The Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London issued a press release on 27th November claiming that its latest study shows cannabis causes damage to the corpus callosum. This was widely reported across the world and many publications extended what was already an inaccurate claim into saying that this “damage” was a cause of psychosis.
As I have already reported and as confirmed by the NHS, the study showed nothing of the sort. Then, last week, by accident really, I discovered that quietly and with just a small footnote the headline had been changed!
Original: “Study shows white matter damage caused by ‘skunk-like’ cannabis”
Edit: “Study shows white matter damage may be caused by ‘skunk-like’ cannabis”
Professor Shitij Kapur, Executive Dean of the Institute of Psychiatry hadn’t responded to two emails from me, so this time I wrote to the Principal of King’s College, Professor Ed Byrne. He has now confirmed that the press release has been changed but makes the extraordinary and false claim that “By and large the press coverage was a true reflection of the science.”
Dear Mr. Reynolds
Thank you for your email regarding the recent article from King’s.
I have discussed it with Professor Kapur and the authors and we believe it appropriate to change the headline to ‘may be caused by’, which has already been done.
The body of the press release is a fair representation of the paper so needs no amendment. By and large the press coverage was a true reflection of the science in the paper so we do not believe the press release requires further amendments.
King’s is committed to a balanced reporting of science and its work and hence we have changed the headline and acknowledged the change.
Thank you again for your diligence.
Professor Edward Byrne AC
President & Principal
Too late! The sensationalist, scaremongering deceit and exaggeration has already spread like wildfire across the world. Dozens of publications have repeated the falsehood and yet again the Institute of Psychiatry is responsible for misleading millions of people. It has form for such conduct, regularly, repeatedly and deliberately confusing correlation with causation and vastly exaggerating the results of its work. This is deceit and fraud at the highest level and if it took place in another context, financial services for instance, it would merit police investigation.
I have written again to Professor Byrne asking him to do the right and honourable thing.
Dear Professor Byrne,
Thank you for your email. I am grateful that you have had the courtesy and honour to reply, unlike Professor Kapur.
I am disturbed though by how lightly you take this very serious matter. It is absolutely false to say “By and large the press coverage was a true reflection of the science”.
As someone who has observed the Institute’s work for many years, I am now convinced that it is routinely in the business of exaggerating the results of its work, deliberately misleading the media and through it, the public at large. I can only conclude that this dishonesty is connected with raising funding for its work.
This is not a situation that can be allowed to persist. Every year Professor Sir Robin Murray publishes a paper on cannabis and psychosis which is always presented to the media as showing a causal link when the science itself shows nothing of the sort. I have met with Sir Robin on several occasions and spoken alongside him at conferences. In person he is reasonable and accurate but the way his work is presented to the media is dishonest and false, exactly as this latest episode.
This is a matter of huge importance because it is largely the hysteria drummed up by such falsified science that stands in the way of legal access to medicinal cannabis in the UK. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer needlessly in Britain when throughout the rest of Europe, Israel, Canada and the USA, more enlightened policies enable access to the medicine that people need. I hold the conduct of organisations such as the Institute of Psychiatry directly responsble for the pain and suffering caused.
It is disgraceful that Dr Paola Dazzan should enter into the political arena of cannabis policy with blatantly false claims that her study shows a causal link or that the differences observed amount to “damage”. These are nothing less than lies.
This might be the result of a renegade press office which doesn’t understand the science but we have put up with it for decades and I appeal to you to take proportionate steps to stop it. To start with, on this latest incident, you should issue a further press release explaining the errors in the first. You can’t just change the headline surreptitiously, hope no one will notice and expect the dishonesty to be overlooked. The damage has already been done. You must act to make amends.
This is a matter of professional ethics and integrity and I rely on you to take the appropriate steps.
One of these vape pens contains Blue Dream sativa cannabis oil, 91% THC, the other is Hindu Kush indica cannabis oil, 85% THC and the spare cartridge has the dregs of some New York City Diesel sativa, 85% THC. You can’t tell which is which to look at them but each has a distinctive flavour and effect. They’re not completely odour free but almost.
This is the future of cannabis as a consumer product. It is cleaner, neater, handier, healthier and better for you than raw herbal cannabis. Most importantly, for medicinal applications, it homogenises all the compounds into an oil of consistent quality and content meaning that dosage and effect at last becomes predictable and reliable.
I have been investigating this theory for some time but my recent trip to Colorado enabled me to conduct some practical experiments and more thoroughly understand how this idea can work. I am now convinced that this is the way forward for the cannabis industry. Once we achieve legalisation in the UK, which is inevitable, probably in about five years, these pens are how cannabis will become available as a consumer product on the high street. They are also how medicinal cannabis will be dispensed. Your doctor’s prescription will be fulfilled by a cartridge with the appropriate blend of cannabinoids which you screw onto your battery and use immediately. Batteries will also be supplied on prescription, in the same way that syringes or blood glucose meters are for diabetics.
In Colorado dispensaries these pens are already available in a choice of strains and blends. Currently, the popular products contain 250 mg of THC in a blend of cannabis oil and propylene glycol (PG), just as e-cigs contain a nicotine oil and PG.
Alternatively, you can buy the oil of your choice and fill the cartridges yourself. This is undoubtedly the way to do it and a wide choice of oils is available, made by CO2 and solvent extraction processes. The Farm, my favourite dispensary in Boulder, is already supplying cannabinoid blends such as a 60% CBD, 12% THC, 4% CBN product which is clearly for medicinal use. I have no doubt that soon we will see a Charlotte’s Web product and Sativex-like blends with equal ratios of THC:CBD. Other, more sophisticated blends of other cannabinoids and probably terpenes will soon follow.
However, I am certain that some propylene glycol is a good thing. The oil vapes much better when diluted and PG is nothing to worry about, it is in many health, cosmetic and food products. It has many uses. It’s a solvent, humectant (keeps things moist), preservative and it helps absorption of some products. It is non-toxic.
There is further development work to be done. I believe there is a ‘sweet spot’ for the correct amount of PG, probably around 20%. I also think the battery and cartridges can be improved, particularly for medical use. Once this is achieved, a product like this with perhaps a 60:40 THC:CBD ratio should form the basis of an application to the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for a marketing authorisation. It will knock Sativex into a cocked hat. In fact, if GW Pharma aren’t investigating this already then they are failing in their duty to shareholders. I shall certainly be doing all I can to research and facilitate the funding to bring such a product to market.
Yes, this is the future of cannabis. Imagine the packaging, marketing and merchandising opportunities for the recreational market. Understand the overwhelming benefits of this as medicine against the raw, herbal product. Yes, I know some will object and the tired old hippy luddites will say it’s a sell out and many more Big Pharma conspiracy theories will emerge but this is the future. Remember you heard it here first.
On Friday, 27th November 2015, the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London issued a press release titled “Study shows white matter damage caused by ‘skunk-like’ cannabis”. As a result, hundreds of media outlets across the world have published to the effect that cannabis use causes changes in the corpus callosum, the largest white matter structure in the brain, which is responsible for communication between the left and right hemispheres.
In fact, the study showed nothing of the sort. Even one of its authors, Dr Paola Dazzan, is on the record stating “It is possible that these people already have a different brain and they are more likely to use cannabis.”
Sadly, this is par for the course by King’s College and I can only assume is a corrupt attempt to sensationalise its work in order to drum up funding. Every time this institution publishes a study on cannabis it confuses causation and correlation.
For instance, Professor Sir Robin Murray’s annual study on cannabis and psychosis only ever shows correlation but when he talks to the press he always puts across the relationship between cannabis use and psychosis as causative.
We simply cannot rely on these so-called eminent scientists to be honest about their work. They are in the gutter and they aren’t looking at the stars, they are looking at their bank balances.
I have now written twice to Professor Shitij Kapur, Executive Dean of the IoPPN asking for an explanation but he hasn’t seen fit even to acknowledge my emails.
For anyone who takes an interest in the science of cannabis and the reasons this immensely valuable plant is banned, this example should give you an insight into the dishonesty, corruption and propaganda that is behind it all.
On this morning’s BBC politics-fest the most credible views on Syria I heard were from George Galloway. He was balanced, intelligent, rational and focused on the issue rather than his personal advancement.
Corbyn is a pacifist, whatever he says and that is an untenable position for a leader. I agree with him about the futility of bombing in Syria and that it will create rather than solve problems for us at home in the UK. However, I think he is incredible and incompetent. His confusion about the use of deadly force against marauding terrorists was unforgiveable. He won’t last much longer.
Michael Fallon is a bumptious, Tory fool, better suited to life as a provincial solicitor than as defence minister. Dr Liam Fox would be more use caring for patients than as a warmongering, hard right authoritarian disguised as a friendly GP. Cameron is a liar about there being 70,000 soldiers on the ground ready to support action against Daesh/ISIS, just like Blair was a liar about Saddam Hussein able to launch a WMD attack in 45 minutes. I’m afraid I think his principal motivation is that he wants to be at the ‘top table’ with Obama and Hollande and he feels left out. It’s a pathetic reason but I fear it’s true. It’s his personal prestige he’s most concerned about.
I can see no argument at all that bombing in Syria will make us safer, the reverse is the truth. The story about British forces having greater precision bombing capability with our Brimstone missiles is propaganda. I believe that the US, France, Russia and all modern military powers have at least equivalent if not better capability.
The most convincing argument I can see for bombing in Syria is that our ally, France, has asked for our assistance. I would be more ready to support such action if we were prepared to do the job properly and that means putting in our own ground forces.
I don’t want war but Daesh/ISIS is a evil ideology just like Nazism and we need to destroy it. I think we need to put a substantial force of highly trained professional soldiers on the ground and expect that we will take many casualties but that we will root out the terrorists house by house, room by room until the job is properly done and that includes removing Assad. Thereafter, we need to be ready to stay there for at least a decade until civil society is restored. This is why we have a military and if we don’t use it as necessary then why do we bother?
I am more convinced every day that the election result this year was a disaster for Britain. Cameron is an oily, self-serving creep with no integrity, no backbone and interested only in advancing his own interests. The Tory frontbench is composed mainly of toady yes men (and women) who fail to achieve the intellectual and moral qualities that we should expect from ministers. Personally I blame the Tory dominated press and all those weak, flip flopping voters who turned on the Liberal Democrats. Another coalition would have set Britain on the right course. That we now have a government with a mandate from just 24% of the electorate is absolute proof that British democracy has failed.
I fear that the outcome of all this will be more half measures. Then there will be another terrorist outrage, quite probably in the UK, possibly even in America. Then we’ll have more handwringing and the endless cycle of political posturing with no one having the courage to act will resume.
We have no moral justification for our conduct in the Middle East when we support Israel which is the most dangerous terrorist state, responsible for creating much of the hatred amongst followers of Islam and perpetrator of outrages every bit as heinous as Assad, Daesh/ISIS, Al Quaeda, Hussein or Gaddafi.
Let’s either do the job properly or let’s get out of the Middle East entirely.
It’s the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London, yet again, with another terrifying story about cannabis that is immediately distorted, exaggerated and misrepresented by the scientifically illiterate hacks of Fleet Street.
This time though King’s College itself has reported the results of its own research inaccurately and published false and misleading claims.
Can King’s College explain why its press release is headlined “Study shows white matter damage caused by ‘skunk-like’ cannabis”, when the researcher Dr Dazzan says “It is possible that these people already have a different brain and they are more likely to use cannabis”? The truth is that the study does not show any causative effect. It is merely correlation yet here we have supposedly eminent scientists and scientific institutions reporting results falsely.
I have written to Professor Shitij Kapur, Executive Dean & Head of Faculty of the Institute asking for an explanation.
On a regular basis the team at King’s College publishes research about cannabis that suggests it is far more harmful than real world experience demonstrates. Always these studies contain the vital caveat that no causation can be shown for the various ‘differences’ or ‘changes’ that the researchers observe. Always, without fail, the researchers overlook this fundamental weakness in their work when they talk direct to the press. As a result we get ludicrous, inaccurate and wildly irresponsible reporting, particularly in the extremist rags such as the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph but often extending, as today, even into The Times, supposedly a responsible and authoritative publication.
This latest study was led by Dr Silvia Rigucci of Sapienza University of Rome in conjunction with Dr Paola Dazzan and Dr Tiago Reis Marques from King’s College. Dr Razzan has fallen over herself in an undignified rush to gain media headlines. She is reported as saying: “There is an urgent need to educate health professionals, the public and policy makers about the risks involved with cannabis use.” Of course, in truth, all these people have been systematically misled about cannabis for many years. All that Dr Razaan is doing is contributing to the vast quantity of misinformation already out there by misrepresenting and overstating her own work.
This is a very small study with no proper controls that proves nothing either way about cannabis use. It is exaggerated and misrepresented by both King’s College and the scientists concerned, presumably in an effort to boost funding. This is the state of science on cannabis where vested interests promote misinformation which defies the real world experiences of hundreds of million of cannabis consumers worldwide. The team at King’s College displays all the classic markers of a cult. It pursues a belief in cannabis as the ‘devil’s lettuce’ as a quasi-religion. It dresses up its meaningless observational studies as significant evidence. It reinforces its belief by exaggerating and misrepresenting its work. It considers no alternative explanations and it endlessly repeats itself, its ‘studies’ and its presentation of them as proof of its own conclusions.
No one in their right mind can claim that cannabis is harmless but neither is there any evidence to support claims that it is dangerous. These untruths are promoted by vested interests such as researchers needing more funds, the alcohol industry guarding its monopoly of legal recreational drugs or newspapers seeking sensational stories.
It’s difficult to get hold of a copy of the actual study without paying for it. My advice is read the reports, understand the facts rather than the deliberate misinterpretations and expect more of the same. Remember that unless such evidence is compared with evidence in respect of other substances it is meaningless. All in all there is no evidence to suggest cannabis is any more harmful than coffee.
We really have twisted priorities in our world. Nothing can excuse or justify the events in Paris but much more death, brutality and injustice has been inflicted on Palestine by Israel and its conduct drives much of the extremism that now preoccupies us.
We stand idly by while this outlaw state, in breach of 64 UN resolutions, oppresses a whole nation and routinely uses high technology weapons, phosphorous bombs, F16s and tanks against an heroic resistance armed only with pop guns and fireworks.
Israel defies every decent standard of behaviour, every moral and every ethic that we claim to support in our outrage against the evil that took place in Paris. Why are we not using drones to drop Hellfire missiles on Netanyahu’s head? Why is the Knesset not regarded as the headquarters of an evil, terrorist ‘so-called’ state when that is exactly what it is?
If we took a moral stand, refused to trade with an apartheid state that engages in child murder and land theft, defended the women and children of Gaza, perhaps it would be more difficult for the monsters of Raqqa to recruit supporters?
Until we become more consistent and fair then we can only expect resentment to grow. We can never defeat the evil of a perverted idea of Islam until we root out the murdering terrorists of Israel.
I welcome the breath of fresh air that Jeremy Corbyn has brought to British politics. I was never going to vote for him in a million years but the subversion of our corrupt political and media establishment has been a tonic long overdue.
Eventually though his loony tendencies have got the better of him. His weak and cowardly failure to support the use of lethal force against terrorist violence means he is done for. He will go no further and that is a pity because he has now blown his chance of having any further serious influence because of one simply idiotic but unforgivable mistake.
I believe he has now rendered himself unfit for any high office. We cannot have a leader of the opposition who equivocates about defending our nation and innocent people against violent attack.
There can be no question about this. Any member of the police, army or security services who is authorised to carry a weapon and sees life threatened must shoot and shoot to kill.
There are two important principles here. The first will be clear to anyone who has had any firearms training. If the threshold has passed where you are entitled to open fire then you must stop the target. That means you aim for the centre and you tap twice or three times. Misty-eyed ideas about wounding or disabling are for Hollywood. Anything less than a certain stop is a failure of duty and/or skill.
The second principle is a legal one. If lethal force is justified then anything less means it wasn’t. When that moment arrives you have to take the decision and the shot in sure and certain knowledge that you are justified and that you can rely on full support for your actions.
Corbyn has now changed his position and recognised the self-evident truth. It is too late though. Such a failure in leadership, decisiveness or the ability properly to communicate what he meant is beyond redemption. I am sorry to see him go.
Now, Britain desperately needs someone to challenge the Tory oligarchy. All those who failed to vote Liberal Democrat when they had the chance are to blame. We had an excellent, sincere, honest and able set of experienced politicians who we threw on the scrapheap and gifted our country to tyrants.