Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bad reporting and "research" can do more harm than good...

I've had quite a busy end of May/start of June so haven't had a chance to blog, or even keep up with most news stories (being out of the country/at a festival tends to cut you off).  However one story that caught my eye (well I couldn't miss it on the one day I bought a paper) "Young cannabis users 'do not realise the huge danger to their health'".  It particularly claims that smoking cannabis is 20 times worse than smoking cigarettes.

Now I welcome any attempt to improve the health of people and to educate people (particularly younger people) to the dangers of drug use - as I've often said, I would combat drug abuse through education rather than prohibition, however all this is doing is perpetuating a popular drug myth that has even been debunked on Wikipedia.  In fact most of the damage that is done comes from the fact it is commonly mixed with tobacco.  

I was pleased to see when I returned home a rebuttal in my inbox from the excellent Professor David Nutt:

"The BLF’s lack of care with the evidence, and the media’s lack of care in fact-checking, could have the opposite effect from their good intentions. Public confidence in science as a means of getting to the truth can only be harmed when the BBC reports “experts” mistakenly declaring that what 88% of us apparently think about cannabis is wrong. What’s more, if the BLF’s misguided information is believed, people could actually be put at greater risk of lung cancer, for example by cutting down on the cannabis in their joints and padding them out with more tobacco, or by making parents relatively more relaxed about finding out that their teenagers smoking cigarettes every day than finding out that they smoke the occasional joint."

That paragraph I think picks up on one of the most important aspects.  I've known plenty of people (the amount of festivals I go to it's hard not to be exposed to it) who smoke the occasional joint - not even that, it's more of a social thing where they might have a couple of tokes.  Yes people can get addicted to it and some people do abuse it but very few of the people I know who smoke cannabis would be classed as regular users whereas 100% of my cigarette smoking friends are addicts.

I'd recommend that everyone reads Professor Nutt's piece, he's not some liberal who wants to end prohibition like me, he is just an expert who was fired by the former Labour Government for pointing out that their drugs policy didn't make sense, alcohol and tobacco being much worse for people than numerous restricted drugs.

No comments:

Post a Comment