Nora Volkow wants to be your friend

Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) guest posts at the Drug Czar’s “blog”: Marijuana Research: The Facts

When we come to the topic of marijuana, it’s easy to be stirred by the heat of the debate between Gate-busters and Gate-keepers. This fight is fought almost entirely on the basis of personal and cultural beliefs, many times without knowledge of the scientific evidence about the acute and chronic effects of marijuana use on the human brain.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) mission is to gather this evidence objectively.

And then she goes on to tell us what’s wrong with marijuana.

So NIDA’s mission is to “gather evidence objectively.” Really?

Let’s go back to 2006.

A study had just discovered that “Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance” and part of its funding had come from NIDA.

Nora wasn’t all that keen on objective evidence gathering then, when she apologized for NIDA funding being used to find something good about illicit drugs.

Nora Volkow: “As the nation’s preeminent drug abuse research organization, NIDA’s mission is to support research and provide information on the addictive and adverse health consequences of drugs of abuse.

So which is it, Nora?

Is the mission of NIDA to “gather evidence objectively,” or to promote “adverse health consequences” of certain drugs? Quite a difference there.

Let’s look further.

On NIDA’s website, we have this statement by NIDA on marijuana and cancer:

It’s hard to know for sure whether marijuana use alone causes cancer, because many people who smoke marijuana also smoke cigarettes and use other drugs. But it is known that marijuana smoke contains some of the same, and sometimes even more, of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per day may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day (15) .

Now that’s interesting. You know what’s really interesting about it? Not one word about the definitive 2006 study that was done on marijuana and cancer that was funded by NIDA — you know, the one that demonstrated conclusively that there was no additional risk of head, neck or lung cancers in even heavy marijuana smokers, and that, in fact, there was a slight reduction of risk.

So, NIDA’s so-called objective gathering of evidence actually involves footnoting an old 1988 NIDA-funded study, ignoring their own definitive 2006 study, and ominously implying a reality that is contrary to their own funded research.

Nora Volkow isn’t your friend. She’s also not a friend to science… or the truth.

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11 Responses to Nora Volkow wants to be your friend

  1. darkcycle says:

    Demanding credible information from the government. On any topic. It’s like going to the middle of the Sahara and demanding rain. I’m afraid the best we can hope for is that everybody without exception smiles and nods, then rolls their eyes. Kinda like the news released by the Soviets during their era. Every thing released by the soviet regime during that time for internal consumption was so stupid, so demonstrably false and misleading that their main media outlets had become a national joke. That kind of media control that doesn’t even fool the stupid is a characteristic of all totalitarian regimes. Kinda seems like we’re well on the way, don’t it?

  2. malcolmkyle says:

    Here are just ten of the many studies that Nora Volkow blatantly ignores and the Feds wish they’d never commissioned:


    A massive study of California HMO members funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found marijuana use caused no significant increase in mortality. Tobacco use was associated with increased risk of death. Sidney, S et al. Marijuana Use and Mortality. American Journal of Public Health
    . Vol. 87 No. 4, April 1997. p. 585-590. Sept. 2002.


    Veterans Affairs scientists looked at whether heavy marijuana use as a young adult caused long-term problems later, studying identical twins in which one twin had been a heavy marijuana user for a year or longer but had stopped at least one month before the study, while the second twin had used marijuana no more than five times ever. Marijuana use had no significant impact on physical or mental health care utilization, health-related quality of life, or current socio-demographic characteristics. Eisen SE et al. Does Marijuana Use Have Residual Adverse Effects on Self-Reported Health Measures, Socio-Demographics or Quality of Life? A Monozygotic Co-Twin Control Study in Men. Addiction. Vol. 97 No. 9. p.1083-1086. Sept.


    Marijuana is often called a “gateway drug” by supporters of prohibition, who point to statistical “associations” indicating that persons who use marijuana are more likely to eventually try hard drugs than those who never use marijuana – implying that marijuana use somehow causes hard drug use. But a model developed by RAND Corp. researcher Andrew Morral demonstrates that these associations can be explained “without requiring a gateway effect.” More likely, this federally funded study suggests, some people simply have an underlying propensity to try drugs, and start with what’s most readily available. Morral AR, McCaffrey D and Paddock S. Reassessing the Marijuana Gateway Effect. Addiction. December 2002. p. 1493-1504.


    The White House had the National Research Council examine the data being gathered about drug use and the effects of U.S. drug policies. NRC concluded, “the nation possesses little information about the effectiveness of current drug policy, especially of drug law enforcement.” And what data exist show “little apparent relationship between severity of sanctions prescribed for drug use and prevalence or frequency of use.” In other words, there is no proof that prohibition – the cornerstone of U.S. drug policy for a century – reduces drug use. National Research Council. Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us. National Academy Press, 2001. p. 193.


    DOES PROHIBITION CAUSE THE “GATEWAY EFFECT”?): U.S. and Dutch researchers, supported in part by NIDA, compared marijuana users in San Francisco, where non-medical use remains illegal, to Amsterdam, where adults may possess and purchase small amounts of marijuana from regulated businesses. Looking at such parameters as frequency and quantity of use and age at onset of use, they found the following: Cannabis (Marijuana) use in San Francisco was 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample. And lifetime use of hard drugs was significantly lower in Amsterdam, with its “tolerant” marijuana policies. For example, lifetime crack cocaine use was 4.5 times higher in San Francisco than Amsterdam. Reinarman, C, Cohen, PDA, and Kaal, HL. The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and San Francisco. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 94, No. 5. May 2004. p. 836-842.


    Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice’s lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602.


    In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, “in a dose-dependent manner” (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, “Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer,” AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997.


    Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn’t also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers, though the difference did not reach statistical significance. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.


    Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased Lung Cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.


    In response to passage of California’s medical marijuana law, the White House had the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the data on marijuana’s medical benefits and risks. The IOM concluded, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.” The report also added, “we acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting.” The government’s refusal to acknowledge this finding caused co-author John A. Benson to tell the New York Times that the government “loves to ignore our report … they would rather it never happened.” Joy, JE, Watson, SJ, and Benson, JA. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press. 1999. p. 159. See also, Harris, G. FDA Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana. New York Times. Apr. 21, 2006

  3. claygooding says:

    You left out Judge Young’s medical marijuana investigation
    they ignored:

    and the recent gold standard studies showing smoked marijuana does have medical efficacy:

  4. ezrydn says:

    Yet, not one report or presentation will even consider the difference between “smoked” and “vaped.” I’ve quit smoking and gone vap exclusively. Works just as well and offers better evnironmental conditions.

    Some may not like the idea of having to be plugged into the wall, grabbing big bags and setting digital temps. I didn’t. So, I tried a “Magic-Flight” and it’s truly a great little vaporizer. It’s all I use now and fits in the palm of your hand. Google it. I can use it when I’m out and about and no one even notices it.

  5. claygooding says:

    EZ-Vape,no forced air,only draws when you do,tricky to learn only to sip,not toke,but makes you walk funny,even on the mostly brick around here.

  6. Just me. says:

    Dont worry my fellow reformers, the days of lies and deceit will end. Passing prop 19 is just the beginning. Nation wide legalization is NOT the end. The power of the people is mightier than they think…or they already know and fear us. I think the latter.

    Thing is, as we take back control of our country, this beast will thrash about and harm people. The sword of justice and liberty is mighty, ending prohibition is just a back swing.

  7. darkcycle says:

    I love my vapormatic. But, I’ll ‘fess up folks: I’m that one in a thousand US pot smoker who (cover the ears of the little ones) mixes his joints with tobacco. Yes, a habit I picked up in the service, it’s still with me. Don’t Use Tobacco! My lungs are trashed like they never would have been had I exclusively smoked pot all my life. But: it’s an incredibly hard habit to break once you’ve started. Amsterdamers will concur.

  8. Chris says:

    I have the MFLB as well, but it doesn’t seem to work very well for me. As in I can’t get much more than a buzz off of it and it takes forever. Other people love it though, so I don’t know what’s going on.

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  10. kaptinemo says:

    Volkow is Trotsky’s great-great-granddaughter. It ought to be family history how in the old Sov Union science was shamefully twisted and perverted via Lysenkoism to justify some pretty outrageous stuff.

    You’d think she’d have learned from that history.

    And, just maybe, she did…all the wrong lessons.

  11. Duncan20903 says:

    ezrydn clay’s link to the CMCR report which details controlled studies which prove that vaporization is safe. Dr Abrams is a stud.

    So I understand that tobacco users are now starting to use vaporizers. Those are the e-cigarettes which has some very annoying ads all over the place. I found this out because I was reading the hysterical rhetoric of a tobacco Nazi who wants them banned. One item that she claimed had compelled her to feel a need to lobby against the new cigarettes is the fact that many cannabis consumers are using them to discreetly vaporize cannabis rather than tobacco, and to do so in public without suffering any contrived consequences from authorities.

    In the area of non-smoked routes of cannabis administration, Dr. Donald Abrams’ study, “Vaporization as a ‘Smokeless’ Cannabis Delivery System,” has been completed and the results published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. This study found that vaporization was a safe and effective mode of delivery. Two CMCR clinical trials are now in progress utilizing vaporization.

    Even better, the CMCR has John Walter’s seal of approval. From the CMCR report:

    “The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research is currently conducting scientific studies to determine the efficacy of marijuana in treating various ailments. Until that research is concluded, however, most of what the public hears from marijuana activists is little more than a compilation of anecdotes.” ~ John Walters, Former Director of the White House Office of National Truth Control, 2002

    In the last 114 years the Know Nothings have commissioned several blue panels of experts in order to enumerate the hazards of cannabis which they wanted to use their work in the production of propaganda in favor of the war on (some) drugs. You would think after all this time that they would accept reality and quit thinking that reputable men of letters will publish schlock at your request. Gosh, I wonder how much they spent in providing the means for Dr. Tashkin to prove that cannabis was was destructive and/or degenerative of the human pulmonary system. It damn near made me drop dead from shock and really did give me a horrid case of cognitive dissonance back in 2006 when I first heard about Dr. Tashkin rejecting and repudiating earlier claims of cancer risk. It was kind of an ‘OK you’re in a coma and your brain is filling in spaces with nonsense’ moment. Still and always a tip of the pin to Dr Tashkin for finding and reporting the truth, as distasteful and embarrassing as it must have been for him to do so. For so long so many thought of him as simply a government stooge who was manufacturing the results of his studies and delivering what his sponsors wanted. Kind of like when a big company, say Enron for example, is hiring an accountant, and as part of the vetting process asks the candidate ‘how much is 2 + 2? With the job going to the accountant that gives the correct answer, which is “how much do you want it to be?”

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