Advisory Panel on the Misuse of Drugs

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 12, 2008

    Feds: Teen use of pot can lead to mental illness
    via The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) —Depression, teens and marijuana are a dangerous mix that can lead to dependency, mental illness or suicidal thoughts, according to a White House report released Friday.A teen who has been depressed at some point in the past year is more than twice as likely to have used marijuana as teens who have not reported being depressed — 25 percent compared with 12 percent, said the report by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    “Marijuana is a more consequential substance of abuse than our culture has treated it in the last 20 years,” said John Walters, director of the office. “This is not just youthful experimentation that they’ll get over as we used to think in the past.”

    “It’s not something you look the other way about when your teen starts appearing careless about their grooming, withdrawing from the family, losing interest in daily activities,” Walters said. “Find out what’s wrong.”

    Gotta love Walters’ remark about hygiene — which he appears to have taken almost verbatim from Above The Influence’s hateful propaganda film, Stoners In The Mist.

    Seriously though, it goes without saying that this so-called White House ‘report‘ (I use the term euphemistically here, given that said ‘report’ is under five pages and consists mostly of bar charts rather than text) is much ado about nothing. In fact, the only newsworthy aspect of this supposed ‘study’ is that the lapdog mainstream media gave it any coverage at all.

    In short, there’s nothing to the Drug Czar’s marijuana and mental health claims that NORML Advisory Board member Dr. Mitch Earleywine and I haven’t previously addressed in our essay here:

    Pot Smoking Won’t Make You Crazy, But Dealing With The Lies About It Will
    via Alternet

    Perhaps the most impressive evidence against the cause-and-effect relationship concerns the unvarying rate of psychoses across different eras and different countries. People are no more likely to be psychotic in Canada or the United States (two nations where large percentages of citizens use cannabis) than they are in Sweden or Japan (where self-reported marijuana use is extremely low). Even after the enormous popularity of cannabis in the 1960s and 1970s, rates of psychotic disorders haven’t increased.

    Ironically, just two days prior to the Drug Czar’s much ballyhooed press conference, Britain’s Advisory Panel on the Misuse of Drugs refuted the notion that pot use causes mental illness, stating, “The evidence for the existence of an association between frequency of cannabis use and the development of psychosis is, on the available evidence, weak.”

    A 2006 review by the same commission previously concluded, “The current evidence suggests, at worst, that using cannabis increases lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia by one percent.” And more recently, a highly touted meta-analysis in the British medical journal, The Lancet, reported that there is a dearth of scientific evidence indicating that cannabis use causes psychotic behavior, noting, “Projected trends for schizophrenia incidence have not paralleled trends in cannabis use over time.”


  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 7, 2008

    Lest anyone think that science or reason guide modern cannabis policy, I present to you today’s announcement from British Home Secretary (and former pot smoker) Jacqui Smith calling on Parliament to increase pot penalties from a verbal warning — the current policy — to up to five years in jail.

    Smith’s expected announcement (Watch the video here.) comes just days after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown — who has been afflicted with a severe case of ‘Reefer Madness’ since taking office last June — raved that consuming cannabis can be fatal, and that strict penalties on pot are necessary in order to “send a message” to young people that marijuana smoking is “unacceptable.”

    Ironically, the Home Secretary’s formal announcement contradicts the official recommendations of Britain’s Advisory Panel on the Misuse of Drugs, which released its own report today finding that pot lacks the potential health risks of most other illicit drugs, and that its use is unlikely to trigger mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia.

    It is the third time in six years that the Panel has demanded that legislators classify cannabis as a Class C ‘soft’ drug, with minor, if any, criminal penalties. Unlike Smith or Brown, the Advisory Panel consists of experts commissioned to evaluate and determine British drug policies — hence it’s hardly surprising that their findings would be totally disregarded by British bureaucrats.