Pseudo-Scientific Anti-Cannabis Propaganda, or Fact?

The following debate originally took place upon the Facebook wall of an ex-acquaintance…

2011-02-08 - Pseudo-Scientific Anti-Cannabis Propaganda, or Fact

Madeline F.: Pot, the “safe” drug thought to be innocuous, proved to be linked in study to early psychosis:

Cannabis May Influence Onset of Psychosis:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=cannabis-may-influence-onset-of-psy-11-02-07

Daniel Sz.: Speaking from personal experience, I became floridly and acutely psychotic immediately after the last time I smoked it, which was about four years ago. I had smoked it about a dozen times prior to that over the previous few years with no ill effect. The last time, however, landed me in the hospital. I have been hospitalized for psychotic episodes five times since then–including recently. I will never know to what extent it was the cannabis I smoked that caused it, or to what extent it was the Abilify I had taken for OCD and the Adderall I had taken for ADD. My stance on this is that yes, cannabis is bad for some people. But banning it makes about as much sense as banning sugar because it is harmful for diabetics. (And I am also a diabetic.) Those are me two cents’ worth.

Madeline F.: I think it would be a good idea to limit pot, sugar and fast foods in this country, especially to certain populations. Obesity and diabetes are becoming epidemics in this country and bankrupting our health care system. In many cases diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cardiac and other health problems are preventable and reversible by living a healthy lifestyle. People waste food stamps on junk food and cigarettes, and there is proposed legislation which may restrict peoples’ access to these items who use food stamps. I hope it goes through because this country is having a health care crisis with younger and younger populations suffering from preventable diseases. As far as cannabis goes, my view is that its use should be medical only. Who knows if smoking it may have triggered your epigenetic tendency to psychosis. Mightn’t you have been better off if you’d never found out, or had a few more years before your first episode?

Rayn: If you read the content of this article carefully, you will notice that cannabis is only linked with early psychosis among those individuals who WILL suffer from psychosis in life, NOT among those who will not. This places the title of this article completely at odds with the information contained within. On its own, the title appears to push the fear-mongering pseudo-science of Voodoo Pharmacology, as if cannabis use CAUSES or leads to psychosis. And, since only two words (“among psychotics”) by the article-writer would have prevented such confusion, and yet, were not added, I’m inclined to believe that it was done intentionally. Also, there is no indication in this article as to whether those in the studies were taking medication, and what those medicines were. Without a prescription-drug-free “control group” to work with, all results mentioned in this article could just as easily be the result of interaction between cannabis and anti-psychotic drugs. Whether this is true or not, good studies don’t even leave room for such interpretations. There is also no mention about whether there was a control group that was NOT using casual stimulants, such as coffee or tobacco, which have been known to increase psychosis in some… You would think that this study’s researchers, or the article’s author, (whoever is responsible for the lack of full info on the study) would be much more thorough than this on a topic so controversial… Sad, really, what passes for journalism these days! I will save this article in the same folder that I keep all of my “WMDs in Iraq” articles!

Rayn: Hmmm… it would appear that my preliminary analysis of this study was correct. Here is the link to the original study:
http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/archgenpsychiatry.2011.5

Here are two important quotes from the study:

“One limitation of this study was the absence of data to enable us to examine the extent to which tobacco use is associated with an earlier age at onset, because insufficient tobacco use data were available for meta-analysis. It is conceivable that the apparent association between cannabis and psychosis is in fact related to a neurotoxin in tobacco, which is almost always mixed with cannabis. However, this is a weakness of all naturalistic studies of cannabis and psychosis, and tobacco use by itself has not been considered to be a factor contributing to exacerbations of psychosis in people with established illness.”

“However, attempts to confirm the earlier onset of psychosis among cannabis users found in individual studies have been complicated by the considerable variation in the methods used to examine the association between the age at onset of psychosis and substance use…A fourth difference is in the nature of the control group, because some studies use psychotic patients with no reported substance use as controls, whereas the control groups of other studies include psychotic subjects who used drugs other than the drug under study.”

And, these are the EXACT points that I made in my last post!

Also, here’s some “food-for-thought” (pun intended):

Coffee-Induced Psychosis:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19407709

British Study – 40% of Hospital Inpatients Caffeine-Intoxicated:
http://CaffeineWeb.com/?p=60

As you can see, caffeine, and coffee, in general, can cause psychosis in HEALTHY, non-psychotic individuals. Caffeine overdose is also a problem, and can be LETHAL! Yet, caffeine is perfectly legal, and enjoys widespread use in our culture, and many others around the world. This illustrates the amount of bias and hypocrisy that exists in regards to cannabis use versus other much more dangerous substances!

Madeline F.: Which post was that? I didn’t see which post you’re referring to. FWIW, water in large amounts can also be toxic, even lethal. And water is also perfectly legal!!

Madeline F.: The writer was correct in not using the words “among psychotics.” For one, a person can’t be referred to colloquially as a “psychotic” until they’ve had a psychotic episode. Second, no one can predict that a person WILL have a psychotic episode unless they can also predict WHEN they will have one. Can you provide research that shows that this kind of prediction can be made?

Madeline F.: Ah, I see now that you made a prior post. You make valid points. However, if it’s only “conceivable” that cannabis under study was mixed with a neurotoxin in tobacco which “almost” always causes psychosis, then I’m making the point now that we’d need to know in what amounts and levels the neurotoxin causes psychosis, and after what amount of time it’s capable of doing so. The amount of neurotoxin in cannabis, IF even present, could be negligible. In addition, in conjunction with the variable considerations I just proposed, tobacco smokers who also smoked cannabis would need to be tested as a separate group from non-smokers of tobacco who also used cannabis. And then, I suppose those exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke in any such similar study should also be similarly considered and tested…

Rayn: “If you had read my comment carefully, you would have seen that I used the words ‘epigenetic tendency,’ which should have strongly suggested that the psychosis would likely have “turned on” at some later point. I guess you might want to follow your own advice to…hmm…read carefully!”

If you will carefully re-read my comment, you’ll easily notice that I wasn’t referring to any of your comments. I was referring to the article you posted. I thought that this was apparent when I started my response by writing: ” If you read the content of this article carefully…” Besides this, I’m not ashamed to admit that I began writing my responses LONG before either you or “Stan” began commenting on the article – about fourteen minutes after you posted it, to be exact. The reason I took so long is because I was using my phone to write, as well as to find the relevant article. It was a very tedious, obnoxious process, but I didn’t let that deter me. I just wanted to address this quickly before I even read or respond to the rest of your comments, because I have a feeling that your misinterpretation of my words has put you on the defensive (although, I could be wrong). This not only wasn’t my intention at all, but, if that is the case, it actually kinda puts a damper on this exchange of info, as I was looking for you to have an open mind about my posts… I will now continue on, albeit a little disheartened at the moment.

Madeline F.: Rayn, this is not a contest. I posted my comments independently, before I ever read yours. I can’t nit-pick over these details. Perhaps you should leave it at the fact that perhaps we’re all very analytical and arrived at roughly the same conclusions. Even if the article stated one thing, and I stated another, an acknowledgment could have been made if you had read MY comments. Certainly if I had read yours, and they nirrored my thinking, I would’ve made such an acknowledgment. More than this I don’t really want to discuss any longer. You’ll just have to take me at my word. I’m not “copying” you. I don’t need to copy or “one-up” although that seems to be what you’re suggesting. If so, please get over it. If I’m wrong, my apologies. I certainly HAVE enjoyed discussing the merits of the article, and as I wrote when I DID read some of your comments, you made valid points, to which I responded. It would be a pleasure to continue in that vein.

Rayn: ‎”The writer was correct in not using the words ‘among psychotics.'”

You are probably absolutely correct that the word “psychotics” is not the proper word for the author to use, but I think you missed my point entirely, or else you, yourself, would provide the word (or words) I’m looking for, instead of addressing ONLY my semantics, strangely. Perhaps, this is some form of tunnel-vision defensiveness, wherein you hone in my mistakes at the exclusion of the anything else I’ve written. I don’t mind the correction, though. Honestly, the word only came to me as I thought about the treatment of psychosis with “anti-psychotics.” But, either way, I STILL really want you to understand my point, so allow me to take another stab at a more PROPER title for this article, so that SEMANTICS aren’t absolutely focused on, while my true point falls through the cracks, unaddressed. How about, “Cannabis May Influence Onset of Psychosis Three Years Earlier For Those With Schizophrenia”? Does this help you understand what I am getting at here? As I said before, the original title, “Cannabis May Influence Onset of Psychosis,” is “completely at odds with the information contained within. On its own, the title appears to push the fear-mongering pseudo-science of Voodoo Pharmacology, as if cannabis use CAUSES or leads to psychosis.” My point is that the author’s title is NOT CORRECT because it is MISLEADING. It could have been MUCH MORE accurate, yet IS NOT to a degree that seems POLITICIZED, especially considering the current hostile climate against cannabis. And, truly, this point really STILL STANDS, regardless of the fact that my original idea that the title should be, “Cannabis May Influence Onset of Psychosis Among Psychotics,” is technically incorrect due to semantics.

“Second, no one can predict that a person WILL have a psychotic episode unless they can also predict WHEN they will have one. Can you provide research that shows that this kind of prediction can be made.”

To me, this is just a “straw man’s burden.” Even with my incorrect usage of “psychotics,” I really never said anything like what you are asking me to prove, and it has nothing to do with my point, so I will not be providing any research to qualify it. I don’t even understand how you got here, especially without even addressing my valid complaint about the title of the article versus the content. But, I will chalk it off to “misunderstanding,” and hope that you now see what I meant.

Madeline F.: Rayn. I got “that” point from the article, and it was obvious to me from the article that on AVERAGE the onset of psychosis MAY be three years after smoking cannabis. However, that number could be an average of many numbers, significantly higher, and lower, and dependent on other variables as well. The number is a mean, and also highly dependent on the N studied. Please don’t demean me, or the author, by assuming I didn’t get YOUR point and by suggesting I have “tunnel vision.” Why would I give you credit for the point that had already been made in the article, which I fully comprehended? Maybe you’re right. Maybe I really am missing… something???

Rayn: “Rayn, this is not a contest.” – This sentence stops me in my tracks!

My reply, before even reading the rest of what you have written:
I would really hope not! Although I DO love a friendly DEBATE involving IDEAS, I don’t try to bring others down by keeping a “competitive” mentality wherein I must “win.” As I said, I was looking for an open exchange of ideas with you, with our minds open. I hope you can see that, as I am happy to take correction from you where you see fit to give it, such as with the word “psychotics,” as you explained it to me properly… Does that really sound like a “contest”-type thing for me to do?

Madeline F.: I don’t view it as “correction.” I’m actually wincing at your use of the word. Its use in this context has almost the same effect on me as “boss” (v. “employer”). I thought we were having a discussion. Yes, I tend to tend to think critically. I was a proofreader and copy editor, which is how I put myself through college. How things are worded is important to me, in conjunction with the Big Picture. Individual words and sentences are the foundations for the Big Picture, so I try to be exact about semantics. Perhaps our intentions are getting lost in writing, where we can’t see or hear body language and tone of voice. Perhaps I’m a little at a loss here to explain what may be going on, other than that. Shrug.

Rayn: I’m skipping your other comments, so that I can address your very last one, involving the word “correction.” I’ll go back, afterwards, if you still want to discuss, but I believe that you have indicated that you no longer want to. If so, let me know, and I will respect your decision, because it’s really not THAT SERIOUS for me (meaning, I just wanted to present my view and some information, having absolutely no need whatsoever to “win” you over on the matter, and my original two responses, plus the clarification that they applied to the article itself, are adequate enough, so I will not feel censored or disrespected by you if you want this discussion to cease).

Basically, I view what you did as “correction,” because that is what was required when I used the wrong word. I mean, even when I wrote the word, “psychotics,” it was the last word that came to mind, and STILL didn’t feel like the RIGHT word. I accept the fact that sometimes, we are students, and other times we are teachers. And, the distinction happens in each moment. I am completely fine with the word “correction,” because it doesn’t imply a “boss-like” idea for me. I am actually glad for the help. Now, if you can throw down a better word than “correction,” that would also be cool, too, and I’d use it in the future, instead of “correction,” so that you don’t feel uncomfortable if I thank you for another “correction”… but, “discussion” can’t possibly be the best word to describe your correcting me on the usage of “psychotics,” right?

********************

To explain what is going on here, I will address this comment you made:
“You’ll just have to take me at my word. I’m not ‘copying’ you. I don’t need to copy or ‘one-up’ although that seems to be what you’re suggesting. If so, please get over it. If I’m wrong, my apologies.”

You are wrong, for sure, and I easily accept your apology, because I know that it is not something you WANT to believe about me. Let me just say that I would NEVER suggest that you are copying or one-upping me. Who am I to suggest such a thing to you? That would be an overstepping embarassment to my character, and I am not some sort of narcissist. Just the thought of the idea makes ME CRINGE!

Basically, the only thing I have “suggested” so far is that I MIGHT (I was hoping that you might confirm or deny it when I mentioned it, actually) have put you on the “defensive” because my reply was not timely enough, and you had already given replies to “Stan,” then applied my responses to your comments, instead of the article, which was my INTENDED TARGET. That is not something you did out intentionally, but something that occurred as a consequence of MY TIMING in posting. In reality, this is all my fault, because I took forever to respond, like usual. And, because of this, I should have disclaimed that I hadn’t read any comments yet, and that I worked on my reply before the comments appeared. Instead, I just jumped in with a whole bunch of writing, and no real indication that it was JUST FOR THE ARTICLE. I’m sorry for causing such confusion. I’ll remember how to do things in the PROPER ORDER in the future. I was EAGER to post, because I had just had an EPIC struggle with my phone in order to get my writing done through a tiny keyboard using SWYPE… (how !*#&$! obnoxious that was!).

Madeline F.: Rayn, your timing was fine. Your typing was fine. I think any communication difficulties can be chalked up to limitations of this FB medium as well as the fact that I was perhaps rushed in responding, and perhaps might not want to respond to anything important as I’m trying to rush from one place to another. I bever feel as if I have enough time these days. I didn’t mean to correct you, and I don’t like the word, but only wanted to be exact in my wording. So, instead of “correction” we might use “exactness in wording,” if you think that may help. I agree that at any given moment we can be both learners and guiders, and sometimes both at the same time (sort of the way nicotine is both a sedative and a stimulant agonist at the same time). I think it was a great discussion, but sometimes I can’t stand communicating via e mail as it often seems fraught with these difficulties.

Also, looking back, I might not have been emotionally prepared for the discussion. I throw links to these articles out here on FB figuring that folks will read them and make a comment or two, or indicate that they “like” the comment. I don’t think I expected the gravity of the type of discussion you were presenting, and I felt forced to “switch gears” while I was under pressure to get from place to place. When I become overwhelmed and overloaded like that, the degree of diplomacy I typically strive to employ along with effective communication may go out the window for me. I think that may be, in part, what happened. It would be great if we could have another intelligent discussion again, but maybe with some advance warning to me so that I can say whether or not I can engage in it? It was my “bad” that I felt a responsibility to respond even when I knew I shouldn’t have because I was so under pressure.

Rayn: I understand completely because I have trouble with how much info I should add during a discussion, and often find myself writing a book before I know it. In the same way I struggle with introductions, I also struggle with conclusions. I would like to filter my words better, because I tend to unload all of my thoughts on a particular subject of interest right onto the page when I write online compulsively. But, I really just want everything relevant to be involved in the discussion, and there seems to be NO END to what my mind finds relevant. It can be a most burdensome thought-pattern sometimes, but yet, it is an inborn part of me. I often find it overwhelming, myself, but have tried to find a balance (with mixed results, of course, because “people,” are, in the end, Individuals).

I would be happy to have another intelligent discussion again. I can also give you advanced warning before I begin to write any lengthy reply on your wall, so that you can determine at that time if you are able ro engage me or not. Also, it’s no problem that there were some miscommunications between us. I’m simply grateful that we are able to find resolve, and progress to the future in a positive light! 🙂

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One Response to Pseudo-Scientific Anti-Cannabis Propaganda, or Fact?

  1. Pingback: George Washington: American Revolutionary, or Slave-Mastering Eugenicist? « AcidRayn.com

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