September 2nd, 2009 By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Well, better late than never.
Doubt cast on cannabis, schizophrenia link
A British study has cast doubt on the supposed link between cannabis use and schizophrenia.
… This latest study, led by Dr. Martin Frisher of Keele University, examined the records of 600,000 patients aged between 16 and 44.
… Frisher and colleagues compared the trends of cannabis use with general practitioner records of schizophrenia and psychosis.
They argue that if cannabis use does cause schizophrenia, an increase in cannabis use should be followed by an increase in the incidence of schizophrenia.
According to the study, cannabis use in the United Kingdom between 1972 and 2002 has increased four-fold in the general population, and 18-fold among under-18s.
Based on the literature supporting the link, the authors argue that this should be followed by an increase in schizophrenia incidence of 29 per cent between 1990 and 2010.
But the researchers found no increase in the rates of schizophrenia and psychosis diagnosis during that period. In fact, some of the data suggested the incidence of these conditions had decreased.
Over the past few years the mainstream media, as well as federal politicians, have enjoyed promoting the notion that smoking pot induces mental illness. Perhaps most notably, in 2007 the MSM touted that cannabis “could boost the risk of developing a psychotic illness later in life by about 40 percent” — a talking point that was also publicly promoted by US anti-drug officials. Similarly, Canadian bureaucrats alleged — just two weeks ago — that marijuana users have a “seven-fold increase” in risk of developing schizophrenia.
Given this environment, I held little hope that anyone in the MSM would bother to report on the Keele University study — which initially appeared online on the website of the journal Schizophrenia Research in late June and was reported on by NORML on July 2 — despite its obvious newsworthiness.
And for nearly two months no one did. But kudos to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and a handful of British tabloids for just now bringing these findings to light (and even acknowledging that the MSM would have arguably provided far more prominence to this story had the findings demonstrated the opposite result.)
For now, let’s score one for the good guys, and cross your fingers that the American press will also eventually take notice.