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Suspect Study Perpetrates "Reefer Madness" Myth


Press release: Nov 22 2002: MILD GREEN COMMUNICATIONS

Suspect study perpetrates "reefer madness" myth

Cannabis law reformers say that research reported in the British Medical Journal - touting a causative link between cannabis use and mental illness - is fatally flawed and "conspiratorial" in its lack of objectivity.

The failure of researchers (Arseneault et al., http://www.bmj.com) to note that cannabis users are persecuted by law is a glaring omission from the analysis, say the Mild Greens.

Exclusion of the wider black market "set and setting" renders dangerously inadequate, Dr Arseneault's conclusion that "cannabis may be affecting the dopamine system in the brain."

Presumptions about the adverse affects of cannabis formed the basis for concern when New Zealand Parliament's Health Committee inquired into the Mental Health Effects of Cannabis in 1998. However the committee on confronting the evidence reported that "the negative mental health impact of cannabis appears to have been overstated", and their report acknowledged arguments that it was actually the climate of criminality which generates paranoia and anxiety:

"Those who develop problems [with marijuana] are less likely to seek help because they use an illegal substance, and may spiral in alienation, anti-social behaviour, criminality, mental illness or violence" (p19).

That inquiry suggested in conclusion that "if cannabis does cause harm to a small proportion of users then it is preferable that those people have good access to treatment without fear of stigmatisation and discrimination". MPs then unanimously recommended a harm minimisation and harm reduction approach - and reconsideration of the legal status.

A follow up inquiry before the Health Select Committee is now into its third year of failing to implement a precautionary approach against the black market criminalised context of widespread cannabis use in NZ.

The committee announced recently that due to excessive workload, the inquiry report on "health strategy's relating to cannabis" would not nowbe ready until early 2003.

Meanwhile in research which winds back the clock, and seeks apparently to deliberately misinform the current international "legal status debate", (and increase latent "reefer madness" prejudice), BMJ reported studies speculate that the incidence of schizophrenia would "reduce by 13%" if use of cannabis was eliminated.

Unfortunately the research papers fail to explore the oppressive (coercive care?) mechanism by which such "zero use" might eventuate.

cc:editor@bmj.com

Blair Anderson, Kevin O'Connell 50 Wainoni Road, WAINONI Christchurch, NZ 8006

Mild Green Initiatives phone ++64 3 389-4065 Web & Media Commentary http://www.mildgreens.com/press.htm

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