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More on that ‘study’

The scientific malpractice and grossly ignorant reporting regarding the study of a single brain scan from 20 widely disparate marijuana smokers and 20 controls is getting a lot of pushback. Maybe there are limits after all to the deceptions that this area of research can put forward.

In the PolicyMic article Here’s the Real Story behind the ‘Marijuana-Changes-Your-Brain’ Study, which, of course, was also not the complete real story, co-researcher Jodi Gilman was defensive about one charge in particular:

Some people criticize the […] funding source, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, among others (which got a laugh out of Gilman: “Your data is your data”).

Um, no, it isn’t. At least not when the people involved are blatantly lying in press releases, among other scientific transgressions. It’s perfectly legitimate to question the funding source’s influence on those lies.

Unfortunately, the media pushes these lies out there and then mostly ignores the corrections, retractions, and criticisms. But we’re getting better at educating the people.

Here are three more interesting articles pushing back against the willful misuse of science.

The very political neuroscience of cannabis by Mark Kleiman

If instead you wanted to score points in the culture wars, push your political agenda, and perhaps please your sponsors at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Office of National Drug Control policy, you’d behave differently. […]

… and he goes on to describe exactly what one of the researchers did.

No, Weed Won’t Rot Your Brain by Maia Szalavitz

Here’s the first big problem. The 20 marijuana-smoking participants, who took the drug at least once a week, were deliberately selected to be healthy. If they had any marijuana-related problems—or any psychiatric problems or other issues—they were excluded from participating.

Are you beginning to see what’s wrong? Although the pot-smoking participants showed brain differences in comparison to the controls who were also selected to be normal—both groups were normal! If the smokers had any marijuana-related problems or any type of impairment, they would not have been included in the first place. Therefore, the brain changes that the researchers found were—by definition—not associated with any cognitive, emotional, or mental problems or differences.

Why the Media’s Fearmongering on Marijuana Effects on the Brain is Faulty by Paul Armentano

Such fear-mongering and sensationalism by the mainstream media in regards to the supposed harms of pot upon the brain are nothing new. It wasn’t long ago that the mainstream media was boldly claiming that cannabis use permanently lowered IQ, a finding that marijuana prohibitionists and anti-drug bureaucrats were happy to repeat ad nauseam.

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8 comments to More on that ‘study’

  • cy klebs

    Here’s my anecdote; Katie Couric is a coal-burner. Remember all those pills they peddled on her news program?

  • B. Snow

    Okay, who kidnapped Mark and replaced him with a Pod-person?

    Oh wait, I See he’s realized he’s pissed off both sides – and this gives him a chance to say everyone who feels strongly about this is wrong and biased except (of course) Him.
    I think he wants more “consulting work” – that had to have been the easiest gig ever… Except he got held accountable for overcharging them for a system that was set-up how he envisioned it. (According to his Ideology about discouraging use by jacking up the sin-taxes & then saying “if his price point is too expensive, you’re smoking too much” according to him… = That’s the way he feels it should be set-up.
    (Because he knows better on the subject than anyone/everyone else on the planet. And we should just do what he dictates & “trust him”… uhmm, no!)

    Instead of what would be best for everyone involved – not limiting peoples’ liberty to make their own decisions & forcing his pseudo-moral, “fence-straddling”, “have his cake and tell you how to eat yours too” – based views, onto the general public… or better yet the whole world!

    • Freeman

      “have his cake and tell you how to eat yours too”

      Loved that line — so descriptive!

      No, as you know he’s not been replaced with a pod-person, that’s just an artifact of his fence-straddling. He’s late to the party on this one, was probably waiting to see what tune everyone else was singing before joining in on the chorus.

      He’s back with another clumsy, bumbling critique of a NORML press release in his very next blog post which he had to mostly retract because he had failed to read the entire press release before prematurely ejaculating his commentary.

      I couldn’t help but notice the sharp contrast between “neither side in the culture war has a monopoly on b.s., and I think we’re all entitled to complain” and “But the main thing I learned is not to trust NORML press releases… I think I deserve some credit for not having actually strangled anyone.” I wonder which way his personal biases lean?

  • Tony Aroma

    Why would you expect the media to correct their errors? It’s one thing if they get the basic facts wrong, then they pretty much have to. But what are they going to say about something like this? “We misrepresented and exaggerated the facts to make the story a bigger deal than it really was. Sorry.”

  • kaptinemo

    Old Scottish saying: “Once you touch the Devil, you can never let go.”

    Researchers who make Faustian bargains with the anti-drugs bureaucracy for funding shouldn’t cry the blues when their intellectual credibility gets incinerated by their embrace of it.

    After all, you are known by the company you keep. And if such company is composed of liars, cheats and murderers?

  • claygooding

    Mark Kleiman will follow Kev Kev into a faded history of failed policy when people quit answering their bullshit…if we didn’t laugh them out of relevancy it wouldn’t even be a good snake oil road show.

  • NorCalNative

    You know what?

    If cannabis protects my brain (neuroprotective,) my heart (cardioprotective,” helps keep me younger (antioxidant,) helps me deal with inflammation (Cox 1 and Cox 2 inhibitors,) pain (Anagesic) as well as symptoms of neuropathy, I don’t really GIVE A SHIT WHAT KIND OF CHANGES HAPPEN TO MY BRAIN.

    And, for ONCE I’d like Mark Lieman to cop to the existence of the endocannabinoid system and cannabis’s relationship to improved health and homeostasis.

  • primus

    On the whole, not a bad piece by Klieman. Most of it was logical and well written, and explained that there are multiple possible right answers to the questions, however nobody has a lock on which is the right one. It is also possible that the answer is a blend of two or several of these. The last two paragraphs kind of fell apart, but basically called for using logic and common sense when crafting legislation and rules, to ensure that kids don’t start and that nobody uses too much. By which I understand him to mean, keep the taxes high and crack down hard on the kids and their suppliers. The last paragraph is so badly written that it is hard to know for sure, but that’s what it looks like to me. He also acknowledges the reality of legalization. Says so.