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Harvard: Marijuana Doesn’t Cause Schizophrenia

cross post from here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/101681364


Harvard: Marijuana Doesn’t Cause Schizophrenia
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on December 10, 2013

...The new study is the first family study that, according to the researchers, “examines both non-psychotic cannabis users and non-cannabis user controls as two additional independent samples, enabling the examination of whether the risk for schizophrenia is increased in family members of cannabis users who develop schizophrenia compared with cannabis users who do not and also whether that morbid risk is similar or different from that in family members of schizophrenia patients who never used cannabis.”

...The researchers recruited 282 subjects from the New York and Boston metropolitan areas who were divided into four groups: controls with no lifetime history of psychotic illness, cannabis, or any other drug use; controls with no lifetime history of psychotic illness, and a history of heavy cannabis use during adolescence, but no other drug use; patients with no lifetime history of cannabis use or any other drug and less than 10 years of being ill; patients with a history of heavy cannabis use and no other drug use during adolescence and prior to the onset of psychosis.

Information about all first-, second-, and third-degree relatives was obtained, as well as information about any other relative who had a known psychiatric illness. This resulted in information on 1,168 first-degree relatives and a total of 4,291 relatives. The study gathered together information regarding cannabis use, and family history regarding schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and drug abuse.

...“While cannabis may have an effect on the age of onset of schizophrenia it is unlikely to be the cause of illness,” said the researchers, who were led by Ashley C. Proal from Harvard Medical School.

“In general, we found a tendency for depression and bipolar disorder to be increased in the relatives of cannabis users in both the patient and control samples. This might suggest that cannabis users are more prone to affective disorders than their non-using samples or vice versa.” Future research is needed to understand this relationship.

Uruguay's neighbors now considering legalization of pot

cross post from here to have in the drug policy forum - http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014681139


The taboo is broken: Argentina's new anti-drug czar says the country ‘deserves’ the debate, while Chile's new president could ease marijuana laws.

Argentina has given the first sign that Uruguay’s groundbreaking cannabis reform just may have started a domino effect across Latin America.

Following the momentous vote by its smaller neighbor’s senate this month — making it the first nation in the world to completely legalize the soft drug — Argentina’s anti-drug czar Juan Carlos Molina has called for a public discussion in his country about emulating the measure.

His comments are the clearest sign yet that Uruguay’s strategy — aimed at breaking the link between the lucrative marijuana trade and organized crime — has kicked off a trend in a region that long ago wearied of the bloodshed, expense and failed results of Washington’s “war on drugs.”

Some 70 percent of all women in Latin American jails are there for drug offenses, according to a recent report by the International Drug Policy Consortium. Many of them were convicted for acting as mules to transport forbidden substances clandestinely, including the dangerous practice of hiding their illicit cargo in their own bodies.

U.S. teens smoke more marijuana, but back off other drugs -survey

Source: Reuters

Dec 18 (Reuters) - U.S. teenagers are smoking more marijuana, but backing away from other harmful drugs and doing less binge drinking, according to a report from federal health researchers released Wednesday.

Easier access to marijuana provided by new state laws allowing the drug for medical treatment may be a factor, according to the report from the National Institutes of Health.

"We should be extremely concerned," said Nora Volkow, director of National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The growing use parallels an increase in the potency of marijuana, so the drug can be even more harmful to developing brains than in the past, she added.

Read more: http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/12/18/usa-marijuana-teenagers-survey-idINL2N0JX1CG20131218

I can only post 4 graphs here, but, from the start, the NIDA makes assumptions not in evidence that the greater potency of hybrid strains of cannabis means people smoke more of more dangerous product. The reverse is true because it takes less plant material to obtain the desired result.

I posted in the Drug Policy Forum, yesterday, that this report was forthcoming today and we should watch to see how the NIDA spins this to support continued drug laws. They do this later in the article by noting more teens are smoking as legalization and liberalization of laws make it easier for teens to obtain cannabis.

But here's another reality.

Teens are using the least harmful substance to alter consciousness. Tobacco and alcohol are both far, far more addictive and have far, far worse side effects than cannabis. In places where cannabis has been made legal, traffic fatalities are down, and those looking at this stat conjecture that the move from alcohol to cannabis makes the streets safer for all of us.

Regulation of cannabis, like alcohol, will help to control access. It won't remove it, just as teens have access to alcohol now, but regulation will provide information to consumers about the level of THC, the presence of pesticides, etc.

Ahead of this report, all the major news outlets ran a story that conjectured cannabis altered the brain - but there was no meaning behind this alteration, fwiw - but, again, that was the scare story in advance of this latest study released.

It's interesting to see propaganda in action.

The cannabis legalization issue is rife with propaganda - and misinformation, sometimes on both sides. But the overwhelming amount of misinformation has come from the very sources one would expect to provide helpful information, not misleading rhetoric to support prohibition that the majority of Americans don't support.

The good news is that teens are smoking fewer cigarettes and drinking less alcohol. Good news.

The origin of the word "marijuana" in the U.S.


h/t to Andrew Sullivan here - http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/

...(T)hroughout the 19th century, Americans used the word “cannabis” when referring to the plant. Pharmaceutical companies like Bristol-Myers Squib and Eli Lilly used cannabis in medicines — widely sold in U.S. pharmacies — to treat insomnia, migraines and rheumatism. From 1840 to 1900, U.S. scientific journals published hundreds of articles touting the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

So why does the term “marijuana” dominate the discourse in the United Sates, while most people in Europe and large swaths of Latin America refer to the drug as cannabis, the botanical name for the plant?

The answer, in part, is found in the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910. After the upheaval of the war, scores of Mexican peasants migrated to U.S. border states, taking with them their popular form of intoxication, what they termed “mariguana.”

Around the same time, West Indian and Mexican migrants started taking marijuana with them to ports along the Gulf of Mexico — most notably New Orleans, where the media began associating cannabis use with jazz musicians, blacks and prostitutes. Media outlets across the country helped fuel the hysteria, churning out headlines like “Loco weed now cultivated and smoked in cigarettes” and “Murder weed found up and down coast.” By the early 1930s, 29 states had banned marijuana.

More U.N. States Quietly Say No to Drug War

This link is an update on a post in GD about a document leaked to the Guardian, as the UN prepares for its every-10-years statement on drug policy: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=4115236


The document, first publicised by the Guardian and obtained by IPS, contains over 100 specific policy recommendations and proposals from member states, many at odds with the status quo on illicit drug eradication and prohibition.

...Under U.S. law, the Department of State must every year publish a report that includes evaluating whether foreign aid recipients meet the “goals and objectives” of the 1988 agreement.

Most UNODC funding comes from member states, which can attach strings to “special-purpose funds.”

This means countries can maintain both private and public stances on drug policy. Switzerland, which began offering heroin-assisted treatment for addicts in 2008, backtracked this week in a press statement that stressed the leaked document was part of a “brainstorming” session and that it “does in no way support any efforts or attempts of changing the three U.N. Drug Conventions as they are today.”

Interesting read at IPS news.

Health Moment: Correct Computer Hunch with the thoracic bridge

The guy illustrating the stretch does it like a traditional American exercise, but it's just a variation on a yoga stretch and, instead of going back and forth, I've held the stretch, focused on breathing, and then changed sides.

Leaked paper reveals UN split over war on drugs


The article says such a leak is rare for UN docs.

Major international divisions over the global "war on drugs" have been revealed in a leaked draft of a UN document setting out the organisation's long-term strategy for combating illicit narcotics.

The draft, written in September and seen by the Observer, shows there are serious and entrenched divisions over the longstanding US-led policy promoting prohibition as an exclusive solution to the problem.

...The divisions highlighted in the draft are potentially important. The document will form the basis of a joint "high-level" statement on drugs to be published in the spring, setting out the UN's thinking. This will then pave the way for a general assembly review, an event that occurs every 10 years, and, in 2016, will confirm the UN's position for the next decade. "The idea that there is a global consensus on drugs policy is fake," said Damon Barrett, deputy director of the charity Harm Reduction International. "The differences have been there for a long time, but you rarely get to see them. It all gets whittled down to the lowest common denominator, when all you see is agreement. But it's interesting to see now what they are arguing about."

...Experts said the level of disagreement showed fault lines were opening up in the globally agreed position on drug control. "Heavy reliance on law enforcement for controlling drugs is yielding a poor return on investment and leading to all kinds of terrible human rights abuses," said Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, director of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program. "The withdrawal from the most repressive parts of the drug war has begun – locally, nationally and globally."

I can't link to more paragraphs that talk about different nations' concerns (economic, evidence-based positions, etc.) but South American and EU nations seem to be the most vocal about differences of opinion with previous UN positions. Some of the objections to previous UN statements deal with Portugal's experiment with legalization and treatment rather than criminalization and imprisonment to address the problems of addiction (and non-addiction).

Bolivia already received an exemption from UN standards in January regarding coca leaves.

A major international row with wide-ranging implications for global drugs policy has erupted over the right of Bolivia's indigenous Indian tribes to chew coca leaves, the principal ingredient in cocaine.

...Bolivia obtained a special exemption from the 1961 single convention on narcotic drugs, the framework that governs international drugs policy, allowing its indigenous people to chew the leaves.

Bolivia had argued that the convention was in opposition to its new constitution, adopted in 2009, which obliges it to "protect native and ancestral coca as cultural patrimony" and maintains that coca "in its natural state … is not a narcotic".

South American Indians have chewed coca leaves for centuries. The leaves reputedly provide energy and are said to have medicinal qualities. Supporters of Bolivia's position praised it for standing up for the rights of indigenous people. "The Bolivian move is inspirational and ground-breaking," said Danny Kushlick, head of external affairs at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which promotes drug liberalisation. "It shows that any country that has had enough of the war on drugs can change the terms of its engagement with the UN conventions."

Uruguay has already legalized cannabis - http://www.democraticunderground.com/11701253 but the branch of the UN that deals with illegal drug consumption and production has already spoken against the same in two U.S. states.

Implementing the decisions of popular votes held in the United States in Colorado and Washington to allow for the recreational use of cannabis would be a violation of international laws, the United Nations body tasked with monitoring the production and consumption of narcotics worldwide said today.

The move “would be a violation of international law, namely the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, to which the United States is party,” the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Raymond Yans, told the 56th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.


More on Yans' statement here - http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2012/nov/16/un_drug_agency_concerned_by_marijuana_votes

This UN statement disagreement follows a similar one at the OAS conference in May, 2013, where Latin American nations called for changes in drugs laws while the U.S. disagreed. The OAS statement was groundbreaking in its approach to drug policy among a group of nations.


Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, stated:

“Never before has a multilateral organization engaged in such an inclusive and intellectually legitimate analysis of drug policy options. Indeed, it would have been inconceivable just two years ago that the OAS – or any multilateral organization – would publish a document that considers legalization, decriminalization and other alternatives to prohibitionist policies on an equal footing with status quo policies. Political pressures by the US and other governments would have made that impossible.

Much has changed, however, in the past few years. In 2009, former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), César Gaviria (Colombia) and Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico) joined with other members of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy in saying the time had come to “break the taboo” on exploring alternatives to the failed war on drugs. In 2011, those presidents joined with former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss and other members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy in calling for fundamental reforms to national and global drug policies. Former presidents Jimmy Carter, Ricardo Lagos (Chile), Vicente Fox (Mexico) and Aleksander Kwasniewski (Poland) were among those who seconded their recommendations.

Beginning in late 2011, current presidents began to join the calls of their predecessors. These included President Santos in Colombia, Otto Perez Molina in Guatemala, José Mujica in Uruguay and then-President Felipe Calderón of Mexico. Simultaneously, the victorious marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in Washington State and Colorado transformed a previously hypothetical debate into real political reform. Other states will almost certainly follow their lead in coming years.

No class warfare, please. We're Americans


...originally posted on Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting's website.

In a year that has featured increased coverage of rising economic inequality—helped along by President Barack Obama’s call to rebuild the economy from the “middle out,” and New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s campaign focus on a “tale of two cities”—one of the biggest flurries of attention came in late July, when four professors from Harvard and Berkeley released a study (NBER, 7/13) of economic mobility in the United States. Their finding: People hoping to lift themselves from the bottom of the income scale into the middle class or above face much longer odds in certain parts of the country, particularly the Deep South.

...The mobility study was indeed important news—though it was the rare story that mentioned that if the ability to rise in economic class is your main criterion, the American dream is far more alive in Denmark and the United Kingdom that anywhere in the United States (Guardian, 1/17/12). But in focusing solely on whether some poor Americans can swap places with those in the middle or upper classes—and pinning the blame for those who can’t on poor education or single moms, things that the Harvard/Berkeley study, which focused solely on the role of regressive state tax systems in decreasing income mobility, didn’t address—media coverage skirted the larger issue: the growing distance between top and bottom earners.

...Indeed, “social mobility” has become the preferred term for politicians of all stripes when discussing problems of economic class. For conservatives, lack of mobility conflicts with the premise that anyone can be rewarded for their effort, as when Rep. Paul Ryan noted: “Upward mobility is the central promise of life in America. But right now, America’s engines of upward mobility aren’t working the way they should.”

...the bottom 98 percent—that’s everyone making under $350,000 per year—whose wages, according to Saez’s figures, fell by 1.8 percent in real terms during that time, and more than 10 percent over the previous decade. (The top 10 percent saw their incomes rise 17 percent from 2002–2012, and the top 1 percent by 35 percent.) Those numbers, though, didn’t make the Times report.

...more at the link. a good read.

Harvest of Shame (CBS, 1960, Edward R. Murrow)

Know your American history...or the more things change...

Pro-gay, Euro-zombies: the majority of the electorate

Word salad worthy of Sarah Palin...


In the video embedded below, Joseph Farah — founder of the “Birther” conspiracy website WorldNetDaily — interviewed African-American conservative Star Parker, who warned that President Barack Obama’s government is going to turn America into an openly gay nation of emotionless, disconnected zombies like “in Europe,” who exalt “vileness.”

Parker, author of the books Pimps, whores and welfare brats and Uncle Sam’s Plantation, is the founder of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), a Christian ministry. She told Farah that dark times are coming under Obama administration.

Parker said that “if young people start to distrust each other, we’re going to see more division. We’re going to see ourselves get separated and segregated again, not just when it comes to our ethnicity, but when it comes to our religion.”

...She concluded, “So while you have ill activity now in the public square, you have those decent people and quiet communities becoming much more, you know, refined, and more closed. And that’s not healthy for us as a society because when you go start walking out in the public square and nobody talks to each other, that’s what they do in Europe. They’re just a bunch of zombies and we don’t want that as Americans.”
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