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‘Reefer Mad’ Mainstream Media Does It Again

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 29, 2009

    UPDATE!!! In a 12/29 e-mail communication with the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s Newsroom Operations Manager (in reference to their coverage below), she pledges: “I will follow up with our online staff right now. We will get it corrected or taken down.” Yet, as of 11am pst today the story still appears online in its original form. Those who live in southern California may also wish to voice their opinion at: http://www.signonsandiego.com/contactus/.

    For anyone who missed the worldwide corporate media’s hysterical anti-pot headlines last week, here’s a sampling:

    Cannabis more damaging to adolescent brains than previously known
    via Emax Health
    “New research shows that teens who consume cannabis daily can suffer anxiety and depression. Smoking marijuana can have long-term irreversible effects on adolescent brains, and is more harmful to teens than previously known.”

    Teen marijuana use affects brain permanently: study
    via CBC News
    “The findings suggest daily marijuana use by teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have an irreversible effect on the brain.”

    Pot damage on teens worse than thought
    via UPI wire services
    “Daily consumption of marijuana in teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have irreversible long-term effect on the brain, Canadian researchers say.”

    Cannabis brain damage worse in teens than thought: study
    via The Canadian Press
    “The effects of daily cannabis use on teenage brains is worse than originally thought, and the long-term effects appear to be irreversible, new research from McGill University suggests.”

    Sounds scary, huh? It’s meant to. Only there’s three serious problems with the mainstream media’s alarmist coverage.

    1) No adolescents — or for that matter, any human beings whatsoever — actually participated in the study.

    2) No actual cannabis was consumed in the study.

    3) No permanent brain damage was reported in the study.

    Don’t believe me? Well then, check out the actual source of the headlines yourself.

    Chronic exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence but not during adulthood impairs emotional behaviour and monoaminergic neurotransmission
    via PubMed

    “We tested this hypothesis by administering the CB(1) receptor agonist WIN55,212-2, once daily for 20 days to adolescent and adult rats. … Chronic adolescent exposure but not adult exposure to low (0.2 mg/kg) and high (1.0 mg/kg) doses led to depression-like behaviour in the forced swim and sucrose preference test, while the high dose also induced anxiety-like consequences in the novelty-suppressed feeding test. … These (findings) suggest that long-term exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence induces anxiety-like and depression-like behaviours in adulthood and that this may be instigated by serotonergic hypoactivity and noradrenergic hyperactivity.”

    To summarize: Investigators administered daily doses of a highly potent synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN,55,212-2 to both adolescent rats and adult rats for 20 days. Days following their exposure, researchers documented altered serotonin production in younger rats. (Why investigators presumed that the change in serotonin production would be permanent I have no idea. After the initial 20-day waiting period, researchers do not appear to have tested the rats’ serotonin levels ever again.) Researchers also documented supposed depression-like and anxiety-like behavior in certain rats, based on various elaborate animal models and preference tests.

    Yet somehow based on this speculative preclinical evidence, the mainstream media — in unison — proclaimed:

    Reefer badness
    via San Diego Tribune

    “A study of Canadian teenagers … found that smoking the illicit drug is harder on young brains than originally thought. Writing in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, researchers at McGill University in Montreal said daily consumption of cannabis in teens can cause significant depression and anxiety and have an irreversible long-term effect on the brain.”

    In truth, the purported ‘study’ never said anything of the sort!

    So why the does the MSM consistently get the story wrong when it comes to pot? You can check out my previous thoughts on the issue here.

    89 Responses to “‘Reefer Mad’ Mainstream Media Does It Again”

    1. J Blazzze says:

      Legalize it and:
      huge tax revenues which could be used for at worst case, free clinics for ppl who wanted off drugs, at best case, free health care for all!!

      also, elimination of illegal dealers > elimination of more crime..

      increased US production > less imported weed > less money supporting foreign terrorists..

      less crooked cops on the take from current ‘dealers’, ‘distributors’, ‘importers’…

      less police resources wasted in the control/ eradication of the plant…

      less waste by foreign governments in the attempt to eradicate…

      boost to the ‘snack-food’ industry !

      a MUCH calmer population !!

    2. Justin says:

      Unbeleivable… I don’t get how studys get published and spammed on mainstreeam news when they can never put an actual study that monitered the actual consumption of marijuana.

      I personally think that if pot wasn’t so taboo and all the reefer madness would calm down that kids wouldn’t be looked at depressed because they smoke pot. When I tried pot when I was in high school I enjoyed it a lot but the guilt I felt at home around my parents and my adult friends I looked up to (which now I know at 22 years old they all smoke pot and are advocates themselves but wanted me to wait until 18 or so to really smoke marijuana) If it was more understood and people were comfortable talking about it things would be so much easier.

    3. Joel says:

      The mainstream media is owned by the same corporate big whigs who got marijuana illegalized in the 1930s. Don’t think that William Randolph Hearst left it for the paper giants to fight. I’m sure he convinced everyone in most media of the purported ill that cannabis can/will do to the world.

      William Randolph Heart
      William S. Paley (CBS)
      David Sarnoff (NBC)
      Edward Noble (original owner of ABC)
      The Walt Disney Corportation (current owners of ABC)
      Rupert Murdoch

      … the list can go on and on. We all know the story. Its no lie. The proof is out there that this cannabis prohibition is a result of a HUGE CONSPIRACY by corporate giants.

      The tides are changing though. Its just a matter of time before cannabis prohibition ends. I say in the next 3 years.

    4. Ron Brewer says:

      I really don’t understand how the world will not let marijuana be legal. Alcohol has much more of a threat then weed will ever have. I believe that the government should just legalize and capitalize. If marijuana was legal the government would make a serious profit off of the distribution of it in stores. People that are in prison for marijuana could be let go making room for the “real criminals” to be there. Set an age for people to purchase marijuana like there is for alcohol and tobacco. The article up top focus alot on teens smoking marijuana, which is possibly true, but there is alot more stuff teens do that should as bad as marijuana. Teens drink alcohol and go drunk driving all the time and noone is trying to make alcohol illegal they’ll lose too much money doing that, same as tobacco. It’s just funny because America wants marijuana to be illegal yet you can go to the majority of stores and buy pipes, bongs, bowls, blunts etc. It doesn’t make sense.

      Ron b.
      New Jersey

    5. Cameron says:

      This should be published and broadcasted all over the news. Seriously, this shows exactly what the media does to the simple minded viewers

    6. Ron Brewer says:

      I really don’t understand how the world will not let marijuana be legal. Alcohol has much more of a threat then weed will ever have. I believe that the government should just legalize and capitalize. If marijuana was legal the government would make a serious profit off of the distribution of it in stores. People that are in prison for marijuana could be let go making room for the “real criminals” to be there. Set an age for people to purchase marijuana like there is for alcohol and tobacco. The article up top focuses alot on teens smoking marijuana, which is possibly true, but there is alot more stuff teens do that should be as bad as marijuana. Teens drink alcohol and go drunk driving all the time and noone is trying to make alcohol illegal they’ll lose too much money doing that, same as tobacco. It’s just funny because America wants marijuana to be illegal yet you can go to the majority of stores and buy pipes, bongs, bowls, blunts etc. It doesn’t make sense.

      Ron b.
      New Jersey

    7. joe suggs says:

      Well isn’t that typical presently the media is in the business of making the news not reporting the news they are indeed the fourth branch of the government.

    8. A rope leash says:

      I’ve been smoking since I was twelve, so I probably qualify for some sort of disability check, right?

    9. unknown says:

      its why I say that we must continue to push 21 and up, high school, at 18, with a card, cant happen…kids, with cards, cant happen…Those stories, are tough to read as I understand what it was like growing up needing it and not knowing it was there to help…but…we cant push legalization with this mothers giving their kids pot headlines that lead to this kind of stuff from a silly “study”

    10. Elizabeth says:

      Unbelievable. It’s very scary when major news sources begin reporting such appalling misinformation because then you really don’t know who can trust. And to lie over something so stupid as a harmless drug like marijuana is just disgusting. Thanks for explaining these studies.

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