Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

This Man Isn’t A Scientist. He’s A Prohibition Propagandist.

with 88 comments

Sitting alongside him at his press conference “Cannabis Can Hasten Psychosis”, who did Dr Large have to lend him support?

Cannabis Preventer

Jan Copeland, the director of the Australian National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre.

What does that tell you?

This isn’t anything to do with science.  It’s about advancing the prohibitionist agenda – and, of course, is closely connected to Dr Large’s future funding and career path.  See here for the unedited rushes from this little conspiracy.

His big pitch was “The results of this study confirm the need for a renewed public health warning about the potential for cannabis use to bring on psychotic illness.”

Absolute rot.  The study confirmed nothing of the sort.  All it consisted of was a recalculation of data from 83 previous studies.  It’s all correlation and association.  There’s no evidence of causation whatsoever. There was absolutely nothing new in it at all and to claim there is, is simply a lie.  Of course, the mindless, desperate and eager comics like the Daily Mail have almost wet themselves with excitement over it.

This is a very typical example of the misinformation, propaganda and distortion of science put out by the prohibitionists.  It is important to understand the way they work.  They have been doing this now for nearly 100 years, using the latest propaganda techniques every time.

In this “meta-analysis”, as Dr Large pretentiously calls it, what he doesn’t tell you is that all the subjects already had a predisposition towards psychosis (usually by genetics) and included tobacco and “other psychoactive substance users”.  That means any of the approximately 600 ingredients found in cigarettes such as ammonia, various ethyls, and any of dozens of acids and carcinogens could have distorted the findings.  Similarly, and not addressed by the study’s authors, is the fact that the cannabis users, in many cases, were also cocaine, heroine, amphetamine or other drug users.

The study claims that “…schizophrenia caused by cannabis starts earlier than schizophrenia with other causes.” but it fails to consider how many of the subjects were in fact, self-medicating.  The authors don’t even consider whether cannabis causes mental illness or if people with mental illness have a higher rate of using cannabis.  Other evidence shows that self-medicating with cannabis is widespread and that over 90% of diagnosed schizophrenics smoke cigarettes – but nobody is claiming tobacco causes schizophrenia.

It’s hogwash.

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88 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by legalise cannabis , Peter Reynolds. Peter Reynolds said: This Man Isn't A Scientist. He's A Prohibition Propagandist. http://wp.me/pgXXJ-ZD […]

  2. http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6630507/fulltext.html
    US patant untill 2021

    on the 7th and 8th of feb UK time ,over 150 associate venders of media ,connected to the mudoch empire released an anti cannabis campaign across the world, like they tried in 2009 , here’s the google news report link http://news.google.co.uk/news/more?q=cannabis&hl=en&rlz=1I7GGLA_en&wrapid=tlif129738669750010&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ncl=d5GfZbjGXin-G4Mp9diEw91EhfYpM&ei=6IxUTbWTN5KGhQeb_anTCA&sa=X&oi=news_result&ct=more-results&resnum=2&ved=0CDQQqgIwATgU , when we look abit closer the 88 peer rejected papers compiled to be used as one evidence are all from sources funded by ,or through , or associated with the murdoch empire ,
    im sure you will find where the good smoke is not coming from

    boss

    February 11, 2011 at 1:22 am

  3. So, once more, we have concerns about our youth getting hold of cannabis? How do we prevent that, how do we stop that?

    Well, everyone knows now the law is not aiding that, so I guess we need age checks?!!!

    Jason Reed (HomeGrown Outlaw)

    February 11, 2011 at 1:24 am

    • http://www.christian.org.uk/news/hundreds-of-children-caught-dealing-cannabis/

      what the F do these prohibition supporter expect!

      i would usaly go on to say we need to remove drugs from the hands of criminals and children , but there is a third more powerful contributer to this equasion that acts in a more sceceretive way to avoid responcability and detection of gain to fund their armed crusade and secrete agents , that has control of vested media and avoids all public debate on the matter at all cost , so far as to sack all sciencentific and evidence compiling factors that go against thier grain from within , controling all education measures to a standard that suits their own agender of greed and power ,,, thats right your government ,or their puppet masters ?

      boss

      February 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm

  4. Legalising cannabis will just legitimise the goons who have been hustling it, as well as the politicians who legalise it…a whole host of people running around with silly grins on their faces.

    clivebates

    February 11, 2011 at 1:32 am

    • Wrong, the dealers who hustled it will be out of business as they cannot compete with corporations with tonnes of capital they simply cannot compete with the economies of scale. They will be left with stacks of cash from prohibition(can’t bank) and hopefully, if legalised correctly can’t make any more.

      By legalised correctly I mean not like the dutch method of letting the users to be free with their habit yet have the coffeeshops buy from criminal organisations since cultivation and retailing of cannabis is illegal for some reason.

      Stephen

      February 11, 2011 at 6:27 pm

  5. Could you cite the other evidence that self-medicating mental illness with cannabis is widespread, and that 90% of diagnosed schizophrenics smoke? I don’t agree with the prohibitionist nonsense, but I was wondering where you got that from.

    TD

    February 11, 2011 at 5:20 am

  6. Yes, Thank You Peter.
    You are so right about the ‘Australian National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre’ the name alone means they have no intention to enlighten with actuality but instead to continue their crusade in any way they can be allowed. It’s sooo similar to the ‘cannabis leads to hard drugs because a majority of heroin users wouldn’t turn down a joint.’ In the words of Bill Hicks, WTF?. That fat aussie bitch (not holding the aussie against her) all covered in roles of lard, obesity kills like 1000 people a year in the UK!?! That makes food much more lethal ten cannabis and should therefore be controlled substances. These types of people just make me wanna smoke more cannabis and stick a few apparently offensive fingers up in their direction. Guuurrr!

    They wanna stop youth get pot!?! LEGALIZE IT! When I started smoking pot it was because I was too young to get served for booze! But of course, cannabis is a great scapegoat for why everyting is turning to pot, it stops major food companies being questioned for all those shitty preservatives they put it everything (those guarantee you cancer if your genetically disposed), or what about fertilizers? and like Peter said the shite in Tobacco?
    Keep Mj illegal and it can be that great plague of society that is the cause of all our woes. Oi, bitch, psst, bitch, what would you do if the world actually managed to get rid of pot? Then we would have called you on ye own fucking bluff! FUCK YOU!

    Sorry I got no sleep last night, insomnia, once again something that could’ve ben helped my Mj, but no. I guess I should pop outside for a ‘lovely’ legal cigarette.

    Rumhann

    February 11, 2011 at 7:59 am

    • Exactly, I grew up with people who moaned about how they can’t get served for >lethallegal< alcohol but went to get any form of soft drug they desired off the local dealer.

      Stephen

      February 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm

  7. Personally I don’t doubt that cannabis can be a contributing factor in mental illness, although there are a cocktail of other drugs usually involved in the equation as Peter says. My point here is I consider that it is prohibition that causes most of this psychosis involving cannabis. You see, cannabis makes people more suggestible and in some ways vulnerable to anxiety. Then add into that that you can be arrested and face social opprobrium as soon as people become aware that you are using it, this creates a vicious circle of anxiety entirely created by the social context. Basically policy can ruin the cannabis experience and creates the very problems they cite to perpetuate it!

    Darryl Bickler

    February 11, 2011 at 8:54 am

  8. @Peter,

    I’m in favour of legalising ALL drugs and legalising every step of the drug trade: production, distribution and consumption. I also believe that it is crucial to based the discussion about legalisation on scientific principles and not on prejudices, ill informed arguments or ideology.

    So, I support anybody who calls the attention to studies that purport to be scientifically conducted but are not. By the same token, I do believe that it is imperative to be careful when one says that a study is not rigorous from a scientific point of view.

    When you say: « It’s all correlation and association. There’s no evidence of causation whatsoever.» And then when you also say «In this “meta-analysis”, as Dr Large pretentiously calls it», are you trying to imply that Statistics and the statistics techniques are not scientifically based?

    I do not know the study and therefore, can’t say whether those techniques were rigorously applied or not. If they were not, then the study is invalid. But that does not mean that Statistics and its methods and techniques are UN-scientific.

    Gart Valenc
    http://www.stopthewarondrugs.org

    In this case, there is nothing UN-scientific in using

    Gart Valenc

    February 11, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    • I’m sure that Dr Large has been trained and has experience in the sort of statistical analysis he has undertaken in this study. The point is that while his study and analyses may nave been scientifically conducted, the context is entirely prohibitionist. What all this data actually proves is that you’re extremely unlikely to develop psychosis as a result of using cannabis. It’s all in the presentation and/or distortion of the data.

      If you’ve got a “cannabis preventer” sitting alongside you, it’s pretty clear you have a built-in bias.

      Peter Reynolds

      February 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm

  9. This piece is not only poorly written but also irony laden and evidence-lacking.

    I’d say the fact you bother to write such rubbish is strong real evidence that your cannabis use is progressing your psychosis.

    James Heathe

    February 12, 2011 at 8:56 am

    • So because you disagree with me you go to the ludicrous extent of suggesting I am psychotic? What are you, an inspector in the thought police, qualified to diagnose mental illness based solely on opinion? You are a monster from the same school of deception and oppression as those that distort science for propaganda purposes. People like you ran the gulags in the Soviet Union. Your time is past.

      Peter Reynolds

      February 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

    • ha ha ha , the prohibition irony paradox strikes again , james heathe change your name to matthew hopkins , you’ve convinced me ,, ya ha ha haa

      boss

      February 12, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    • Perspective figures of psychosis:

      Cannabis ‘related’ psychosis = 1 in 7750

      http://www.badscience.net/2007/07/blah-blah-cannabis-blah-blah-blah/

      Alcohol direct link Korsakoff’s syndrome (psychosis) and related fallout = 1 in 1000

      http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Wernicke-Korsakoff-Syndrome.htm

      Jason Reed - HomeGrownOutlaw

      February 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm

  10. I was wondering if such false accusations of mental illness are LIBELLOUS, but to take such legal action would be insulting to people who are actually mentally ill.

    Which is exactly what you did James when you took a serious illness and tried to turn it into a denigrating weapon.

    LOL @ gulags Peter, spot on.

    Tom:Speed

    February 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm

  11. lets see how long elephant woman wishes to prevent cannabis after she murders a king joint of Indian charas overlooking a peach sunset on the beach listening to some deep tunes.

    that lady herself probably chuggs a cast of cheap white wine ever other night.

    Architect

    February 12, 2011 at 6:38 pm

  12. Hello Peter and all!

    Let me start with notion that your writing style in the article I’m about to comment is sharp as a samurai sword. Argumentative and aggressive, just like it should be when we’re facing injustice. Bravo.

    I’d like to write a few words about tobacco, which you have mentioned on several occasions through your article, from a position of a tobacco expert, in order to give you and others clear reason why tobacco cannot become prohibited as a plant, which is unfortunately the case with cannabis.

    There are firm evidences that OVER CONSUMPTION of tobacco in a given period of time can have detrimental consequences for human health, including death. On the other hand, there are firm evidences that over consumption of water in a given period of time can have detrimental consequences for human health, including death (self drowning). On the contrary, there are no such evidences for cannabis and it’s over consumption. Yet, the Plant is forbidden. Duh.

    Cigarettes are just one form of tobacco products on the market. Handmade cigars and cigarillos, pipe tobacco, machine made cigars and cigarillos, roll your own tobacco, snuff etc. are other forms of tobacco products on the market. All of them have one main function – to deliver a dose of nicotine to human body.

    Human body doesn’t need nicotine at all, and any amount of it is considered toxic. Side effect is that it causes psycho-physical addiction. So why it can’t be prohibited? And why nobody would like that all tobacco consumers simply stop tomorrow? Well, it’s all about the money.

    Tobacco market is so huge that it can swallow states. The river of money pouring everyday from consumers to tobacco manufacturers and states is very wide. It cannot be stopped, cause stopping it would cause world economy to collapse. Meaning everybody. Check the UK budget tobacco taxing portion and you’ll see. States and tobacco manufacturers are business partners, indeed.

    Tobacco and cannabis goes hand with hand, but not necessarily, as there are several ways for consuming THC. As two plants they have equal rights, but in both cases, just like in most things in life, it is over consumption of something that harms us. This is the message that has to be clearly said and written. It’s not about the plants really, it’s about human behaviour.

    John

    John

    February 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    • Thanks John

      Peter Reynolds

      February 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm

  13. who needs data, statistics and all that calculator, lab coat wearing evidence based science shit heyyy???

    Dr Large is wasting his time publishing all this meta data crap, he really should be just printing off blog responses and publishing ’em…. cos this is real life…..

    real life proof that dope smoking is on large (pardon the pun) done by those who collectively have enough neurons to be able to almost understand the concept of a meta-analysis….

    cheers guys, really flying that flag HIGH for yourselves

    i must commend you on your ability to write pete, how old were you when you first “experimented”????
    it looks as though you were over 17-18 before you found puff?

    However, all research has flaws unless you are a professor in Hindsight… or identical twins – one smoking, one not….

    give yourself a challenge…. a real one: do some research that supports your arguement – and get it published….
    OR – take a wizz of an iconic landmark – it’ll change your life (make sure you film it though)

    GAPpisser

    March 11, 2011 at 8:16 am

  14. It is very hard to know how to respond to all that has been said in this and similar places.

    First, I do not believe there is a prohibitionist lobby as such and if there is I do not belong to it.

    Second, knowing what I do about the dangers of cannabis for young people what choice do I really have but to inform people – all science has this social aspect, it is silly to think otherwise.

    Third, why is the cannabis-psychosis story less believable because alcohol and tobacco have greater dangers. This argument makes no sense at all.

    It seems to me most people just choose what they want to believe. There are now ten prospective studies showing an increased incidence of schizophrenia later after cannabis smoking. There is very strong evidence for an earlier age of onset, almost no evidence people smoke to control symptoms (50% give up soon after becoming psychotic), and in experimental studies some people who are given cannabis hallucinate. Patients who have psychosis very often attribute it to cannabis use. The only evidence missing is a randomized trial – which clearly cannot and should not be performed.

    How many people blogging on websites such as this disbelieve a cannabis-psychosis link but are happy to accept other causal links with similar evidence such as smoking-lung cancer or the green house gas- climate change link ?

    Perhaps the strongest argument in favor of decriminalization (apart from the obvious one that the laws do not work) is that it might then be possible to have a sensible discussion about the dangers posed to young people.

    Matthew Large

    March 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    • Thank you for responding Dr Large. I’m travelling at the moment but I’ll reply when I’m back in my office next week.

      Peter Reynolds

      March 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    • “Patients who have psychosis very often attribute it to cannabis use.”

      No they don’t:

      http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/7/1/22

      And they may even have read this:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19560900

      One suspects that you have read both these highly illuminating papers yet you still strive to take a cut of the funding for the search to go on.

      Whilst one is always in favour of good medical research, I think our public money would be better spent and our children would be safer if we concentrate on treating schizophrenia instead of witch-hunting at the end of a rainbow.

      Google ‘Cannabinoid schizophrenia’ and get with the program.

      CC: Every teenager in Australia and New Zealand

      Jacob

      May 15, 2011 at 11:33 am

  15. Hi Peter,

    I think we aught to continue this discussion. You made a serious allegation that i am a propagandist and not a scientist (actually I am a full time clinician seeing patients, most of whom have psychosis, five days a week) – yet seem to be reluctant to engage in a real discussion of the issues. This is of course because you are a professional propagandist for your own views – which is fair enough – but you need also to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

    MatthewLarge

    April 30, 2011 at 2:20 am

    • Matthew, I’d be very keen to engage with you on this. Of course I know you’re a scientist but when a study or a report on cannabis is announced and accompanying the scientist(s) is the director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, well then your credibility and status is immediately undermined

      Of course I have my point of view but I don’t set out to be a propagandist. What I’m interested in is the truth. If I was to communicate only from my own experience then it would be entirely positive. In nearly 40 years of almost daily cannabis use, all it has ever done for me is good. Cannabis is a gift from God that enhances all aspects of life for relaxation, creativity, spirituality and self-fulfilment. Over all these years, I have no personal experience of any negative effects, nor have I ever met anyone who has.

      However, cannabis is a powerful psychoactive substance so, of course, I recognise it has the potential to cause harm. I have plenty of personal experience of other drugs and I have had real, although thankfully not serious, problems with both alcohol and cocaine. Cannabis helped me through these. Also, particularly in the last five years, I have a great deal of first hand experience of the extraordinary medciinal benefits that it offers. It has a transformational effect on some people’s lives, freeing them from pain, suffering and disability.

      I am very familiar with all the published research on cannabis and psychosis and, contrary to the story that the tabloids seek to portray, it seems to me that there is remarkable unanimity. Cannabis is a risk factor, particularly if used in childhood or adolescence but there is no direct evidence of causation and the risk is very, very small. If you compare the risk with alcohol or other recreational drugs, even energy drinks, then it is relatively harmless.

      I would very much like to discuss this with you more and I have sent you a personal email.

      Peter Reynolds

      April 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    • —– Original Message —–
      From: Peter Reynolds
      To: mmbl@bigpond.com
      Sent: Sunday, May 15, 2011 9:18 AM
      Subject: Fw: Cannabis

      Matthew,

      I was disappointed not to hear from you.

      I hesitate to ask but please tell me you are not involved with this dreadful Richmond Fellowship “study”? I do hope not. Of course, I have my point of view but even so this shambolic pile of steaming propaganda and nonsense is far, far beneath anyone who calls himself a scientist.

      I does seem that in Australia there is a concerted effort to demonise cannabis – even more so than in Britain.

      This is worth looking at: http://www.drugwarrant.com/2011/05/pot-smokers-are-smarter-than-sophie-scott/

      I would like to understand properly what your position is. It is the truth that I am interested in.

      Kind regards,

      Peter Reynolds

      —– Original Message —–
      From: Peter Reynolds
      To: mmbl@bigpond.com
      Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2011 7:47 PM
      Subject: Cannabis

      Matthew,

      I’m sorry not to have responded to you before. Since February, I’ve been elected as leader of Cannabis Law Reform, a UK political party, and my life is no longer my own!

      I would very much like to talk to you and understand more about your work. Perhaps you could let me have a telephone number that I can call you on and a good time of day to do so?

      Kind regards,

      Peter Reynolds

      Peter Reynolds

      May 15, 2011 at 8:20 am

  16. Dear Mathew Large, “Associated with” is not the same as “causation.” The lack of knowledge you show concerning this exposes you for the charlatan that you are.

    Schizophrenia affects approximately one percent of the population. That percentage has held steady since the disease was identified, while the percentage of people who have smoked marijuana has varied from about 5% to around 40% of the general population.
    Source: http://www.schizophrenia.com/szfacts.htm

    Kindly Google any of the following combinations:

    Nicotine and Schizophrenia
    Alcohol and Schizophrenia
    Chocolate and Schizophrenia
    Sugar and Schizophrenia
    Gluten and Schizophrenia

    So should we hand the market in any of the above substances to criminals (which is what prohibition effectively does) because its use is ‘associated’ with a certain minute part of the population? Many bipolar patients misuse caffeine and tobacco in an effort to bring on a manic state, thus becoming a danger to themselves or others. Should tobacco and caffeine or whatever works for each individual be prohibited to boost ratings or rhetoric also? Where does it end?

    Persons with chronic mental illness die 25 years earlier than the general population does, and smoking is the major contributor to that premature mortality. This population consumes 44% of all cigarettes.
    Source: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.012809.103701

    Cigarette smoking rates in the American population are approximately 23%, whereas rates of smoking in clinical and population studies of individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders are typically two- to four-fold higher.
    Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1201375/?tool=pmcentrez

    Caffeine is most certainly linked with mental illness; psychosis even. Here’s some reading:

    Broderick, P. & Benjamin, A.B. (2004). Caffeine and psychiatric symptoms: a review. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, 97(12), 538-542.

    Hedges, D.W., Woon, F.L. & Hoopes S.P. (2009). Caffeine-induced psychosis. CNS Spectrums, 14(3),127-129.

    According to Bryce Tierney, Loughner, once said, “I’m going to lead a more healthy lifestyle, not smoke cigarettes or pot anymore, and I’m going to start working out.” Tierney was happy for his friend: “I said, ‘Dude, that’s awesome.’ And the next time I saw him he was 10 pounds lighter.” Tierney never saw Loughner smoke marijuana again After Loughner apparently gave up drugs and booze, “his theories got worse,” Tierney says. “After he quit, he was just off the wall.”

    We can continue to blame, and attempt to prohibit, any of the above substances, but nothing will change except for the fact that criminals will become richer, terrorists will grow stronger, and our corrupt politicians will call for even more infringements on what’s left of our freedoms by passing laws that will take us even closer to total economic and social collapse. So pat yourselves on the back …as this ‘once great & free’ nation dies a little more with each passing day.

    malcolm kyle

    May 15, 2011 at 10:12 am

    • Malcolm I read about a study somewhere that compared unmedicated schizophrenics with those that were on life-long antipsychotic medication.

      The unmedicated group had normal life-spans after controlling for smoking and lifestyle.

      The medicated group had an average 25 year reduction in lifespan although this was reduced when removing those that had died from suicide or homicide, both significant causes of death for schizophrenia, well above the rate for healthy controls.

      Jacob

      May 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

  17. Thank you Peter for publishing your views on this meta-analysis.

    I must admit that as an advocate for the regulation of cannabis in Australia I was a bit perturbed to see this study come out. At first I was taken aback that I had no knowledge that such a study was being undertaken and that the results were so emphatically negative.

    Can I just make it clear that the most dangerous aspect of the press conference and related media stories is that upon first glance it looks worrying and legitimate. Most people wouldn’t worry about taking a second glance. I did and a few things immediately sprang to my attention.

    Of course the presence of an advocate for the continued prohibition of cannabis at the press release really detracts from the study’s legitimacy and impartiality. That aside surely there are inherent dangers in any meta-analysis such as the difficulty establishing consistent controls and ethics across all considered studies. The leading theory behind the cause of schizophrenia is genetic predisposition, with it’s prevalence being between 0.5 – 1% of the population. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is also a major factor in 1 in 5 patients with schizophrenia according to a 2009 Finish study. So why the demonisation of cannabis as the root of all evil, and before Mr. Large even attempts to refute this can I just say “Save it mate”. No one who reads your study or watches your infomercial on the ‘Demon Weed’ is under any other impression as per your motives.

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is that firstly sensationalised and well publicised studies like this ‘Large’ example are extremely problematic for a number of reasons. Any meta-analysis that is based on other studies with varying controls and ethics, AND WITHOUT CLEAR CAUSATION,is a flawed enterprise at the best of times. Secondly the amount of media attention given to this study will have the opposite effect of it’s intended purpose. Despite it’s goal of ‘scaring’ naive individuals into avoiding cannabis cynical youth will take it as another example of how authorities cannot be trusted to give accurate and TRUTHFUL information without playing towards self interest in the process. As a result they only listen to their peers and learn through experience. Not an ideal outcome at all.

    Given that independent and respected researchers such as David Nutt have a very different picture to paint about cannabis and its dangers I find it amusing and worrying in equal measures that the NSW government and research community has not had more critical things to say about this rehash. On the net we call it ‘content scraping’. Bottom of the barrel stuff Large. Clue up son.

    Responsible Choice

    May 15, 2011 at 10:31 am

  18. Meta-analysis is the gold standard, because for a variety of reasons, individual studies are often flawed. My paper was peer reviewed and published in the most respected and highest ranked psychiatric journal. To get such a paper published involves lots of checks and balances but seemingly on the web you can just say the first thing that comes into your mind – however ill informed, libelous or illogical.

    If anyone finds an actual scientific flaw in my paper it is open to them to make a submission to the journal in the form of a letter.

    This is how science works.

    MatthewLarge

    May 15, 2011 at 11:29 am

    • My complaint is quite simple Matthew – all the scientific rigour in the world cannot alter one inescapable fact: drugs are sold in a criminal market with no consumer protections, leading to numerous well documented paradoxical consequences re protecting the health of persons using them. Beyond that I am a firm believer that one cannot extricate the effects of a drug from it’s overall use context. Whilst you may be able to allow for variables such as polydrug misuse, what is always missing is the fact that drug use by young persons is necessarily a covert activity, front-loaded with fear and paranoia about adverse consequences both in terms of physical and mental harm outcomes. Science can be misused to deliver propaganda, thereby misleading users and their friends and families to anticipate mental harm and a complete loss of the individual’s autonomy. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy – and I can tell you it is nearly always creatively dragged up in legal proceedings when defendant’s squirm for mitigating circumstances about their supposedly connected criminal acts.

      I know that even Peter Reynolds is cynical about going this far, ie to say that papers like yours are the cause of the harm you are reporting, but overall I am entirely satisfied that you cannot separate the ill effects of misuse empirically from those suffered as a result of entirely unhelpful context. This is self-evident when it comes to say drug purity and I suggest it goes much further. You must appreciate that young persons in particular are very impressionable, and more so under the influence of some drugs – if you insist on creating a belief system predicting their likely self-destruction, it will manifest as a fait accompli as users struggle in their isolatory worlds to make sense of their lives. Perhaps there is more research needed, especially with young persons, but lets not fool ourselves that we are enterring a neutral subject for rational debate. The whole thing is drenched in taboo, and like the harmful practice of witchcraft in Africa for example, becomes part of folklore and forms the very fabric of a cultures belief system.

      Darryl Bickler

      May 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    • Meta analysis is well known for its weakenesses when it comes to bias and also the fact that if you are basing the analysis on flawed or biased studies, then the analysis will be also. I am not about to debate the relative merits of your scientific approach. At least recognise the pitfalls of meta analysis and don’t put it up on a pedestal as a gold standard. Double blinds, etc. don’t generally apply to them either. So we leave it up to you and the NCPIC to choose which studies are biased and which aren’t. Are you seriously going to say there is no potential for bias there? Honestly?

      Science may work that way, but in this instance I feel qualitative research is required, not statistical bias that can be bent to support whatever theory serves your purpose. David Nutt’s INDEPENDENT Estimating Drug Harms paper has been published in the Lancet and he was sacked from his advisory position a few years ago for his views, yours was published for a government institution and released with endorsement from a prohibitive government organisation. Can you at least see where we are coming from? I believe the scientific term is vested interest.

      Public and private opinion need not be submitted to a journal. Be thankful the Australian public doesn’t have the funds at their disposal to enact a media campaign to shoot holes in your study, peer reviewed or not.

      Responsible Choice

      May 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    • Seeing you conveniently chose to ignore my post, here it is again:

      Dear Mathew Large, “Associated with” is not the same as “causation.” The lack of knowledge you show concerning this exposes you for the charlatan that you are.

      Schizophrenia affects approximately one percent of the population. That percentage has held steady since the disease was identified, while the percentage of people who have smoked marijuana has varied from about 5% to around 40% of the general population.
      Source: http://www.schizophrenia.com/szfacts.htm

      Kindly Google any of the following combinations:

      Nicotine and Schizophrenia
      Alcohol and Schizophrenia
      Chocolate and Schizophrenia
      Sugar and Schizophrenia
      Gluten and Schizophrenia

      So should we hand the market in any of the above substances to criminals (which is what prohibition effectively does) because its use is ‘associated’ with a certain minute part of the population? Many bipolar patients misuse caffeine and tobacco in an effort to bring on a manic state, thus becoming a danger to themselves or others. Should tobacco and caffeine or whatever works for each individual be prohibited to boost ratings or rhetoric also? Where does it end?

      Persons with chronic mental illness die 25 years earlier than the general population does, and smoking is the major contributor to that premature mortality. This population consumes 44% of all cigarettes.
      Source: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.012809.103701

      Cigarette smoking rates in the American population are approximately 23%, whereas rates of smoking in clinical and population studies of individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders are typically two- to four-fold higher.
      Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1201375/?tool=pmcentrez

      Caffeine is most certainly linked with mental illness; psychosis even. Here’s some reading:

      Broderick, P. & Benjamin, A.B. (2004). Caffeine and psychiatric symptoms: a review. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, 97(12), 538-542.

      Hedges, D.W., Woon, F.L. & Hoopes S.P. (2009). Caffeine-induced psychosis. CNS Spectrums, 14(3),127-129.

      According to Bryce Tierney, Loughner, once said, “I’m going to lead a more healthy lifestyle, not smoke cigarettes or pot anymore, and I’m going to start working out.” Tierney was happy for his friend: “I said, ‘Dude, that’s awesome.’ And the next time I saw him he was 10 pounds lighter.” Tierney never saw Loughner smoke marijuana again After Loughner apparently gave up drugs and booze, “his theories got worse,” Tierney says. “After he quit, he was just off the wall.”

      We can continue to blame, and attempt to prohibit, any of the above substances, but nothing will change except for the fact that criminals will become richer, terrorists will grow stronger, and our corrupt politicians will call for even more infringements on what’s left of our freedoms by passing laws that will take us even closer to total economic and social collapse. So pat yourselves on the back …as this ‘once great & free’ nation dies a little more with each passing day.

      Malcolm Kyle

      May 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm

  19. This issue was dealt with way back in the 1890’s when the British Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, a Royal Commission, looked into claims that large numbers of patients inside Indian Mental Health institutes (which were pretty bad at that time) were taking cannabis which was legally available at the time. The Commission concluded that the cannabis was not the cause of their mental health problems, rather they were attempting to self-medicate.

    It also concluded that taxation was abetter means to control supply than prohibition.

    But there are now many cases where unfortunate mental health conditions or bad “psychotic” episodes have been blamed on cannabis use>

    Not being medically qualified, who am I to comment on that – all I know is that i have met a few people with problems they blamed on cannabis, and many more that credited positive experiences to cannabis.

    But that is an issue for doctors, not policemen and judges – and of course neither those that claim to have suffered nor those that claim benefit, should be punished unless they have harmed others.

    EVEN if cannabis badly effects some people and actually causes problems, that is no reason to punish those people or the ones that benefit – and if that small number that “may” suffer is a reason to punish the others, which is what the law does, then it short, there are many many other things from sugar to chocolate to coffee to aspirin, gambling to shopping, caving to swimming – that should be prohibited – and THAT would not make sense or be just – clearly!

    Alun

    May 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

  20. I agree association is not the same as causation. I repeat this before I go bed each night – I say something like this in the paper for gods sake – have any of you guys even read the paper or for that matter are you familiar with Austin Bradford Hill?.

    I also agree that a harmful substance can be legalized, we allow all sorts of legal harms in a free society.

    The comments about meta analysis are actually just plain incorrect. Meta analysis is the way to sort out methods related results and a positive result in the face of between study differences in methods makes the result more likely to be sound.

    Agree fully about comments with respect to controls on the market, prohibition etc but then I am NOT a prohibitionist. I don’t have the strength of feeling about it as you guys – I am a older non pot smoker who works with people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders 5 days a week. Personally i fear legalization – because I suspect we would end up with more people smoking at a young age, and I would end up with more patients. However, legalization is a much broader (civil rights) issue than the opinions of a middle aged psychiatrist.

    If legalization were to improve the standard of debate and education, which from the above and many other posts is hopelessly confused then perhaps it should happen.

    Also agree about mortality associated with psychiatric treatment – all the more reason to avoid/postpone psychosis.

    It is open to any person to do their own research – a scientist is one who does science – just like a pot smoker is one who smokes pot – neither needs any other qualification. My study was performed in my spare time, and the spare time of my collaborators, cost no money and was unsupported by any institution.

    This is my final post for a while. We will never agree. If you find an error in the study just submit a letter to the journal.

    MatthewLarge

    May 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    • Mathew, for God’s sake, please do at least a minimum of honest research before ever opening your mouth on this subject ever again; your claim that there would be more users under legalized regulation flies in the face of all the available facts and stats concerning the situation in countries such as Holland where the sale of marijuana is de-facto legal.

      Cannabis-coffee-shops are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

      A poll taken last year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.
      http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/02/public_split_on_cannabis_legal.php

      It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly marijuana-tourists and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. Public nuisance problems with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

      While it is true that lifetime and past-month use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

      According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.
      In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15 to 24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

      The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

      In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

      Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 — roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.
      thttp://www.alternet.org/drugs/90295/

      In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. That’s drugs, he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

      Here is a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing Drug Czar misinformation
      http://tinyurl.com/247a8mp

      Now let’s look at a comparative analysis of the levels of cannabis use in two cities: Amsterdam and San Francisco, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health May 2004,

      The San Francisco prevalence survey showed that 39.2% of the population had used cannabis. This is 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample

      Source: Craig Reinarman, Peter D.A. Cohen and Hendrien L. Kaal, The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy
      http://www.mapinc.org/lib/limited.pdf

      Moreover, 51% of people who had smoked cannabis in San Francisco reported that they were offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine the last time they purchased cannabis. In contrast, only 15% of Amsterdam residents who had ingested marijuana reported the same conditions. Prohibition is the ‘Gateway Policy’ that forces cannabis seekers to buy from criminals who gladly expose them to harder drugs.

      The indicators of death, disease and corruption are even much better in the Netherlands than in Sweden for instance, a country praised by UNODC for its so called successful drug policy.

      Here’s Antonio Maria Costa doing his level best to avoid discussing the success of Dutch drug policy:

      The Netherlands also provides heroin on prescription under tight regulation to about 1500 long-term heroin addicts for whom methadone maintenance treatment has failed.
      http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/free-heroin-brings-everyone-a-bit-peace

      The Dutch justice ministry announced, in May 2009, the closure of eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. There’s simply not enough criminals
      http://www.nrc.nl/international/article2246821.ece/Netherlands_to_close_prisons_for_lack_of_criminals

      For further information, kindly check out this very informative FAQ provided by Radio Netherlands: http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/faq-soft-drugs-netherlands
      or go to this page: http://www.rnw.nl/english/dossier/Soft-drugs

      malcolm kyle

      May 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    • Matthew, it’s no wonder you’re refusing to debate us further; you have proved yourself absolutely incapable of addressing any of the points contained in my above post. At least show a minimum of integrity by explaining to us why your opinion is diametrically opposed to the factual information found therein.

      Here it is again:

      Schizophrenia affects approximately one percent of the population. That percentage has held steady since the disease was identified, while the percentage of people who have smoked marijuana has varied from about 5% to around 40% of the general population.
      Source: http://www.schizophrenia.com/szfacts.htm

      Kindly Google any of the following combinations:

      Nicotine and Schizophrenia
      Alcohol and Schizophrenia
      Chocolate and Schizophrenia
      Sugar and Schizophrenia
      Gluten and Schizophrenia

      So should we hand the market in any of the above substances to criminals (which is what prohibition effectively does) because its use is ‘associated’ with a certain minute part of the population? Many bipolar patients misuse caffeine and tobacco in an effort to bring on a manic state, thus becoming a danger to themselves or others. Should tobacco and caffeine or whatever works for each individual be prohibited to boost ratings or rhetoric also? Where does it end?

      Persons with chronic mental illness die 25 years earlier than the general population does, and smoking is the major contributor to that premature mortality. This population consumes 44% of all cigarettes.
      Source: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.012809.103701

      Cigarette smoking rates in the American population are approximately 23%, whereas rates of smoking in clinical and population studies of individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders are typically two- to four-fold higher.
      Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1201375/?tool=pmcentrez

      Caffeine is most certainly linked with mental illness; psychosis even. Here’s some reading:

      Broderick, P. & Benjamin, A.B. (2004). Caffeine and psychiatric symptoms: a review. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, 97(12), 538-542.

      Hedges, D.W., Woon, F.L. & Hoopes S.P. (2009). Caffeine-induced psychosis. CNS Spectrums, 14(3),127-129.

      According to Bryce Tierney, Loughner, once said, “I’m going to lead a more healthy lifestyle, not smoke cigarettes or pot anymore, and I’m going to start working out.” Tierney was happy for his friend: “I said, ‘Dude, that’s awesome.’ And the next time I saw him he was 10 pounds lighter.” Tierney never saw Loughner smoke marijuana again After Loughner apparently gave up drugs and booze, “his theories got worse,” Tierney says. “After he quit, he was just off the wall.”

      We can continue to blame, and attempt to prohibit, any of the above substances, but nothing will change except for the fact that criminals will become richer, terrorists will grow stronger, and our corrupt politicians will call for even more infringements on what’s left of our freedoms by passing laws that will take us even closer to total economic and social collapse. So pat yourselves on the back …as this ‘once great & free’ nation dies a little more with each passing day.

      malcolm kyle

      May 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

  21. Dear Malcom and others ,

    My comments are not solely addressed to any of you particularly, although many of you will will know if you have exhibited greater rudeness than foolishness or the other way round.

    Repeating something lots of times does not make it more right or in need of a reply.

    1. I think some of you should go to some biostatistics lectures
    First contrary to what you seem to believe the incidence and prevalence of psychosis varies remarkably over time and place – see J. Mcgrath et al and in in lots of other papers
    2. the crucial study would be to look at variation in the incidence of psychosis and THC over time. This study has not been performed. Because the condition is lifelong you can big variations in the incidence (new cases) with the prevalence quite stable (total cases). This is particularly true because cannabis is not the main cause of schizophrenia.
    3. with respect to the literature, of course there are lots of articles about all sorts of things. This is why all of you can find papers that suit your point of view and highlights the need for meta-analysis that looks at all the available data. feel free to do a meta analysis on tobacco/caffeine/sugar consumption and schizophrenia. I am sure you will find something in the Oklahoma State Medical Association Journal (impact factor ?who knows) to help you.
    4. following on from this you could find a paper showing cannabis is associated with a later onset of psychosis, such papers exist and can be found in the list of papers I included in my meta. However, they need to be seen in the context of other research – this is the role of meta-analysis
    5. I have no problem with David Nott – clearly cannabis is less dangerous than tobacco and alcohol in most ways, it is also less dangerous than arsenic – this is not an argument about the risks associated with cannabis.

    6. General comments about the direction of the debate.

    In a free society people should have he right to take risks and risks do not negate rights. In my eyes at least , the failure of the pro-cannabis lobby to acknowledge some risk makes them less credible.

    My estimation is that the risks for under 15s are not so low as some might assume- correct me if I am wrong but nobody is advocating legal sale to minors.

    I do take the point about discrimination against pot smokers- and it troubles me that some kids get inducted into this stigmatized group without knowing the risks.

    The civil rights arguments will always be stronger than medical arguments. If we lived a medically rational world alcohol advertising would be banned etc. We have done pretty well with tobacco here in Australia – it is still legal but very hard to get unless you are >18, heavily taxed, no adds, lots of health warnings and we have just adopted plain paper packaging + bigger health warnings and public health campaigns. This might be an ok model for THC. As it stands more Australian 12 year olds have smoked weed than tobacco. My estimate is that most tobacco is now smoked by people with mental illness.

    I guess that if cannabis were legal, users would have little objections to any health warning/research finding even if they thought it was wrong.

    I think the THC debate re psychosis has a way to run. I suspect weed has pro and antipsychotic properties – and there is some evidence for this in the literature. A few times a year I see patients who become psychotic for a few weeks a week or so after giving up weed. I think this might be because antipsychotic cannabinoids leave the body more quickly than THC – although other explanations (withdrawal for example) are possible.

    7. Final comments
    Although the world we live in is not so rational it will not be made more rational by individual irrationality. Please try to be rational. Also please try to be polite. I am absolutely not going to respond to any further rude or defamatory posts. This is a serious issue for all concerned and is not assisted by rudeness, presumption, arrogance , foolishness and ignorance.

    MatthewLarge

    May 20, 2011 at 10:48 pm

  22. Cannabis users know when it is giving them psychosis, and they are invariably able to choose whether or not to continue or cease.

    Most who cease find that the psychosis happens anyway, and that continuing cannabis eases the anxiety (even if it exscacerbates apparent psychosis through the psychomimetic effects of THC).

    The questions we fail to ask are:

    1) Is psychosis avoidable, or is it ‘genetic destiny’? Until we know the answer, then it is not fair on those who cannot choose not to be this way. Innocent until proven guilty? Does that work for medicine as well as it does for justice?

    2) Is pyschosis desirable? Mathew, I have had psychosis myself and I enjoyed the episode very much. It was clearly not connected to cannabis, and having experienced both ‘altered states’, I can tell you that they are like talk and cheese. It is like saying that cannabis can cause DMT activation! A Neuroscientist would surely laugh?

    3) Is ‘cannabis causes psychosis’ starting to look like ‘Vaccine causes autism’? i.e. false, refuted, faluted and frankly, it is like the psychiatrist wants to hunt the witch.

    Jacob

    May 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm

  23. Thanks Jacob,

    I don’t agree at all about the similarity between vaccines / autism and cannabis/ psychosis. There was one fraudulent study of the relationship between vaccines and autism but there are lots of well conducted studies looking at the relationship between cannabis and psychosis.

    I agree most cannabis users with psychosis do give up- the data suggests 50% do in the first year.

    Genetics undoubtedly play a role in just about every case of schizophrenia and account for about 50% of variance. The other 50% is made up of lots of things – that in my view includes cannabis – effecting , like lung cancer and smoking or TB and Tuberculosis – a small proportion of those exposed. (I am sure genetics also play a role in TB and lung cancer).

    Obviously the people psychiatrists see are more likely to be suffering than people who have psychosis but do not present for treatment – and I agree not all “suffer”. Perhaps some people want to develop schizophrenia , but I highly doubt this.

    See being polite does no harm at all.

    MatthewLarge

    May 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

    • Matthew, I would greatly value your comments on these three articles:

      http://clear-uk.org/the-importance-of-matured-cannabis/
      http://clear-uk.org/does-cannabis-make-you-mad/
      http://clear-uk.org/new-research-into-cannabis-and-mental-health/

      And I repeat my invitation for you to write an article from your perspective for the CLEAR website.

      Peter Reynolds

      May 25, 2011 at 11:27 am

    • De Rien Matthew,

      Let’s not mince aetiologies, surely you are aware of the profound roles of diet, laterality, familial criminality on the risk factors for SZ and psychosis. Not to mention the number one cause of psychosis in vulnerable individuals: Sociopathic behaviour from individuals and organisations alike.

      Did we miss Births, Deaths, Marriages, Divorces and Redundancies?

      In my humble opinion we have no data on schizophrenia until we can separate drug use from criminality, and deal properly with the confound of laterality.

      I welcome your comments if mine are worthy of a response and I can explain a little more about the vax-aut/thc-sz ‘connection’ after we have solidified our joint understanding of SZ if that pleases you?

      salut
      J

      Jacob

      May 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm

  24. One thing that is conspicuously omitted from Dr. Matthew Large’s February 7, 2011 report is how “psychotic” symptoms were defined and the severity level of those symptoms. I suspect that the studies that Dr. Large collected narrowly define “psychotic” symptoms, which may explain why his statistics surprisingly showed no significant association between “psychotic” symptoms and alcohol use. Moreover, this report does not appear to consider real possibility that the “onset of psychotic symptoms” are being confused with the common side effects of marijuana. Many persons that do not develop schizophrenia or other mental illness still experience occasional paranoia or anxiety during the course of their marijuana use due to regular/heavy use or high potency product. Considering this, it makes sense that you will have both schizophrenic and mentally health persons reporting “psychotic” symptoms at a significantly earlier age compared to those persons that have never used marijuana or any other drug.

    Of course there may be other confounding factors, many street dealers distribute marijuana along with other drugs. Studies show that the younger people are when they first try marijuana, the more likely they are to be introduced to other illicit drugs, including those that could cause more severe psychotic side effects. On the other hand, you also have children using Ritalin and other prescribed stimulant drugs that increase dopamine levels, in order to improve their school performance. It is a growing concern that these substances may contribute to schizophrenia.

    Tobacco use may also be another confounding factor. According to the following U.S. National Institute of Mental Health website:

    “It is hard for people to quit smoking because it might make their schizophrenia symptoms worse for a while.”

    http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia-easy-to-read/schizophrenia-easy-to-read.shtml

    According to Dr. Large’s report: “No study [that he collected] included tobacco use in its definition of substance use.” It is common for marijuana users to also smoke cigarettes, so nicotine withdrawal symptoms may be mistakenly attributed to marijuana use. Many former marijuana users struggle with nicotine addiction long after they quit using marijuana.

    I look foward to Dr. Large’s and other’s thoughts on this. Feel free to correct any inaccuracies.

    Caroline

    May 29, 2011 at 4:52 am

  25. I would like to also add that the following Monitoring the Future survey data show that two to three times more American students in the 8th and 10th grades use marijuana on a daily basis than alcohol. The ratio increases with daily marijuana use greatly surpassing daily drunkenness. Despite this, the marijuana use may be significantly under reported due to the stigma attached to marijuana compared to alcohol. For Australians and other nationalities, 8th grade typically covers ages 13 & 14 and 10th grade covers ages 15 & 16.

    http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/10data/pr10t4.pdf

    Scientific studies show that marijuana is significantly less addictive and intoxicating than alcohol, and much less addictive than nicotine.

    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/28

    Regardless of whether or not marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco are significant contributors to schizophrenia, children at such a young age should not be using any of these substances. There definitely needs to be a stronger debate over whether regulation of marijuana could be helpful in impeding regular use among young teens.

    Caroline

    May 29, 2011 at 5:56 am

  26. I have returned to this site after some months of other things.

    With respect to tobacco, I agree much more work needs to be done. Patients with psychosis start tobacco use many years before the onset of psychosis, smoke much more and are 4-6 times more likely to smoke than aged matched controls. I suspect they also quit at a lower rate. Smoking is obviously a big societal problem as well as for patients with schizophrenia and depressive disorders. There is much work to be done here as well.

    The story for Alcohol also needs more work. The defintion of psychosis in my study was the onset of psychotic illness, generally hallucinations, delusions and thought disorder – believed to be caused by schizophrenia etc. Clearly alcohol can cause psychosis ie the DT’s and alcohol hallucinosis – but my study did not look at this and I mantain there is no so much evidence that alcohol is causally associated with schizophrenia.

    I also strongly endorse Caroline’s comments – what are children doing smoking pot, drinking and using tobacco in any case. This is my main concern re pot – it seems to me that a consenting and informed adult might make a call to smoke pot because of the not so great risk of developing schizophrenia as a result – but children in the 8-10th grade are unlikely to be informed of the risks, might be mislead by the pro-cannabis lobby into thinking it was safe and are the people who seem to be at most risk.

    I also agree that Ritalin/Dexamphetamine use is a potential problem. I am not a fan of the whole ADHD-stimulant trend, I see several patients a year who have concentration problems, probably due to an underlying propensity to mental illness who become floridly psychotic on dexamphetamine.

    With respect to all of these comments, the way science works is reductionistic in the sense that an experiment can really only address a single issue. It is not possible to design a study addressing every concern about psychosis and drug use.

    Matthew Large

    August 20, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    • The fact that prohibition does absolutely nothing to protect children who, quite clearly, are most vulnerable to any harms from cannabis is the strongest possible argument for a regulated system. Prohibition is an abandonment of responsibility. Governments should have the intelligence to take control of the huge cannabis market instead of leaving it to criminals.

      Peter Reynolds

      August 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    • Dr. Matthew Large: “Patients with psychosis start tobacco use many years before the onset of psychosis, smoke much more and are 4-6 times more likely to smoke than aged matched controls. I suspect they also quit at a lower rate.”

      I’m confused by your statement because nicotine withdrawal is the onset of psychosis (impaired concentration, irritability, anxiety, disturbed sleep, etc.) and occurs when the teen decides to quit (or attempts to) often due to pressure from friends, family, schools, and society in general. Interesting enough, these psychotic symptoms can be experienced by both schizophrenic and general populations. Just Google “nicotine withdrawal psychosis” and there is plenty of discussion on this topic.

      Christy Swanson

      December 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    • Dr. Large, your study only surveyed the effects of marijuana on mentally disturbed persons. I was wondering if you would get similar ratios of reported psychoactive effects among both schizophrenic and general populations that used marijuana. That is the more the general population uses marijuana, the more “psychosis” is reported, which could be defined in many ways according to the terms you provided in your earlier post: “psychotic illness, generally hallucinations, delusions and thought disorder.”

      In other words, if the general, unafflicted population experiences an increase in “weird” unusual behavior due to marijuana use, it may not be that significant to find similar reported behavior among schizophrenic populations.

      Christy Swanson

      December 8, 2011 at 8:16 am

  27. We seem to have drifted slowly to common ground about some aspects of this issue, if not actual agreement. Think I might sign off for a while. I have enjoyed defending my research and admitt learning a few things as well.

    Matthew Large

    August 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm

  28. Interesting reading here, great opinions both sides, good to see a discussion with respect to each other’s opinion. I wonder how much the stress, worries and paranoia of getting arrested for possession or growing a couple of plants, because pot is illegal in the first place, affects the amount of people diagnosed with developing schizophrenia? I fully support stopping kids using any drugs more because human cells don’t fully polarise until late teens early 20’s therefore ANY drug can and do affect these growing cell, if these cells are located in the brain then psychosis can result. Please correct me if I am wrong this is just my understanding of it.
    As a long term smoker who is 48 yrs old married 21 yrs 2 wonderful kids and beautiful wife, a farm property and suburb property with no life issues to speak of, I have experienced these stressful emotions regularly when growing, smoking or scoring, although I didn’t give a f&^K about the Cannabis laws a long time ago so I have had no personal issues but I cannot but wonder about other people more sensitive and susceptible than me. Surely being consistently worried and stressed about getting caught and going to jail will cause psychosis? So I’m thinking the results leading towards Cannabis causing psychosis must be tainted as it might just be the stress causing the issues with susceptible people. Eliminating the criminality of Cannabis will surely relieve the stress associated with it. The facts on the percentage of population with Schizophrenia not changing even though the rates of Cannabis use has fluctuated greatly also suggest a lot more research is needed and that the government cannot use this as an excuse to lock hard working family people up.
    Just a thought.
    Martin Stone

    Martin Stone

    September 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    • You’re spot on Martin.

      Peter Reynolds

      September 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      • Martin, you are the erudite speaker of great sense, how much money is wasted on pointless research? Surely the only research we need right now is into the consequences of harms to the psyche created by the war on some people’s consciousness. You see it ain’t even a paradox of harms; it’s the policy to make it dangerous.

        Darryl Bickler

        September 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      • That’s a transformation Peter, thanks. I think you objected to my BMJ point far too hastily!

        Darryl Bickler

        September 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm

  29. It is a pointless exercise arguing with people like Matthew Large about his “science”. He is firmly rooted in denial and has no intention of arguing rationally about the preposterous assertion that cannabis causes schizophrenia. He can’t afford to, he knows that it doesn’t. He treats the facts and criticism with equal contempt and even says in a post in this blog “cannabis is not the main cause of schizophrenia”. To understand Matthew Large and people like him, we need to discuss the big picture. Essentially, people like Matthew are paid to insinuate. He is involved in a very simple and effective ploy. All that is needed is the construction of a piece of “research” (and I use the term very loosely) in which the words “cannabis” and “schizophrenia” are juxtaposed. It is of no concern to him, the UNSW or the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre that the work has absolutely no validity, for its main purpose is to provide a basis for instilling fear into people and praying on their inherent gullibility. The work has successfully achieved its aim as a quick internet search will reveal many media articles where the headline or opening line proclaims “research shows cannabis causes schizophrenia” or words to that effect. And the salient point here is that the media that is happy to say that cannabis causes schizophrenia is the same media that is involved in aggressive promotion of what is actually the most dangerous drug for young people, alcohol. That the “research” or “study” was performed by a psychiatrist at a university, affords it credibility in the eyes of people that are unable or not interested in applying a critical thought process to the work. So why is the federal government interested in perpetuating fear about cannabis through its proxies such as the UNSW and the NCPIC? Very simply because a society fearful of illicit drugs will be far less likely to vote for liberalisation of drug laws, thus allowing the perpetuation of the disgusting US imposed “War on Drugs”. So despite his denials, Matthew Large and many others are merely playing their part in the propaganda machine of drug prohibition.

    Matt

    October 22, 2011 at 1:31 am

  30. Matt
    1. what evidence do you have for a global conspiracy and my involvment in such. total nonsense.
    2. your main argument goes like this. cannabis should be legal, therefore it must be safe, therefore anyone who says otherwise is wrong and as a result can only be understood in terms of [1]
    3. you seem to insist that cannabis is safe becuase alcohol is dangerous

    you cant be serious.

    PS I am no longer going to reply to people who dont have the guts to use their full name and the city they live in – this general culture of anonymous posts is cowardly.

    Matthew Large

    October 27, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    • Matthew, I agree with you entirely about anonymous postings.

      Peter Reynolds

      October 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    • Matthew, true to form, you continue to seek refuge in denial and in this particular reply, gross misinterpretation of my points. Although by responding to you one last time I am engaging in something I have described as a pointless exercise, I just can’t help myself.

      1. You are in point one implying complete ignorance on your part about the American led “War on Drugs”. I find this almost impossible to believe. You want evidence? Start with the Drug Enforcement Agency in the US. A budget of US$2 billion and direct employment of nearly 10,000 people. This mammoth commitment to the prohibition of some drugs and the oppression of their users is imposed globally by way of the three United Nation treaties of which Australia is a willing signatory along with apparently 169 other nations. If you are genuinely naïve on this subject, please familiarise yourself with the treaties of 1961, 71 and 88. They are freely available online. They are the blueprint for the prohibition of some drugs and impose many conditions on the signatories such as the requirement to seize proceeds of illicit drug sales, thereby creating a self-perpetuating situation of governments profiting from the prohibition they impose.

      Australia being a treaty signatory dutifully carries out the prohibitionist agenda. The Australian federal government funds the UNSW (specifically the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and the NCPIC (which is hosted by the university). Guess who is listed as a collaborating partner on the home page of the NDARC website? The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. You might say how does this implicate you and your “research” in this “conspiracy” seeing as you work for the School of Psychiatry at the UNSW? Quite simply because the school is part of an institution that receives funding from a prohibitionist government and the fact that the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre was present at the launch of your research. It is plausible that you were naïve as to the use of your “research” to further the prohibitionist cause, but I feel this is improbable.

      You might ask me to prove that the NCPIC is part of the prohibitionist agenda. I would respond by saying that the federal government spends a lot of money on the centre, whose main aim is to reduce the use of cannabis. Where however is the commitment by the government to reducing the use of the most dangerous drug for young people, alcohol? The answer: the government is intimately involved in the maximisation of the manufacture, distribution and use of alcohol, as evidenced by the existence of Wine Australia (a statutory body of the Federal government) and the two major political parties being in receipt of donations from the alcohol industry. Surely the existence of a National Alcohol Prevention and Information Centre would be justified by a truly responsible government? So clearly, illicit drugs such as cannabis are given “special” treatment.

      So there you are Matthew, conspiracy proven.

      2. I am at a loss to explain how you have extrapolated “cannabis should be legal, therefore it must be safe” from my post. Again, intentional misrepresentation on your part. I never said cannabis is safe. It carries with it risks, as does every “drug of abuse”. The most striking danger of cannabis use is the health ramifications of smoking it, either alone or more commonly with tobacco. However, cannabis can be eaten, which removes the risks associated with smoking. Cannabis does not cause schizophrenia and to claim otherwise is engaging in the absurd. Your “research” is merely the modern day continuance of the “reefer madness” cannabis demonization campaign of last century. Finally, the legal status of a drug has absolutely nothing to do with its danger to the health of users. Proof? The two most exquisitely dangerous drugs in society, tobacco and alcohol, are legal.

      3. Similarly, I am at a further loss over your interpretation “cannabis is safe becuase alcohol is dangerous”. I simply do not know how to respond to this other than to say I have addressed part of this in the previous section.

      As far as my anonymity, I have valid reasons for it and perhaps it is cowardly in a way, but I will not be losing any sleep over it. In closing, it seems you enjoy the notoriety of having “stirred the hornet’s nest” on cannabis, its prohibition and demonization. Matthew, I just ask you to think about the effects that prohibition has on people (imprisonment, fines, loss of employment etc) and if that was you, how would you feel.

      Matt

      October 29, 2011 at 3:06 am

  31. Matt,

    this was my point exactly, it is hardly a conspiracy. Governments have openly made drugs illegal and they certainly do not pay researchers to come up with one result or another. Personally I have never asked for or recieved funding. What i have done is looked after hundreds of patients with psychosis in the last two decades, including those as young as 11. Most have smoked pot and beleive that cannabis has casued or precipitated their illness.

    I do not agree with criminalising the 15% of of the population who smoke pot and never have. I have said I am a bit uncomfortable about legalisation – I was quotes as being “horrified” but this is not the case. You can choose to believe me or not, but I had never even heard of the NCIP until the day before my paper came out.

    My sole aim is to warn the young about the dangers of cannabis – which I think are substantial. There are campaigns in Australia about the dangers of alcohol for young people – but not for cannabis. In Australia 12 year olds are more likely to have used pot than tobacco.

    I am coming around to the view that there should be cannabis law reform so we can have a sensible debate – unlike this.

    I still reckon you are a bit sensitive about not using you name, nobody is going to arrest you for talking about cannabis law reform.

    If I am politically naive, you are ignorant of science.

    Matthew Large

    October 29, 2011 at 10:44 am

  32. This is one of those instances where both Matt and Matthew make valid points.

    It is undoubtedly true that the DEA is an extra-judicial, unlawful organisation that crosses jurisdictions willy nilly and answers to no one, not even the US president.

    I think Matthew’s points 2) and 3) above were unfair and don’t accurately represent Matt’s position.

    Matthew should be (and I suspect is) extremely embarrassed about the NCPIC hijacking his research. Its involvement is anti-science, anti-democracy and corrupt as is the promotion by governments of the dangerous drug alcohol and the demonisation of the relatively safe drug cannabis.

    I believe that Matthew is in fact someone we should be encouraging to come forward with his views. I’m not withdrawing the headline to this article that I wrote nearly a year ago because I think it was fair at the time. Matthew was duped, I believe, by the NCPIC but the evidence of his research cannot be disputed. What is wrong is when the evidence is distorted and sensationalised and I don’t think you can accuse Matthew of that.

    I remain bemused about Matthew’s experience with his patients. We hear similar stories from all over the world but never any data to back them up. In fact, all the epidemiologiocal studies show stable or declining rates of psychosis despite increasing rates of cannabis use.

    I have seen Matthew adjust his position on the politics of cannabis over the last year which is gratifying. I agree with him entirely that nobody is going to be arrested for talking about cannabis law reform and that to hide behind pseudonyms or anonymity is counterproductive and actually damages the cause.

    I don’t think the dangers of cannabis are substantial although they are real, particularly in the still developing brain. The real harm is caused by prohibition – “In Australia 12 year olds are more likely to have used pot than tobacco” is a serious indictment of the policies of all governments and something that our cowardly, incompetent political leaders should be deeply ashamed of.

    The only rational solution to the cannabis issue is regulation.

    Peter Reynolds

    October 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm

  33. Small points.

    1. The incidence of schizophrenia has not been tracked longitudinally in any western country as far as I am aware, (there is Russian data i think). There is certainly no data from the USA or Australia. In Australia, THC use has declined in recent years.

    2. As I have said before, schizophrenia has a bunch of causes, is 50% genetic, but its incidence does vary over time and place. The highest incidence of schizophrenia ever recorded was in Nottinghamshire in the 1960’s – This was not due to pot, but was probably due to poor maternal health during rationing during and after the WWII. In fact my study would be no more or less true if cannabis did not cause a single case of schizophrenia but only accelerated the onset.

    3. As for me being unfair, well maybe a little, but I was making a fair point – consider if cannabis growing for personal use was decriminalised (i think, this is what I think, should happen – but I am not sure) , or legalised (there are some arguments for this – it could then be packaged with warnings and taxed) tomorrow – would there really be any objection to my research from users? I think not. One argument against commercial production and sale of cannabis by corporations is they would then behave as big tobacco did with lung cancer – and might then be pretty upset with me as well.

    4. If my highlighting the dangers of cannabis is evidence that I am involved in a financial scam re the government etc, then surely those who say cannabis is safe can could be accused protecting their market for flogging the stuff to kids – I am not running this line (becasue I dont believe it, and that would be unfair) – but I think I am on the high ground as to fairness, particularly given the caption at the head of this blog.

    5. In this debate people keep bringing the harms of alcohol up – I just fail to see the relevence of this – as a society Australians are nuts about alcohol, the Brits are just as bad – we drink far too much and it causes untold damage to ourselves and each other by way of violence, car accidents, suicide, and medical problems but none of this makes cannabis any safer or more dangerous. I have said repeatedly that alcohol warnings are pathetic. The assumption behind this appears to be that the only options are drinking or smoking weed – well, I dont accept this.

    Who ever said we should be entirely fair in a debate in any case – but we should be honest and we should try to be polite.

    Matthew Large

    October 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    • Matthew, you must know of the 2009 Keele study: “Assessing the impact of cannabis use on trends in diagnosed schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005” Do you not accept its conclusions?

      On alcohol, the point is that it is undemocratic and unjust to choose to criminalise a large proportion of society for using a drug that is much, much safer that alcohol, the use of which the government promotes! It is the arbitrary oppression of people for making a choice which is less harmful and the deliberate deception that it isn’t.

      What really drives me though is the enormous potential that medicinal cannabis offers. I have now seen so many things with my own eyes that I regard as virtually miraculous from people suffering with Crohn’s, MS and spinal injury. The fact that people are denied such relief is nothing short of evil.

      Peter Reynolds

      October 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm

  34. Peter,

    I know the Keele sudy and do not dobt it as re statistics, but it is not a national study, it looked at the general preactice data for about 2% of the UK population over a short period of time. This study was only perfomed in this slightly odd way becasue a larger national data set was not available.

    Medical Marijana is a slightly different issue – not so sure there have been many controlled trials of such but I used to work in a hospice for those dying of AIDS before combination therapy was available back in the 1990s. We tryied to accomodate the patients marijuana use as much was possible within a public health facility.

    This brings me to tell you the real reason for the press conference being under the NSW university banner. It was scheduled to be at my hospital under a department of health banner. However, the department of health changed their mind, i think because the NSW government of the time did not want to be associated with criticism of marijuana, because, i presume it would harm their chances in an imminent election. Hence the press conference got moved to the university becasue there was less political interference not more. This is the truth and is pretty much the opposite of what has been speculated about.

    Matthew Large

    October 30, 2011 at 12:01 am

  35. In the interest of “fairness” I just looked at all the medline listed controlled trials of cannabis. There is not so much data and much of it is conflicting. For example there are postive and negative studies for aspects of symptom control in multiple sclerosis. However, there seems to be a pretty new and interesting story with respect to neuropathic pain, which can be a significant problem for HIV patients and in some other conditions. Neuropathic pain can be pretty nasty, disabling and is known to be hard to treat. There are a few trials of this all with a positive effect of moderate size. This is interesting because there is evidence cannabis is not really an analgesic (ie it is not like asprin, paracetamol and opiates) as such, and, analgesics generally don’t work to well for neuropathic pain.

    see below – there might be a more studies of the topic but these came up in the searches. For those like me who like actual scientific evidence, here is some.

    1. Ware MA, Wang T, Shapiro S, et al. Smoked cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial. CMAJ. 2010 doi: 10.1503/cmaj.091414. [Cross Ref]
    2. Ellis RJ, Toperoff W, Vaida F, et al. Smoked medicinal cannabis for neuropathic pain in HIV: a randomized, crossover clinical trial. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009;34:672–80. [PMC free article][PubMed]
    3. Abrams DI, Jay CA, Shade SB, et al. Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Neurology. 2007;68:515–21. [PubMed]
    4. Wilsey B, Marcotte T, Tsodikov A, et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of cannabis cigarettes in neuropathic pain. J Pain. 2008;9:506–21. [PubMed]

    perhaps an expert in this disorder might comment.

    Matthew Large

    November 1, 2011 at 11:17 am

    • Thanks for that Matthew. You might find this interesting:

      http://norml.org/component/zoo/category/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana

      Peter Reynolds

      November 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      • Persecuted drug users DO at times exhibit the signs of mental illness. The policy criminalising users of a specified substance before there is any measurable negative outcome negates the desired variable of proportionate interefence into the liberty of the person with respect to drugs. This is not best expressed as how we treat drugs, but how we treat persons. The variable is lost through the abuse of power inherrent in prosecuting some drug users for property offences as if indeed they were illicit beings, forever bound by their choice to be renderred illigitmate by assocaition with a fictitious illegal object – and it is that social status that is at the root of the mischief, and it is this attributing to the mental harm now measured to cannabis users Matthew is actually measuring, The person is not associated with illegal drugs at all, but a user of a controlled substance where it is assumed from the start that the drug taking activity should be held it public opprobrium and contempt. This despite it not even being a crime to use cannabis or most other controlled drugs. If mental illness is truly the concern then we have a measurable harm already to consider in the society of all drug users being caused by alcohol – this is because the threshold for intereference into the alcohol market is wrong, and it doesn’t even have to concern the rights of drinkers. They actually make alcohol attractive to binge on for children – now isn’t it obvious we have bias towards certain drug users and that this is in fact a poisonned challice?

        This is the issue: the individual is damned whatever their reason for using a controlled substance, irrespective of whether he is peaceful or not – so that no measurable commodity other than the amount of substance property they possessed need be present to criminalise them; there is nothing to observe relating to any harm of mischief that the law ought to address in a proportionate way. Criminlisation precedes everything, it denies a persons civil being and their every existence is clouded with attacks on his very mind and body – you can’t even begin the measure that – these harm tables mean very little until we start from ground neutral – mental illness is created by oppressive environments. People who create this outcome then cite it as justification for policy seek to control your freedom to be – drug misuse harms of all kinds will always be a self-fulfilling prophesy for some who do not survive the jungle they created for us.

        Darryl Bickler

        November 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm

  36. I should have posted this here actually as its nothing to do with what Peter posted about cannabis curing all know diseases stuff. I am talking about mental illness as experienced by many controlled drug users.

    Persecuted drug users DO at times exhibit the signs of mental illness. The policy criminalising users of a specified substance before there is any measurable negative outcome negates the desired variable of proportionate interefence into the liberty of the person with respect to drugs. This is not best expressed as how we treat drugs, but how we treat persons. The variable is lost through the abuse of power inherrent in prosecuting some drug users for property offences as if indeed they were illicit beings, forever bound by their choice to be renderred illigitmate by assocaition with a fictitious illegal object – and it is that social status that is at the root of the mischief, and it is this attributing to the mental harm now measured to cannabis users Matthew is actually measuring, The person is not associated with illegal drugs at all, but a user of a controlled substance where it is assumed from the start that the drug taking activity should be held it public opprobrium and contempt. This despite it not even being a crime to use cannabis or most other controlled drugs. If mental illness is truly the concern then we have a measurable harm already to consider in the society of all drug users being caused by alcohol – this is because the threshold for intereference into the alcohol market is wrong, and it doesn’t even have to concern the rights of drinkers. They actually make alcohol attractive to binge on for children – now isn’t it obvious we have bias towards certain drug users and that this is in fact a poisonned challice?

    This is the issue: the individual is damned whatever their reason for using a controlled substance, irrespective of whether he is peaceful or not – so that no measurable commodity other than the amount of substance property they possessed need be present to criminalise them; there is nothing to observe relating to any harm of mischief that the law ought to address in a proportionate way. Criminlisation precedes everything, it denies a persons civil being and their every existence is clouded with attacks on his very mind and body – you can’t even begin the measure that – these harm tables mean very little until we start from ground neutral – mental illness is created by oppressive environments. People who create this outcome then cite it as justification for policy seek to control your freedom to be – drug misuse harms of all kinds will always be a self-fulfilling prophesy for some who do not survive the jungle they created for us.

    Darryl Bickler

    November 1, 2011 at 13:43

    Darryl Bickler

    November 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    • You are correct Darryl. The “War on Drugs” has nothing to do with preventing drug related harm to society. If it were, the most dangerous drugs, tobacco and alcohol would be prohibited. It is all to do with creating and sustaining an enormous nefarious economy. The illicit drug user is merely a constituent of a minority component of society which it is possible to oppress purely because it does not have sufficient voting power. In order for the people who profit from the WoDs, to continue to profit from it, the “moral majority” have to be maintained in the false belief that illicit drugs are the “clear and present” danger to particularly, their children. Fear is maintained and they will not question the situation or consider voting for drug law liberalistion. Why should they? They are convinced they are protecting their children, (when actually the reverse is true, the WoDs guarantees effective supply and distribution of illicit drugs, which are not subject to proper manufacturing standards) and their drugs (alcohol, tobacco and caffeine) are legal. The most crushing irony is: the majority’s favourite “recreational” drug (alcohol) is actually the most dangerous drug for their children. A form of “legal bigotry” exists where the majority holds in contempt and actively oppresses a minority that is doing nothing more than using a psycoactive substance for exactly the same reasons the majority uses them for. This bigotry is perpetuated by government and its agencies. This is where studies such as the one Matthew Large and the UNSW and therefore the Federal government has been involved in (and they are not the only ones taking part in this ploy). All they have to do is provide a vehicle for engendering fear. They juxtopose cannabis, young people and schizophrenia in a study that has no true scientific credibility. Job done. The alcohol promoting press takes care of the rest. The resultant articles proclaim “cannabis causes schizophrenia”. Absolutely not true but nonetheless breathtakingly effective in creating fear.

      Matt

      November 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      • What do you mean Matt? You agree with me – ha that’s a joke, you completely missed my central points – I don’t agree with your whole construction and I’m not even referring to the opinion you recite.

        Darryl Bickler

        November 3, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      • Yes Matt you are right about alcohol and tobacco and the lobbies in may ways, what I am objecting to is the de-personalisation of the drug user through misleading words such as ‘drug law’ and dangerous drugs, recreational drugs – you know all these lables mean jack shit.

        Darryl Bickler

        November 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm

      • I’m replying to myself now – I do get wound up by the fact that people still accept these expressions, sorry for being impatient Matt

        Darryl Bickler

        November 3, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      • Darryl, I thought I responded to your post reasonably. I had difficulty understanding your second sentence. I need it to be put in simple language.

        I agree about the language and the laws of prohibition. Our drug laws and the language used by authorities and others are designed to differentiate between illicit and licit drugs regardless of the harm inherent in their use. This is what I meant by “legal bigotry”. It is the intentional creation of a criminal underclass that by their actions are actually doing nothing different to the licit drug using population. Language is an important tool in this process. The word drug has been hijacked by the prohibitionist machine to mean illicit substance with inherent harm greater than licit drugs. Totally untrue, but unfortunately, this is how a large section of society thinks.

        I agree about the untold mental anguish that prohibition causes. As far as your statement “mental illness is created by oppressive environments”, I agree as regards anxiety, situational depression and PTSD etc. Matthew Large et al. however are only interested in creating by association the inference that cannabis causes schizophrenia. They are in no way concerned about the effects, physical or mental, of drug prohibition. Matthew appears quite happy with prohibition, saying only that cannabis law liberalisation might help us to “have a sensible debate.”

        Regarding alcohol and young people, I also agree. In Australia, the Federal government recently attempted to put a greater tax on sweet mixed alcoholic drinks, to address youth “binge” drinking. The alcohol industry vehemently objected. It was all a red herring in my opinion, as the real issue is not the alcohol content, the packaging or cost, but rather the sugar. It is the sugar (and carbonation to a lesser extent) that is at the core of the issue. The sugar masks the alcohol and makes the drinks eminently more palatable. If the Australian government were serious about reducing alcohol related harm to young people, they would prohibit sugar in packaged pre-mixed drinks.

        The whole disgusting prohibition thing winds me up too. Man’s inhumantity to man seems to have no end.

        Matt

        November 4, 2011 at 2:26 am

      • It’s not what you are trying to say Matt, it’s your belief that the expressions you are using being appropriate that I take issue with – I think you said ‘licit or illicit drugs’ 5 times in the last post alone – these expressions are at the root of the whole problem on several levels. There is no such thing as these fictional constructs, drugs have no legal agency. You make drug users like slaves every time you repeat this nonsense, remember please, illegal drugs do not exist and this is the error of law that denies the possiibility of licensing, regulation etc

        PS Are you suggesting a to ban of artificial sweeteners and all things sweet in alcohol, what about fruit beers and liqueurs such as drambuie, cherry brandy etc?

        Darryl Bickler

        November 4, 2011 at 8:26 am

      • Darryl, the law in Australia (wrongly I believe) makes nearly every psychoactive substance (dare I say it, drug) except caffeine, alcohol and tobacco subject to sanctions for the possession, manufacture, supply and sale of said substance (disreguarding drugs for which the user has a prescription). You would have to explain to me what you mean by “illegal drugs do not exist” and that an “error of law” is responsible for people being fined and even put in jail. You’ve lost me on these two concepts. I only use the terms illicit and licit to describe the classification put on substances not by me, but by lawmakers. I dont accept these labels any more than you do. I’m with you Darryl, not against you!!!! I clearly left out a word and should have said “added sugar” when referring to alcohol made to taste like soft drink, clearly in order to increase consumption by young females.

        Matt

        November 4, 2011 at 9:44 am

      • The government cannot make such classifications on drugs to declare them illicit – it’s impossible, firstly drugs do not have legal responsibility. It may well be policy to put sanctions on what you do with certain substances, but this is a very different concept to declaring substances illicit or illegal. What concerns me is that people foolishly accept that the law controls drugs, it does not even purport to, it controls persons through the actions you list. A drug becomes designated as a ‘controlled drug’ not because it is controlled, but it is in a schedule of substances, and these substances are ones which you are supposed to be regulated with respect to. But they insist that certain drugs are controlled, and others, even that the worst can be legal or licit, and that controlled drugs are the same as illicit or illegal ones – this negates the possibility of the regulation envisaged by primary law (in UK, I haven’t read your version of the MDA yet) because the whole threshold for proportionate interference is lost. There are no rights to balance, no mischief of anti-social conduct or other outcome to measure – drugs users are skin to being illegal; before they get up in the morning.

        Darryl Bickler

        November 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

      • Ok Darryl, I am trying to understand this. The law doesnt make substances themselves illegal (they are controlled), it makes the actions of people involved in their supply and use in a “recreational” context subject to sanction. For example, morphine isnt illegal, it is controlled. So when you start to use morphine recreationally, rather than for the control of pain etc you are subject to sanctions for your actions only. What is the MDA? I have no idea what the “threshold for proportionate interference” is. I will attempt to find out though. I think you fall into the trap you are talking about too, when you say “drugs users are skin [akin?] to being illegal”: by your own standards shouldnt you be saying “controlled drug users”?

        Matt

        November 5, 2011 at 1:47 am

      • Getting there Matt, so yes it is the property of morphine and the rights associated with property rights (peaceful possession, production, supply, import etc) that are controlled via policy under the Misuse of Drugs Act (the “MDA”), and I bet the Aussie law is very similar. Interestingly the use of drugs is generally not criminal either, and this is a key construction issue when looking at an Act of Parliament to ascertain whether it is being used according to purpose or not – it is NOT an Act of prohibition.Do remember that the law as we experience it is not the Act itself, but what govt choose to do with it – they are supposed to administer it with experts to make suitable regulations, modifications, changes etc The threshold for proportionate interference (into your liberty, privacy etc) is whether actions of the type you are engaged in is likely to lead to social harm. I think when I tried to say drug users are akin to being illegal you are right that it is only some drug users, as drunks and tobacco dealers are supposedly exempt from the operation of the law by merit of their concerns being with “legal drugs”, so yes it is controlled drug users who are made akin to property although this is not the trap I was picking you up on concerning reversing the subject and object of regulation, it is a different trap!

        Darryl Bickler

        November 5, 2011 at 10:00 am

      • Beautifully put Matt.

        Peter Reynolds

        November 3, 2011 at 9:57 pm

  37. I shall not spare your blushes Matthew.

    I found this interview with you the other day on ABC Radio. I read the transcript and found it very interesting.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/stories/2011/3355358.htm

    You say that in many people cannabis causes mental health problems and then they stop using it. My experience is that many people with mental health problems tell me they use cannabis to relieve their symptoms and that is does so far better than anything else. I can only present anecdotes but that is what you were doing in your interview as well.

    I think one thing that scientists inevitably overlook is that what you describe as psychotic symptoms are exactly the effects that one is looking for and enjoys.

    It is self-evident that cannabis must have the potential to cause harm to the psyche because it is psychoactive. It seems as obvious to me as saying that eating butter will increase your chances of getting fat. I eat butter and smoke cannabis. I could certainly do with losing a bit of weight but I’m very well adjusted, mentally strong and resilient. I have used cannabis almost every day of my life for 40 years. All it’s ever done for me has been positive.

    I can quite honestly say that I have never, in all that time, met anyone who I thought had been harmed by cannabis. As I say I don’t deny the possibility and my 21 year old son says he has a friend who he believes has damaged himself. However, all these things are relative. I should lose some weight. Some people are allergic to peanuts. I had a cocaine habit for 10 years which towards the end did become a problem – that’s why I ended it!

    “The first argument in favor of cannabis was run by Reynolds who seems to believe that cannabis cannot be bad for you if it should be legal.”

    No that’s not what I think at all Matthew. I think all the evidence shows that, comparatively, cannabis is very safe and the enormous benefits it offers far outweigh the small risks.

    I agree with you that it is a ludicrous argument to say “cannabis must be safe because tobacco and alcohol are dangerous”. I have never seen anyone advance that. The argument is that as both alcohol and tobacco are many times more harmful than cannabis it is undemocratic and unjust to prohibit it. In fact it is immoral to take such an arbitrary decision and then criminalise, even imprison people for making what is a safer choice.

    Then you say, as if I am suffering from paranoid delusions: “They imagine the producers of tobacco and alcohol in cahoots with co-conspirators in government and the sciences.”

    Matthew, if you haven’t realised yet that there is at least a kernel of truth in this then you need to open your eyes!

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading it even if you were more than a little condescending – but then I wasn’t gentle with you, was I?

    It’s a pity that the interview ends with crass and tasteless hypocrisy exhibited by the interviewer who says “And I’m sure Doctor, you’ll drink responsibly.”

    Peter Reynolds

    November 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm

  38. Some more musings of the subject.

    1. What does a quick web search for work by one of Matthew Large’s collaborator’s Michael T. Compton, MD, MPH furnish? A piece entitled “Evidence Accumulates for Links Between Marijuana and Psychosis” posted 26-3-2010. An excerpt:

    “Furthermore, the initiation of cannabis use among those with psychotic disorders often precedes the onset of psychosis by several years.[1,3,4] Second, cannabis use in adolescence is increasingly recognized as an independent risk factor for psychosis and schizophrenia.[5-7] That is, several epidemiologic studies suggest that cannabis use is a component cause of schizophrenia.[8,9]”

    It is easy to see why Compton was a part of Large’s piece of suggestion, sorry, science. Another formulaic piece where the words and phrases “increasingly recognised” “research suggests”, “evidence accumulates”, “appears to” and ”Ongoing research of varying designs will undoubtedly enlighten the field” appear in abundance in contrast to the complete absence of actual scientifically valid evidence. The basic premises of Matthew’s piece are here in perfect duplicate. Despite cannabis being used for thousands of years and by millions of people, no evidence of a causal link between cannabis and schizophrenia exists. Nonetheless, these men continue to paint a picture of expectation, where “further research” will miraculously provide evidence that cannabis causes schizophrenia. Of course, I believe the real purpose of such research is to be a vehicle for suggestion and insinuation. Why else would scientists, academics and those who fund them keep “flogging a dead horse”? The time is well past when a research proposal of this nature, given genuine criteria for funding, would be granted funding when the basic thesis just cannot be proven.

    2. At the press conference launching Matthew’s work, the following statements were made:

    Quote, Matthew Large:
    “I think there are a proportion of people who develop schizophrenia, and who would not have developed schizophrenia if they ahh hadn’t smoked cannabis, maybe twenty per cent of patients…”

    Quote, Prof. Phillip Mitchell:
    “If you can reduce the rates of cannabis use in young people, then maybe you can reduce at least the onset of schizophrenia, and preserve a few more years of health, or in fact stop schizophrenia developing in the first place.”

    This is hard evidence of the mischievous and undeniable insinuation that “cannabis causes schizophrenia” made by academics at the UNSW that was subsequently carried on by the wider media. These statements can’t be interpreted by any reasonable person as having any meaning other than to imply that cannabis has a direct causal relationship with schizophrenia. So the suggestion and insinuation began well in advance of any television, radio or print media contribution. Matthew cannot credibly blame only the wider media for misrepresenting his work.

    Matt

    November 5, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    • Yes, I was disappointed in Matthews’s misrepresentation of the arguments he’d heard. I was beginning to trust him, even if I disagreed with him about some things but he doesn’t actually seem to be listening. Perhaps we have to go back to hardball?

      Peter Reynolds

      November 5, 2011 at 10:11 pm

  39. Peter,

    What you said was wrong and clearly defamatory. If I was playing hard ball I would have employed a lawyer – but I am a very strong beleiver in free speach, as I suspect you are. I was very fair with you in comparrison with you to me and you know it. As I said in the beginning when you would not reply to my posts, you have to both walk the walk and talk the talk. I am signing off – let the readers and listners decide.

    One last thing, I promise, that if i am ever offered money by government, big tobacco or an alcohol producer to criticise cannabis I will let you know and I will immediately start advocating for its decriminalisation.

    Matthew

    Matthew Large

    November 6, 2011 at 3:43 am

    • We are not an ‘it’ to be allowed to live Matthew – you think you can treat people who use cannabis in a way that degrades them absolutely and cry an upset that your reputation is being brought into question. You won’t win a penny anyway even if you tried, you know why, because it is you who brings on the contempt and hatred you experience. You clearly haven’t read any of my numerous comments on this this thread and not answerred a single point I made. You simply don’t get it do you, it is not about ‘it’, it cannot be decriminalised, this is a war of hatred against people and it is people like you that cause significant harm to people by creating the myth through the front-loading of negative stereotypes about cannabis use into everyone’s minds. Your research is absolutely meaningless given the context and social construction of taboo and fear – you are waging a war on peaceful people and you have the audacity to say you might go running off to the courts for damages.

      Darryl Bickler

      November 6, 2011 at 9:39 am

  40. Thanks Peter for providing the blog and the chance for everyone to have their say. Matthew Large is just one of the many academics that are prepared to do unconsionciable things for money. His reputation, if he did have one previously, will be trashed amongst honest psychiatrists. I believe he understood fully what he was getting himself into with this research as his modus operandi right from the start of the discussion has been denial and evasion of the critical points. His intransigence has been breathtaking despite the quality of argument against him. I dont think he really understands the implications of prohibition on people or perhaps he just doesnt care and thinks it is a bit of joke. Unfortunately, he will have a job for life participating in research like this. It is quite obvious what the University of New South Wales is prepared to say about illicit drugs purely to secure funding. Demonisation of cannabis continues unabated in Australia. The government of this country is ultra obsequious to the US and we will do nearly anything to maintain the military alliance: participating in the War on Drugs is merely one piece of subservience. The discussion on forums such as this blog is however an important part of the fight against prohibition.

    Matt

    November 8, 2011 at 10:11 am

    • Right now my sights are on you Matt not Matthew – you are the one that needs to get it right and I have made my points to you and you still choose to ignore them – this takes some effort and I am getting impatient again. It is a massive problem, the language of what you are saying – you are the one who will make this war last forever because you will not understand it and talk in cliches that you have bought into. And you are making cardinal errors and frankly making any progression in your understanding impossible. There are no f-ing illicit drugs! ‘War on drugs’ means nothing! Gasp – if you say these things you are the antithesis of the possibility of a better future, you are reciting the propaganda tricks to de-humanise us all and make sensible regulation impossible. You cannot regualte an illicit object – get this into your mind, the law regualtes drug users, not drugs. You are akin to being illicit and will remain so by your own lack of application to what I have already told you about in this very thread.

      Darryl Bickler

      November 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

  41. Peter, I dont know if you have watched this, but I dont know whether to laugh or cry.

    Matt

    November 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm

  42. I certainly think Dr. Matthew Large was premature in saying marijuana causes schizophrenia or even implying there is a strong correlation while neglecting to control for nicotine addiction among schizophrenic patients. It is quite telling that some researchers in the medical community (often influenced by government funding in some manner) continue to research the marijuana/mental health connection while completely neglecting tobacco as a strong factor. I know many cigarette smokers who become very irritable, if not psychotic, when they go without their “fix” for an extended period. Increasing tobacco taxes and stronger restrictions on sales impede regular nicotine access among young people, which means those who have become addicted will experience those withdraw symptoms more frequently than adults of legal age to purchase symptoms. On top of that, young people experience disapproval and pressure from parents and other adults to quit bringing about early onset of psychotic symptoms. In conclusion, I would say that nicotine is far more likely to produce dangerous psychotic symptoms than marijuana in both schizophrenic and general populations.

    Christy Swanson

    December 1, 2011 at 7:25 am


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