Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Link Between Marijuana, Schizophrenia (BMJ)

British Medical Journal Reports on Link Between Marijuana, Schizophrenia

The respected British Medical Journal recently published 3 studies which found an increased risk for the onset of schizophrenia among chronic marijuana smokers. There is cause for concern � chronic use of a variety of drugs, including alcohol, has been known to exacerbate the symptoms of schizophrenia � but it is very likely that media reports will sensationalize these studies without providing adequate perspective. In their definitive meta-analysis of marijuana research, authors Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D. and John P. Morgan, M.D. dedicated an entire chapter to the subject of marijuana and mental illness. From Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts:

"There is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana causes psychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults. Some marijuana users experience psychological distress following marijuana ingestion, which may include feelings of panic, anxiety, and paranoia. Such experiences can be frightening, but the effects are temporary. With very large doses, marijuana can cause temporary toxic psychosis. This occurs rarely, and almost always when marijuana is eaten rather than smoked. Marijuana does not cause profound changes in people's behavior."

"Blair Anderson of New Zealand�s Mild Greens issued a press release on the BMJ studies that points to the need for harm reduction. According to Anderson, the failure of researchers to note that cannabis users are persecuted by law is a glaring omission from the analyses published in the BMJ. Presumptions about the adverse affects of cannabis formed the basis for concern when New Zealand Parliament's Health Committee inquired into the Mental Health Effects of Cannabis in 1998.

The committee reported that 'the negative mental health impact of cannabis appears to have been overstated.'

Their report acknowledged that it was actually the climate of criminality which generates paranoia and anxiety: 'Those who develop problems [with marijuana] are less likely to seek help because they use an illegal substance, and may spiral in alienation, anti-social behaviour, criminality, mental illness or violence.'

The inquiry suggested in conclusion that
if cannabis does cause harm to a small proportion of users then it is preferable that those people have good access to treatment without fear of stigmatisation and discrimination.'

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