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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chronic City: After Further Review, Smoking Pot Doesn't Make You Crazy -- Blimey!

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 12:59 PM

click to enlarge Which came first, the lunatics or the grass? - OLDIES.COM
  • oldies.com
  • Which came first, the lunatics or the grass?
The time-honored notion of reefer madness, given new life recently in the British tabloid press, has taken another hit from reality. Widespread Marijuana use by the public has not been followed by a proportional rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia or psychosis, according to the findings of a forthcoming study to be published in the scientific journal Schizophrenia Research.

It stands to reason, after all: If Marijuana really led to psychosis, wouldn't the streets be choked with burned-out, gibbering potheads?

Film director John Holowach, responsible for the documentary High: The True Tale of American Marijuana, wasn't surprised. "I've said it for years now," Holowach told SF Weekly. "If pot and mental illness were linked, the two should rise and fall with one another, but they don't."

Amidst a spate of breathless tabloid hysteria hyping the supposed

dire threat from "Skunk," a potent pot strain, British lawmakers last

year stiffened cannabis laws in the U.K. A team of researchers had

fanned the flames in the July 28, 2007 issue of prestigious scientific

journal The Lancet, proclaiming that smoking Marijuana could boost one's risk of a "psychotic episode" by 40 percent or more.


In

one fell swoop Marijuana possession was reclassified from a verbal

warning to a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, ex-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, and

others cited the supposed 'pot-schizophrenia link' as a major reason

for the giant step backward.


For the new

study, British investigators at Keele University Medical School

compared trends in cannabis use and instances of schizophrenia in the

United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005. The research showed that even as

Marijuana use soared among the general population, "incidence and

prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or

declining" during this period.


The authors

concluded that an expected rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia and

psychoses did not occur over the decade under study. "This study does

not therefore support the ... link between cannabis use and incidence

of psychotic disorders," the study concludes, adding "This concurs with

other reports indicating that increases in population cannabis use have

not been followed by increases in psychotic incidence."


The results of another clinical trial

published earlier this month indicate that the recreational use of

Marijuana does not affect brain chemistry in a way that is consistent

with the development of schizophrenia.


"Should

we expect an apology -- or even better, a change in policy -- from the

Gordon Brown regime any time soon? Or at the very least, will some sort

of 'correction' be forthcoming from the mainstream news media?" asked Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "I wouldn't hold my breath."

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