A misinformed, under-researched article in The Daily Mail is standard fare, but looking into this bizarre claim they may have got it very, very wrong..
This is what I came across first:
"Smoking just one cannabis joint can bring on symptoms of schizophrenia, a study has found."
The transparent impression given is that should a higher, language-using primate smoke a single joint - of dried cannabis plant material - he risks insanity and, you know, really bad things.
By paragraph 3, things are already starting to look dodgy. It turns out that...
"...The scientists studied rats who had been given the active ingredient of cannabis - in a similar dose to a person smoking a joint."
Humans aren't rats, that's point number one. But more importantly, the Mail says the study used THC. I now direct you to Bristol University's own abstract on their research and, lo and behold, the...
"...rats that were given a drug that mimics the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana..."
It took me under seventy seconds to find this out. The researches had not in fact used cannabis proper, which makes me wonder if the Mail's staff even have access to an internet connection. Not the most reassuring research going on prior to international publication. They checked their spellings, though, and the commas and full-stops and shit were in the right place, so, you know, well done, professional "journalists", well done for you.
Looking at the actual study, you needn't traverse beyond the reassuring security of paragraph one to find that the chemical in question was CP55940, described as a "potent agonist of brain cannabinoid receptors". That's to say, not cannabis actually. And if I were to write an article on that, I'd, well, probably draw from research on cannabis, yeah, rather than a synthetic lab bastard-child. Study:
These rats weren't suffering the effects of a single real-life joint, then (effects that I for one would forgive you for enjoying while, say, taking in some riotously syncopated jazz, or some kind of mind-quashing metahumanist philosophy), rather, they were being force-fed CP 55,940, which is not THC, is not a naturally-occurring compound, and is, in fact, 45 times more potent than THC.
It took me under seventy seconds to find this out. The researches had not in fact used cannabis proper, which makes me wonder if the Mail's staff even have access to an internet connection.
Going back to the study's pdf, you'll see that the high dose of the study was 0.30 mg/kg. A dude weighing 10 stones/63 kg would get 18.9 mgs of CP99540. Given the compound is 45x stronger than THC, this equates to 850mg of THC, or 85 joints at once (at 10mg per joint).
So, where did this "Just ONE cannabis joint ‘can bring on schizophrenia" headline come from, if not from a morally bankrupt, nature-despising propaganda machine.?
I'll note finally in passing that Bristol University's "collaborators" on this study was the drug giant, Eli Lilly and Co, whose best-selling product, Zyprexa, is - wait for it - an "anti-schizophrenia" medication! The deeper irony, though, is that in 2007 they had to pay half a billion dollars to people who'd developed diabetes from this medication after Lilly executives withheld troubling data from doctors. (Nothing from the Mail on that, though.)
And we come full-circle. Drug company bribes a British media giant to pump out reports blackening the name of a natural herb in the name of continuing profits. (Cannabis, by the way, has been noted by others to actually reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia - the University of California, for example: http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/2527.html. Maybe Lilly and Co. are trying to take out the competition, then?!) Reflecting on this measly effort at indoctrination is beginning to choke me, so I'll make the conclusion brief:
Cannabis, I'm forced to consider again, may be about the most benign substance you're going to come across. Having smoked my bodyweight in ganja, I find myself yet to develop symptoms of schizophrenia, indeed symptoms of any kind save for a subtle increase in my overall satisfaction with my lot, one of the pixels comprising this mysterious cosmos...
I'll leave you with DEA judge Francis Young, who concluded his research into cannabis with this:
"Cannabis is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care."
And that, as they say, is that - for the now.
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