There’s nothing like marijuana to completely unhinge the integrity of science reporting. Any study that reveals some bit of information that could be interpreted in a way that could lead in a direction of eventually showing harmful effects about marijuana is hyped as if it had been proved conclusively.
One of the things that is most potentially controversial about marijuana is its effect on children and developing brains. Now, those of us in drug policy reform are all for more research, and if it does harm developing brains, we want to know it. But we want real science, real research, real results. Quite frankly, if it’s true, it makes our argument stronger â€” after all, we’re the ones for regulating. The criminals that work under the prohibition regime don’t check I.D.s.
And yet, a lot of “science” reporting seems just intended to scare people.
Take this article in Science Daily: Cannabis Damages Young Brains More Than Originally Thought, Study Finds
Canadian teenagers are among the largest consumers of cannabis worldwide. The damaging effects of this illicit drug on young brains are worse than originally thought, according to new research by Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, a psychiatric researcher from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. The new study, published in Neurobiology of Disease, suggests that daily consumption of cannabis in teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have an irreversible long-term effect on the brain.
Hmmm… OK. Sounds serious. I should look into this. I wonder what kind of research was employed…. Wait, let me read the article again. I still wonder what kind of research was employed! There’s all this talk about teenagers and adolescents, but nothing about how they studied them.
So I went to the study. But…. but the researchers didn’t study teenagers. Not one. They studied adolescent rats.
The pathophysiological neural mechanism underlying the depressogenic and anxiogenic effects of chronic adolescent cannabinoid use may be linked to perturbations in monoaminergic neurotransmission. We tested this hypothesis by administering the CB1 receptor agonist WIN55,212-2, once daily for 20 days to adolescent and adult rats, subsequently subjecting them to tests for emotional reactivity paralleled by the in vivo extracellular recordings of serotonergic and noradrenergic neurons. Chronic adolescent exposure but not adult exposure to low (0.2 mg/kg) and high (1.0 mg/kg) doses led to depression-like behaviour in the forced swim and sucrose preference test, while the high dose also induced anxiety-like consequences in the novelty-suppressed feeding test. Electrophysiological recordings revealed both doses to have attenuated serotonergic activity, while the high dose also led to a hyperactivity of noradrenergic neurons only after adolescent exposure. These suggest that long-term exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence induces anxiety-like and depression-like behaviours in adulthood and that this may be instigated by serotonergic hypoactivity and noradrenergic hyperactivity.
Notice that their test results “suggest” certain vague conclusions. Yet in the ScienceDaily article, the study finds that cannabis damages brains. And yes, results in rats can suggest that certain things may be true in humans as well, but it certainly doesn’t prove it.
It would be nice to have integrity in science reporting. It would also be nice to have scientific researchers to have the integrity to refuse to feed these media morons.