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November 2005
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Drug Czar’s arbitrary victory claims getting some press skepticism

A reported increase in cocaine prices has naturally caused the Drug Czar to step forward and claim victory in the war on drugs and in the Colombian fiasco in particular. But while this Knight-Ridder story, picked up by a ton of papers, repeats Walters’ bragging, it also gives the other side, with an overall sense […]

Kids ‘helping’ Kids

Radley Balko has a great couple of pieces (1, 2) on the new version of the horrendous Straight programs (see also our discussion about the Semblers last week) called Kids Helping Kids. The Agitator already has this list, but it’s worth repeating. Check out these warning signs put out by the group (any four means […]

The Reefer Madness Dogs are back!

In the early history of marijuana prohibition, there were plenty of bizarre stories. There was government expert Dr. James Munch who testified in court, under oath, that marijuana had turned him into a bat (until even Anslinger was embarrassed by his testimony). Then there was the evidence presented to Congress about the dangers of marijuana:

[…]

Marijuana users LESS depressed…

… or another one in your face, Drug Czar!
Via Marijuana Policy Project: Largest-Ever Study of Marijuana, Depression Finds Fewer Depressive Symptoms, Better Mood:

ALBANY, NEW YORKÖIn the largest-ever study of marijuana and depression, to be published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, daily or weekly marijuana users had fewer symptoms of depression than non-users. Marijuana users were also more likely to report positive moods and fewer somatic complaints such as sleeplessness. Noteworthy differences were also found between those using marijuana for medical purposes and non-medical or “recreational” users.

The new research appears to contradict statements by some government officials suggesting that marijuana is a cause of depression. For example, in a May 3, 2005, press release from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, ONDCP Director John Walters said, “Marijuana use, particularly during the teen years, can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide and schizophrenia.”

“Not only does marijuana not cause depression, it looks like it may actually alleviate it,” said Mitch Earleywine, co-author of the new study and associate professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

So is this just a small effect that could be open to interpretation?

Effects were generally large, with marijuana users approximately 30% less depressed than non-users.

So how could the drug czar be so wrong? (other than the fact that they like to lie and manipulate data)
It’s the junk science approach that they use. If, for example they study a group of depressed people and find that many of them use marijuana, they’ll link depression with marijuana use. However, it is more likely that depressed people are using marijuana as self-medication for their depression. This study is better, because is takes full populations and looks at the overall effect — and overall, those who use marijuana (whether depressed or not) are less depressed than those who do not.
Earlywine confirms this:

“Those who use marijuana to battle the symptoms of illness may be depressed because of their illness, not because of marijuana,” Earleywine said. “Studies that do not identify medical use might falsely implicate marijuana, rather than sickness, as the cause of depressed feelings.”

I’m back…

No, I wasn’t at the Drug Policy Alliance convention — I was in a kind of personal computer hell for a few days. Three disconnected events: 1. A separate website I run had its server and two backups fry at the hosting company and we lost everything from late October on. 2. A messageboard I […]