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More on that ‘study’

April 21, 2014
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The scientific malpractice and grossly ignorant reporting regarding the study of a single brain scan from 20 widely disparate marijuana smokers and 20 controls is getting a lot of pushback. Maybe there are limits after all to the deceptions that this area of research can put forward.

In the PolicyMic article Here’s the Real Story behind the ‘Marijuana-Changes-Your-Brain’ Study, which, of course, was also not the complete real story, co-researcher Jodi Gilman was defensive about one charge in particular:

Some people criticize the […] funding source, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, among others (which got a laugh out of Gilman: “Your data is your data”).

Um, no, it isn’t. At least not when the people involved are blatantly lying in press releases, among other scientific transgressions. It’s perfectly legitimate to question the funding source’s influence on those lies.

Unfortunately, the media pushes these lies out there and then mostly ignores the corrections, retractions, and criticisms. But we’re getting better at educating the people.

Here are three more interesting articles pushing back against the willful misuse of science.

The very political neuroscience of cannabis by Mark Kleiman

If instead you wanted to score points in the culture wars, push your political agenda, and perhaps please your sponsors at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Office of National Drug Control policy, you’d behave differently. […]

… and he goes on to describe exactly what one of the researchers did.

No, Weed Won’t Rot Your Brain by Maia Szalavitz

Here’s the first big problem. The 20 marijuana-smoking participants, who took the drug at least once a week, were deliberately selected to be healthy. If they had any marijuana-related problems—or any psychiatric problems or other issues—they were excluded from participating.

Are you beginning to see what’s wrong? Although the pot-smoking participants showed brain differences in comparison to the controls who were also selected to be normal—both groups were normal! If the smokers had any marijuana-related problems or any type of impairment, they would not have been included in the first place. Therefore, the brain changes that the researchers found were—by definition—not associated with any cognitive, emotional, or mental problems or differences.

Why the Media’s Fearmongering on Marijuana Effects on the Brain is Faulty by Paul Armentano

Such fear-mongering and sensationalism by the mainstream media in regards to the supposed harms of pot upon the brain are nothing new. It wasn’t long ago that the mainstream media was boldly claiming that cannabis use permanently lowered IQ, a finding that marijuana prohibitionists and anti-drug bureaucrats were happy to repeat ad nauseam.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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