Friday, July 27, 2007

Reefer Madness

Headline in the Daily Mail (UK): Smoking just one cannabis joint raises danger of mental illness by 40% ! (Gasp! Gasp!)

In short, the article says "pot is bad, you shouldn't smoke pot, m'kay?" It then goes on to contradict itself, and the study which it is written about. The study was commissioned by the UK Department of Health, and the results were released coincidentally with the news of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's intent to downgrade cannabis to class "C," the "least dangerous" category. From the article:

'Although individual lifetime risk of chronic psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, even in people who use cannabis regularly, is likely to be low - less than three per cent - cannabis use can be expected to have a substantial effect on psychotic disorders at a population level because exposure to this drug is so common.'

Cardiff University researcher Dr Stanley Zammit added: 'Even if cannabis does cause an increased risk of developing psychosis, most people who use cannabis will not develop such an illness.

'Nevertheless, we would still advise people to avoid or limit their use of this drug, especially if they start to develop any mental health symptoms, or if they have relatives with psychotic illnesses.'

At the end of the article, there is a small "profile" section featuring three men who, as the article and study would have the reader believe, became mentally deranged schizoid killers because they smoked pot. The profile admits that two of the three men used alcohol and other drugs as well as cannabis. The third, Thomas Palmer, killed two acquaintances after smoking "skunk." What the article fails to mention is that Palmer tried to use his cannabis smoking as his defense for the two murders. His defense was rejected, and he was convicted.

Nearly everyone has some sort of "mental illness" to a certain degree. Our society is eager to assign labels and diagnoses to everyone. Some people even desire to be diagnosed with a mental illness in order to validate thoughts about their own inadequacy. If one digs deep enough, one can find emotional and psychological scar tissue in every person on the planet. It does not mean you are crazy. And smoking pot won't make you that way, either. But Cannabis is a Schedule I drug in the U.S., while cocaine is in the prescribeable Schedule II category. And anyone can buy alcohol. There is more tragedy surrounding the latter two drugs than the former.

A much better article on this subject can be read over at Auntie Beeb.

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