Join 3,439 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Wacky Tabacky Make You Go Crazy!
November 22, 2002 8:40 AM   Subscribe

More Evidance that Cannabis can lead to Mental Illness. The link between regular cannabis use and later depression and schizophrenia has been significantly strengthened by three new studies. One of the key conclusions of the research is that people who start smoking cannabis as adolescents are at the greatest risk of later developing mental health problems. Studying 1600 Australian school pupils aged 14 to 15 for seven years, daily cannabis use was associated with a five-fold increased risk of depression at the age of 20.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood (83 comments total)

 
Damn you Spell Check!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:50 AM on November 22, 2002


Troll!

Turnabout is fair play, right? :)
posted by Pollomacho at 8:53 AM on November 22, 2002


Study:

Depression and listening to the Cure linked!
posted by dgaicun at 8:54 AM on November 22, 2002


Why would you smoke cannabis daily? Moderation is key, as a daily schedule is for most drugs excessive.
posted by four panels at 8:55 AM on November 22, 2002


I blame the neighbor's dog.
posted by dfowler at 8:56 AM on November 22, 2002


What are the effects or having to go out and work for a living and developing schizophrenia? I think I was a little more depressed once I got out of my teen years and had to start working and paying taxes, etc...
posted by stifford at 8:59 AM on November 22, 2002


They only get depressed when there's no cannabis. Wouldn't you?

Jesse Winchester - Twigs and Seeds
posted by nofundy at 8:59 AM on November 22, 2002


Turnabout is fair play, right?

I guess? You all know how I love to incite people with my ideas about weed....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:59 AM on November 22, 2002


Human Life Causes Depression and Schizophrenia.
Drug use is more often a side-effect.
posted by Shane at 9:05 AM on November 22, 2002


It's pretty hard to make sense of this article since they are putting together the results of three different studies, all of which seem to have different results. I'm certainly not a scientist or a psychiatrist, so I might be completely off-base here.

1) Patton's research in Australia: it seems that they are linked usage of marijuana with depression, which doesn't seem to jibe since this is just a correlation and not a causation. They acknowledge that the depression might be linked to other social reasons such as a unemployment and educational failure. It would be interesting to see what the correlation would be if they were to compare pot-smokers and non pot-smokers at similar levels of employment and education. The main result of this study, as far as I can tell, is that marijuana is bad because it's illegal..

2) Zammit's study with Swedish military conscripts is interesting because they factored out people with non-psychotic symptoms. I don't completely buy this because in my experience, the onset of schizophrenia can be pretty non-psychotic, taking a few months or a year or so with the affected person exhibiting other symptoms. They're also looking at conscripts, who would be young men and women in their early twenties, usually when the first symptoms of schizophrenia are emerging. In short, I don't buy factoring out people in their early twenties with psychotic symptoms because that can leave plenty of other schizo-affective people in the study.

3) Moffit's study, which factored out people having psychotic symptoms at the age of 11 (which must be the worst case scenario for schizophrenia) seems to conclude that marijuana use is not significantly correlated with schizophrenia.

As a side note, in my experience, it seems that schizophrenics are usually some of the heaviest smokers and drinkers I know. I assume that they use both of these substances to self-medicate and get some sort of control over their mental states. It doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that they use cannabis for the same reasons.
posted by rks404 at 9:10 AM on November 22, 2002


Turnabout is fair play, right?

Wrong. A response to a previous thread has no place in a later, unrelated thread.

I found this little report.
posted by hama7 at 9:14 AM on November 22, 2002


Patton's study linking cannabis use to depresion: Are these kids depressed because they're getting stoned every day? Or are they getting stoned every day because they're depressed? Would those results have been any different if applied to, say, teenage drinking? This is a reasonable study, and more research should be done here -- but without evidence of a chemical link it's misleading to say that the study demonstrates any cause-and-effect.

The schizophrenia link: the Moffitt study demonstrates no such thing, and is a fine example of a news report saying one thing in the headline and then contradicting itself completely in an end paragraph:

when the number of psychotic symptoms at age 11 was controlled for, this increased risk dropped to become non-significant. This suggests that people already at greater risk of later developing mental health problems are also more likely to smoke cannabis.

The Zammit study appears to be incomplete (it's funded through November 2003, anyway...) I'd be curious to read more than the brief gloss given here; there's not enough information about it given in the story to really evaluate it one way or the other.
posted by ook at 9:16 AM on November 22, 2002


I smoked during college and we turned out just fine.
posted by dr_dank at 9:16 AM on November 22, 2002


In other news, three new studies find that schizophrenics and depressives are ten times as likely to be daily Cannabis users.
posted by botono9 at 9:17 AM on November 22, 2002


And in other news, smoking cannabis supports terrorists and makes you accidently shoot people. TV is my anti drug.
posted by iamck at 9:26 AM on November 22, 2002


With a name like dr_dank, I have to wonder if you didn't smoke a little bit after college too :)

Anyway, what annoys me about these studies is that it seems like nothing more than government funded propaganda. There is no good definition of schizophrenia that I know of, at best it's a cluster of symptoms and I've recently read that a number of people who were classified as schizophrenic could just as easily be classified as bipolar. (sorry - can't find the link) In my mind, this leaves a little too much leeway in being able to decide who is "schizophrenic" for the purposes of a study.

Also, no one knows what the hell causes schizophrenia. There is a genetic component, but apparently there can also be components of stress and family relationships. One prominent psychologist seriously floated the idea that schizophrenia might be caused by exposure to cats. It's a disease that seems to occur with much higher prevalence in western industrialized nations, but no one knows why.

Honestly, it's a little presumptuous on my part, but I wish that we funded less government agenda-pushing and more research that actually tried to help treat schizophrenics.

Ok, I'm off my soap box now.
posted by rks404 at 9:31 AM on November 22, 2002


How is this not blatant trolling? It takes a pretty perverse reading of the article to come to the conclusion that cannabis use leads to mental illness.
posted by sexualchocolate at 9:35 AM on November 22, 2002


Jeez, all week I've seen nothing but "Troll" written by Steve in every left leaning post on the web site, now when I tease Steve a bit by calling him out for his "pot is bad" post for its attitude which could be considered more conservative. I see you have no sense of humor in this area so I'll just leave you guys alone on that one.

Could it be then that schizophrenics and depressive types smoke pot as a self medication rather than pot being the cause as was implied in the post? I'm not a psychologist nor an expert by any stretch, but could it be that the brain chemicals that cause one to develop schizoid or depressive behaviors are also what may lead these people to use marijuana? I'm not so sure from anything I've read that schizophrenia is "developed" or "caused" by anything environmental, so that would lead me to believe that the pot smoking is caused by the schizophrenia and not the reverse.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:41 AM on November 22, 2002


hama7-

Your report lists marijuana, one joint per day, as being
1. bad for your lungs
2. bad for your lungs
3. bad for short term memory.

We may already be aware of this. I think the debate still continues on whether or not there there are serious, long-term illnesses associated directly with smoking marijuana. Cancer, brain disorders, lupus, shingles, Alzheimers, bad choice of t-shirts, etc.
posted by four panels at 9:45 AM on November 22, 2002


Mitch Earlywine's book, Understanding Marijuana
A New Look at the Scientific Evidence
, an exhaustive review of current research on the topic, is considered the authoritative documentation pro tem. His interview on NPR's Sunday Edition with transcript.
posted by y2karl at 9:49 AM on November 22, 2002


I'd agree that the studies don't prove anything, due to a number of factors complicating their results.

If one were to conduct a proper study to test this hypothesis, I would guess you'd need to do the following to lessen the noise in your signal. Things like conducting study in place where it is legal, so there is no stigma attached and you don't self-select for people likely to be depressed enough to break the law. You'd obviously need to take a large sample of participants, give them all a full psychological evaluation to use as a baseline. Tests would be best administered as double-blind, with control and experimental groups both smoking something each day (or less frequently, if you want to mimic typical usage and not heavy usage) with just the experimental group getting the cannibis.

Until studies are conducted in such clinical fashions, they're more anectdotal than scientific.
posted by mathowie at 9:51 AM on November 22, 2002


bad for short term memory.

During intoxication, while people are high, essentially there are definitely some deficits in short memory. So it is very difficult to learn new skills or to memorize material during intoxication. Generally though, long term users, even daily users don't show meaningful deficits in memory when they are not intoxicated. So we might find studies that show list learning tasks where people have to learn long lists of words. And cannabis users might do slightly worse than non-users if they are daily users for two years or more. But often the difference is say, half a word on average or one word on a long list.

Not significantly so, if you listen to the interview above or read the transcript.
posted by y2karl at 9:52 AM on November 22, 2002


I'm an ardent supporter of marijuana legalization, but even I have to admit that it's reasonable to research whether a psychoactive drug -- even one generally acknowledged, as even hama7's little study does, to be safer than many other drugs (including tobacco and alcohol) -- might have long-term psychiatric effects.

It's not the research that's the problem, so much as the way it tends to be presented in the media: any hint of correlation with symptom XYZ is immediately headlined as "marijuana causes XYZ!" -- which is then quietly refuted below the fold.

(I also ardently disagree with S_at_L, almost all of the time, but lay off him on this one, guys. He didn't do anything in his post but paraphrase the article; the bias you're reading here is coming from the reporter, not from him.)
posted by ook at 9:53 AM on November 22, 2002


It takes a pretty perverse reading of the article to come to the conclusion that cannabis use leads to mental illness.

The headline of the article is "Cannabis link to mental illness strengthened"

So, what are you smoking?

I have no motive in this. I am quite neutral on the "pot" issue. I just noticed that quite a few people here like to discuss the developments in this area, and thought it was worth posting since no one else had.

Pollomacho: I knew you were kidding, no hard feelings....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:53 AM on November 22, 2002


Dr. Earleywine… I looked at everything all the way from the 1600's up to 2002. And to tell the truth there were a few new things that have come out particularly things that were counter to what we all may have learned in health class in junior high. Things like marijuana's impact on aggression, which seems to be non-existent. The idea that marijuana causes A-motivational Syndrome, which the data also doesn't support.

Liane Hansen… What is A-motivational Syndrome?

Dr. Earleywine… A-motivational Syndrome was this notion that you would somehow smoke cannabis and suddenly not want to do anything for society not want to contribute not want to hold a job and be incapable of setting goals and obtaining them. In both education and in occupational domains the data just don't seem to support this. For example, college students who smoke cannabis get grades that are comparable to college students who do not. Cannabis users seem to earn as much money and pay the same amount of taxes. Those sorts of things all seem to kind of defy the idea of A-motivational Syndrome.


I just noticed that 3 chapters of Understanding Marijuana are available in pdf at the bottom of the transcript.
posted by y2karl at 9:57 AM on November 22, 2002


I have no motive in this. I am quite neutral on the "pot" issue.

As if...
posted by y2karl at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2002


Here's my experience: the times I've smoked pot, I've been actually happy. This is an exceedingly rare event in my life, as I've suffered dysthymia for as long as I can remember, with a few depressive episodes thrown in for good measure.

I can completely understand why a depressed person would become a stoner. It's a damn sight better than being depressed (though not as good as getting proper treatment!)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2002


I am not just writing "troll" to emulate S@L's posting habits: this post actually IS a troller.

First of all, it's pretty frigging obvious that marijuana use has many unknown, if not immeasurable, mental effects. This link is saying "well, 3 crappy scientific studies attempting to prove that marijuana does some fucked up shit have had mixed results." Wow, shocker.

Also in the news today, scientists believe that having furry ears and a love of honey may double your risk of shitting in the woods later in life.

Secondly, this quote pretty much invalidates the teenage study:

"The regular users were no more likely to have suffered from depression or anxiety at the start of the study."

Unless they took a random sample of these 14 and 15 year olds and made them smoke weed, and forced the rest not to, then there is obviously a difference between the control group and the experimental group: the experimental group chose to use drugs. Teens who turn to drugs are more likely to be depressed than those who do not.

It's called "the scientific method"...
posted by zekinskia at 10:05 AM on November 22, 2002


"The link between regular cannabis use and later depression and schizophrenia has been significantly strengthened"

So? What's the big deal with that?

Drinking to much beer causes poor health and wrecked lives. Smoking cigarettes causes all manner of ills. Standing in the sun too long causes cancer. Excessive use of pot leads to bad mental health. Okay. Fine. I think we all knew that.

The problem is that this will be used to support the war on drugs, which is silly. Eating too much candy probably causes way more depression than pot. And looking back at the people I've known who were daily pot smokers, I don't think their mental problems had much to do with pot. Some people are just nuts.

War on drugs = Grasping at straws.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:06 AM on November 22, 2002


Things like conducting study in place where it is legal, so there is no stigma attached

mathowie, in your hometown, is there a stigma attached to someone who is an alcoholic? Someone who drinks every night at bars?

Is drinking alcohol legal?

In my experience in legal and almost legal places, extensively in the Netherlands and less so in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, there remains a stigma. Perhaps not as strong as in Texas, but it still remains.
posted by four panels at 10:07 AM on November 22, 2002


Good link y2karl.
posted by four panels at 10:11 AM on November 22, 2002


Well, I guess it's official.
posted by Silune at 10:14 AM on November 22, 2002


I agree that frequent use of any drug by adolescents is a bad idea. I haven't read any advocates of legalization who maintain that teenagers should be smoking dope. I would also encourage anyone who is showing symptoms of mental illness to avoid the use of psychoactive substances.

There's no real issue here. Is that what people mean by a troll?
posted by norm29 at 10:16 AM on November 22, 2002


The "report" cited by hama7 is a portion of a much larger report on medical marijuana for Prof. Charles Nesson's evidence class at the Harvard Law School. This particular page is part of a subsection on health concerns, which also includes this page on medical usage (noting, among other things, that it has been endorsed by the American Bar Association). The section on enforcement is strongly pro-decriminalization.
The irony of all this is that Nesson himself smokes pot daily -- as he discussed at length in an article with the law school's paper last spring (the article caused a minor stir; I don't remember if it hit MeFi or not).
posted by tingley at 10:25 AM on November 22, 2002


I haven't read any advocates of legalization who maintain that teenagers should be smoking dope

Very few advocates of legalization argue that anyone should be smoking marijuana, just for the record.

As far as it leading to mental illness, here's what the medical community at large would have to say: "Well, duh." No one has ever successfully made the argument that pot is good for you.

Reading while waiting for preview to load: zekinskia spot on concerning the merits of the study. If you think S@L is trolling (he's not) kindly run off to MeTa.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 10:37 AM on November 22, 2002


Er, by "much larger report", I meant "much larger class project".
posted by tingley at 10:38 AM on November 22, 2002


The article seems to state that the interpretation of the studies confuses correlation with causation. Early on it quotes a researcher as saying his study provides "little support" for the self-medicating theory, but nowhere does it state how he came to this conclusion, and in fact the actual information from the studies says nothing of the sort (just because people appear asymptomatic to others doesn't mean they're actually asymptomatic). The studies (going by what the article says, anyway) do not provide any proof that cannabis adversely affects mental health, they merely provide proof that there is a link in some cases between cannabis use and mental illness, which we already knew, and which in no way disproves the self-medicating theory.
posted by biscotti at 10:41 AM on November 22, 2002


Oops...should have proof-read one more time. I meant to add that the studies (as quoted) provide as little support for the "cannabis causes depression etc" theory as they do the "self medicating" theory.
posted by biscotti at 10:44 AM on November 22, 2002


As far as it leading to mental illness, here's what the medical community at large would have to say: "Well, duh."

Yelling at Nothing, please provide link with proof, data, or stats, thanks.
posted by four panels at 10:45 AM on November 22, 2002


how many billions have been spent over the last 50 years trying to prove that pot is harmful? (uh, I forget... but it's still all one big fat troll....)
posted by victors at 10:46 AM on November 22, 2002



The headline of the article is "Cannabis link to mental illness strengthened"

So, what are you smoking?


"Link" implies correlation (a is often found in conjunction with b), and you are misrepresenting the article by claiming that it is evidence for causation (a is caused by b.)

The disjunction between what you want the article to say and what it does say is even more clear in the text, as others have pointed out.

Basic logic teaches us that correlation is not causation. The article merely claims that there is a significant overlap between the set of people who are mentally ill and the set of people who habitually use marijuana. BFD.
posted by sexualchocolate at 10:47 AM on November 22, 2002


Here's the BBC report on the same data. It's a shocking misrepresentation in the first few paragraphs claiming that there is a clear causal link. What is it about drugs that brings out the worst in everyone?
posted by grahamwell at 10:52 AM on November 22, 2002


Well thank you Mr Logic. If you read the article, right or wrong, it draws the conclusion that Pot causes mental illness...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:54 AM on November 22, 2002


schizophrenia is NOT multiple personalities for all those who don't know. please stop spreading the misinformation. thank you.

I think it's far more likely that people who have signs of mental illness start on this type of behavior as teens than pot actually causing the illness. until we're better at diagnosing and treating children and teens with mental illness then I think studies like these are useless. I've head depression since I was at least in 7th grade. I didn't find out until 26. Did anyone notice or seem to care? Nope. How many others are out there like me? Countless, I'm sure.

and, no, I didn't smoke pot (tried, but never could get high, and no, that wasn't the reason for my depression! :)
posted by evening at 11:12 AM on November 22, 2002



The headline of the article:
"Cannabis link to mental illness strengthened"

The fpp:
More Evidance that Cannabis can lead to Mental Illness
posted by rks404 at 11:14 AM on November 22, 2002


What is it about drugs that brings out the worst in everyone?

A. Years and years of brainwashing that drugs = bad.
B. Everyone does or knows someone who takes a drug.
C. It's unsettling for people to come to terms with the fact that some illegal drugs are less harmful than legal ones.
D. People just want to keep spying through my living room window to make sure I am not doing something they disapprove of.
E. All of the above.
posted by archimago at 11:20 AM on November 22, 2002


Oh, and this--

Liane Hansen… What do you make of the recent commercials that connect the idea of buying a dime bag of marijuana to the killing of a young girl in Latin America?

Dr. Earleywine… Well I am looking forward to the commercials that equate gassing up your SUV to supporting Middle Eastern countries that harbor terrorism. The logic just doesn't follow as far as I am concerned. A lot of cannabis is grown here domestically so I think that clearly disputes the idea that somehow buying cannabis here is going to have an impact on any other nation. It is very much comparable to how things were handled in alcohol prohibition. So slowly but surely people will start to think about what is the cost to have these drug policies the way they are and what are the potential benefits of changing them. Lets make small steps and try each new policy and see how it turns out.

posted by y2karl at 11:23 AM on November 22, 2002


I think you're going to have to admit that you are wrong on this one, Steve.

You said, "More Evidance that Cannabis can lead to Mental Illness". The article says, "Cannabis link to mental illness strengthened". Now that we've explained correlation versus causality to you, do you understand these two statements have very different meanings?

In short, can you point to the passage in the article that "draws the conclusion that Pot causes mental illness"?
posted by betaray at 11:47 AM on November 22, 2002


I think the article does imply what Steve said (One of the key conclusions of the research is that people who start smoking cannabis as adolescents are at the greatest risk of later developing mental health problems.). The fact that the evidence cited in the article doesn't actually back up the tone of the article, doesn't change the fact that the article seems bent on implying that cannabis use puts you at greater risk of developing mental illness. Steve's headline was misleading in terms of what the studies actually show, but not in terms of the tone of the article.
posted by biscotti at 12:03 PM on November 22, 2002


I think you're going to have to admit that you are wrong on this one, Steve.

Most likely after the Law of Gravity is repealed...
posted by y2karl at 12:06 PM on November 22, 2002


If you sat down and looked at all the data there is on the effects of marijuana use (physical health, mental health, effects on society at large, etc.), I don't understand how one could come to the conclusion that marijuana should be illegal, but alcohol should be legal.

I'm with archimago: It's unsettling for people to come to terms with the fact that some illegal drugs are less harmful than legal ones

That leads to people desperately searching for evidence to back up their a priori conclusion that marijuana is Bad.
posted by pitchblende at 12:09 PM on November 22, 2002


rks404 said it very well, but I'd like to reiterate:
correlation does not equal causation

I smoke pot daily, and I hold down a professional career, healthy social life, good relations with my family, and am active in my community. Tell me again, Steve & Co - where am I going wrong?
posted by holycola at 12:20 PM on November 22, 2002


And now for a rousing chorus of "correlation is not causation."
posted by blissbat at 12:22 PM on November 22, 2002


On posting, what rks404 and holycola said. (But set to music.)
posted by blissbat at 12:26 PM on November 22, 2002


I would have totally been behind this if they had a venn diagram. I love venn diagrams.

As it stands this seems like a couple of half-done, or half-assed pieces of research that may be scratching the surface of something, but don't have anything to show yet. They should wait until they can prove something, rather than just spreading more "pot is bad!" propaganda.
posted by untuckedshirts at 12:27 PM on November 22, 2002


I smoked daily for over 20 years, starting when I was 14. One fo the first things I noticed once I quit was that depth and management of the depressive reactions within myself to the typical trials and tribulations of life improved, quite markedly.
I'm just sayin'...
That being said, there's nothing more depressing than spending 19 billion a year on the War on Drugs.
posted by BentPenguin at 12:32 PM on November 22, 2002


I want you caution several of you out there that keep repeating the mantra "its not as bad as alcohol" This may or may not be true, debatably, regardless, it does not strengthen an argument FOR lifting of legal restrictions, only arguments in favor of applying similar restrictions on alcohol. Its like saying uranium is less radioactive than plutonium, but I'm not so sure I want to sprinkle either on my corn flakes! Pot is an intoxicant, it makes you f-ed up, so does alcohol, being f-ed up is not all that great for your body and escaping into any substance rather than facing the reality of situations is not healthy, so yes, in a way, pot IS bad, so is alcohol, so is acid or coke or XYZ in a given circumstance. Dealing with problems in a constructive manner is not bad.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:43 PM on November 22, 2002


Pollomacho -- Don't assume that everyone drinks to get drunk and forget their problems or that people smoke pot only to escape their problems. Yes, they are intoxicants. That means they make you feel good. Not everyone abuses them.

holycola -- Don't forget paying taxes! Us stoners pay our taxes and would gladly pay even more if pot were legal and taxed. I also smoke almost every day (and have been for a long time) and I lead a pretty damn happy life (although when I babysit I tend to get so stoned that I forget the baby and leave the house just like those teenagers in the commercial).
posted by archimago at 12:48 PM on November 22, 2002


I usually leave the baby in a hot car or van, but that's just me. Actually I haven't smoked pot in years, but I would be far from stating that ALL users are stoners or ALL drinkers are drunks, it just doesn't strengthen an argument for legalization to say its not as bad as XYZ. Its like a kid getting caught doing something bad blurting out something worse that brother did to distract from the fact that both actions were bad. I think they call that two wrongs not making a right. Pot IS bad for you, beer IS bad for you, pork IS bad for you, which is worst matters not, the fact still remains that all of them are bad for you. That said, anybody up for a beer and a bacon cheesburger, you can smoke up if you'd like first, but open a window, cool?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:00 PM on November 22, 2002


Tell me again, Steve & Co - where am I going wrong?

You seem to have the impression that I am making a judgement on your drug usage... Well I am not. I dare you to find an instance of me saying so. The overall drug "issue" is one of the few that I really haven't made up my mind yet about.

At this point, I would not go so far as to legalize drugs, but my general stance on things, drugs and everything else, is: What you do in the privacy of your own home, as long as it harms no one else, is your business.

I posted this not because I wanted to say "Look, look see I told you drugs are bad!" I thought it was an interesting article, and I knew it would cause, hopefully, intelligent discussion.

Trust me, when I am trying to make a point, you will know it.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:03 PM on November 22, 2002


Think you know something about drugs? Take the quiz.
posted by keithl at 1:13 PM on November 22, 2002


First off if it weren't already common knowledge ANY drug can cause permanent physiological changes or damage if not used in moderation. While we may not have studies on it I would guarantee that caffeine, alcohol, hell even Acetaminophen when used excessively over extended periods of time will cause some health problems not found in a group that avoids these things.

Bottom line is that drugs of any sort will alter our body's chemical processing in a way that the body was not designed to handle.

Now on to the meat of the Anti-Pot crowd's arguements. I have yet to see ANY evidence that marijuana has any WORSE effects than legal drugs such as Alcohol or Nicotine. In fact it seems that so far marijuana is a far better option than these substances in it's potential negative health effects.
posted by aaronscool at 1:42 PM on November 22, 2002


aaron, were you paying attention? Have you been Smoking again? Two wrongs don't make a right, no matter how you phrase it. Great, so spousal abuse is no WORSE than child abuse, does that make it good? No, silly. They're both wrong! Just because weed is LESS harmful, doesn't stop the fact that it IS harmful, you said so yourself!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:52 PM on November 22, 2002


How stupid do you have to be to be surprised that smoking ANYTHING; taking it in through your lungs HAS to be bad for you. (Wonder how big a club I'm a member of: those born in the early '60's who have never smoked anything, legal or not--the idea frightens me).
posted by ParisParamus at 1:54 PM on November 22, 2002


The article: The total number of high quality studies on cannabis use and mental health disorders remains small, stress Rey and Tennant. And it is still not clear whether cannabis can cause these conditions in people not predisposed by genetic factors, for example, to develop them.
Steve@: Well thank you Mr Logic. If you read the article, right or wrong, it draws the conclusion that Pot causes mental illness...


Uh uh. I'm actually not in favor of marijuana use, but I really hate folks distorting science...or simply carelessly distorting articles about science.

"The article" concludes no such thing, and neither do any of the studies or people cited. At the very most, "the article" notes that two authors of an editorial (Ray and Tennant...not the article author, nor the authors of three studies with mixed results cited in the article) suggest cannabis use "could cause" some of these diseases, all while they and the article assert a lack of good evidence and multifactorial etiologies. For someone who professes to be "quite neutral" on the issue, you sure interpreted this article from one side, and as others have pointed out to you, correlation != causation.

The article: Until now, say Rey and Tennant, there was "a dearth of reliable evidence" to support the idea that cannabis use could cause schizophrenia or depression. That lack of good evidence "has handicapped the development of rational public health policies," according to one of the research groups, led by George Patton at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
Steve@: More Evidance that Cannabis can lead to Mental Illness.
Steve@: Trust me, when I am trying to make a point, you will know it.

We will? If by "make a point" you mean "support a point", how long do you want us to wait? For example, it's really, really odd that your post title would begin "More evidance..." when "the article" explicitly states that there is a "dearth of evidence".

Your "more evidance" actually turned into a real dance...one called backpedaling. Is that what you mean by "making a point"?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:04 PM on November 22, 2002


Few drug users think it's harmless, the reason people bring up the "no worse than" argument isn't a "two wrongs make a right" it's to demonstrate that the thinking behind the illegality of cannabis has nothing to do with protecting people's health and everything to do with politics. The issue isn't whether or not pot is more or less harmful than alcohol, the issue is whether or not the government should tell you what you can and cannot take into your own body in the privacy of your own home, especially when there's substantial evidence that there isn't a health basis for having pot be illegal when demonstrably more harmful drugs are legal.
posted by biscotti at 2:13 PM on November 22, 2002


Pollomacho: Two wrongs certainly don't make a right, but another way of looking at this is that since alcohol, cigarettes, etc. are legal drugs with effects equally damaging, if not worse than marijuana a precedent has been set that this is an acceptable risk to the individual and the public.

On another note, my mom was a heavy coffee drinker and she didn't like being so dependant on caffeine so she decided to start drinking only one cup every morning. After doing this she got splitting headaches in the morning from caffeine withdrawal. I recently quit smoking pot for a couple weeks and other than wanting to smoke the day after I quit, nothing. Just saying.

P.S. - I don't drink caffeinated beverages.
posted by untuckedshirts at 2:23 PM on November 22, 2002


Looks like biscotti beat me to punch, and expressed it with more clarity :)
posted by untuckedshirts at 2:24 PM on November 22, 2002


For those who believe there are demonstrable reasons for making pot illegal, thus by saying it is no worse than XYZ, all you are arguing for is XYZ to be illegal as well. Try attacking the reasons why pot is illegal in the first place not the fact that something else isn't. Try focusing on how the potential benefits for medicinal use etc. stack up against its negative effects.

Problem is though substances cause people to do dumb things. Normally passive guys get drunk and beat their wives. Normally stoic individuals get high and screw some person they would never give a second look towards. People snort coke and drive their car off a bridge. Some people don't need any assistance to do stupid things, others will find some substance to abuse regardless. Some feel that controlling substances will make people less likely to do stupid things, others feel that controlling substances only breeds more abusive behavior (that which you cannot have only becomes more attractive). The biggest problem is that there are no absolutes in this debate and not enough study on either side.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:31 PM on November 22, 2002


I agree that frequent use of any drug by adolescents is a bad idea.

As do I, but I would say that this also applies to legal drugs as well. Fourteen year-old kids who are smoking (tobacco or pot), drinking, and doing other illegal drugs are undoubtedly not doing their bodies - including the grey, squishy stuff up top - any good. But I also find the increased consumption of caffeine by teenagers and adolescents troubling.

Now, I love coffee and caffeine. (You'll have to pry my blessed beans from my cold, dead hands.) But it creeps me out to see thirteen year-olds in the Starbucks line, ordering up double-shots. (For more reasons than just this, but that's another discussion.)

It used to be that coffee was considered an adult drink, not suitable for younger children, but now, with the advent of the carmel mochachino (a gateway drug, if I ever saw one), coffee is just the modern equivalent of the malt shop shake. Caffinated soda is even worse, with high caffeine levels becoming the selling point. And yes, I know that Coke, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew have been around for a long, long time, but consumption of caffinated drinks by adolescents has markedly increased during the past couple of decades and we really have no idea what that will mean health-wise.
posted by edlark at 2:33 PM on November 22, 2002


Wow, what was I smoking, what I meant was, if someone already thinks pot should be illegal arguing that it is no worse than XYZ only makes an argument that XYZ should also be illegal. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:34 PM on November 22, 2002


I don't know, pollomacho, if I buy your argument, though it is logical enough. Since weed is already illegal the burden of proof asks that we find some benefit of smoking marijuana, rather than comparing it to other legal intoxicants. That's a pretty difficult bar to reach, isn't it? But maybe your right, maybe that's why many people are always talking about medical marijuana instead of marijuana for purely recreational use.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:17 PM on November 22, 2002


Pollomacho to answer some of your points:

I think biscotti and untuckedshorts summed up my point quite well. The only thing I can add is that in your example of spousal/chile abuse NEITHER of these actions are considered legal or moral and there is NO case in which physical abuse is deemed legal by which other instances of abuse can be justified.

Also at no point was I making a case for legalization or criminalization of any substance. My point in fact was that any foreign chemical substance be it as harmless as Tylenol or as dangerous as Alcohol when not used in moderation will have provable negative health effects.

Does this mean that ALL drugs (including Tylenol etc.)should be illegal? Well as impractical as this would be no. From my perspective it means that people should be left to make a PERSONAL choice whether or not whatever substance they plan to take is appropriate for themselves or not knowing that ALL said substances will have potential negative effects.
posted by aaronscool at 3:20 PM on November 22, 2002


Tell me again, Steve & Co - where am I going wrong?

You seem to have the impression that I am making a judgement on your drug usage... Well I am not.


You're right, and I take back that first part Steve. I often disagree with you and jumped too quickly on this one. Apology offered, with a big glassy-eyed grin.
posted by holycola at 4:32 PM on November 22, 2002


:)
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:37 PM on November 22, 2002


Since weed is already illegal the burden of proof asks that we find some benefit of smoking marijuana, rather than comparing it to other legal intoxicants.

This wasn't necessary in order to repeal prohibition, why should it be necessary to repeal the laws against marijuana? No benefit to drinking alcohol needed to be shown, beyond the fact that people wanted to (and would do so regardless of its legality, creating a black market), why is marijuana any different (aside from the masterful propaganda surrounding it which convinces people it's somehow much bigger juju than alcohol or tobacco)?
posted by biscotti at 5:15 PM on November 22, 2002


(A) Smoking pot is unhealthy? Then make hash brownies. And the effects last longer, too.

(B) Caramel Mochachino is not only a gateway drug to caffeine, it's also hell on the arteries. A good 9g of fat. Ugh.

(C) Regardless whether pot/coffee/alcohol/etc are harmful to oneself, the only factor that needs to be considered in the il/legalization of these drugs is whether they stand an unreasonable chance of causing harm to others.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:24 PM on November 22, 2002


I disagree very strongly, Pollomacho. Clearly most people believe there is a line out there, and that some drugs fall on the okay side of the line, and some do not. Almost all people agree that alcohol is on the "okay" side, so if it can be shown that pot is even less dangerous than alcohol, that places it clearly on the "okay" side as well.

You claim that this comparison only makes a case for making alcohol illegal assumes that it is the unregulated substance which must pass some test to remain so, when it should be the other way around. Any substance should have to be proven to be harmful to a certain degree to become or remain regulated. Kind of like innocent until proven guilty. If you find two substances of roughly equal effect and opposite established legal standings, it is the regulated one's status that should first be reevaluated.

The comparison to wife beatings is irrelevant, as is the "two wrongs" argument. This is not about right and wrong; it is not a moral issue. If you want a comparison to other laws, try this: anal sex is illegal in many places in the US; vaginal sex is not. Pointing out that the dangers of these two acts are roughly equivalent (and that they are equally none of the government's business), makes a strong case for legalizing anal sex, but not for criminalizing vaginal sex.
posted by Nothing at 1:49 AM on November 23, 2002


"Smoking pot is unhealthy? Then make hash brownies. And the effects last longer, too."

Again we come up against the fact that there aren't enough studies done in these areas. Is eating marijuana less harmful than smoking it? If smoking marijuana causes lung cancer, does eating it cause mouth cancer? There aren't any long term studies avaliable yet. We don't know.

"the only factor that needs to be considered in the il/legalization of these drugs is whether they stand an unreasonable chance of causing harm to others."

As in "raised health taxes for everyone?" Has that cost been factored into your equation? I'm not arguing here about any inherent cost to society regarding the use of marijuana, simply that there is a cost to society if people hurt themselves.

I think there are some compelling reasons for making the use of marijuana for personal use legal. Where I live, it's pretty much legal now to grow a few plants for this purpose. Thus far, it's working well.

When something is legalised, or is on it's way to being legalised, then education and information become important. People making a choice, need to be able to make as informed a choice as possible. Yes, and it's also important to scrutinise each study closely.

One reason there aren't double blind studies being undertaken is that if you take say, three thousand people - one thousand who don't smoke marijuana (the control group) one thousand who are given real marijuana, and one thousand people who are given a placebo, the test subjects are going to know they have been given marijuana. It's pretty obvious, after all, whether you are stoned or not.
posted by lucien at 2:08 AM on November 23, 2002


If you're going to base an argument on health care costs, lucien, then you're going to have to eliminate automobiles from our society, as they are leagues more costly than anything else we've got going on.

The health threats of marijuana smoke stem from the tars in the smoke. Eating pot brownies (and huffing vaporised THC) does not put tar in your body.

When something is illegalised then it's important to make that illegalisation based on an informed choice.

In other words, there need to be damned good reasons for making something illegal. Innocent until proven guilty type of idea there, y'know.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 AM on November 23, 2002


then you're going to have to eliminate automobiles from our society, as they are leagues more costly than anything else we've got going on.

What?! Any stats to support this, or are we back to pulling "facts" from thin air, five fresh fish?

In other words, there need to be damned good reasons for making something illegal.

Public approval...alcohol was made illegal at one point because of a public outcry. Potheads simply can't present a good, supportable, case for legalization. One could argue, facetiously, that they're too stoned to motivate themselves or others to join their cause.

BTW, "illegalised" isn't a word.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:30 AM on November 23, 2002


simply can't present a good, supportable, case for legalization.

They don't need to. The other side must present a good, supportable case for criminalizing it. They have yet to do so. Public approval is not a good measure for making laws restricting the private choices of individuals.
posted by Nothing at 1:43 PM on November 23, 2002


Pulled from my ass, BlueTrain.

"According to a report released back in 1993, the total costs for motor vehicle accidents in the US was over $333 billion in 1988."

Except for, possibly, the health care costs of cigarette smoking, I can't imagine there is a single cause of injury/illness/disease that can hold a candle to automobile accident injuries.

Public approval is not a good reason for making something illegal. Public approval is how you end up with bullshit like slavery, Japanese internment camps, sterilization pogroms, and boy bands.

Illegalised is, indeed, a word: you and everyone else in this thread has read it and understood it. Enjoy it, and feel free to use it yourself.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:55 PM on November 23, 2002


« Older They're Nippiting it in the bud. I suppose you can...  |  TV night or a drag show?... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments