May 10, 2004

Must Be The Season of the Witch

* Lies and the lazy reporters that repeat them. excerpt:

"On May 5, newspapers and news broadcasts around the country carried alarming stories about a new study of marijuana published in that day's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. 'Stronger marijuana makes more addicted,' screamed the Los Angeles Daily News. 'Abuse and dependence rise as pot becomes more potent,' headlined the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Rising marijuana potency, the stories claimed, was leading more Americans to become addicted to the devil weed.

"Small problem: The theory that pot that is more potent is getting people hooked is almost certainly wrong. But none of the newspaper stories gave the slightest hint that might be the case.
...
"None of these stories chose to mention a salient fact: The 'potent pot' hypothesis is pure speculation. As Mitch Earleywine, University of Southern California associate professor of psychology and author of 'Understanding Marijuana' (Oxford University Press, 2002) notes, there is no scientific evidence that marijuana that is more potent leads to greater levels of dependence. Indeed the JAMA article makes no claim that any such evidence exists.
...
"That alone should have led an inquisitive reporter or two to ask if there might be an alternative explanation to the 'potent pot' theory. But the journalists covering the story failed to ask this most basic question even though the study contained a giant red flag: The increased 'abuse' occurred almost entirely among young blacks and Hispanics. There was no similar increase among whites in the same age group.

"Young blacks and Hispanics have no special access to high-potency marijuana, and there is no evidence that THC affects black and Hispanic brains differently than those of whites. But people of color are well documented to be at disproportionate risk for arrest for drug crimes.

"None of this was discussed in the Journal-Constitution story, or in the AP, Reuters and Scripps-Howard wire stories that were reprinted across the country. Indeed, what is striking about all of these stories is their similarity to the National Institute on Drug Abuse's press release. None of these esteemed newspapers or wire services chose to quote even a single expert or advocate skeptical of the government line. None of them seems to have considered the possibility that our government might spin the data in order to match its Drug War policies.

"For shame."

* Vote History: In 1960, Allen Ginsberg voted for JFK; Kerouac for Nixon

* Encouraging schoolchildren to experiment with oral sex could prove the most effective way of curbing teenage pregnancy rates, a UK government study has found.

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