immoderate use of cannabis.” (27) Over the last 120 years, potency, individual temperament/disposition/intelligence, growing conditions, freshness, setting and familiarity have all been noted as shaping the effect of cannabis upon the user. (28)

The 1997 World Health Organization Report on cannabis pointed to: … dose, mode of administration, physiological and pharmacological differences, complexity of performance tasks, situational demands during testing, and the prior drug experience of the subject – as factors involved in proper cannabis use. (29)

In this author’s 2003 Supreme Court constitutional challenge to the cannabis laws, I reviewed the extensive evidence of harm reduction. I mentioned that there was evidence that “dose, mindset, setting, strain, quality, potency, smoke cooling, clean ignition and clean mode of administration” were all factors that, if focused on, could separate use from abuse. (30)

The Supreme Court agreed, saying that

We accept his point that careful use can mitigate the harmful effects…” (31)

The Ideal Mode of Administration

A study done by California NORML in October 1995 indicated that smoking stronger marijuana – or by that rationale, hashish – reduces the “tar per dose” ratio and may end up being an effective harm reduction technique. (32)

Data has yet to be gathered on the smoking of small amounts of concentrates taken from organically-grown cannabis through a high-quality vaporizer or a multiple-chamber glass bong to eliminate heat using a waxed hemp string or a magnifying glass combined with the rays of the sun as a mode of ignition – but there should be, given that these are ideal ways of reducing the negative factors of smoking down to zero.

Just limiting one’s self to smoking small hits of organic, high potency cannabis from a joint with organic hemp or organic rice rolling papers would be an improvement from the typical chemically-fertilized bunk smoked with cheap rolling papers which are themselves loaded with carcinogens (33), or the low-quality, adulterated hashish smoked from an aluminum can pipe. (34)

Choose Your Strain Wisely

Or take, for another example, the importance of strain selection. The legitimacy of strain selection has come to light in recent years, especially with the publication of Dr. Ethan Russo’s comprehensive report on cannabinoids and terpenes in the British Journal of Pharmacology: “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects”:

If – as many consumers and experts maintain (Clarke, 2010) – there are biochemical, pharmacological and phenomenological distinctions between available cannabis ‘strains’, such phenomena are most likely related to relative terpenoid contents and ratios. (35)

What this report proves, in essence, is that cannabis is not one medicine, but many. There are many different strains of cannabis with different cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles, both the cannabinoids and the terpenoids are medically effective in different ways. These various strains will act in varied ways on the human body, and differently in different combinations, so selecting the right strain for the right condition is an important element of proper cannabis use.

The mainstream media has recently gotten wind of this, and the “entourage effect” is now becoming a more commonly understood term. (36)

According to the wisdom gained from the experience of those who work in medical cannabis dispensaries;

People experiencing heightened anxiety, or those with mental health conditions should use caution with Sativa-dominant varieties. (37)

Minimize The Radioactivity

Further concerns over lung damage can be addressed through the creation of organic standards for growing cannabis. It appears that all chemical fertilizers are radioactive, which could account for most of, if not all of, the tobacco-related cancers. (38)

Don’t Operate Heavy Machinery While Impaired

Concerns over vehicular mayhem can be effectively addressed with impairment testing (walk a straight line, close your eyes and count backwards from 100, stand on one leg, etc.) of drivers suspected of being impaired on cannabis – as is currently utilized with drivers suspected of being impaired on caffeine, prescription drugs, lack of sleep, old age, emotional disturbance or illness. Combine this testing with an educational campaign to help people recognize their own impairment and take steps to avoid driving impaired, and vehicular mayhem would no doubt be reduced. Improvements in public transportation wouldn’t hurt, either.

Education Is Key

Any report that does not pay attention to the difference between use and abuse of cannabis may very well be improperly evaluating cannabis based on how ignorant people use it – or how black-market based harms such as contaminants or a lack of access to a variety of different strains effect the use of it – rather than how it could be used properly within a legal, education-heavy, safe-point-of-sale, quality-controlled distribution model.

Regarding the reports that do mention harm reduction, Fischer et al. (2011) mentions “dose, setting, potency, purity, frequency, mode of administration, titration, delaying using until after 18 years old or abstaining altogether” (pp. 324-326), but did not mention familiarity, freshness, growing conditions, mindset or strain. Swift et al. (2000) mentions “dose … method of use, drug experience, tolerance, concurrent drug use, expectations and personality” as factors involved in harm reduction. (p. 102) Mathre et al. (2002) mentions cannabis harm reduction with respect to reducing harm through smarter smoking techniques or other modes of administration (p. 107) and cannabis use as a substitute for harder drug use. (p. 109) Melamede (2005) mentions “…amount, frequency, quality, and probably most importantly, the idiosyncratic biochemistry of the user” as being factors involved in harm reduction. (p. 2)

It is clear that harm reduction has been overlooked by all those who would attempt to prove inherent harm from cannabis use, so their conclusions must be regarded as faulty. In the future, all cannabis-related studies will have to factor-in whether the use in question was proper or not, or they too will reach faulty conclusions.

2) Does the study argue a causal relationship between cannabis use and harm exists, or just a correlation?

The rooster crows immediately before sunrise, therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise.

– The Wikipedia example for “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”, a logical fallacy of the questionable cause variety. (39)

Which Came First, the Crazy or the Kindbud?

The evidence to prove a causal relationship between cannabis use and harm within these studies comes from Zammit et al. (2002) and Fergusson et al. (2005).

Zammit argues that “Cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, consistent with a causal relation. … use of cannabis preceded any mental illness, but the causal pathways are difficult to disentangle and merit further study.” (p. 1) Zammit then provides an alternate theory when the study contemplates possible reasons why young cannabis users who were admitted early for treatment for schizophrenia were prone to use cannabis more frequently than other users: “One explanation is that subjects with a prodrome of schizophrenia at conscription may have increased their cannabis use, perhaps as a means of self medication.” (p. 4)

If You Think I’m Crazy Now, You Should See Me When I’m Not High

This “self-medication” (sometimes called “reverse causality”) explanation has been noted by others. (40) It tends to undermine the causal theory, in that it demonstrates that cannabis use does not cause schizophrenia – instead, schizophrenia causes people to self-medicate with cannabis.

In Fergusson, subjects were evaluated for “psychotic symptomatology” (signs of mental illness) by being asked 10 questions related to experiencing symptoms of psychosis, including being asked if the subjects had “ideas and beliefs that others do not share; the idea that something is seriously wrong with your body; never feeling close to another person; the idea that something is wrong with your mind; feeling other people cannot be trusted; feeling that you are watched or talked about by others.” (p. 356) Of course, these symptoms could also be explained by a loss of social and/or political and/or medical autonomy.

This faulty methodology – pretending rational reactions to the domestication of human beings into some type of sophisticated livestock is somehow “psychotic” – led to the following conclusions: “The demonstration that cannabis use and psychotic symptoms remain associated even following control for confounding suggests a causal linkage …” (p. 364)

The Subjects Know More About Pot Than The Scientists Who Study Them

The “direction of causality” is assumed to be “from cannabis use to psychotic symptoms” (p. 354) because “…increasing psychotic symptoms were associated with a decline in the use of cannabis.” (p. 364). In other words, when mental illness increases (as this line of thinking goes), use does not also increase – therefore the mental illness is not causing the use. This is more faulty methodology.

The possibility that cannabis users were carefully controlling their dose to mitigate unwanted symptoms of their “mental illness”, finding the “sweet spot” between a threshold dose and a higher dose with unwanted side effects – that users were aware that an increased dose did not automatically lead to better results – was not considered. It is well within the realm of possibility that their worsening condition was unrelated to their cannabis use, but they continued the cannabis use because it continued to serve to mitigate the effects in some way – keeping their symptoms from being even worse. The researchers’ bias – which assumed that self-titration did not exist – caused them to assume causality.

The concept of self-titration is foreign to those who are not familiar with smoked medicine. But for those who are, self-titration is a fundamental part of cannabis medicine. Cannabis, when smoked or vaporized, usually takes 1 to 5 minutes to take effect. With orally-ingested cannabis products, effects can be delayed 40 minutes or longer, even with spray-based tincture.

The relatively short wait for the effects of smoked cannabis to kick-in allows users to start slow and small and gradually ease their way into an ideal dose, a method of dosing impossible with oral medicine. This has long been known by astute academics who have managed to avoid smoke-a-phobia:

Starting with a small amount and gradually increasing the dose is the key to avoiding unwanted mental side effects. This is called titration- self-titration if adjusted by the user. (41)

An experienced cannabis smoker can titrate and regulate dose to obtain the desired acute effects and to minimize undesired effects. (42)

Even young users are easily able to achieve successful self-titration with little experience.

Toke This To See If You’re A Schizophrenic

It should be noted that in some of the literature on cannabis and schizophrenia, cannabis has been said to “trigger” an already existing schizophrenic condition that has been genetically inherited:

It has been suggested that cannabis use may simply accelerate the onset of schizophrenia [86][170], instead of causing new cases. Age of onset in schizophrenia has become lower over the last three decades [171], and cannabis users have been found to be younger at the onset of the first psychotic episode than those who have not used cannabis [172][114]. This may be of clinical importance as earlier age of onset of schizophrenia is associated with poorer prognosis [172]. (43)

Recently it has been suggested that early diagnosis of schizophrenia is a good thing. A doctor at the University of Oxford stated;
“…10 per cent of those under the age of 18 in high-income countries could benefit from specialist mental health care in their childhood.” (44)

Gaining the ability to choose the time and place one learns about the existence of one’s schizophrenia may very well lead to better outcomes if a) being able to choose safe settings for gaining this knowledge is recognized as an advantage, and b) if the therapeutic potential of cannabis medicine for schizophrenia is maximized.

One might react to this information by saying “Drat! Cannabis use is causing schizophrenia to manifest at an earlier age”, or one could react by saying “Great! Another possible diagnostic tool and potential therapy (the therapeutic potential of cannabis for schizophrenia is addressed below) to help diagnose and treat schizophrenia has arrived via cannabis!”

3) Does the study limit itself to studying a small number of individuals, or does it look at increases in problems in the general overall population that matches the approximately 10% to 50% rise in cannabis use rates among youth in Western countries between 1970 and 2001?

If anything, the studies seem to show a possible decline in schizophrenia from the ’40s and the ’50s,” says Dr. Alan Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University. “If marijuana does have a causal role in schizophrenia, and that’s still questionable, it may only play a role in a small percent of cases.

– Maia Szalavitz,, Sept. 19, 2005 (45)

Schizophrenia – No Rate of Increase In General Population

In Macleod et al. (2004), the best proof against a causal relationship between cannabis use and schizophrenia has been produced; overall rates of schizophrenia have not risen along with the overall rates of cannabis use, which have risen dramatically:

Further evidence against a simple causal explanation for associations between cannabis use and psychosocial harm relates to population patterns of the outcomes in question. For example, incidence of schizophrenia seems to be strongly associated with cannabis exposure over a fairly short period (four-fold to five-fold relative risks over follow-up of 10–30 years). Cannabis use appears to have increased substantially amongst young people over the past 30 years, from around 10% reporting ever use in 1969–70, to around 50% reporting ever use in 2001, in Britain and Sweden. If the relation between use and schizophrenia were truly causal and if the relative risk was around five-fold then the incidence of schizophrenia should have more than doubled since 1970. However population trends in schizophrenia incidence suggest that incidence has either been stable or slightly decreased over the relevant time period. (46)

Other studies have pointed to a possible role for certain strains of cannabis as a treatment for psychosis. (47) Cannabis-only smokers are not associated with any higher rates of “psychosocial problems” as this study clearly states:

Cannabis-only adolescents show better functioning than those who also use tobacco. Compared with abstainers, they are more socially driven and do not seem to have psychosocial problems at a higher rate. (48)

That’s Schizophrenia. How About I.Q.?

“The Flynn effect” – named for the researcher most associated with documenting the phenomenon – is the concept that I.Q. tests are constantly getting more difficult while scores remain about the same. In other words, humans are getting smarter. (49)

If cannabis use among teens caused I.Q. levels to drop – given that teen cannabis use has dramatically increased over the years – it would likely have a negative effect on I.Q. scores. If anything, it seems the opposite is true – cannabis either has little or no effect on I.Q. or is, in some way, helping I.Q levels to rise.

This seems to dove-tail with I.Q./cannabis studies done on smaller number of subjects, which indicate that moderate use is actually associated with an increase in intelligence. From Fried et al. (2002):

The comparison of the IQ difference scores showed an average decrease of 4.1 points in current heavy users (p < 0.05) compared to gains in IQ points for light current users (5.8) [emphasis added], former users (3.5) and non-users (2.6). …

Current marijuana use had a negative effect on global IQ score only in subjects who smoked 5 or more joints per week. A negative effect was not observed among subjects who had previously been heavy users but were no longer using the substance. We conclude that marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence. Whether the absence of a residual marijuana effect would also be evident in more specific cognitive domains such as memory and attention remains to be ascertained. (50)

And then there’s White et al. (2011):

For the new study, James White and G. David Batty examined data from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which has tracked thousands of people who were born in the same week of April 1970. … They found that those in the top IQ group at age 5 were more likely than those in the bottom IQ group to have ever used marijuana by the time they were 16. At age 30, women with high IQ scores were more than twice as likely as low-IQ women to have used marijuana or cocaine in the prior year, while men with high IQs were 46% more likely to have used amphetamines and 65% more likely to have used ecstasy than their low-IQ counterparts. (51)

Gilman et al. (2014), which only suggested the “possibility” of causation, was then undermined by it’s complete lack of evidence of negative effects:

Notably, however, these changes did not appear to be associated with any overt adverse effects in subjects’ actual cognition or behavior.  [emphasis added]Separate studies assessing youth use of legal intoxicants, such as nicotine and alcohol have also been associated with documented changes in brain structure. Ditto for caffeine intake in preclinical models. These findings have received far less media attention). (52)

Cannabis Grows the Brain?

Studies on mice have indicated that cannabis might have something to do with “neurogenisis”, the creation of new brain cells:

… studies that have investigated the effects of marijuana on brain cells have revealed findings that directly contrast with the popular belief of marijuana causing brain damage. In fact, a study published in 2005 showed that a synthetic form of THC could increase the growth of new brain cells – a process known as neurogenesis. CBD has also been found to have a similar effect on brain cell generation. Taken together, these findings seem to contradict the notion that marijuana may cause abnormal brain development in adolescent users. (53)

Of course, studies of actual human brains with actual cannabis are in every way superior to studies of synthetic THC on mice, especially in the “relevance” and “ethics” categories. We can study teen cannabis use with some confidence that it’s not going to hurt the subjects of the study, because at least one of the adolescent human brain studies has concluded that “frequent cannabis use is unlikely to be neurotoxic to the normal developing adolescent brain.” (54)

Does Adolescent Cannabis Use Causes Disabilities?

One of the most recent studies to appear on cannabis and the young is a Swedish study from 2014 that suggests young people who use cannabis are more likely to go on disability later on in life. What Danielsson et al. fails to examine is if isolation and loneliness might be the real causes of the increase in disabilities. In this situation, it’s possible cannabis use is a form of self-medication for less socially-adept individuals.

There is evidence to suggest that isolation and loneliness is the cause of increases in disability pensions. (55) Danielsonn et al. fail to factor in isolation and loneliness, and cannabis being a medicine for such things, within their study.

One of cannabis’s main medical uses is as an anti-depressant:

After a massive review of the historical and cross-cultural evidence of the medicinal use of cannabis, Rätsch (1998/2001, p. 178) writes; “Around the world, hemp is particularly valued as an antidepressant. From a medical perspective, this mood-enhancing ability may be hemp’s most important effect”. Dr. Tod Mikuriya, psychiatrist and world-renowned cannabis expert, came to the same conclusion based on the evidence and his own clinical practice, calling cannabis’ ability to fight depression ” … perhaps its most important property” (as cited in Gieringer et al., 2008, p. 83). (56)

It may very well be that cannabis is being used as an anti-depressant by the lonely and/or the socially awkward, and another case of “reverse causality”, similar to schizophrenics self-medicating, is resulting in yet another mis-diagnosis.

It is clear that there are no medical problems – schizophrenia, lowered I.Q. levels or disabilities – that can be directly proven to have a causal relationship with proper cannabis use. If anything at all is to be inferred by the medical problem rate in the general population, it is that if cannabis use has had any effect at all, it’s a positive and healthy one.

4) Does the study consider the possibility of the beneficial use of cannabis and/or of cannabis being used by the young as a preventive medicine – to deal with stress or depression – and consider the comparative risks of use with leaving such conditions untreated or treated with pharmaceuticals or other drugs?

… yet is he very merry, and laughs, and sings….after a little Time he falls asleep, and sleepeth very soundly and quietly; and when he wakes, he finds himself mightily refresh’d….it seemeth to put a Man into a Dream, or make him asleep, whilst yet he seems to be awake, but at last ends in a profound Sleep, which rectifies all.

– Dr. Robert Hooke, 1689 (57)

Stress and Depression

The evidence for cannabis being an effective medicine for stress and depression is more comprehensive than for any other conditions. This author considers the efficacy of cannabis as a relaxant and anti-depressant the least controversial element of his argument, and won’t discuss it in detail here, except to say that the evidence is overwhelming and easy to find (58).

Stress and depression are conditions that should be taken seriously:

Importantly, anxiety is becoming increasingly recognized as an independent factor contributing to coronary heart disease and mortality (e.g., Roest, Martens, de Jonge, & Denollet, 2010; Shen et al., 2008), and therefore, interventions that reduce anxiety are allies and should be implemented. (59)

Depression is fast becoming a serious problem globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) has forecast that by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of disability and premature death worldwide, for all ages and both sexes (WHO, n.d.). Unfortunately, current therapies fail to help approximately 30% of the depressed population (Pacher, Batkai, & Kunos, 2004), and therefore, it is imperative that any potentially beneficial interventions be pursued. (60)

Furthermore, cannabis’s relative safety compared to the currently available synthetic stress and depression medications is striking:

Lester Grinspoon, retired Harvard Medical professor and world-renowned cannabis expert who specialized in the study and treatment of schizophrenia, reported that in clinical practice cannabis and cannabinoids compare favorably in both efficacy and safety to many pharmaceutical antianxiety medications (Grinspoon & Bakalar, 1993). Moreover, numerous independent assessments of the safety, efficacy, and dependence potential of cannabis clearly indicate that cannabis and cannabis-based medications are well-tolerated, non-toxic, cannot lead to death by overdose, and are unlikely to lead to dependence in the vast majority of patients. For instance, the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, in relation to the safety of cannabis, noted: “The side effects of cannabinoid drugs are within the acceptable risks associated with approved medications” (Joy, Watson, & Benson, 1999, p. 127). (61)

Cannabis as Preventive Medicine

Cannabis can help those who are currently suffering from stress and depression and it can also act as a preventive measure against stress and depression. Protection from stress and depression – by remaining relaxed and happy – is another benefit of cannabis medicine. Cannabis is said to have “helped allay feelings of worry and depression” (62) This is otherwise known as “preventive” or “preventative” or “prophylaxic” medicine;

… perhaps the most powerful evidence of the preventive properties of cannabis and the cannabinoids comes from the U.S. government itself. In 2003 the government, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, was awarded patent number 6630507, entitled Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants. The abstract states, in part, that cannabinoids are “… useful in the treatment and prophylaxis [emphasis added]of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases” (Hampson, Axelrod, & Grimaldi, 2003, Abstract section). (63)

Other Medicinal Uses

Cannabis appears to be effective in the treatment of cancer – both in minimizing symptoms and in tumor shrinking. (64) Cannabis also appears to be a safer and more effective substitute for opiates for treating certain types of pain, (65) as well as safer than alcohol as a relaxant, (66) and even safer than caffeine as a stimulant. (67)

A growing number of children, even some infants, are using cannabis to treat epilepsy. (68) Carefully-measured amounts of cannabis has been used in Jamaica to boost strength of adults, children and even infants:

Women were allowed to control the medicinal use of ganja. I spent lots of time with rural women, who taught me how to make ganja tonics and teas. They were the administrators of ganja, often the producers and sellers of ganja. It gave them some power and income, like a cottage industry. They gave ganja to men and children as teas, and they knew how to titrate the strength of marijuana teas so a new baby would get just a leaf’s worth but men and boys got more, so they could go and work in the fields with enough strength to survive the hard days. (69)

Due to the 500 medically-active, non-toxic chemicals in cannabis, (70) it has been called “a medicinal plant of unparalleled versatility” and “a pharmacological treasure trove” (71) that, when fully researched, could replace up to 50% of the pharmaceutical drugs currently available today. (72)

In This Case The Term “Panacea” Is Apt

Of the studies this author researched for this review, the one that provided an in-depth look at beneficial use extensively was Melamede (2005). Melamede mentions “glaucoma, chronic musculoskeletal pain, spasm and nausea, and spasticity of multiple sclerosis” (p. 2) as conditions for which the US federal government has approved research into the treatment of over the previous “11 to 27” years. Further, Melamede identified “epilepsy, migraine, headaches, childbirth and menstrual symptoms” (p. 2) as illnesses that cannabis has been used as a treatment for “for thousands of years”.

Melamede discusses the “endocannabinoid” system, all the elements of human physiology the “endocannabinoids” (cannabinoid-like molecules created by the human body) effect. He writes;

It is now known that this system maintains homeostasis within and across the organizational scales of all animals. Within a cell, cannabinoids control basic metabolic processes such as glucose metabolism [17]. Cannabinoids regulate intercellular communication, especially in the immune [18] and nervous systems [19]. In general, cannabinoids modulate and coordinate tissues, organ and body systems (including the cardiovascular [20], digestive [16], endocrine [21], excretory [22,23], immune [18], musculo-skeletal [24], nervous [19], reproductive [25], and respiratory [26] systems). The effects of cannabinoids on consciousness are not well understood, but are well known, and underlie recreational cannabis use. These effects also have therapeutic possibilities [27].” (p. 3)

Melamede further mentions “stroke [28], Parkinson’s disease [33], Huntington’s disease [34], amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) [35], Alzheimer’s disease [36], glioma (a type of brain tumor), [37] multiple sclerosis [38], seizures [39], and pain [40,41]” (p. 4) as brain disorders for which cannabis has demonstrated therapeutic value. Melamede also explores the efficacy of cannabis in the treatment of “multiple sclerosis”, “auto-immune diseases”, “cancer”, “pain” and “stress” in greater detail. (pp. 4-8)

Any study of cannabis and teens that does not include the beneficial use of cannabis (and the risks of leaving certain conditions untreated or treated with substances more risky than cannabis) risks under-valuing it and not subjecting it to a cost-benefit analysis that every other medicine is allowed to be subject to. Any such mis-evaluation will result in a faulty study.

5) Does the study consider the damage to youth done by prohibition (black-market-related harms, police-related harms, criminal record-related harms, prison-related harms, other-punishment-related harms) and compare this undeniable damage with the damage done by cannabis use and/or misuse?

How many people have been busted? How many people, their doors broken down, dragged weeping in their nightgowns to the station? How many boys been slapped around by midnight cops downtown in the colored section? How many musicians pushed out of jobs? How many students kicked out of school? How many businessmen hiding paranoic behind their doors afraid of disgrace by narco bulls, hiding behind guns and badges with their ignorance and misinformation?
– Allen Ginsberg, Busted (excerpt), 1966 (73)

Black Market Harms

Academics have identified many areas of concern related to the cannabis black-market, including;

… the increased health risks of drugs produced on the black market; drug-user crime caused by inflated black market prices for drugs; the risk of victimisation faced by buyers and sellers forced to transact in a criminal market; the violent “turf wars” fought by rival gangs over lucrative drug-selling locations; and the black market profits that finance organised crime. (74)

The violence is not limited to street-gang warfare. Young people are regularly shot and killed by police over cannabis offences. In 1992, 22-year-old Vancouverite Daniel Possee was shot and killed over “15 grams” of marijuana and “a set of scales”. An informant “had seen a set of scales and a ‘quantity of marijuana'”, which had then precipitated the drug raid. (75)

Black Targets Harmed

In 2012, unarmed black teen Ramarley Graham was shot to death in the Bronx “while he attempted to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet.” (76) Again in 2012, another unarmed young black man, 20-year-old Wendell Allen, was shot and killed by New Orleans narcotics officers serving a search warrant for marijuana. (77) Another black teen, 17-year-old Jaquaz Walker, was shot in June of 2013 in a cannabis drug-sting gone bad. (78)

Families have been routinely terrorized due to police SWAT teams (armed with M-16s at the ready) making early-morning raids based upon a teen’s prior record of misdemeanor marijuana violations. (79)

The ACLU has recently released a report entitled “War Comes Home – The Excessive Militarization of American Policing”. (80) The report concludes that 62% of SWAT Deployments are for drug searches (p. 31) – disproportionately against people of color. 61% of all the people impacted by SWAT raids in drug cases were minorities. (p. 36) By 2010, 31 million people have been arrested on drug related charges since the beginning of the drug war – approximately 1 in 10 Americans. (81)

Kids – So Easy To Bust

According to the well-researched website, every 3 minutes in America “a child is arrested for a drug offense”. (82) Even in Canada, young people aged 16-19 were the age group most likely to be accused of a drug offence. Youth accounted for 24% of all cannabis offences. (83)

As of 2010, “almost 60 percent of confined youth in the U.S. (41,877) were still detained and imprisoned for offenses that do not pose substantial threats to public safety”, including “drug use”. (84)

Amnesty International has reported that a 13-year old girl in Tuscaloosa, AL was detained for 5 weeks in a juvenile jail for possession of what was believed to be marijuana but turned out to be oregano. (85)

Incarceration – A Game The Whole Family Can Play

Children whose parents were arrested were also negatively impacted;

Positive, significant associations were found between parental incarceration and 8 of 16 health problems (depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, cholesterol, asthma, migraines, HIV/AIDS, and fair/poor health) in adjusted logistic regression models. Those who reported paternal incarceration had increased odds of 8 mental and physical health problems, whereas those who reported maternal incarceration had increased odds of depression. (86)

This Is Going On Your Permanent Record

Justice Canada estimates that over 600,000 Canadians have a criminal record for cannabis possession. In fact, police in British Columbia have reported that the number of cannabis drug offences have jumped from 11,952 in 2002 to 16,578 in 2011. (87)

As for arrests, which can negatively impact a person almost as much as a criminal record, there were 78,000 of them in Canada for marijuana-related offences. 4,700 Canadians between ages 12 to 17 were charged with a cannabis offense in 2006. “Legal sanctions against young people lead to even worse outcomes” the report said, “not improvements in their lives”. (88)

Criminal records “can prevent you from traveling to other countries, getting certain jobs, being bonded (which some jobs require), and applying for citizenship” (89) as well as having

… far reaching implications and can affect a youth’s post-secondary education acceptance, work and travel opportunities and also impact eligibility for future loans and credit card acceptance. (90)

A criminal record also negatively impacts getting insurance. (91) You can even be turned back from crossing a border because of an arrest that did not lead to a conviction. (92) If you lie or try to mislead the border officer, you risk “being declared inadmissible and automatically prohibited from entering the country.” (93) You still must answer “yes” to the question “have you ever been found guilty of a criminal offence or convicted?” even if you have received a record suspension. (94)

Cannabis Good, Prohibition Wrong

The three studies which go into detail regarding the harms of cannabis prohibition are the same three studies which also mention both cannabis harm reduction and beneficial uses: Swift et al. (2000), Mathre (2002) and Melamede (2005).

Swift argues that “The public health consequences of the application of the criminal law against cannabis users may be at least as significant as those that flow directly from cannabis use itself [59 61] …” (p. 106), and specifically mentions wasted police resources, interpersonal relationship problems, hard and soft drugs sold in the same place, booby traps and police corruption, among other things. (ibid)

Mathre asserts that cannabis prohibition “cause more harm than the drug” (p. 113) and mentions prison costs to the tax payer, prison rapes, prison assaults, prison deaths, the elimination of privacy rights, getting fired, forced treatment, moldy black-market cannabis, black-market cannabis sprayed with herbicides, the high cost of cannabis-substitute medications to the consumer of medicine, falsifying data on cannabis and the subsequent mistrust of all drug-related government-supplied information by youth, and the interference with open communication between patients and health-care providers, among other prohibition-related harms. (pp. 113-115)

Melamede states that the drug war costs US taxpayers “many billions of dollars a year” and mentions “Crime, financial support for terrorism, disrespect for the law, and destruction of families, communities, and ecosystems can all be attributed to drug prohibition.” (p. 1)

Studies on teen cannabis abuse pretending to be studies on teen cannabis use are routinely used to justify the prohibition of teen cannabis use. As a whole, the problems that come with cannabis prohibition are real and substantial, while the problems that come with proper cannabis use are imaginary at best and minor at worst, relative to the prohibition-related problems.

By focusing all of our attention on cannabis-related harms without the context of cannabis-prohibition related harms, we fail to see the bigger picture, and fail to come up with good cannabis policies. Reports on cannabis and youth that do not mention the immense negative impact of cannabis prohibition on youth lack an important piece of the puzzle.

6) Does the study recognize the importance of patient autonomy in medicine?

Whose property is my body? Probably mine. I so regard it. If I experiment with it, who must be answerable? I, not the State. If I choose injudiciously, does the State die? Oh, no.

– Mark Twain, Address To The New York General Assembly, 1901 (95)

I Don’t Care What You Say Anymore – This is My Life

Human medical autonomy was supposed to have been established within medical research after the Nuremburg doctor trials, where the Nuremberg Code of researcher conduct was established. (96) The voluntary consent of the human subject was considered “absolutely essential”. Unfortunately, “experiments” performed on the totality of society, such as drug prohibition, seem exempt from this reasoning.

From the Nuremberg Code the doctrine of “informed consent” arose, whereas healthcare providers were now required to request permission from a patient to receive therapy. (97) Ethical advances such as the creation of the living will, (98) the movement towards legalizing assisted suicide (99) and the right to access to abortion (100) can all be seen as evolving from the doctrine of informed consent, and are all manifestations of human medical autonomy.

The right to “personal autonomy to live his or her own life” and to “refuse any medical procedures” has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. (101) It is essential to note that the word “own” in the phrase “own life” is an acknowledgement from the Supreme Court of Canada that our lives are our own possessions, that we are in control, responsible, and are to make all the decisions, large or small, that concern these lives.

What Part Of “My Life” Do You Not Understand?

Coward and Ratanakul provide insight to this perspective in their 2001 book A Cross-Cultural Dialog on Health Care Ethics, where they discuss the reasons for human medical autonomy:

Traditionally physicians, by virtue of their training and clinical experience, have been regarded as knowing what is best for their patients and thus entitled to make decisions on their behalf. But contemporary health care ethics has at least in theory wrestled that authority from physicians and vested it in patients. The legal manifestation of this shift is the emergence of the doctrine of informed consent. The philosophical manifestation is the rejection of physician paternalism and the establishment of patient autonomy or patient self-determination (Buchanan 1978). Two considerations have been influential in bringing about this shift. One is the recognition that clinical decisions are as much about values as the are about matters of fact. Even if physicians are “experts” with respect to the facts, they are not with respect to their patients’ values, and thinking that they are commits what has been called the “fallacy of the generalization of expertise” (Veatch 1973). Because patients know their own values best, they are in the best position to determine what decisions accord with their values. The other is the appreciation that it is the patients, not doctors, who live with the consequences of clinical decisions. Whatever decision is made affects the patient most directly, most intimately, and most profoundly. For that reason as well decision making should be the responsibility of the patient. (102)

Autonomy has had much to do with the resurgence of herbal medicine, sometimes falling under the larger category of “complementary and alternative” medicine or “CAM”;

Conventional medicine had enjoyed a hegemony since World War II but suddenly appeared to be dangerously complacent. Its sanctimonious authority was being disputed not within the medical schools or clinical journals, and not even in Congress, but through the persistent walking of patients to other kinds of practitioners. This social revolt has gained momentum, because by 2002, CAM had exploded into a $21-billion-a-year industry, with about one-third of Americans visiting its practitioners at least once a year (Bushnell 2002). Here we come face to face with patient autonomy exercised in its full authority. (103)

Unfortunately, the concept of medical autonomy is foreign to both the pro-cannabis and anti-cannabis researchers alike. Not one of the 24 studies cited in this literature review even mentioned autonomy.

If the research community regards humanity as a form of livestock they are to argue over the fate of amongst themselves, progress towards a sane and ethical cannabis policy can not be made.

7) Do these studies cite other studies that run counter to their findings?

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!
– I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked, Upton Sinclair, 1935 (104)

A Lack Of Intestinal Fortitude

The only controversy that was really debated in the studies was the question of causality – especially by the relatively brave Macleod et al. (2004) and Rogeberg (2012).

Debates between academics over the existence of cannabis harm reduction, or beneficial use, or prohibition-related harms were not included. The anti-pot researchers ignored the existence of their pro-pot counterparts, and the pro-pot researchers didn’t call their anti-pot associates out over their questionable hypotheses.

It would be nice to see responsible academics step up to the plate, and not leave the difficult work of comprehensively challenging the secular priesthood of this modern-day Reefer Madness religion to the unaccredited, such as this author.

The Effects of Drug Laws on Teen Use Rates

In the American culture, drug experimentation among adolescents is considered normative behavior. (Newcomb and Bentler 1988, Shedler and Block 1990).
Mathre (p. 110)

Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me

We have discussed whether it is true that cannabis inherently harms young people. Any honest assessment must conclude that it does not. But let’s say for the sake of argument that it did. What should be the legal policy with regards to cannabis and young people? Is a prohibition the best way to reduce use?

Regardless of how bad the Drug War gets, cannabis remains “universally available” to young people. (105) The only thing that seems to reduce youth cannabis use, surprisingly, is legalization such as in Colorado (106) or the introduction of medical marijuana laws. (107) Furthermore, legalizing medical marijuana does not increase teen use. (108)

Not surprisingly, recreational cannabis store owners do not wish to threaten their very profitable businesses by getting caught selling cannabis to minors, and have thus far demonstrated a perfect record of zero marijuana sales to those under 21 years old. (109) As well, the toleration of legal sales in Holland, “has not resulted in a worryingly high level of consumption among young people”. (110) And Dutch teen rates of cannabis use seem much lower than teen use rates in the USA. (111)

According to the World Health Organization, the country with one of the least tolerant cannabis policies, the United States, also has the one of the highest teen use rates of both legal and illegal drugs:

Nevertheless, the study did find clear differences in drug use across different regions of the world, with the US having among the highest levels of legal and illegal drug use of all the countries surveyed. (112)

Don’t You Dare Eat That Fruit!

One can speculate as to why legalization and toleration of recreational and medicinal cannabis sales do not lead to higher use rates, while being extremely intolerant of young people using cannabis leads to more use by young people. The theory most often proposed is that when the “forbidden fruit” element (113) of the black market is removed, and teens have one less reason to use cannabis, as it is no longer edgy or a symbol of rebellion. Academics such as Ethan Nadelmann agree:

In every high school in America, marijuana use is now more or less omnipresent. In the surveys for the last thirty years, 80 percent of young people say it’s easy to get marijuana. So I don’t think that’s the group where it’s going to go up. If anything, you’re going to take away some of that forbidden fruit attraction to marijuana,” he said during a panel discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival last week. (114)

This wisdom has been echoed with the real-world experience in Colorado, where the effects of legalization of cannabis on teen use rates can be observed first-hand:

Cannabis, now that it’s legal, kind of is an old person’s drug. It’s something that kids are seeing adults use all over the place. It just doesn’t seem as cool to kids anymore. (115)

Maybe we must all realize that teens will be making the final decision about their cannabis use anyway, so the only rational thing to do is to empower them to use it properly and safely in a safe place, and be honest about the dangers, or lack thereof. Maybe Proudon was right about liberty being the mother of order rather than the daughter of order. Maybe the maturity for freedom can only arise under conditions of freedom.

A History of Reefer Madness

The motion picture you are about to witness may startle you. It would not have been possible, otherwise, to sufficiently emphasize the frightful toll of the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly increasing numbers. Marihuana is that drug – a violent narcotic – and unspeakable scourge – The Real Public Enemy Number One! It’s first effect is sudden, violent, uncontrollable laughter; then come dangerous hallucinations – space expands – time slows down, almost stands still … fixed ideas come next, conjuring up monstrous extravagances – followed by emotional disturbances, the total inability to direct thoughts, the loss of all power to resist physical emotions … leading finally to acts of shocking violence … ending often in incurable insanity.

– Reefer Madness (formerly “Tell Your Children”), 1936, G and H Productions

Violent, Uncontrollable Laughter

In order to understand fully where this modern-day myth of “mis-developed young brains” actually originates, because it clearly does not originate from the facts, it is useful to look at it in the context of the entire history of establishment lies about cannabis.

In 1999, the Ron Mann film “Grass”, narrated by Woody Harrelson, was released. The film documented the various stages that anti-marijuana propaganda evolved through over time. It first began in the early 1900’s with “If you smoke it … you will kill people.” By the 1930’s that had changed to “If you smoke it … you will go insane.” “You will become a heroin addict” followed that in the 1950s. “You will withdraw from society, lose all motivation and undermine national security” became the new official truth in the 1960’s. Finally, by the Reagan era of the 1980’s, the story became “You will be in the grip of Satan and the godless sodomites that run Hollywood.” The film uses footage from various educational campaigns to illustrate the point that the excuses to justify the discrimination suffered by the cannabis community shifted to a new myth as each old myth was debunked. (116)

Plenty More Where That Came From

A similar conclusion was reached by reporter Dan Gardner, who wrote the following in the Ottawa Citizen back in 2005:

Much of the focus of this long debate has been on marijuana’s alleged effects on mental function, and over the past century an enormous amount of research has looked for damage done by the weed. Unfortunately, much of the research, on mental health and other concerns, was dubious and its appearance followed a predictable cycle: The research is released to lurid headlines, the evidence is used as proof that the law must be tough or get tougher, and later, when subsequent research fails to bear out the original study, the fear is slowly and quietly forgotten. (117)

This cycle of mythology began with the Rockefeller-sponsored Flexner Report of 1910, which was designed to give all of herbal medicine a bad reputation. (118)

In the 1930’s, the big push for a Federal law against cannabis culminated in a series of anti-drug films. Narcotic (1935), The Cocaine Fiends (1936), Marijuana, The Weed With Roots In Hell (1936), The Marijuana Menace (1937), She Shoulda’ Said ‘No’! (1949) and of course the famous cult film Reefer Madness (1936) – a name synonymous with “establishment lies and myths about the effects of cannabis”. (119)

Perfect Timing

Most of these movies were timed perfectly to coincide with efforts to create the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 (120), another fraud, as it was a prohibition pretending to be a tax. (121) No tax stamps were intended to be issued and it was a de facto ban without their appearance. A similar fraud occurred with a “tax” on machine guns two weeks earlier. (122)

The man in charge of the whole anti-marijuana effort, including both the Marijuana Tax Act and the propaganda to be fed to newspapers and film-makers, was Harry Anslinger. He was chosen to be head of the Treasury’s “Federal Bureau of Narcotics” (123) by his wife’s uncle, Andrew Mellon. Anslinger used every manipulative trick in the book, including racism, to meet his goals. (124)

The Beginning Of Today’s “Misdeveloped Young Brains” Myth

Anslinger was the originator of the “marijuana harms the immature brain” theory which has managed to stick around, while all his other theories have long since been discredited and abandoned by most of the serious pro-Drug War entities of today:

The young, immature brain is a thing of impulses, upon which the “unknown quantity” of the drug acts as an almost overpowering stimulant. … Spells of shakiness and nervousness would be succeeded by periods when the boy would assume a grandiose manner and engage in excessive, senseless laughter, extravagant conversation, and wildly impulsive actions. When these actions finally resulted in robbery the father went at his son’s problem in earnest – and found the cause of it a marijuana peddler who catered to school children. The peddler was arrested. (125)

Must … Have … Stronger … Kicks

In the 1960’s, the “impulsive actions” myth gave way to the now-completely-debunked “gateway” myth, found in pulp fiction novels such as the 1962 classic I Am A Teen-Age Dope Addict:

I didn’t worry because marijuana is not habit-forming. But what it does to a person becomes a habit, and it weakens any objections to the first shot of heroin. Heroin? Marijuana? At the time, there didn’t seem to be too much difference, just that the effect of H was longer-lasting. (126)

He Had To Have Kaya Now

The reality of the situation was that cannabis was almost always a safe and effective relaxant and anti-depressant used by teens such as a young Bob Marley, who didn’t need a potent pain-killer like heroin, but had to deal with the stresses and sadness of poverty and racism;

The Rastas said they achieved great religious insights from their steady herb smoking, but Bob had never given much consideration to ganja’s effects, other than to enjoy the tingling buffer zone it created for him, the tangible ring of tranquility that kept suffering and adversity at arm’s length. He’s been a moderate smoker since his early teens; mostly spliffs, the chillum only sporadically – that was more of a Rasta apparatus. Smoking ganja was as commonplace among the youth in the ghetto as steering a soccer ball … (127)

The small percentage of kids that actually did move on to heroin did so not so much because of confusion created by the lack of real information on both drugs, although that contributed, and not so much because both hard and soft drugs were sold by the same people in the same place, although that contributed as well, but in fact because heroin kills pain – both emotional and physical – and many of these kids were suffering both kinds.

Jedi Master Grinspoon To The Rescue

By 1970, some of the academia began to break ranks and question the narrative Anslinger had provided – even when it came to “cannabis psychosis”;

One study of 2,300 Moroccan men in psychiatric hospitals in 1956 states that one quarter of them were diagnosed as having “cannabis psychosis” (presumably from use of kif). However, American authorities wonder how the diagnoses were made and whether Western scientists would approve of the methods of the study – and even what “cannabis psychosis” means. “The symptoms said to be characteristic of this syndrome,” says Dr. Grinspoon, “are also common to other acute toxic states including, particularly in Morocco, those associated with malnutrition and endemic infections. … In fact, Dr. Grinspoon suggests that pot “might protect some people from psychosis. … for some mentally disturbed people the escape provided by the drug may serve to prevent a psychotic breakdown. (128)

Of course for every rebel doctor, there were 10 establishment doctors, ready to provide a new marijuana myth:

It erodes away the necessary capacity for the work that all of us face. Marijuana has this tendency. People will tell you that this isn’t true, that what it does, is to release the tensions, make one more comfortable for the time being, so that you are able to return to work more effectively. But it doesn’t work out that way. The effect is too strong. It does more than merely relax the tension. It distorts perception and produces all sorts of subjective experiences which already are far beyond that level. It is a hallucinogen, not as strong as LSD, but it belongs in the same general category. (129)

Enter Darth Nahas

As the world became more sophisticated and the level of evidence required to fool people became elevated, the front-line soldiers in the anti-pot army switched from being politicians, cops, filmmakers or reporters to being academics. One of those academics was Gabriel Nahas, a man who even the New England Journal of Medicine had to admit was responsible for “psychopharmacological McCarthyism that compels him to use half-truths, innuendo and unverifiable assertions.” (130)

Nahas’s work became the back-bone of the modern-day cannabis prohibitionist movement:

Those papers, and the ideas they brought forth, are at the heart of the anti-marijuana movement today,” the pharmacologist John P. Morgan told me in 1993. “Nahas generated what was clearly a morally based counter-reform movement, but he did a very efficient job of saying that he was actually conducting a toxicological, scientific assessment. (131)

Apparently Nahas got some of his ideas from a Greek doctor named Stringaris who had been Joseph Goebbel’s drug advisor. Goebbels worked closely with Harry Anslinger back in the 1930’s to come up with reasons to prohibit cannabis in both Germany and the USA. (132)

Choking The Monkey

Another notorious “scientist” who made stuff up about cannabis was Dr. Robert G. Heath. He famously pumped massive amounts of pot smoke into the lungs of live monkeys, cutting off their oxygen in the process, and then blamed the resulting dead brain cells on the marijuana, not the lack of oxygen. (133)

His study – or perhaps one should say hoax – of marijuana-induced brain damage was publicized widely. Reporters didn’t request to actually read the study, they just assumed the press release was correct. (134) Dr. Heath hid his methodology from the academic world and NORML and Playboy had to sue to see it. (135) Dr. Heath had a reputation for experimenting on black people (or “niggers” as he called them), mental patients and at least one prisoner. (136)

Doctors such as Nahas and Heath had all sorts of funding for their work, but others who provided a different perspective often found their work blocked, underfunded, and sometimes censored outright.

… the Committee on Substance Abuse and Habitual Behavior of the “Marijuana and Health” study had its part of the final report suppressed when it reviewed the evidence and recommended that possession of small amounts of marijuana should no longer be a crime (TIME, July 19, 1982). (137)

Bored/Claustrophobic Junkie Rats

Six years after the monkey suffocation studies were done (and right around the time they were exposed as fraudulent), a different experiment exposed the role researcher bias played in other drug war related experiments. “Rat Park” was an experiment conducted at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, that proved that some harms associated with the use of hard drugs by rats in cages didn’t happen with rats in a nicer “park” environment. This expose of the problem of researcher bias was shunned by the major scientific journals at the time and as a result of the lack of attention, it has had little effect on animal experimentation. The same mistakes continue to be repeated. (138)

Rats Should Probably Avoid Cranial THC Injections

The Reefer Madness myth-making carried on into the 1980s and 1990s. As scientific inquiry became more sophisticated, the new bullshit they had to come up with also took on a more scientific sounding persona, but it was still just invented in the minds of the anti-pot crusader and had no basis in reality:

High-powered microscopic examination of brain tissue, taken during an autopsy, has shown marijuana constituents accumulate in a communication junction between nerve cells. This slows down the flow of information and increases the distance between the nerve cells. This effect appears to be permanent. (139)

Researcher Martin Lee explains how researcher bias is behind the “damaging the developing mind” findings in his 2012 book Smoke Signals:

In an effort to marshal data to show that marijuana harms the brain, NIDA sponsored animal studies involving megadoses of THC and a potent synthetic CB-1 agonist developed by Pfizer. Neuroscientist David Robbe injected these drugs into restrained rats’ brains and found that it caused aberrant brain wave activity (David Robbe et al., “Cannabinoids Reveal Importance of Spike Timing Coordination in Hippocampal Function,” Nature Neuroscience, published online November 19, 2006). Although the study had nothing to do with the real-world use of marijuana by teenagers, it became grist for the mill of alarmist assertions about pot’s adverse effects on the developing brain. (140)

Smoke A Joint – Forfeit Your Child

The “cannabis harms the young” mythology was utilized, not only in the creation of the anti-pot laws, but also in the efforts to make them more severe;

In another attack on family integrity, drug police asked the Missouri legislature to make marijuana possession a child abuse felony if the substance were found in a home where a child lived or visited. With this “investigative tool”, drug squads could threaten to have juvenile authorities take custody of children if parents refused to incriminate themselves. (141)

… no institution of higher education shall be eligible to receive funds or any other form of financial assistance under any Federal program, including participation in any federally funded or guaranteed student loan program, unless it certifies to the Secretary that it has adopted and has implemented a program to prevent the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol by students and employees … (142)

Big Pharma Payola Scandal

Recently, even more proof of fraudulent activity in relation to marijuana research has come about through an expose of big-pharma payoffs to anti-pot researchers. Three of the researchers caught in the payola scandal – Dr. Herbert Kleber, Dr. A. Eden Evins, and Dr. Mark L. Kraus – have also echoed the “pot harms the developing mind of the youth” bullshit. (143)

Of course big pharma has one of the worst histories of corruption, war profiteering and drug-war profiteering of all the corporations. Their lies and frauds are motivated by the conflict of interest of being relied upon for information while at the same time having their whole business model based upon making sure “the natural” continues to be outlawed in order to monopolize “the synthetic”. Cataloging their long list of deceitful, monopolistic, war-profiteering crimes against humanity is beyond the ability of any one individual to comprehensively assemble, despite many people trying. (144)

Big pharma continues to provide the lion’s share of the major donations to anti-drug groups. (145) The biggest lobby group in the USA, (146) big pharma also contributed over one million dollars to Obama during the last election, (147) and over two million dollars the election previous. (148)

This may explain tax-payer’s dollars going to anti-cannabis groups, (149) despite Obama’s notorious reputation as a teen cannabis smoker. (150)

What we can say for certain is that each generation’s Reefer Madness myths are and have always been a result of corporate influence, influence on the government and the media and academia, and those forces are as alive and well today as they were when the Flexner Report came out 104 years ago.

A History of Using Parental Hysteria in Scapegoating

The suspicion under which the Jews are held is murder. They are charged with enticing Gentile children and Gentile adults, butchering them, and draining their blood. They are charged with mixing this blood into their masses (unleavened bread) and using it to practice superstitious magic. They are charged with torturing their victims, especially the children; and during this torture they shout threats, curses, and cast spells against the Gentiles. This systematic murder has a special name. It is called RITUAL MURDER.

– The Jewish Ritual Murder, English transcription of the May 1934 Der Strumer (The Striker) published by Julius Streicher (151)

Oh No Jew Didn’t!

When scapegoating reaches murderous levels, there is usually some “they’re coming for your kids” mythology thrown in for good measure. This is not only apparent in the Drug War, but in antisemitism and in witchhunts as well.

First off, there is the famous “blood libel”, where Jews are supposed to have kidnapped and killed non-Jewish kids for rituals during Jewish holidays. (152) According to this old myth, the Jews were supposed to have been worshipping “Moloch”, a neighboring deity to Yahweh who was worshiped in what is now known as Jordan. (153) This Jewish child sacrifice ritual is mentioned in 16th century books about witchcraft:

The Jewes used one kind of diabolical sacrifice, never taught to them by Moses, namelie, to offer their children to Moloch, making their sonnes and their daughters to runne through the fire; supposing such grace and efficacie to have beene in that action, as other witches affirme to be in charmes and words. (154)

Apparently, there was an ongoing rivalry between Jews and witches to see who could be accused of the greatest number of child murders:

Like many aspects of social life after the Reformation, child murders also became secularized. … One of the manifestations of this transformation was the greater emphasis of ritual child murders in witchcraft discourses of the late sixteenth century, as witches seemed to have replaced Jews as the most dangerous enemies within Christian society. (155)

A painting that still hangs in a cathedral in Sandomierz, Poland, depicts Jews murdering Christian children for their blood. (156) Poland turned out to be quite the center of Jewish scapegoating, as any historian of the Holocaust would attest to.

Hitler Said Jewish Pimps Used Syphilis-Infested Whores To Infect Teens

Adolph Hitler, too, used the “they’re coming for your kids” strategy when he began his war on the Jews. Mein Kampf, completed in 1926, contains two passages that, if taken together, could be seen as suggesting that Jews would harm German children:

The relation of the Jews to prostitution and, even more, to the white-slave traffic, could be studied in Vienna as perhaps in no other city of Western Europe, with the possible exception of the southern French ports. If you walked at night through the streets and alleys of Leopoldstadt at every step you witnessed proceedings which remained concealed from the majority of the German people until the War gave the soldiers on the eastern front occasion to see similar things, or, better expressed, forced them to see them. When thus for the first time I recognized the Jew as the cold-hearted, shameless, and calculating director of this revolting vice traffic in the scum of the big city, a cold shudder ran down my back. (157)

Sometimes the public learns of court proceedings which permit shattering insights into the emotional life of our fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds. Who will be surprised that even in these age-groups syphilis begins to seek its victims? And is it not deplorable to see a good number of these physically weak, spiritually corrupted young men obtaining their introduction to marriage through big-city whores? (158)

The “they’re coming for your kids” narrative continued on into the 1930s. The Poisonous Mushroom, a famous 1938 Nazi children’s book that compares Jews to poisonous mushrooms, implies that Jews are all child molesters. (159)

Witchcraze = Reefer Madness Of The Middle Ages

Through healing, by both spells and potions, delivering babies, performing abortions, predicting the future, advising the lovelorn, cursing, removing curses, making peace between neighbors – the work of the village healer and her urban counterpart covered what we call magic as well as medicine. This work overlapped dangerously with the priest’s job as well.

– Anne Barstow, Witchcraze, 1994, Pandora, p. 109

In ancient times, a woman who worshiped the wrong gods (or goddesses) or who understood herbal medicine was called a “sorceress”. The Old Testament is filled with instructions to kill these women. (160)

The earliest reports of witches eating children come from the late 1400s and early 1500s. The Book Malleus Maleficarum, published in 1487, begins the “witches are going to eat your kids” narrative:

The Malleus Maleficarum accuses male and female witches of infantcide, cannibalism and casting evil spells to harm their enemies as well as having the power to steal a man’s penis. It goes on to give accounts of witches committing these crimes. (161)

One of these accounts is given about various midwives and their infant-killing hobbies they were required to confess to:

In the diocese of Basel at the town of Dann, a witch who was burned confessed that she had killed more than forty children by sticking a needle through the crowns of their heads into their brains as they came out from the womb. Another woman in the diocese of Strasbourg confessed that she had killed more children than she could count. (162)

The idea of the baby-killing witch caught on and was repeated by other witch hunters:

According to Hans Baldung Grien (ca 1484-1545) and Pierre de Rostegny, aka De Lancre (1553–1631) human flesh was eaten during Sabbats, preferably children, and also human bones stewed in a special way. … Other descriptions add that human fat, especially of non-baptised children, was used to make an unguent that enabled the witches to fly; such an ointment is referred to in “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne in a conversation between Goody Cloyse and the dark stranger. (163)

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, written some time around 1606, Shakespeare’s famous witches mention a “finger of birth-strangled babe” as one of the ingredients in their magic potion bubbling in their caldron. (164) A famous witch-hunter’s manual called the Compendium Maleficarum – published in Milan, Italy in 1608, has woodcut illustrations of many witch-related activities, including what appears to be the basting of a small child on a rotisserie. (165)

All of this scapegoating would have been before or during the “peak” of the witchhunts, circa 1580 to 1630. Witches would still be put to death after that, but more sporadically between the 1750’s and the 1830’s. (166) The Witchcraft Act of 1542 in England was the first to define witchcraft as a felony, punishable by death. The English Witchcraft Act of 1735 reduced the punishment to imprisonment. (167)

The Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951 reduced the punishment to a fine. (168) This is similar to the gradual reductions in punishment for cannabis offences, from imprisonment to fines, beginning in the 1970s. (169)

I’ll Get You, My Pretty, And Your Little Dog Too!

Just to make sure nobody would forget to associate witches with the harming of children, the young were indoctrinated into this mythology in “fairy tales”. Sleeping Beauty – a classic fairy tale popularized by the Brothers Grimm – contained an early version of the “wicked witch” meme.

The earliest known version of the story to include a wicked witch is The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Charles Perrault back in 1697. Most versions of this story have the witch’s curse kick in when Sleeping Beauty is 16 years old. (170) Another French fairy tale, The Princess Mayblossom, also written in 1697, introduces the evil fairy Carabosse, who would serve as the model for “Maleficent” in the Disney versions of Sleeping Beauty. (171)

Baba Yaga, an ugly Slavic witch, first appeared in 1755. In one of her stories, “The Maiden Tsar”, a “handsome merchant’s son” is threatened with digestion by this very hungry witch. (172) And of course there’s the famous Hansel and Gretel, a German fairy tale (published by the Brothers Grimm back in 1812) involving a witch who liked to eat young children. (173) And then, of course, the 1900 classic the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in which the most famous of all wicked witches, the Wicked Witch of the West, tried to kill teen Dorothy Gale. (174)

Be it children’s fairy tales, or Nazi children’s school books, or some Partnership For Drugfree Kids commercial on TV, the children themselves must be convinced of the danger to them by the scapegoat. The easiest way to get an adult to believe a lie is to repeat it over and over again while they are still children.

I Didn’t Corrupt Them – I Improved Them!

Socrates begins by telling the jury that their minds were poisoned by his enemies when they were young and impressionable. … If he has corrupted anyone, why have they not come forward to be witnesses? Or if they do not realize that they have been corrupted, why have their relatives not stepped forward on their behalf? Many relatives of the young men associated with him, Socrates points out, are presently in the courtroom to support him.

– The Wikipedia entry for Plato’s Apology (175)

Perhaps the most famous victim of the parental hysteria scapegoating technique is the great Greek philosopher Socrates. Accused of “corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens” and “impiety” (atheism), he was sentenced to death. (176)

Reading Plato’s Apology, Plato’s version of the speech given by Socrates when he defended himself at trial, one is struck with the notion that Socrates was accused of attempting to turn young Greeks into atheists, or at the very least choose gods that represent their interests better:

“But nevertheless, tell us, how do you say, Meletus, that I corrupt the youth? Or is it evident, according to the indictment you brought, that it is by teaching them not to believe in the gods the state believes in, but in other new spiritual beings? … or you say that I do not myself believe in gods at all and that I teach this unbelief to other people.”

“That is what I say, that you do not believe in gods at all.”

– Plato, Apology, 26b-26c (177)

According to Wikipedia’s summary of Plato’s Apology, “He did believe in the gods, but questioned their abilities.” (178) Socrates comes across as being about as corruptive to Greek youth then as Bill Maher or Christopher Hitchens is to today’s youth – or not even as harmful, because he claims not to doubt the gods entirely. He’s sort of a diet version of Christopher Hitchens. At any rate I think he qualifies as a harmless scapegoat and an improver – not a corruptor – of youth.

Socrates also seems to advocate, at least in the Plato version of events, civil disobedience:

… if you should let me go on this condition which I have mentioned, I should say to you, “Men of Athens, I respect and love you, but I shall obey the god rather than you, and while I live and am able to continue, I shall never give up philosophy or stop exhorting you and pointing out the truth to any one of you whom I may meet, 

– Plato, Apology, 29d (179)

Being a proponent of civil disobedience is also not inherently harmful to young people who agree and follow your example. Few people publicly state that Martin Luther King Jr. “corrupted” the youth by teaching them civil disobedience. Most people agree that MLK improved the youth by giving them an effective, non-violent weapon to win their human rights with. Like the pot dealers and the witches and the Jews that came after him, the charges against Socrates of harming the young must be seen to be total fabrications.


… “dangerous drugs,” addicts, and pushers are the scapegoats of our modern, secular, therapeutically imbued societies; and that the ritual persecution of these pharmacological and human agents must be seen against the historical backdrop of the ritual persecution of other scapegoats, such as witches, Jews, and madmen.

– Thomas Szasz, Ceremonial Chemistry, 1974, Doubleday, pp. xi-xii

The connections between heretics, Jews, witches and pot dealers are evident, and fall within the following three categories of similarity. 1) The “evidence” against them being inherently harmful is mostly if not entirely contrived, 2) the motivation for fabricating evidence against them is to enforce obedience, steal their property and distract the mainstream population from real crimes of the state, and 3) sometimes they are all one and the same – these scapegoats are the rebels and shamans that serve the same purpose throughout history: offering insight, fun, medicine, income, intellectual self-defense, disobedience to authority, autonomy and a better life path and a better plan for society than the establishment does or can provide – and thus represents a threat to that establishment.

This is not to say there have never been any dangerous or harmful heretics, Jews, witches and pot dealers. It’s just that the process by which we determine whether or not they are harmful is faulty. This is key. We give the benefit of the doubt to the scapegoater and assume the scapegoat is guilty until proven innocent. If we really want to live in a just world, a world without scapegoating, we need to adopt new rules where the accuser must prove that the accused is actually harmful. This was never done with cannabis dealers. Ever.

With cannabis, it was assumed to be inherently harmful with very little open debate when the first anti-cannabis laws were passed in the first half of the 20th century. All the major official scientific commissions of inquiry, before and after, were ignored.

Today a group of academics work hard to betray the human race by foisting stigma upon the users, growers and dealers of this fantastic medicine in order to further their careers. They are no better than the Julius Streichers of yester-year, churning out their euphoriphobia and cannabiphobia and smokeiphobia with unrelenting abandon, oblivious or in callous disregard for the genocidal consequences. (180)

From the above review of the scientific literature on cannabis and its effects on the developing minds of the youth, it’s clear to this author that the lack of a spike in mental illness, the lack of the drop in I.Q. and the lack of any kind of demonstrated and understood causality of any medical problem means that today’s Reefer Madness is every bit as fabricated as the “uncontrollable, violent laughter” and “uncontrollable impulsive behavior” variety of yesteryear. It’s just a bit more sophisticated. The harm from persecution, however, is as real as being executed in China for cannabis crimes, as real as a bullet to the brain in a botched drug raid, as real as a 10 x 8 foot human cage.

While this author can understand the anger of people who have been persecuted for harmless cannabis-related activities – this author was himself jailed for over 4 months for herb crimes, and, like Socrates, none of his “victims” showed up for his disobedience-focused trial, either (181) – Nuremberg Trial-style retribution or violence of any kind is not the answer. We must simply fight their lies with the truth and challenge any form of discrimination until all that’s left on the law books is the same sort of minimal regulations placed upon the growers and dealers of organic coffee beans.

If anything is to be learned from this sad chapter in human history, it is 1) how to scapegoat-proof the future so harmless deviants no longer fear persecution and so our rulers can no longer divide and conquer humanity, and 2) why we all tolerated the madness for so long.

To pay their “debt to society”, maybe Drug War propagandists such as Zammit et al. and Fergusson et al. can be made to stand in front of a classroom full of first-year criminology students and answer questions such as why they chose to focus on the imaginary harms young people suffered from cannabis instead of the real harms young people suffered from being brutalized by police, locked up with rapists or denied the opportunity to work and travel. If the punishment is to fit the crime, I can think of none better than to force these academics to be accountable for their words and actions.



(1) Smoke Signals, Martin A. Lee, 2012, p. 392, Scribner





See also:


(7) Dr. Gail Beck, Member, Canadian Medical Association Board of Directors


(9) Easy To Get, Easy To Buy, Mike Hager, A10, Vancouver Sun, July 19th, 2014

(10) Vancouver police search illegal marijuana shop – Police say they received reports that weed was being purchased at Jim’s Weeds Lounge then sold to neighbourhood youth BY MATTHEW ROBINSON, VANCOUVER SUN JULY 24, 2014


(12) The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis and Cannabinoids,Franjo Grotenhermen, Dr. med. and Kirsten Müller-Vahl, Prof. Dr. med., Published online Jul 23, 2012.


See also:

See also:


See also:

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(22) Studies which do not mention beneficial use and harm reduction:

Psychiatric effects of cannabis

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation: “There is no evidence that cannabis is a causal factor in schizophrenia …” (p.119) “It is not easy to determine causal explanations from the studies cited.” (p. 121)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study
George C Patton, Carolyn Coffey, John B Carlin, Louisa Degenhardt, Michael Lynskey, Wayne Hall, BMJ VOLUME 325 23 NOVEMBER 2002

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy. A disregard for autonomy is apparent: “Strategies to reduce frequent use of cannabis might reduce the level of mental disorders in young people.”(p. 1198)
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Mental health of teenagers who use cannabis : Results of an Australian survey

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation: “Owing to the cross-sectional nature of the study, associations do not necessarily reflect causal relationships.” (p. 220)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Are the adverse consequences of cannabis use age-dependent?
NADIA SOLOWIJ, BRIN F. S. GRENYER, (2002) Addiction, 97, 1083–1086

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation: “Fergusson, Horwood & Swain-Campbell (2002) … argued that even after controlling for known, suspected or measured confounds, associations between cannabis use and psychosocial problems may still reflect the effect of other as yet unknown variables—a perennial problem in determining cause and effect in all manner of research assessing the consequences of cannabis use.” (p. 1083) “These findings suggest that remitted, ‘heavy’ cannabis use does not cause major, persistent residual adverse socio-demographic, physical or mental health effects in men with no significant use of other substances.” (p. 1084)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Self reported cannabis use as a risk factor for schizophrenia in Swedish conscripts of 1969: historical cohort study
Stanley Zammit, Peter Allebeck, Sven Andreasson, Ingvar Lundberg, Glyn Lewis, BMJ VOLUME 325 23 NOVEMBER 2002

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse, nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Claims to prove causation: “Cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, consistent with a causal relation. … use of cannabis preceded any mental illness, but the causal pathways are difficult to disentangle and merit further study.” (p. 1) Study then provides an alternate theory: “One explanation is that subjects with a prodrome of schizophrenia at conscription may have increased their cannabis use, perhaps as a means of self medication.” (p. 4)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine. “Self-medication” for schizophrenia mentioned, not explored, and quickly dismissed as a possibility.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Psychological and social sequelae of cannabis and other illicit drug use by young people: a systematic review of longitudinal, general population studies
John Macleod, Rachel Oakes, Alex Copello, Ilana Crome, Matthias Egger, Mathew Hickman, Thomas Oppenkowski, Helen Stokes-Lampard, George Davey Smith
THE LANCET • Vol 363 • May 15, 2004 •

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Provides strong evidence against causation: “Findings: We identified 48 relevant studies, of which 16 were of higher quality and provided the most robust evidence. Fairly consistent associations were noted between cannabis use and both lower educational attainment and increased reported use of other illicit drugs. Less consistent associations were noted between cannabis use and both psychological health problems and problematic behaviour. All these associations seemed to be explicable in terms of non- causal mechanisms. Interpretation: Available evidence does not strongly support an important causal relation between cannabis use by young people and psychosocial harm, but cannot exclude the possibility that such a relation exists. The lack of evidence of robust causal relations prevents the attribution of public health detriments to illicit drug use. In view of the extent of illicit drug use, better evidence is needed.” (p. 1579)
3) Tracks evidence of a lack of an increase in schizophrenia over time: Further evidence against a simple causal explanation for associations between cannabis use and psychosocial harm relates to population patterns of the outcomes in question. For example, incidence of schizophrenia seems to be strongly associated with cannabis exposure over a fairly short period (four-fold to five-fold relative risks over follow-up of 10–30 years). Cannabis use appears to have increased substantially amongst young people over the past 30 years, from around 10% reporting ever use in 1969–70, to around 50% reporting ever use in 2001, in Britain and Sweden.1,38 If the relation between use and schizophrenia were truly causal and if the relative risk was around five-fold then the incidence of schizophrenia should have more than doubled since 1970. However population trends in schizophrenia incidence suggest that incidence has either been stable or slightly decreased over the relevant time period.92,93 (p. 1585)
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) A comprehensive literature review of all studies relating to cannabis and psychological health problems & problematic behavior – including both the causal and correlation schools of thought.

Tests of causal linkages between cannabis use and psychotic symptoms
David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood & Elizabeth M. Ridder
Christchurch Health and Development Study, Christchurch School of Medicine, Christchurch, New Zealand, (2005) Addiction, 100, 354–366

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Attempts to prove causation: Subjects were evaluated for “psychotic symptomatology” (signs of mental illness) by being asked 10 questions related to experiencing symptoms of psychosis, including being asked if the subjects had “ideas and beliefs that others do not share; the idea that something is seriously wrong with your body; never feeling close to another person; the idea that something is wrong with your mind; feeling other people cannot be trusted; feeling that you are watched or talked about by others.” (p. 356) Of course, these symptoms could also be explained by a loss of social and/or political and/or medical autonomy. The faulty methodology led to the following conclusions: “The demonstration that cannabis use and psychotic symptoms remain associated even following control for confounding suggests a causal linkage, …” (p. 364) The “direction of causality” is assumed to be “from cannabis use to psychotic symptoms” (p. 354) because “…increasing psychotic symptoms were associated with a decline in the use of cannabis.” (p. 364). In other words, when mental illness increases, use does not also increase – therefore the mental illness is not causing the use. The possibility that cannabis users were carefully controlling their dose to mitigate unwanted symptoms of their mental illness, finding the “sweet spot” between a threshold dose and a higher dose with unwanted side effects – that users were aware that an increased dose did not automatically lead to better results – was not considered.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) Mentions Macleod et al. (2004).

Cannabis use and mental health in secondary school children: Findings from a Dutch survey

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse, nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation: “The study has a cross-sectional design, which means inferences on causal relations cannot be made.” (p. 152) “However, they stated that there was little support for a causal relationship between cannabis use and poor school performance, and proposed that the link is probably explained by common risk factors.” (p. 152)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Brain Neuroimaging in Cannabis Use: A Review
Jeremy Quickfall, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C.) David Crockford, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C.) J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 18:3, Summer 2006
1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse, nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

The association between anxiety and alcohol versus cannabis abuse disorders among adolescents in primary care settings
Nancy C Lowa, Sok S Leeb, Jeffrey G Johnsonc, Janet B Williamsc and Emily S Harrisd, Family Practice 2008; 25: 321–327.

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation: “Limitations of this study include its cross-sectional nature, limiting its ability to draw any causal conclusions…” (p. 326)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition. Assumes that the legal status of a drug has an effect on availability: “Finally, these adolescents may have also had less exposure to cannabis (since it is illegal and less accessible) compared to alcohol in their lifetime thus far and therefore have not had a chance to develop cannabis abuse.” (p. 326)
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Drugs, mental health and the adolescent brain: implications for early intervention Dan I. Lubman and Murat Yücel, Early Intervention in Psychiatry 2008; 2: 63–66

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse, nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy. A disregard for autonomy is apparent: “Effective early identification and intervention for adolescent substance use is an important strategy for reducing long-term drug harms…” (p. 65)
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Diffusion abnormalities in adolescents and young adults with a history of heavy cannabis use
Manzar Ashtari, Kelly Cervellione, John Cottone, Babak A. Ardekani, Sanjiv Kumra, Journal of Psychiatric Research 43 (2009) 189–204

1) Mentions a difference between use and abuse but does not elaborate: “As mentioned previously, although we have documented and quantified many aspects of marijuana use/abuse in our sample (e.g. the amount of use, initial age and length of use, and period of abstinence), these data are highly dependent on the veracity, validity and reliability of self-reports.” (p. 199) Does not mention harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation: “In terms of sample acquisition and characteristics, this study is cross-sectional in nature, which makes it impossible to determine the causality of the findings (Di Forti et al., 2007).” (p. 200)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

The Influence of Substance Use on Adolescent Brain Development
L. M. Squeglia, B.A., J. Jacobus, B.A., and S. F. Tapert, Ph.D., Clin EEG Neurosci. 2009 January ; 40(1): 31–38.

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Adolescent cannabis use and psychosis: epidemiology and neurodevelopmental models, T Malone, Matthew N Hill and Tiziana Rubino
British Journal of Pharmacology (2010), 160, 511–522

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation – suggests it is possible: “However, whether cannabis use causes schizophrenia has been a matter for debate for decades.” (p. 513) “The neurodevelopmental characteristic of adolescence probably creates a more vulnerable circumstance for cannabis to produce psychotic-like symptoms and possibly cause schizophrenia.” (p. 518)
3) Looks at multiple studies of potential increases in medical problems in the general population over time – states conclusions are indeterminate: “If cannabis use was actually causing schizophrenia (as opposed to merely precipitating it in already ‘schizophrenically vulnerable’ individuals), then it would be expected that the incidence of schizophrenia would increase at the same rate as any increase in cannabis consumption over a defined period. Whether this occurs is debatable and difficult to determine. According to a study on frequency of use and long-term trends in a large national sample of high-school students in the USA, exposure to cannabis increased in the 1970s, peaking in 1979 but then decreased in the 1980s (Johnston et al., 2009). The 1990s saw an increase in cannabis use among adolescents, followed by a decline through the 2000s (Johnston et al., 2009). Degenhardt et al. (2003) found that despite a rapid increase in cannabis use in Australia during 1980–2000 (as well as a corresponding decrease in the age of initiation of cannabis use), there was no clear evidence of an increase in psychosis in the general Australian population during this time (Degenhardt et al., 2003). A similar study found substantial increases in cannabis use in the UK population over the last 30 years but concluded it was too early to know whether this has led to an increased incidence of schizophrenia (Hickman et al., 2007). Another British study reported an increase in the incidence of cannabis use in the year prior to presentation of schizophrenia over a similar time period, suggesting that cannabis use might have an aetiological (causal) role in the development of schizophrenia (Boydell et al., 2006).” (p. 514)
4) Mentions the beneficial use of cannabis in passing – then lists a series of studies that are in denial of the massive amounts of evidence of the medicinal use of cannabis: “It is possible that some subjects that are prone to psychosis may seek out cannabis as a means of self-medication. However, using structural equation modelling, it was shown by Fergusson et al. (2005) that increasing psychotic symptoms were not positively associated with increased rates of cannabis use, suggesting that such a population among those who ingest cannabis and have psychotic symptoms was small (Fergusson et al., 2005). More recent evidence suggests that four out of six patients that had a self-reported history of cannabis improving their schizophrenic symptoms showed improvement following administration of a synthetic form of THC called dronabinol (Schwarcz et al., 2009). Thus it is possible that for a small subset of schizophrenic patients, cannabis ingestion may offer some relief of symptoms. In addition, it is thought that low doses of cannabis may acutely increase blood flow to cortices concerned with cognition, mood and perception, thus improve frontal lobe functioning (Cohen et al., 2008). However, there is overwhelming support in the literature for the lack of evidence for the ‘self-medication’ hypothesis of cannabis (Zammit et al., 2002; Hall et al., 2004; Stefanis et al., 2004; Verdoux et al., 2005; Leweke and Koethe, 2008; Fernandez-Espejo etal., 2009; Hides etal., 2009; Pujazon-Zazik and Park, 2009; Sugranyes et al., 2009).”
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) Some mention of opposing studies – but these studies are ignored within the conclusion.

Association Between Cannabis Use and Psychosis-Related Outcomes Using Sibling Pair Analysis in a Cohort of Young Adults
John McGrath, MD, PhD, FRANZCP; Joy Welham, MAPs; James Scott, MBBS, FRANZCP; Daniel Varghese, MBBS, FRANZCP; Louisa Degenhardt, PhD; Mohammad Reza Hayatbakhsh, MD, PhD; Rosa Alati, PhD; Gail M. Williams, PhD; William Bor, MBBS, DPM, FRANZCP; Jake M. Najman, PhD Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(5):440-447

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) Does not mention beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine. Limited the study to those who self-reported using “alcohol and drugs for non-medicinal purposes” (p. 441), but does not define “non-medicinal”.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines for Canada (LRCUG): A Narrative Review of Evidence and Recommendations
Benedikt Fischer, PhD, Victoria Jeffries, Wayne Hall, Robin Room, Elliot Goldner, Jürgen Rehm, Can J Public Health 2011;102(5):324-27.

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse, but mentions a few harm reduction techniques: “Similarly, below we summarize data on key modifiable factors that may influence harmful outcomes from cannabis use, with a view to formulating ‘Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines’ (LRCUG) as an evidence-based public health policy tool to reduce harms from (non-medical) cannabis use in the Canadian population.” (p. 324) Harm reduction factors mentioned are dose, setting, potency, purity, frequency, mode of administration, titration, delaying using until after 18 years old or abstaining altogether. (pp. 324-326) Did not mention familiarity, freshness, growing conditions, mindset or strain.
2) States that no study has proven a causal relationship between cannabis and mental health problems – “other than psychosis”: “Notably, however, the studies documenting associations between cannabis use and mental health problems other than psychosis have not provided conclusive evidence on causality, or on the direction of possible causality.” (p. 325)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine. Mentions their aim is to “reduce harms from (non-medical) cannabis use in the Canadian Population” – but does not define “non-medicinal”.
5) Mentions the harms that come with prohibition in passing, but does not elaborate: “Such an approach would rely on targeted and health- oriented interventions mainly aimed at those users at high risk for harms, and not criminalization of use – and its limited effectiveness and undesirable side-effects – as the main intervention paradigm, therefore increasing benefits for society.” (p. 324)
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife
Madeline H. Meier, Avshalom Caspi, Antony Ambler, HonaLee Harringtonb, Renate Houts, Richard S. E. Keefe, Kay McDonald, Aimee Wardf, Richie Poultonf, and Terrie E. Moffitt, PNAS, Published online August 27, 2012:

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation: “…our data cannot definitively attest to whether this association is causal.” (p. E2661)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) Beneficial and medicinal use mentioned in passing: “Cannabis, the most widely used illicit drug in the world, is increasingly being recognized for both its toxic and its therapeutic properties. Research on the harmful and beneficial effects of cannabis use is important because it can inform decisions regarding the medicinal use and legalization of cannabis, and the results of these decisions will have major public-health consequences.” (p. E2657)
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Correlations between cannabis use and IQ change in the Dunedin cohort are consistent with confounding from socioeconomic status
Ole Rogeberg, (2012)
1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Concludes that “Meier et al.’s (1) estimated effect of adolescent-onset cannabis use on IQ is likely biased, and the true effect could be zero. It would be too strong to say that the results have been discredited, but fair to say that the methodology is flawed and the causal inference drawn from the results premature. Furthermore, should a direct effect of adolescent-onset cannabis use remain after controlling for confounders, the Flynn–Dickens model suggests an alternative causal path through which this may occur. This model, too, would predict reduced IQ in so far as heavy, persistent, adolescent-onset cannabis use involves a culture and norms that raise the risk of dropping out of school, getting entangled with crime, and other such behaviors. Unlike a neurotoxic effect, however, this effect would be nonpermanent and mediated by the cognitive demands of different environments. Because the effect in this case would be a result of culture rather than pharmacology, it would also have different policy implications.” (p. 3) In other words: punishing young cannabis users may be adversely effecting IQ tests – the cannabis use may be getting blamed for what the punishment for cannabis use is doing.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) The article was a critical analysis of Meier MH, et al. (2012).

Adolescent Cannabinoid Exposure Permanently Suppresses Cortical Oscillations in Adult Mice
Sylvina M Raver, Sarah P Haughwout, Asaf Keller, Neuropsychopharmacology (2013) 38, 2338–2347

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time – instead, the authors of the study inject large amounts of THC into mice. Some are simply observed, some are “decapitated” (p. 2339) and then kept alive and studied – data was stored on a computer program called “Igor Pro” (p. 2340), some are wired with radio transmitters, brought to and “acclimated to the behavior testing room for 1 h” (p. 2340) and then studied.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Cannabis Use Is Quantitatively Associated with Nucleus Accumbens and Amygdala Abnormalities in Young Adult Recreational Users
Jodi M. Gilman, John K. Kuster, Sang Lee, Myung Joo Lee, Byoung Woo Kim, Nikos Makris, Andre van der Kouwe, Anne J. Blood, and Hans C. Breiter, The Journal of Neuroscience, April 16, 2014 • 34(16):5529 –5538 • 5529

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – these terms are used interchangeably – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation. “Drugs of abuse” is the term used to refer to illegal drugs (p. 5537), as if to say that illegal drugs cannot be used properly, and legal drugs cannot be abused.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time. Instead studies 20 young marijuana users and 20 young non-users. They were all given MRIs and their gray matter was studied.
4) No mention of beneficial use or cannabis as a preventive medicine.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Cannabis use in adolescence and risk of future disability pension: A 39-year longitudinal cohort study
Anna-Karin Danielsson, Emilie Agardh, Tomas Hemmingsson, Peter Allebeck, Daniel Falkstedt, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2014

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse – nor is there any mention of harm reduction techniques.
2) Does not attempt to argue causation: “There is one possibility that the associations we observed between high cannabis consumption and DP are actually non- causal, and exist due to factors associated with both the use of drugs and DP.” (p. 3)
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) No mention of medicinal or beneficial use.
5) No mention of the harms that come with prohibition.
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) No mention of opposing studies.

Studies that mention beneficial use and harm reduction:

Cannabis and harm reduction
WENDY SWIFT, JAN COPELAND & SIMON LENTON, Drug and Alcohol Review (2000) 19, 101, 112 HARM REDUCTION DIGEST 8

1) Does not differentiate between use and abuse, but does set upon an extensive examination of harm reduction techniques. Mentions “dose … method of use, drug experience, tolerance, concurrent drug use, expectations and personality” as factors involved in harm reduction. (p. 102)
2) Does not attempt to argue causation – considers correlation: “…the ability to make causal inferences about the harms associated with chronic use in particular is hampered by a lack of longitudinal research and delays in the manifestation of some adverse health and other effects, and difficulties in ruling out alternative explanations when such delays occur.” (p. 102) “Recent reviews of this literature [e.g. 3,88,89] have concluded that there is no simple cause and effect relationship between the extent of cannabis use and other outcomes. Rather, these associations arise because of common or over- lapping risk factors and life pathways between young people who may be predisposed to cannabis use and those at increased risks of these other outcomes. (p. 107)”
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) Mentions in passing, but does not examine, the beneficial uses of cannabis, and does not mention the problems that come with leaving stress and/or depression untreated. Mentions that “It is important not to underestimate the benefits cannabis use is perceived to provide (e.g. relaxation, ‘time out’), which may be powerful motivators for continued use despite the simultaneous recognition of cannabis-related problems. Some users perceive cannabis use to be a form of harm reduction in itself, because they believe that it creates less problems for them than other drugs such as alcohol.” (p. 104)
5) Conducts an extensive investigation into the “harms associated with cannabis law enforcement”: “The public health consequences of the application of the criminal law against cannabis users may be at least as significant as those that flow directly from cannabis use itself [59 61] …” (p. 106)
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) Yes: “Proponents of its use argue that it is a natural, relatively harmless drug with many beneficial properties, its image tarnished by lies and myths [e.g. 9,10].” (p. 101)

Cannabis and Harm Reduction: A Nursing Perspective
Mary Lynn Mathre, Co-published simultaneously in Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics (The Haworth Integrative Healing Press, an imprint of The Haworth Press, Inc.) Vol. 2, No. 3/4, 2002, pp. 105-120; and: Women and Cannabis: Medicine, Science, and Sociology (ed: Ethan Russo, Melanie Dreher, and Mary Lynn Mathre)

1) Notes a difference between use and abuse: “Denying patients access to therapeutic cannabis does nothing to prevent substance use/abuse among adolescents.” (p. 115) Mentions cannabis harm reduction with respect to reducing harm through smarter smoking techniques or other modes of administration (p. 107) and cannabis use as a substitute for harder drug use (p. 109)
2) Provides evidence against a causal relationship between cannabis use and the use of harder drugs: “There is no question that cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin or other hard drug users may have used cannabis in their earlier stages of drug use, but there has never been a causal relationship established. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine, usually when they are too young to do so legally. The Shafer Commission noted (p. 88), “No verification is found of a causal relationship between marihuana use and subsequent heroin use.” The IOM report found that (Joy, Watson and Benson 1999, p. 6), “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”” (p. 111)
3) Looks at overdose deaths in the general population: “Throughout the centuries of its use, there has never been a death from cannabis (Abel 1980).” (p. 106)
4) “Pain” investigated as one of the conditions cannabis can be used for. Moderate use associated with positive outcomes: “A longitudinal study investigated the psychological characteristics and drug use patterns in children studied from age 3 to 18 (Shedler and Block 1990). Those adolescents who experimented with drugs (primarily cannabis) were the “best-adjusted” compared to abstainers and frequent users.” (p. 110)
5) The harms of prohibition are thoroughly investigated. (p. 113-115)
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) Both prohibitionist and anti-prohibitionist works cited.

Harm reduction-the cannabis paradox
Robert Melamede, Harm Reduction Journal 2005, 2:17
1) Differences between use and abuse is mentioned: “Proper cannabis use, as distinguished from misuse, may have significant positive health effects associated with the way cannabis mimics natural cannabinoids.” (p. 2) Factors involved in harm reduction which are mentioned are “…amount, frequency, quality, and probably most importantly, the idiosyncratic biochemistry of the user.” (p. 2)
2) Does not attempt to attempt to argue or disprove causation.
3) Does not track increases in medical problems in the general population over time.
4) Nearly the entire article explores the concept of the beneficial use of cannabis.
5) Mentions various harms that come with prohibition: “Crime, financial support for terrorism, disrespect for the law, and destruction of families, communities, and ecosystems can all be attributed to drug prohibition.” (p. 1)
6) No mention of the importance of medical autonomy.
7) Patton etc. all cited.

(23) “Cannabis use appears to have increased substantially amongst young people over the past 30 years, from around 10% reporting ever use in 1969–70, to around 50% reporting ever use in 2001, in Britain and Sweden.1,38”
Psychological and social sequelae of cannabis and other illicit drug use by young people: a systematic review of longitudinal, general population studies
John Macleod, Rachel Oakes, Alex Copello, Ilana Crome, Matthias Egger, Mathew Hickman, Thomas Oppenkowski, Helen Stokes-Lampard, George Davey Smith, THE LANCET • Vol 363 • May 15, 2004 •

(26) Marsha Rosenbaum, “Just say know” to teenagers and marijuana, in Taking Sides, Drugs and Society, 4th edition, Raymond Goldberg, editor, 2000, McGraw-Hill, p. 102

For a definition of harm reduction:

Harm reduction is any policy or program designed to reduce drug-related harm without requiring the cessation of drug use. Interventions may be targeted at the individual, the family, community or society.” Examples of proven harm reduction programs are: server intervention programs which decrease public drunkenness; needle and syringe exchange programs which prevent the transmission of HIV among injection drug users; and, environmental controls on tobacco smoking which limit the exposure to second hand smoke (Gliksman et al., 1993; OTRU, 2001; Strathdee et al., 1998).

(27) Marijuana Medicine: A World Tour of the Healing and Visionary Powers of Cannabis, Christian Rätsch, p. 23

(28) In The National Dispensatory of 1894, it is written that “the plants richest in resin grow at an altitude of 1800 to 2400 m” (Stillé et al., p. 393) and that the effect of cannabis “varies with the individual’s temperament” (Stillé et al., p. 395). In Cushny’s 1906 Pharmacology and Therapeutics or the Actions of Drugs the effects of cannabis are described as:

…a mixture of depression and stimulation…its action…seems to depend very largely on the disposition and intellectual activity of the individual. The preparations used also vary considerably in strength, and the activity of even the crude drug seems to depend very largely on the climate and season in which it is grown, so that great discrepancies occur in the account of its effects. (p. 232) 

One text notes that “[p]reparations made from plants grown in warm climates are usually better” (Blumgarten, 1932, p. 338). Another notes that after two years of storage “…it had lost about half its potency” (Osol & Farrar, 1947, p. 1382). Still another notes that “[m]any of the psychological effects seem related to the setting in which the drug is taken” (Holvey et al., 1972, p. 1415). One even noted “…an occasional panic reaction has occurred, particularly in naive [sic]users, but these have become unusual as the culture has gained increasing familiarity with the drug” (Berkow et al., 1982, p. 1427). Another noted that cannabis’ effects are dependent upon “the dose of the drug and the underlying psychological conditions of the user” (Venes et al., 2001, p. 1242).



(31) Paragraph 100, R. V. Malmo-Levine 2003,







(38) The detrimental effects of tobacco smoke have been considerably underestimated, making it less likely that chemical carcinogens alone are responsible for the observed incidence of tobacco-related carcinoma. Alpha emitters in cigarette smoke result in appreciable radiation exposure to the bronchial epithelium of smokers and probably secondhand smokers. Alpha radiation is a possible etiologic factor in tobacco-related carcinoma, and it deserves further study.
Thomas H. Winters, M.D.?Joseph R. Di Franza, M.D.?University of Massachusetts Medical Center?Worcester, Ma 01605

See also:

Additional evidence can be found in: ??Edward P. Radford Jr. and Vilma R. Hunt, “Polonium-210: A Volatile Radioelement in Cigarettes,” Science 143 (Jan. 17, 1964): 247-49 ??Edward P. Radford Jr. and Vilma R. Hunt “Cigarettes and Polonium-210,” Science 144 (April 24, 1964): 366-67 ??Edward P. Radford Jr. and Vilma R. Hunt and John B. Little, “Carcinogenicity of Tobacco-Smoke Constituents,” Science 165 (July 18, 1969): 312 ??Edward A. Martell, “Tobacco Radioactivity and Cancer in Smokers”, American Scientist 63 (July-August 1975): 404-12 ??Edward P. Radford and Edward A. Martell, “Polonium-210: Lead 210 Ratios as n Index of Residence Times of Insoluble Particles from Cigarette Smoke in Bronchial Epithelium,” in Inhaled Particles, vol. 4, ed. W.H. Walton (Oxford, U.K.: Pergamon Press, 1977), 567-81. ??Michael Castleman, “Are Cigarettes Radioactive?” Medical Self-Care 10 (fall 1980):20-23 ??”Honoring the Medicine – the Essential Guide to Native American Healing”, by Kennith Cohen, 2003, One World/Ballentine Books, NY, pp 276-279, 379 



(41) Safe Use of Cannabis
by Tod H. Mikuriya, M.D.

(42) Medicinal cannabis: Rational guidelines for dosing
Gregory T Carter, Patrick Weydt, Muraco Kyashna-Tocha & Donald I Abrams

(43) Cannabis and schizophrenia: What does the research say? National Drug Strategy, Australian Government$File/m684.pdf

See also:

“One study led by Dr. Serge Sevy, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, looked at 100 patients between the ages of 16 and 40 with schizophrenia, half of whom smoked marijuana. Sevy and colleagues found that among the marijuana users, 75% had begun smoking before the onset of schizophrenia and that their disease appeared about two years earlier than in those who did not use the drug. But when the researchers controlled for other factors known to influence schizophrenia risk, including gender, education and socioeconomic status, the association between disease onset and marijuana disappeared.”,8599,2005559,00.html



(46) Psychological and social sequelae of cannabis and other illicit drug use by young people: a systematic review of longitudinal, general population studies

John Macleod, Rachel Oakes, Alex Copello, Ilana Crome, Matthias Egger, Mathew Hickman, Thomas Oppenkowski, Helen Stokes-Lampard, George Davey Smith, THE LANCET • Vol 363 • May 15, 2004 • p. 1585

See also:

“…if marijuana produces what seems like such a large jump in risk for schizophrenia, have schizophrenia rates increased in line with marijuana use rates? A quick search of Medline shows that this is not the case — in fact, as I noted here earlier, some experts think they may actually have fallen. Around the world, roughly 1% of the population has schizophrenia (and another 2% or so have other psychotic disorders), and this proportion doesn’t seem to change much. It is not correlated with population use rates of marijuana.

Since marijuana use rates have skyrocketed since the 1940’s and 50’s, going from single digit percentages of the population trying it to a peak of some 60% of high school seniors trying it in 1979 (stabilizing thereafter at roughly 50% of each high school class), we would expect to see this trend have some visible effect on the prevalence of schizophrenia and other psychoses.

When cigarette smoking barreled through the population, lung cancer rose in parallel; when smoking rates fell, lung cancer rates fell. This is not the case with marijuana and psychotic disorders; if it were, we’d be seeing an epidemic of psychosis.”

Maia Szalavitz, neuroscience journalist, July 30, 2007 11:25 AM

Reefer Inanity: Never Trust the Media on Pot

“The most parsimonious explanation of the results reported here are that the schizophrenia/psychoses data presented here are valid and the causal models linking cannabis with schizophrenia/psychoses are not supported by this study. A number of alterative explanations have been considered and while they cannot be wholly discounted, they do not appear to be plausible. There are also other
?possibilities, for example causes of schizophrenia/psychoses may have declined thereby masking any causal affect of cannabis use on the prevalence of schizophrenia/psychoses. However, it is beyond the scope of this study to examine this hypothesis and we are therefore left with the most parsimious explanation, namely that the underlying causes of schizophrenia/psychoses remained stable/declined over the study period.”

“…a huge surge in cannabis consumption over the past four decades has not been accompanied by a commensurate increase in schizophrenia rates.”
The Marijuana-Schizophrenia Link, PHILIP M. BOFFEY AUGUST 4, 2014

(47) “Cannabis use was associated with an improvement in general functioning, a finding that was also evident in our earlier study with a sample of patients with longer illness history.”

The contrast may indicate that the “impacts of cannabis on people with psychosis are quite complex and variable,” offers the team. Interestingly, there is also some evidence that compounds in marijuana could be useful for treating the disorder.

See also:

(48) November 2007

Some Go Without a Cigarette: Characteristics of Cannabis Users Who Have Never Smoked Tobacco 
J. C. Suris, MD, PhD; Christina Akre, MA; André Berchtold, PhD; André Jeannin, MA; Pierre-André Michaud, MD

(49) “The Flynn effect is the substantial and long-sustained increase in both fluid and crystallized intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day. When intelligence quotient(IQ) tests are initially standardized using a sample of test-takers, by convention the average of the test results is set to 100 and their standard deviation is set to 15 or 16 IQ points. When IQ tests are revised, they are again standardized using a new sample of test-takers, usually born more recently than the first. Again, the average result is set to 100. However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100.
Test score increases have been continuous and approximately linear from the earliest years of testing to the present. For the Raven’s Progressive Matrices test, subjects born over a 100-year period were compared in Des Moines, Iowa, and separately in Dumfries, Scotland. Improvements were remarkably consistent across the whole period, in both countries.[1] This effect of an apparent increase in IQ has also been observed in various other parts of the world, though the rates of increase vary.[2]”

(50) Current and former marijuana use: preliminary findings of a longitudinal study of effects on IQ in young adults
Peter Fried, Barbara Watkinson, Deborah James,  Robert Gray

CMAJ April 2, 2002 vol. 166 no. 7

See also:

“After accounting for potentially confounding factors and pre-drug performance in the appropriate cognitive domain, current regular heavy users did significantly worse than non-users in overall IQ, processing speed, immediate, and delayed memory. In contrast, the former marihuana smokers did not show any cognitive impairments. It was concluded that residual marihuana effects are evident beyond the acute intoxication period in current heavy users after taking into account pre-drug performance but similar deficits are no longer apparent 3 months after cessation of regular use, even among former heavy using young adults.”

Neurocognitive consequences of marihuana—a comparison with pre-drug performance, P.A. Fried, B. Watkinson, R .Gray, Neurotoxicology and Teratology
Volume 27, Issue 2, March–April 2005, Pages 231–239

See also:



See also:

(54) A preliminary DTI study showing no brain structural change associated with adolescent cannabis use

Lynn E DeLisi, Hilary C Bertisch, Kamila U Szulc, Magda Majcher, Kyle Brown, Arthika Bappal and Babak A Ardekani


Does Social Isolation and Low Societal Participation Predict Disability Pension? A Population Based Study

Klas Gustafsson,1,* Gunnar Aronsson,2 Staffan Marklund,1 Anders Wikman,1 and Birgitta Floderus1Published online Nov 6, 2013. doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0080655


(57) Hooke, R. (1726). An account of the plant, call’d Bangue, before the Royal Society, Dec. 18. 1689. In W. Derham (Ed.) Philosophical experiments and observations of the late eminent Dr. Robert Hooke, S. R. S. and geom. prof. Grelb and other eminent virtuoso’s in his time (pp. 210-212). London: W. Derham. Retrieved December 8, 2011




(61) In addition, in 1988 the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, after two years of hearing expert testimony and reviewing thousands of documents concluded:

A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity….In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care. (Young, 1988, pp. 57-59)

In addition, studies comparing cannabinoids to pharmaceuticals have shown that they often offer therapeutic equivalence to pharmaceuticals, with fewer negative side effects. For instance, in an experiment with college students in a public-speaking model of anxiety, compared with placebo CBD achieved significant improvement in subjective anxiety equivalent to Valium and ipsapirone (Zuardi & Guimaraes, 1997). Moreover, as previously mentioned, CBD was as effective as amisulpride, a standard antipsychotic, in reducing acute psychosis symptoms, but with far fewer negative side effects (Leweke et al., 2005).

Sadly, the same safety and efficacy profile cannot be said to exist for many of the conventional pharmaceutical medications used to treat anxiety and sleeping problems, with well-known court cases and science establishing the very real and potentially dangerous side-effects of drugs like the commonly prescribed Serotonin Specific Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) (Degroot, 2008; Kauffman, 2009). For instance, it is well established that during the early stages of treatment with SSRIs that anxiety is actually likely to increase, and that certain populations are at increased risk of suicide or self-harm (Degroot, 2008; Kauffman, 2009). As a result, to reduce these potential side effects, early treatment with SSRIs is often combined with the use of drugs like benzodiazapines (which have a list of their own serious negative side effects) (Degroot, 2008; Longo & Johnson, 2000). Furthermore, along with a host of physical and psychological complaints (Degroot, 2008; Kauffman, 2009), the potential side effects of SSRIs may include homicide and suicide (Kauffman, 2009). In fact, case precedence has established that murder and suicide are potential side effects of SSRI use and the manufacturer can be, and has been, held liable (Kauffman, 2009; see for a list of violent incidents and court cases associated with SSRI use). Neither of these outcomes has been shown to be causally associated with the use of cannabis (Price, Hemmingsson, Lewis, Zammit, & Allebeck, 2009; Reiss & Roth, 1993).

Because anxiety often accompanies depression and SSRIs are commonly used to treat both conditions, the problems outlined above (e.g., increased anxiety, suicide, and self-harm) may be compounded. It may very well be that millions of patients are not only being prescribed a more dangerous medication than cannabis, but also that most of them are deriving no benefit while shouldering substantial risks. For example, Kirsch, Moore, Scoboria, and Nicholls (2002) analyzed both published and unpublished clinical trials submitted to the U.S. FDA on the six most commonly prescribed SSRIs and found that placebo control groups duplicated about 80% of the response to medication. In 2008, Kirsch et al. conducted a meta-analysis on data submitted to the FDA on four new-generation antidepressant medications. They found that the medications were ineffective in treating patients with moderate and even severe depression, with only minor clinical improvements in the most severely depressed.

It is important to note that emerging evidence demonstrates that many patients are turning to cannabis to safely and effectively reduce and/or replace synthetic antianxiety, hypnotic, soporific, and sedative medications after having grown tired of the negative side effects associated with their use. For example, many cannabis buyers club members say they use cannabis as a substitute for prescription narcotics (Gieringer, 1996), and in examinations of 2,480 California patients, Dr. Mikuriya found that 27% reported using cannabis for “mood disorders” and another 5% used cannabis as a substitute for more toxic drugs (Gieringer, 2002). Moreover, a recent survey of doctors in California found “that many of their patients were able to decrease their use of…antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and sleeping medications, or else they use cannabis to treat their side effects of jitteriness or gastrointestinal problems in order to stay on their medications” (Holland, 2010, p. 285). Currently, the most comprehensive study ever conducted in Canada investigating the barriers medical cannabis users encounter while trying to gain access to their medication of choice is underway (see The survey includes several questions about cannabis as a substitute for both illicit drugs and prescribed pharmaceuticals.

(62) Brady, P. (1998, November 1). Dr. Melanie Dreher, reefer researcher. Retrieved November 15, 2011 from

(63) Those studying the plant and its uses throughout world cultures, as well as human history, have observed the ability of cannabis and the cannabinoids to prevent illness, and not just treat symptoms, for some time. For instance, in 1845 in relation to the use of hashish and its effects, Moreau wrote, “I report them here only to call attention to the prophylactic action [emphasis added]of a substance that could offer valuable therapeutic resources” (Moreau, 1845/1973, p. 213).

More recently, after an extensive review of the then extant literature, Mikuriya (1969) made a list of the medical uses for cannabis, under the title of Possible Therapeutic Applications of Tetrahydrocannabinols and Like Products. The list included “Prophylactic [emphasis added]and treatment of the neuralgias, including migraine and tic douloureux” (p. 39). Even more recently, in an interview about her research into prenatal exposure to cannabis and neonatal outcomes in Jamaica, Dr. Dreher, nurse, anthropologist, and current dean of nursing at Rush University Medical Centre, had the following to say about the importance of cultural context and the preventive properties of cannabis:

American drug use often takes place without cultural rules and in an unsupervised context. The Jamaican women we studied had been educated in a cultural tradition of using marijuana as a medicine. They prepared it with teas, milk and spices, and thought of it as a  preventive and curative substance [emphasis added].…Some of these women were in dire socioeconomic straits, and they found that smoking ganja helped allay feelings of worry and depression [emphasis added]about their financial situation. (Brady, 1998)

Rätsch (1998/2001), writing about the use of cannabis in Jamaica amongst Rastafarians noted that:
[h]emp tea is a popular drink for preventive use [emphasis added]and is also consumed therapeutically for almost all ailments. Hemp preparations are often ingested for prophylactic purposes [emphasis added]. The frequent use does not just protect from diseases, but also gives courage and strength… (p. 140)



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See also:


(69) Dr. Melanie Dreher, reefer researcher Despite political pressure to have it otherwise, Dr. Dreher’s research reveals that pot-smoking moms can have smart, healthy babies. By Pete Brady – Sunday, November 1 1998






See also:!msg/alt.drugs.pot/TD3iTyNSfFo/G5DFVijMgfEJ






(81) Alexander, Michelle (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press. p. 60.










See also:

(91) “…an insurer can refuse to insure you, cancel your insurance, or reject a claim if you have a criminal record or failed to disclose your record. …
Immigration authorities have a “zero tolerance” attitude toward drug-related offences. People found guilty of a drug-related offence cannot enter the United States. When a United States attorney general or consular official has reason to believe a drug trafficker, or someone with links to the trafficking world, wants to cross the border, that person cannot enter the United States. ??The person’s spouse and children are also prevented from entering if, during the preceding 5 years, they received financial support they knew came from drug trafficking. …”



(94) Ibid.







(101) Our legal right to autonomy in Canada is most clearly articulated by Justice La Forest in B(R) v. Children’s Aid Society, in 1995, when, in a case involving the right of children to access medical attention regardless of the wishes of the parents, speaking for the majority, he wrote:
“The individual must be left room for personal autonomy to live his or her own life and to make decisions that are of fundamental personal importance.” (317)
Furthermore, according to Justices Cory, Iacobucci and Major, “an individual may refuse any medical procedures upon her own person…” (p. 319)

(102) Coward, H. and Ratanakul, P., editors, A Cross-Cultural Dialogue On Health Care Ethics, 1999, Wilfred Laurier University Press, pp. 140-141

(103) Tauber, A. I., Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility, 2005, MIT Press, p. 248

(104) – I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked, Upton Sinclair, 1935 University of California Press, 1994, p. 109.

(105) In North America, despite the best efforts of law enforcement to reduce drug supply over the past several decades, research clearly demonstrates that cannabis has nevertheless increased in potency, decreased in price and remained “universally available” to young people.3 Rates of use have also not been reduced: for example, in Canada, the prevalence of cannabis use among Ontario high school students has doubled in less than two decades, increasing from 10% in 1991 to 20% in 2009.4

(106) In a blog post published Friday on its website, MPP said teen marijuana consumption is declining since legalization, citing a news release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

“According to preliminary data from the state’s biennial Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, in 2013 – the first full year the drug was legal for adults 21 and older – 20 percent of high school students admitted using pot in the preceding month and 37 percent said they had at some point in their lives.

“The survey’s 2011 edition found 22 percent of high school students used the drug in the past month and 39 percent had ever sampled it.

“It’s unclear if the year-to-year decline represents a statistically significant change, but data from 2009 suggests a multiyear downward trend. That year 25 percent of high school kids said they used pot in the past month and 45 percent said they had ever done so.”

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(107) The federal organization SAMHSA has shown that, despite greater acceptance and more lenient laws, the perceived availability of cannabis to teens has dropped from 55% in 2002 to 48.6% in 2010. Multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown that medical marijuana laws have not led to increased teen usage [Choo et al. 2014; Lynne-Landsman et al. 2013; Harper et al. 2012; Anderson et al. 2012].


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See also:


(112) Degenhardt L, Chiu W-T, Sampson N, Kessler RC, Anthony JC, et al. (2008) Toward a global view of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. PLoS Med 5(7): e141. doi:10.1371/journal. pmed.0050141, Published: July 1, 2008



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“Enforcing cannabis prohibition laws does not have any bearing on rates of cannabis use and instead creates the ‘forbidden fruit’ effect, making cannabis more appealing to young people. For instance, although Canada has seen a 70 per cent increase in cannabis-related arrests from 1990 to 2009, this increase in anti-drug law enforcement has not made cannabis less available to teenagers and young adults in British Columbia. According to the 2009 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, 27 per cent of BC’s youth (aged 15-24) used cannabis at least once in the previous year. The Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey reported that annual cannabis use among Ontario high school students has doubled since the early 1990s, from less than 10 per cent in 1991 to more than 20 per cent in 2009.”

Evan Wood, MD, PhD, ABIM, FRCPC

Professor of Medicine, University of BC

Founder, Stop the Violence BC



(117) How science is skewed to fuel fears of marijuana – Reports that the drug causes psychosis have been exaggerated By: Dan Gardner, Ottawa Citizen (CN ON), 03-20-05

(118) The Pot Book, Julie Holland, M.D., Editor, 2010, Park Street Press, p. 30




(122) In the secret Treasury Department meetings conducted between 1935 and 1937 prohibitive tax laws were drafted and strategies plotted. ‘Marijuana’ was not banned outright; the law called for an “Occupational excise tax upon deals, and a transfer tax upon dealings in marijuana”. Importers, manufacturers, sellers and distributors had to register with the Secretary of the Treasury and pay the occupational tax. Transfers were taxed at $1 an ounce; $200 an ounce if the dealer was unregistered. Sales to an unregistered taxpayer were prohibitively taxed. At the time, “raw drug” cannabis sold for one dollar an ounce. The year was 1937. New York State had exactly one narcotics officer. After the Supreme Court decision of March 29, 1937, upholding the prohibition of machine guns through taxation, Herman Oliphant made his move. On April 14, 1937 he introduced the bill directly to the House Ways and Means Committee instead of to the other appropriate committees such as food and drug, agriculture, textiles, commerce etc.?The reason may have been that Ways and Means is the only com,mitte to send its bills directly to the House floor without the act having to be debated upon by other committees. Ways and Means Chairman Robert L. Doughton, a key DuPont ally, quickly rubber-stamped the secret Treasury bill and sent it sailing through Congress to the President.”

-pp. 22- 26, Chapter 4: The Last Legal Days of Cannabis in The Emperor Wears no Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of the Cannabis Plant, Marijuana Prohibition, & How Hemp Can Still Save the World by Jack Herer (1992)


(124) Harry Anslinger was chosen to be the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930 by his wife’s uncle, Andrew Mellon. (Sloman, 1979) Anslinger would receive tremendous positive newspaper coverage for his new war on cannabis, cocaine and opiates – much of this from Hearst’s newspapers. (Silver, 1979) In 1937, Anslinger would select lurid newspaper stories from his famous “gore file” and read them out loud while testifying to the House Ways and Means committee: “Negro raped a girl eight years of age. Two Negros took a girl fourteen years of age and kept her for two days in a hut under the influence of marihuana. Upon recovery she was found to be suffering from syphilis. … Colored students at the University of Minnesota partying with female students (white) smoking and getting sympathy with their stories of racial persecution. Result—pregnancy.” (Sloman, 1979, Grey, 1998)

pp. 30- 32, Recent History by David Malmo-Levine in The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis edited by Dr. Julie Holland (2010)

(125) Marijuana: Assassin of Youth, H. J. Anslinger with Courtney Ryley Cooper, The American Magazine, July 1937

(126) I Am A Teen-Age Dope Addict, Valerie Jordan, 1962, p. 32

(127) Timothy White, “Catch A Fire – The Life of Bob Marley”, Henry Holt, 1989, p. 216

(128) Marijuana And Your Child, Jules Saltman, 1970, Grosset & Dunlap, pp. 64-66

(129) What You Can Do About Drugs And Your Child, Herman W. Land, 1971, p. 53



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In 1998, Nahas is still the darling favorite of the DEA and NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) yet no anti-marijuana studies of Nahas’ have every been replicated in countless other research attempts. Columbia University specifically disassociated itself from Nahas’ marijuana research in a specially called press conference in 1975! … The dissemination of Nahas’* dangerous horror stories is paid for with your tax dollars, even years after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1976 specifically forbade Nahas from getting another penny of U.S. government money for cannabis studies because of his embarrassing research in the early 1970s.

Nahas, in December 1983, under ridicule from his peers and a funding cut-off from NIDA renounced all his old THC metabolite build-up and unique chromosome Petri dish tissue damage studies, conclusions, and extrapolations.

(132) “Keith and NORML were focused on Congress, but from ’74 to ’77, at the U.N. Gabriel Nahas was fabricating studies on the dangers of marijuana. Nahas was a protege of a Greek named Stringaris who had been Joseph Goebbel’s drug advisor before he disappeared in 1945 and resurfaced in Athens in the early ’50?s. Goebbels worked closely with Harry Anslinger, head of the old Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who authored the 1937 law banning cannabis in the U.S. They believed jazz music conditions the brain to crave time dilation, making fans susceptible to marijuana–and that jazz music was a Jewish plot to get white women stoned so they’d fuck black jazz musicians and miscegenate the white race.” “”

(133) “After 2- to 3-months’ exposure, the monkeys that were heavy- and moderate-smokers of active marijuana, and those administered delta-9-THC iv, developed chronic recording changes at deep brain sites, most marked in the septal region, hippocampus, and amygdala.”


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(135) As reported in Playboy, the Heath “Voodoo” Research methodology involved strapping Rhesus monkeys into a chair and pumping them with equivalent of 63 Colombian strength joints in “five minutes, through gas masks,” losing no smoke. Playboy discovered that Heath had administered 63 joints in five minutes over just three months instead of administering 30 joints per day over a one-year period as he had first reported. Heath did this, it turned out, in order to avoid having to pay an assistant’s wages every day for a full year. The monkeys were suffocating! Three to five minutes of oxygen deprivation causes brain damage “dead brain cells.” (Red Cross Lifesaving and Water Safety Manual) With the concentration of smoke used, the monkeys were a bit like a person running the engine of a car in a locked garage for 5, 10, 15 minutes at a time every day! The Heath Monkey study was actually a study in animal asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Dr. Robert G. Heath was a researcher at Tulane University in New Orleans when he reported the findings of an experiment that apparently proved a connection between marijuana use and brain damage. Dr. Heath had conducted the study on rhesus monkeys by exposing them to an equivalent of 30 marijuana joints per day. After 90 days, the monkeys began to waste and die. When they were later autopsied, Dr. Heath reported significant brain damage in the monkeys that had been exposed to cannabis.

Despite strong support from the federal government, the study was heavily criticized for inaccurate procedures upon its release. Critics suggested that suffocation may have been the actual cause of brain damage instead of marijuana itself.

The findings were challenged and ultimately dismissed by a pair of larger, better-controlled studies – one by Dr. William Slikker of the National Center for Toxicological Research and theother by Charles Rebert and Gordon Pryor of SRI International – that attempted to replicate Dr. Heath’s results without success. The studies showed no change in the brain structure of monkeys that were given daily doses of marijuana for up to one year.

Heath/Tulane Study on Brain Cells (1974)


See also:

(137) MARIJUANA MYTHS – Pt.1, Paul Hager, Hoosier Cannabis Relegalization Coalition
See also:

Time Magazine, July 19, 1982, p. 79

(138) Rat Park was a study into drug addiction conducted in the late 1970s (and published in 1980) by Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.

Alexander’s hypothesis was that drugs do not cause addiction, and that the apparent addiction to opiate drugs commonly observed in laboratory rats exposed to it is attributable to their living conditions, and not to any addictive property of the drug itself.[1] He told the Canadian Senate in 2001 that prior experiments in which laboratory rats were kept isolated in cramped metal cages, tethered to a self-injection apparatus, show only that “severely distressed animals, like severely distressed people, will relieve their distress pharmacologically if they can.”[2]

To test his hypothesis, Alexander built Rat Park, an 8.8 m2 (95 sq ft) housing colony, 200 times the floor area of a standard laboratory cage. There were 16–20 rats of both sexes in residence, an abundance of food, balls and wheels for play, and enough space for mating and raising litters.[3]:166 The results of the experiment appeared to support his hypothesis. Rats who had been forced to consume morphine hydrochloride for 57 consecutive days were brought to Rat Park and given a choice between plain tap water and water laced with morphine. For the most part, they chose the plain water. “Nothing that we tried,” Alexander wrote, “… produced anything that looked like addiction in rats that were housed in a reasonably normal environment.”[1] Control groups of rats isolated in small cages consumed much more morphine in this and several subsequent experiments.

The two major science journals, Science and Nature, rejected Alexander, Coambs, and Hadaway’s first paper, which appeared instead in Psychopharmacology, a respectable but much smaller journal in 1978. The paper’s publication initially attracted no response.[4] Within a few years, Simon Fraser University withdrew Rat Park’s funding.[5]

See also:

(139) Drugs: What your kid should know, K. Wayne Hindmarsh, Ph.D., 1993, Apotex Inc, p. 39

(140) Lee, Martin, Smoke Signals, 2012, p. 386

(141) Drug Warriors & Their Prey: From Police Powers to Police State, p. 170, Richard Lawrence Miller, 1996, Praeger Publishers


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(143) Take, for example, Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University. Kleber has impeccable academic credentials, and has been quoted in the press and in academic publications warning against the use of marijuana, which he stresses may cause wide-ranging addiction and public health issues. But when he’s writing anti-pot opinion pieces for CBS News, or being quoted by NPR and CNBC, what’s left unsaid is that Kleber has served as a paid consultant to leading prescription drug companies, including Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin), Reckitt Benckiser (the producer of a painkiller called Nurofen), and Alkermes (the producer of a powerful new opioid called Zohydro).


By Lee Fang Aug 27 2014

Perhaps most disturbing, opening the Pandora’s box of access for adults will very likely lead to more prevalent use among the young, Kleber says. That could boost related problems once teenagers get hooked, like schizophrenia, panic attacks and paranoia, and driving while high. “The more you make marijuana available, the more you’ll see its use in teenagers, and the more casualties you’re going to see,” says Kleber

– Why ‘Gateway’ and Cancer Questions Still Matter

Chris Taylor, Special to
Tuesday, 20 Apr 2010 | 12:02 AM ET

Notably, when Evins participated in a commentary on marijuana legalization for the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the publication found that her financial relationships required a disclosure statement, which noted that as of November 2012, she was a “consultant for Pfizer and DLA Piper and has received grant/research support from Envivo, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer.” Pfizer has moved aggressively into the $7.3 billion painkiller market. In 2011, the company acquired King Pharmaceuticals (the makers of several opioid products) and is currently working to introduce Remoxy, an OxyContin competitor.

“If parents who are spending thousands of dollars on SAT prep courses knew about the cognitive effects marijuana has on their kids’ brains, they would be up in arms,” Dr. Evins said.” 

Legalizing of Marijuana Raises Health Concerns By RONI CARYN RABIN, JANUARY 7, 2013 5:08 PM

Dr. Mark L. Kraus, who runs a private practice and is a board member to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, submitted testimony in 2012 in opposition to a medical marijuana law in Connecticut. According to financial disclosures, Kraus served on the scientific advisory panel for painkiller companies such as Pfizer and Reckitt Benckiser in the year prior to his activism against the medical pot bill. Neither Kraus or Evins responded to a request for comment.

“Current research indicates that the use of this marijuana on a regular basis during adolescence is a strong marker for ensuring drug problems later in life.”


See also:

This Is Your University, on Drugs

Pfizer Pays Out Millions to Doctors

See many more like this at:


(146) If you had to guess the biggest lobbiers in the country, who would you say? Insurance companies? Oil and gas? Big Business? No, no, and no again. From 1998-2012, pharmaceutical companies and health products have led the political lobbying charge in the US by spending over $2 billion over the period.  Their total lobbying spend in 2011 alone was $241,481,544.

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(150) Maraniss portrays the teenage Obama as not just a pot smoker, but a pot-smoking innovator. “As a member of the Choom Gang,” Maraniss writes, “Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends.”

Obama and His Pot-Smoking ‘Choom Gang’

(151) “…Julius Streicher’s most famous issue of Der Sturmer.” From the 1976 English edition.

(152) Blood libel (also blood accusation)[1][2] is an accusation that Jews kidnapped and murdered the children of Christians to use their blood as part of their religious rituals during Jewish holidays.[1][2][6] Historically, these claims—alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration—have been a major theme in European persecution of Jews.[4]


(154) Booke XI. Chapter 2, The Discovery of Witchcraft, Reginald Scot, 1584

(155) R. Po-chia Hsia, The Myth of Ritual Murder: Jews and Magic in Reformation Germany, 1988, Yale University, p. 228

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The catalog of typical charges that would later be leveled at witches, of spreading diseases, committing orgies (sometimes incestuous), cannibalizing children, and following Satanism, emerged during the fourteenth century as crimes attributed to heretics and Jews.


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Subsequent blood libel stories have European Jews, living near or among Christian communities (or travelling through them), abducting Christian children, and draining their blood for admixture into the Passover meal.

Here’s an image of precisely such a ritual of fantasized blood draining of a Christian child by Jews, depicted at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Sandomierz, Poland:



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Hitler said at the Reichsparteitag, 1935:

“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the Future!


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Inge has been waiting for an hour. Again she picks up the magazines and tries to read. Then the door opens. Inge looks up. The Jew appears. A cry comes from Inge’s mouth. In terror she lets the newspaper drop. Terrified, she jumps up. Her eyes stare in the face of the Jewish doctor. And this face is the face of the Devil. In the middle of this devilish face sits an enormous crooked nose. Behind the glasses glare two criminal eyes. And a grin runs across the protruding lips. A grin that wants to say: “Now I have you at last, little German girl!”



(162) From Malleus Maleficarum. Translated by Montague Summers. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.






















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