01.06.2017
policy

Fake News Brings Back Reefer Madness; Plus 7 Factual Studies to Share

Unless you can prove weed is bad, get out of here.

Amid political uncertainty and potential incoming turmoil, as of January 1, 2017, America had a total of 29 states where some form of medical and/or recreational weed was legal. Whether you like it or not, cannabis, and its powers, are on the way to normalization and statutory acceptance in many places.

Recent studies show that kids across the country, especially those in legal states, believe that cannabis is totally fine. That number of cool-with-cannabis youths may just keep rising. Even if weed might be bad for teenagers after all, which uh, we don't really know yet. 

From CNN:

"The perception that marijuana is safe has increased among people of all ages, including teenagers," said Volkow. "In general, we have seen that the more teens felt that marijuana was harmless, the more likely they were to smoke marijuana.”

But here’s a problem—there’s just not enough scientific research to prove that weed is so terrible that people, including teens, are in grave peril if they do not stop using it. In fact, plenty of research points to the transgressive possibility that cannabis is great. At least, scientifically.

The L.A. Times published an article from reporter George Skelton on January 5, 2017, that claims teenagers should avoid smoking weed because it’s really bad for them. Plenty of studies link weed and teenagers to some future developmental gloom. These studies deserve varying degrees of credence. The real issue here is that this dude Skelton says, with certainty, that weed will be the downfall of youth.

Hey, that sounds familiar, right? Looking at you D.A.R.E. and Reefer Madness kooks. 

Sure, there’s data that says we should be cautious with weed. And sugar. And birth control. And, and, and.

From the American Psychological Association:

In the short term, marijuana use has been shown to impair functions such as attention, memory, learning and decision-making. Those effects can last for days after the high wears off. Heavy marijuana use in adolescence or early adulthood has been associated with a dismal set of life outcomes including poor school performance, higher dropout rates, increased welfare dependence, greater unemployment and lower life satisfaction.

Skelton’s argument is based on data that is directly associated with class, oppression, and other social standards, that according to research, can really affect teenagers who use weed. He’s certainly not talking about (or fucking linking to) any science that says weed will fuck a kid up for life. That may be because no scientific research definitively proves weed is overwhelmingly bad for teens, like this L.A. Times thing is claiming.

From L.A. Times:

There’s plenty of research that shows youthful brain impairment caused by continual marijuana intake. Proof of cannabis damage to brain cells can be found in social media comments by potheads whenever anyone raises a red flag about dope’s dangers. “Reefer Madness rubbish” is a common retort, as if that constitutes a dissertation.

Hmm.

So, a lot of variables exist in this kind of research. The real answer is, while weed use could be bad, there’s just no definitive answer from science—or even from sociology. Of course, there’s plenty of data, the kind that says if you smoke weed as a teen you will be more likely to be poor, or steal at your job, but let’s be real—these loose conclusions are based on surveys, and there’s a lot of room for human error, administrator influence, and respondent prevarication here. There’s still no solid "no" from science.

Perhaps we should look at teenagers who use cannabis in the same way that we look at pregnant women who use it: It’s better to be safe (and abstinent) than (using and) sorry. Except this argument doesn’t actually bring to light any real facts, and simply, it’s a fear-based, lack-of-science sidestep.

Can we stop with the fear? We’ve got enough of that already, especially for things that really matter—like human rights and eroding environmental safeguards.

This L.A. 'Times' story is how we circulate ‘fake-ish’ news. 

It’s fair to say that kids, and adults, should be cautious of weed. (And, seriously, pretty much everything you consume.) It's wise to be educated about drugs, especially the ones you're putting into your system. But the alarming part of bringing back this Reefer Madness and publishing a piece like this in the L.A. Times is its stating—as though definitively—that marijuana will wreck a teen's life. This blanket assertion of doom is out of step in a country where more than half the populace is enjoying newfound access to proven benefits of cannabis.

This year going forward, with many states embracing legal weed, plenty of universities and private research groups will be eligible to receive funding, including some money from the government, to study the presumed medical advantages of cannabis. Maybe along the way, some truly scientific answers will be determined to the legitimate questions surrounding teens and weed.

So far, bringing back Reefer Madness to prevent kids from falling into stereotypical, hysteria-driven life outcomes might not be the right answer.

This L.A. Times story is how we circulate "fake-ish" news. While this piece comes from a supposedly credible source, it comes with unrestrained subjectivity. This guy hates weed. Still, the research he points too is important to read—not a lot of facts are going on in here, and the research referenced is just one study. It might be that George Skelton's opinion here is not valuable.

In this article, Skelton proclaims that teenagers who smoke weed will be losers. Now, that’s way harsh, bro, especially since he seems to come to this conclusion by cherry-picking the alarmist conjectures of one particular researcher, Magdalena Cerda of U.C. Davis:

[A study] found, in essence, that the more marijuana you use over the years, the more apt you are to be a loser.

Though a lot of new weed information is just recirculated misinformation and interpretations of survey and research data from years past, a real need exists for some real, scientific answers. Until we get them, perhaps it’s not wise to instill fear into people who might actually benefit from cannabis.

If you think this all sounds like harsh judgment on the L.A. Times in general and Skelton in particular, you’re not wrong. You and all the other 60-plus comments on the fear-mongering article so far:

zygion
George Skelton, you sound like someone who has been paid to say this. You clearly don't know much about the subject. Marijuana is no more available to kids than it was before legalization. You are creating problems based on a few statistics and a lot of ignorance. Write about what you know.
ben0000037
Just more Reefer Madness nonsense! It's absolutely clear that those who are really trying to protect children should focus their efforts on keeping kids away from alcoholic beverages and tobacco as these are well known serial killers responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths per year in the United States alone.
WestsideJohnny
Skelton's polemical language, such as "pot pushers," makes it hard to take his cherry-picked argument seriously. Of course, you'd want to keep cannabis away from kids. But kids are getting it anyway. Better to use the tax money for education and prevention. And I also worry about the causation and correlation element of the one study Skelton cites.
SirVivor
Publishing George Skelton's obviously uninformed anti-marijuana rant should be embarrassing to the LA Times. He is obviously very out of touch, uninformed and needs to retire with all his "remember berries" and stop embarrassing himself and the Times.
sirolive
"pot pushers" are you freaking kidding me?
JohnnyMo
"Pot pushers"? "Potheads"? Why do they continue to publish Skelton's 1950's views on this issue? Would he go into a restaurant and call everyone having a glass of wine a drunk or a souse? How many more studies are needed for him to recognize that it is less harmful than alcohol? Sure, pot needs to be regulated, but his boogeyman, "gateway" scare tactics are just misguided, old and tired. Most alcohol regulation in this country is focused on distributor protectionism, not keeping it out of the hands of children. Clearly, no one is advocating for access by children.
Moderation
Wow, this article should have been edited for content...fake news? certainly some of it...

So below is a list of government studies, which believe it or not appear to be the most reliable sources, and facts that (we know so far) about weed and teenagers. If you’re eager to pick a side or at least hover atop a fence, you might want to do your research and read these studies for yourself.

Maybe this is where we should all start before we go claiming we’ve proven or disproved the weed-teen theories. You don’t have to buy into this shit. Since every Facebook feed in America has vowed to "fight back" this year, we can start here. Share the facts.

FACTUAL STUDIES ABOUT WEED AND TEENAGERS:

1. Effects of Cannabis on the Adolescent Brain (here)

2. Are IQ and educational outcomes in teenagers related to their cannabis use? (here)

3. Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: Results from two longitudinal twin studies (here)

4. What predicts incident use of cannabis and progression to abuse and dependence? (here)

5. Childhood conduct disorder trajectories, prior risk factors and cannabis use at age 16: birth cohort study (here)

6. The impacts of adolescent alcohol and marijuana use onset on cognition, brain structure, and function (here)

7. Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife (here)


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