Paul Armentano: Reefer Mad

Read more at The Huffington Post

For anyone who missed the worldwide corporate media’s hysterical anti-pot headlines last week, here’s a sampling:

Cannabis more damaging to adolescent brains than previously known

via Emax Health

“New research shows that teens who consume cannabis daily can suffer anxiety and depression. Smoking marijuana can have long-term irreversible effects on adolescent brains, and is more harmful to teens than previously known.”

Teen marijuana use affects brain permanently: study
via CBC News

“The findings suggest daily marijuana use by teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have an irreversible effect on the brain.”

Pot damage on teens worse than thought
via UPI wire services

“Daily consumption of marijuana in teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have irreversible long-term effect on the brain, Canadian researchers say.”

Cannabis brain damage worse in teens than thought: study
via The Canadian Press
“The effects of daily cannabis use on teenage brains is worse than originally thought, and the long-term effects appear to be irreversible, new research from McGill University suggests.”

Sounds scary, huh? It’s meant to. Only there’s three serious problems with the mainstream media’s alarmist coverage.

1) No adolescents — or for that matter, any human beings whatsoever — actually participated in the study.

2) No actual cannabis was consumed in the study.

3) No permanent brain damage was reported in the study.

Don’t believe me? Well then, check out the actual source of the headlines yourself.

Chronic exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence but not during adulthood impairs emotional behaviour and monoaminergic neurotransmission
via PubMed

“We tested this hypothesis by administering the CB(1) receptor agonist WIN55,212-2, once daily for 20 days to adolescent and adult rats. … 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. … These (findings) 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.”

To summarize: Investigators administered daily doses of a highly potent synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN,55,212-2 to both adolescent rats and adult rats for 20 days. Days following their exposure, researchers documented altered serotonin production in younger rats. (Why investigators presumed that the change in serotonin production would be permanent I have no idea. After the initial 20-day waiting period, researchers do not appear to have tested the rats’ serotonin levels ever again.) Researchers also documented supposed depression-like and anxiety-like behavior in certain rats, based on various elaborate animal models and preference tests.

Yet somehow based on this speculative preclinical evidence, the mainstream media — in unison — proclaimed:

Reefer badness
via San Diego Tribune

“A study of Canadian teenagers … found that smoking the illicit drug is harder on young brains than originally thought. Writing in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, researchers at McGill University in Montreal said daily consumption of cannabis in teens can cause significant depression and anxiety and have an irreversible long-term effect on the brain.”

In truth, the purported ‘study’ never said anything of the sort!

Comments
One Response to “Paul Armentano: Reefer Mad”
  1. RastaMoses says:

    Ed,
    The truth is even worse. In 2005 Dr. Gobbi put out a press release with the title "New antidepressant drug increases 'brain's own cannabis"

    "The results were similar to the effect we might expect from the use of commonly prescribed antidepressants, which are effective on only around 30% of the population," explains Dr. Gobbi. "Our discovery strengthens the case for URB597 as a safer, non-addictive, non-psychotropic alternative to cannabis for the treatment of pain and depression and provides hope for the development of an alternate line of antidepressants, with a wider range of effectiveness."

    Here is what she said about cannabis in 2005:
    "Cannabis has been known for its antidepressant and pain-relief effects for many years, but the addictive nature and general health concerns of cannabis use make this drug far from ideal as a medical treatment. The active ingredient in cannabis — THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — stimulates cannabinoid receptors."

    Here is the link to the press release: http://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/news/item/?item_id=17777

    Dr. Gobbi has quite a conflict of interest. In 2005 she touted her new pharmacoutical as an alternative to cannabis in the treatment of depression and pain. Now that cannabis nears widespread legalization for medical purposes and Dr. Gobbi's drug comes closer to market, she seems to be trying to eliminate the competition.

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