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September 2005
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Fact-checking the media

Via News of the Weed:
The Times Online (UK) published a reefer-madness article by Will Iredale and Holly Watt on Sunday: Mental problems soar among children using cannabis.

The number of children treated for mental disorders caused by smoking cannabis has quadrupled since the government downgraded the legal status of the drug, according to a leading drug charity.

Startling. But clearly nonsense to anyone who follows the facts. Yet at a time when there are prohibitionists in England trying hard to reverse the liberalization trend, such an article will fan flames in a major way.
So what’s this leading drug charity where the Times got their info? Addaction.
The very next day, Addaction released this statement

The Sunday Times published a story on September 18th under the heading “Mental Health Problems Soar Among Children Using Cannabis” by Will Iredale and Holly Watt that bore little relation to any information supplied by Addaction, and was, in our view, entirely misleading.

The story has been so structured as to make a case about cannabis-related psychosis based on information the paper claims came from Addaction, but which did not come from the charity.

In 2004-5 Addaction which collects data on numbers of young people seen in its youngaddaction services, saw 1,575 young people who came to Addaction for treatment for drug misuse. Addaction collected data on cannabis use. But Addaction is not a mental health charity and is not qualified to treat psychosis.

Rosie Brocklehurst, Director of Communications at Addaction said: “The subject of cannabis-related psychosis is a very serious subject and the report in the Sunday Times made serious claims, based on no evidence supplied by us. We suspect the story was influenced by the Sunday Times wish to write a piece before the imminent deliberations by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. The ACMD will be reviewing the scientific evidence on cannabis use and misuse and will be making recommendations to the Government in the light of those deliberations.”

I haven’t seen a correction yet at the Times.

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1 comment to Fact-checking the media

  • jennifer

    I think that weed should be legal. i think this because people are going to use it either way. also because it was illegal for less then 1% of the time that it was used. the marijuana (hemp) plant had an incredible number of uses in earlier times. it was used for rope for wars and stuff. in Virginia you could actually be put into jail if you were a farmer and you wern’t growing it during times of shortage. Over the centuries hemp had been used for food, incense, cloth, rope, and much more. in virginia you could actually pay your taxes with marijuhana. Try that now a days! not gonna happen;; Hemp was such a critical crop for a number of purposes that the government went out of its way to encourage the growth. For most of human history weed has been legal, i dont see any problem with it not being legal now. If alcohol can be legal then why cant weed. it doesnt seem fair. my opinion is alcohol can get me way more fucked up then weed could. the weed might not be as healthy for us but its our life. if we want to do weed were going to do if its legal or not!! -jennifer.♥