A rather strange article by Shari Roan in the Health section of the Los Angeles Times titled A bit of tarnish on marijuana’s benign reputation
Ooh, I wondered, what dire medical study has been misinterpreted just in time for the final weeks before Prop 19? What is this “bit of tarnish,” then?
But, with a $5,000-a-year habit and chronic bronchitis, she tried repeatedly to quit. About a dozen times over the years she checked in alone to a hotel in Desert Hot Springs to white-knuckle herself through nausea, sweats and tremors.
Yep. They found some crazy lady with a $5,000-a-year pot habit. That’s not tarnish, that anecdote. Guess what? I found a crazy lady who has 130 cats. Doesn’t really say much useful about whether people should be allowed to own cats.
The meat of the article, if you can call it that, was another re-hash of the litany of health concerns while trying to strike a false balance in most instances.
Even Keith Humphreys made a cameo appearance as he chucked a random straw man into the article’s murky depths.
One particularly solid bit of research was the part about cannabis and driving:
The science of marijuana becomes murky when one steps beyond addiction statistics to examine effects on health.
A series of studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published in 1998 found that the effects of marijuana alone on driving were small or moderate, but severe when combined with alcohol.
But other studies show little impairment from a moderate dose: A 2004 study in the journal Accident, Analysis and Prevention found no increased risk of motor vehicle accidents causing traumatic injury among drivers using marijuana.
“Even after smoking, there aren’t any real deficits in driving ability that we can detect in the laboratory,” said Mitch Earleywine, an associate professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany who serves as an advisory board member at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Exactly. Other than the part about driving after drinking alcohol, it’s pretty much unanimous that marijuana and driving is not a serious issue.
Except the next line is:
The data on lung damage and smoking-related cancers are similarly mixed…
Wait. Similarly mixed? As in… not at all? Where was the mixed data on drugged driving in the article?
The data on lung damage and smoking-related cancers are similarly mixed, in part because a large portion of heavy marijuana users also smoke tobacco, which muddies the picture of marijuana’s effects.
No, the data on lung damage and smoking-related cancers are not mixed. Not unless you ignore the definitive study of its kind conducted by Tashkin at UCLA and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That study accounted for tobacco use, unlike the tiny study in New Zealand that the drug prohibitionists like to quote, since their own big definitive study failed to produce the cancer they hoped for.
Like I said. A strange article. Not an all bad one, as there are plenty of good points in it. But to hang it on one woman’s addiction, and then use the false balancing technique, for each point (whether there existed balance or not).