Fox News Infected With “Reefer Madness”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 17, 2009

    Fox News is running an alarmist story today under the outrageous headline, “Marijuana Not Only Gets You High, It Damages Your DNA.”

    The ‘news’ story, which several other mainstream media outlets are also promoting, is based on a new British study assessing the effects of, ahem, “calf thymus DNA treated in vitro (in a Petri dish) … with the smoke generated from 1, 5, and 10 cannabis cigarettes.”

    Yes, really.

    So how did Fox “We report, you decide” News summarize this non-story? Let’s take a look.

    What Fox News reported: “Smoking marijuana not only gets you high, but it also alters your DNA.”

    What the study actually said: “[T]hese results provide evidence for the DNA damaging potential of cannabis smoke, implying that the consumption of cannabis cigarettes may be detrimental to human health with the possibility to initiate cancer development.”

    What Fox News reported: “There have been many studies on the toxicity of tobacco smoke,” researcher Rajinder Singh said in a news release. “Cannabis in contrast has not been so well studied.”

    What Fox News didn’t report: From the March 2009 issue of the scientific journal Medicinal Research Reviews, “Research on the chemistry and pharmacology of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids has reached enormous proportions. … [A]pproximately 15,000 articles on Cannabis sativa L. and cannabinoids and over 2,000 articles on endocannabinoids (are available in the scientific literature).”

    What Fox News reported: “Singh said cannabis smoke contains 400 compounds including 60 cannabinoids. It also contains 50 percent more carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons including naphthalene, benzanthracene, and benzopyrene, than tobacco smoke, Singh added.”

    What Fox News didn’t report: From the November 2007 issue of the scientific journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, “Vaporization of marijuana does not result in exposure to combustion gases, … and [was] preferred by most subjects compared to marijuana cigarettes. … The Volcano [vaporizer] device is an effective and apparently safe vehicle for THC delivery, and warrants further investigation in clinical trials of cannabis for medical purposes.”

    What Fox News reported: “‘The smoking of 3-4 cannabis cigarettes a day is associated with the same degree of damage to bronchial mucus membranes as 20 or more tobacco cigarettes a day,’ the team wrote in the journal.”

    Except for the fact that it isn’t. In fact, here’s what Donald Tashkin of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, had to say about the subject earlier this month in an interview with the McClatchy newspaper chain. (**Note: Dr. Tashkin has performed US-government sponsored studies of marijuana and lung function for over 30 years and is considered to be the United States’ — if not the world’s — foremost expert on the subject.)

    “What we found instead was no association (between marijuana smoking and cancer) and even a suggestion of some protective (anti-cancer) effect. … Early on, when our research appeared as if there would be a negative impact on lung health, I was opposed to legalization because I thought it would lead to increased use and that would lead to increased health effects. But at this point, I’d be in favor of legalization (of marijuana). I wouldn’t encourage anybody to smoke any substances. But I don’t think it should be stigmatized as an illegal substance. Tobacco smoking causes far more harm. And in terms of an intoxicant, alcohol causes far more harm.”

    Just for the record, in 2006, Tashkin led the largest population case-control study (yes, Dr. Tashkin actually performed research on humans, not ‘calf thymus DNA’) ever to assess the use of marijuana and lung cancer risk. The study, which included more than 2,200 subjects (1,212 cases and 1,040 controls), reported that marijuana smoking was not positively associated with cancers of the lung or upper aerodigestive tracteven among individuals who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints during their lifetime.

    Let the folks at Fox put that in their pipe and smoke it.

    173 responses to “Fox News Infected With “Reefer Madness””

    1. Sean says:

      That’s too complicated, all you gotta say is show me a marijuana only smoker that died from lung cancer or other such complications.

    2. CKDK29 says:

      jus more proof tht its a safe thing to do these days

    3. CKDK29 says:

      Damn good story tho Normal we r getting close

    4. David says:

      Also, who the hell smokes 3-4 joints a day and by themselves no less? Nobody I know, that’s for damn sure.

      That’s a lot of pot!

    5. V says:

      Someone should set Fox’s news headquarters on fire. Obviously this is a ploy backed up by the extremist w.a.s.p puritans and neo-cons in the government. You know what? So what if it alters your DNA, so does every other fucking thing on this planet. GET OVER YOURSELVES AND STOP TRYING TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO YOU ASSHATS!

      I go out in the sun, my DNA changes. I use a cell phone, or get x-rays, or watch tv, or sit in front of the computer…my DNA changes. I eat food, my DNA changes. I take a fucking breath…my DNA changes…

      I’m sick of government asshats and their pet scientists decrying that they know it all…

      It’s MY BODY……FUCK OFF……..Jesus we’re all going to die painful cancerous deaths from our environment…leave me alone and let me deal with it in my own way you jerk off asshats…..

      p.s. cleaning supplies is the real number one killer…

    6. 420Viper says:

      Bush II may have left the White House, but Faux News is still a right-wing mouthpiece run by uber-fascist propagandist Rupert Murdoch.

      As Paul illustrates in this article, Faux News lies by distorting or omitting facts.

      The Faux News claim above that 3-4 [joints] per day is … equivalent to the damage done by 20 tobacco cigarettes is utter bullshit.

      What Faux News doesn’t report: Pot consumers smoke only enough to achieve the desired effect(high).If you smoke 3-4 joints per day, you are smoking bunk-schwag ditchweed. Also, comparing pot and tobacco is the old apples and oranges game. Pot contains THC, tobacco contains nicotine. The former is a cancer retardant, the latter a cancer antagonist.

    7. i honestly do not put any value into any news reported on tv…. they are always extremely biased. The internet is the best source for news, but the problem with that is you need to search for it, and know which sites to trust and which ones are extremely biased. I will be the first to say that smoking marijuana isn’t the healthiest thing you can do, however it is a lot better than alcohol and ciggarettes. There are always 2 sides to almost every statement made on the news, the problem is 1 of those sides almost always tends to be kept in the dark.

    8. bromontana says:

      can’t win. Everybody who’s uneducated about marijuana hears this on the news and says “omg thats bad, those pro-pot people are stupid for wanting it legal.”

      They do not see the positive side or the myths debunked because they do not visit this website. Just need an honest news station to go against fox (or any other [most] news station spewing lies.)

      AC360 on CNN has been doing okay with it’s special “America’s High,” but still has anti-pot people come on the show blow out a load crap, and barley lets the pro-pot person speak… I imagine in the end nothing is going to be accomplished in favor of marijuana after the special..

    9. Ryan Slayton says:

      Leave it to the Republican based Fox news channel to continue the propaganda machine and BS…no surprise here! Hopefully,the report CNN is doing all week will help counter this with REAL FACTS!