Alternet: “Five Scientific Conclusions About Cannabis That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To Know”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 30, 2012

    Writing in the journal Science some four decades ago, New York State University sociologist Erich Goode documented the mainstream media’s complicity in maintaining cannabis prohibition.

    He observed: “[T]ests and experiments purporting to demonstrate the ravages of marijuana consumption receive enormous attention from the media, and their findings become accepted as fact by the public. But when careful refutations of such research are published, or when later findings contradict the original pathological findings, they tend to be ignored or dismissed.”

    A review of today’s mainstream media landscape indicates that little has changed. While studies touting the purported dangers of cannabis are frequently pushed by the federal government and, therefore, all but assured mainstream media coverage, scientific conclusions rebutting pot propaganda or demonstrating potential positive aspects of the herb often tend to go unreported.

    Writing today on the website Alternet.org, I explore five recent scientific findings regarding cannabis that have gone all but unnoticed by the corporate media.

    Click here for the full story.

    27 responses to “Alternet: “Five Scientific Conclusions About Cannabis That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To Know””

    1. Joel: the other Joel says:

      Auditing the Federal Reserves would help understand how the federal government (directly and indirectly) has gotten control of the mainstream media.

    2. Galileo Galilei says:

      I’ve heard that as scientists in more open societies began to communicate and even publish on electronic bulletin boards, the rigid control on information in the Soviet Union put Soviet scientists at an ever increasing disadvantage. More recently we see the affect of technological advances such as social media and cell phone cameras on authoritarian countries such as Mubarak’s Egypt and now Syria when information can no longer be controlled by a ruling elite.

      I’ve often heard our own politicians proudly pointing to this phenomena, apparently blithely unaware that the free and open exchange of information is coming after information control in this country, too.

    3. John Sprague says:

      Hi Paul,
      I read this article on Alternet, and left much the same comment there. I agree with much of what you write, and many of the pro-cannabis comments there, and I support the legalization of cannabis. I think pot has significant medicinal uses, and beneficial effects for many people. However, I really think that NORML and the pro-pot crowd in general, does itself a disservice by basically asserting that pot is some kind of panacea, and has no problems associated with it. Any medicine can be abused, and no medicine is right for every person in every circumstance. For example, regarding the first of the 5 points made in the article, refuting the idea of mental health issues with pot, I know a very creative, interesting young man, who has had a long history of mental health issues (including hospitalizations) and in every instance his episodes have coincided with him gettting into pot-smoking. He often ends up hospitalized, where he gets off the pot. Then he starts to get his life together until he starts feeling really good about himself, starts smoking pot again. thinking he can handle it, which leads quickly to delusional feelings of grandeur and enlightenment, and the delusions, and strange behaviour increases from there, and lands him back in the hospital. I know another woman who (normally quite intelligent and articulate) who had a severe psychotic episode connected with a pot smoking binge. Does this mean pot is intrinsically bad, or “causes” pychosis? No, and as I mentioned I still support legalization. But what it does mean, is that it is not right for everyone, and should be approached with caution. I also know of a number of individuals for whom pot smoking is clearly associated with amotivational feelings and depression. Does it do these things to everyone? No. For many people it is good medicine. But I think it is counterproductive to argue that there are no problems. To me, both sides of the argument offer dogmatic and inflexible viewpoints, but the reality is way more nuanced. Cannaibis is a powerful herb with the potential for good, and the potential for harm, and should be approached with the appropriate respect.

      [Editor’s note: 1) You need an editor as you’re arguing both sides of the discussion…pick one side, and stay with it…either Cannabis Prohibition is ‘good’ and should continue or it is ‘bad’ and should end ASAP. It can’t be both! 2) NORML has never argued that cannabis is a panacea, cure all, or a crop ‘that will save the world’.]

    4. Chris in WI says:

      It’s amazing, it’s a plant that hasn’t ever killed anyone and we’re BEGGING the goverment to regulate (ID, tax, QC) it! I mean seriously it’s not hard. The government has no right to tell free adults what they can/cannot put in their bodies, but they can regulate intestate commerce… So F’in tax and regulate!

    5. Travesty says:

      Yeah its not about right and wrong. It’s about the individual to decide for themselves me thinks. We think the FDA is the gold standard? I think God saying all green seed bearing plants are good is the only stamp of approval needed.

    6. Travesty says:

      Yeah its not about right and wrong. It’s about the individual to decide for themselves me thinks. We think the FDA is the gold standard? I think God saying all green seed bearing plants are good is the only stamp of approval needed.

    7. ALmoderate says:

      @ John Sprague …
      First, thanks for having a clear opinion on the legalization of cannabis. Second, I am a little surprised that you are taking on the side effects of cannabis without making a conparison to the side effects of alcohol. We, as a legalization movement, have never said cannabis is harmless. What we constantly refer to is that cannabis is less harmful than either tobacco or alcohol and infinitly safer than any other form of recreational or manufactured drug on the planet. It has many more possible and documented benefits than MSM will ever give it credit for yet MSM embraces alcohol consumption like it is a nectur of the gods themselves.

      You suggest approching cannabis consumption with caution, yet every single person over the age of 21 can purchase and consume (in excess if desired) a substance that has more negative effects than almost anything else that mankind consumes. The most publicly documented advise about alcohol … dont drink and drive.

      I appreciate your opinion but worry that many folks truely dont understand that responsible and moderate cannabis consumption is possibly one of the safest recreational activities for adults. I know there may be some negative reactions to use but compared to most other activities and intoxicants in general, cannabis use is by far one of the safest.

      Might I go so far as to recommend a book… “Marijuana is Safer – So why are we driving people to drink” … After 30 years of … experience … I still learned a thing or two from this publication.

    8. Uncle Larry says:

      I can’t help but often think “if we could simply expose the disinformation and corruption of the government to a sufficient degree, the prohibition can be soon ended” I wonder if mainstream society will soon enough be enlightened enough to say “Yeah, right, what a load of shit” to the governments lies about cannabis. Is this the main hope of many of us anti-prohibitionists? Or do we tend to be focused more directly on the government/law? Maybe I’m lacking for the right words here, I guess it’s “do we focus more on society, or the politicians?” or is it simply everything that works. I’m hoping that the (hopefully) growing enlightenment of the public, the exposure of untruths will be enough to bring about the change that we deserve. Maybe the internet is killing prohibition as we speak. Also isn’t the prohibition unconstitutional? “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That my right to swing my arms stops only when they hit someone else? Maybe I’m not saying anything new here, but we have to figure out how to change some things right?

    9. Uncle Larry says:

      I’m really just trying to get my head around this. My intention is to be constructive. Thank’s!

    10. adam says:

      I have to agree with John here. Calling it “arguing both sides of the discussion” is just an excuse to simplify things rather than deal with the complexity of the real world. Pot should be legal, but not all of the consequences of that will neccessarily be good for every single person. This is why reasonable regulation is a good idea.

      The thing is, we shouldn’t have to argue that marijuana is completely harmless, or worse, argue that it’s the best thing since sliced bread, in order for it to be legalized. We should be able to say, “people have a right to smoke marijuana just as they have a right to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol”. We certainly have every right to say cannabis is much safer than alcohol (an obvious fact), but we shouldn’t have to prove it perfect in order to support legalization. I support the second amendment although guns are tools for killing and can be used in horrible ways – because guns are incredibly useful tools and have a meaningful place in the world. Certainly having more hunters would probably be a good thing in most of the US, since deer are overrunning many areas!

      I understand fully why NORML would prefer it’s own writers not to try to be complex and honest – it’s a sure way to lose a debate (as is obvious when prohibitionists try to argue without lies). But it is realistic to admit cannabis is not completely harmless. That said, the harms of cannabis use do not even begin to match the harms of prohibition. The facts are on our side, even without stretching into the realm of debating studies with other studies.

      I think the basic fact that you can’t overdose on cannabis, and the long term health outcomes are so minor as to not be obvious after decades of studies and generations of pot smokers, is a very strong argument. If it were half as bad as prohibitionists say it is, there would be a pile of dead bodies. There aren’t any.

      [Editor’s note: You’re in need of an editor too….you claim in the same post that cannabis is not completely harmless (NORML has never claimed cannabis is completely harmless…no drug is completely harmless) and then go on and wax about it’s long recognized safety and efficacy.

      Let’s let the former chief law judge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Francis Young, have the last word regarding cannabis: “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”]

      [Paul Armentano also responds: “But it is realistic to admit cannabis is not completely harmless.” Have you read my writings closely? I never said that cannabis is ‘harmless.’ In fact, I emphasize the point that cannabis can pose risks, which is in fact an argument for its legalization and regulation:


      “As for Sack’s initial question, “Is marijuana good medicine?,” like any medicine, the answer will depend on the patient and the circumstances. Cannabis is no doubt therapeutic for some but not necessarily appropriate for everyone. Can cannabis be abused? In some limited instances, yes. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of consumers use it responsibly and in moderation. Isn’t it about time our laws and public policies reflected this reality?”

      Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/07/25/regulations-not-criminal-prohibition-best-address-concerns-regarding-cannabis/#ixzz22E6UIyco

      “This is not to say that marijuana is innocuous or without risk. It isn’t. But such concerns are hardly an argument in favor of the plant’s continued illegality. After all, there are numerous adverse health consequences associated with alcohol, tobacco and prescription pharmaceuticals — all of which are far more dangerous and costlier to society than cannabis — and it’s precisely because of these consequences that these products are legally regulated and their use is restricted to particular consumers and specific settings. A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the limited legal use of marijuana by adults would best reduce any risks associated with its use or abuse.”]