New NIDA Blog for Teens: Go Fight Over at The Intersection

NIDA has launched a new blog directed at educating teens about substances of abuse. This is just a refresh of their usual static informational websites but it presents a much welcomed update.
The Sara Bellum Blog is apparently getting on board with the whole rapid response to current events thing that makes blogs so valuable. Outstanding. Whoever managed to get such a thing approved within a government agency gets kudos- can you imagine the usual approval process to get something put up on a NIDA informational website?
Lest my usual science denialist and conspiracy spouting friends get too worked up, I'll direct you a post on the Sara Bellum Blog from Sheril Kirshenbaum at The Intersection. The comments are already rolling with the usual complaints about the grand conspiracy against teh sacred marijuana. (Heck, you can probably even get her to offer some opinions about policy! )

43 responses so far

  • Onkel Bob says:

    Interesting that you direct traffic to that other crappy blog? What are you afraid that Kwok may come over here?
    Best guess is that the NIDA blog crashes and burns a slow death. The information/propaganda is available elsewhere, the design is as modern as linotype and the back engine makes SB's servers seem like a Cray. Wonderful use of our tax dollars dontcha think?

  • Isabel says:

    Hey there DrugMonkey,
    You never replied to my question - surprise surprise. Funny how every time I state the issue clearly (at your request even) you stop pretending not to know what I am "going on about" and simply ignore me.
    Again, I would love to know why, in light of the conclusions of your own colleagues in the Shafer Commission's report and elsewhere, you believe your interests in cannabis dependence should have any bearing on its legality. Why do you keep connecting the two issues?
    But I won't hold my breath.
    BTW did you look into Nixon's reaction to the report? He refused to read it after hearing its recommendations. Just like DrugMonkey! Shafer was later denied promotion. Yep, yer in good company DM.
    Oh yeah, and no one responded to my challenge to name a drug with a similar or better safety record. There must be something out there, no?

  • Isabel says:

    Okay I just saw your comment - ranting cut/paste jobs?? WTF?
    There was NO cut and paste in my comment at all except your quote! and I DID summarize my points, quite nicely and succinctly actually. What a bizarre response.
    So clearly you are not satisfied with the report, and you DO think the new studies will/are coming up with NEW information that potentially justify the prohibition.
    Sorry, there is no other way to interpret your remarks except that you are some kind of government shill or simply lack a conscience.

  • becca says:

    Wow. That website was painfully bad. Why would teens use that when they have whatever-shows-have-replaced-Loveline or erowid or their aging hippie parents?

  • Anonymous says:

    Apologizes for the 3rd post, but now that I've cooled off my interpretation (the last sentence of my previous post) may have been a bit hyperbolic and should have included the possibility that you are just being really really irresponsible in not being aware of the Shafer report, which may be why you seem to think I can easily produce a summary.
    This is a huge study comprising 50+ projects, including experiments, field surveys and literature reviews, undoubtedly many related to the discussion, summarized in a report 100's of pages long. This very comprehensiveness is the whole point - just because a more recent study may tweak our understanding of one small element of a huge, complex picture, it is hardly going to overturn the recommendations. Unless you are actually asserting this, which would require some defense, since the report comes down so strongly for de-criminalization. (Yes, they were in fact concerned about heavy users, but I've also heard they were too terrified of Nixon to recommend full legalization.)
    I will attempt to do so, however, if you will still publish it in a few weeks , as I have bigger fish to fry right now. In the meantime I think you should read it, as a scientist in the US blogging on the subject. The link I provided earlier allows you to find the sections you are interested in easily. Most of the summary is available on-line, and many of the original papers are available in the appendices. And please - if you really are only interested in dependency and have no opinion about the legality - prove it by not making snarky comments about the legalization efforts every time you blog about dependency issues.
    And btw my challenge above is just out of curiosity as the subject came up on a previous DM thread. I am not suggesting that no such drug exists.

  • Isabel says:

    Okay obviously that was from me:)

  • Isabel says:

    "their usual static informational websites b"
    I cannot find any references to any scientific studies on any of these sites; any citations that exist point to previous propaganda from the same agency.
    They could be making this shit up - how would we know?
    As the Orac/DM/PalMD crowd loves to chant: "Citation please!"
    "Outstanding. Whoever managed to get such a thing approved within a government agency gets kudos- can you imagine the usual approval process to get something put up on a NIDA informational website?"
    Um, sure DM. You call this crap outstanding? Well we agree on one thing - I'd love to know more about the development of the site:)

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I cannot find any references to any scientific studies on any of these sites; any citations that exist point to previous propaganda from the same agency.
    What are you talking about? You look at this page and it cites NIDA info pages such as this one. Right down at the bottom are citations to primary literature. Marijuana one here. What am I missing? The fact that you had to click twice instead of once? c'mon... next you are going to be complaining about how it isn't an exhaustive review of all literature.

  • Isabel says:

    Um, we are talking about the teen site right? How did you get to the source literature from there? And to the specific references made on that site to things like pot being a gateway drug, or causing cancer etc? The links provided there do not lead to any literature references at least not with 2 clicks.
    It took me several, plus my university ID to get to an article that MIGHT have been the source for the cancer warning. Scrolled down to see who has linked to the article. Sure enough it hasn't been replicated and larger, recent studies do not show a correlation. Where is that 'latest science' in the teen site?

  • Isabel says:

    Oops meant "cited the article" not "linked to."
    Here's another doozy of a warning.
    "Also, since marijuana can affect judgment and decision making, its use can lead to risky sexual behavior, resulting in exposure to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS."
    Pure science. Not propaganda at all!

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Did you PubMed it before you shot off with the paranoia? There are data on this topic. And yes, drug intoxication, including pot intoxication, increases risky sexual behavior. At least go read the papers before you insist the statement is baseless.

  • Isabel says:

    We seem to be arguing at cross purposes here DM. I am referring to the teen site! They are not getting proper citations and refs in the pot 'Facts' section. There were no direct citations just 3 refs, and the first two are a waste, just different versions of the same propaganda brochure. The 3rd leads to yet another, but slightly more serious summary, with actual citations. So I followed some of the citations for the cancer mentions, and finally found an article. At the bottom were links (if I am remembering this all correctly - it was in the middle of a lot of work and I did in fact have a few tokes:)) to more recent larger studies that had cited it, all of which showed no correlation, but none of which were cited directly. This is dishonest, and way more than a teen will be motivated to do. PubMed it? a teen?
    And btw I read 3 articles, as I described above, just to leave one comment on a blog thread. This is not good enough for your alleged high standards, but a blog aimed at teens that uses old, unreplicated data, ignores larger more recent studies that show very different results, and includes no direct citations, in the cannabis section at least, is, and I quote here "Outstanding". Unless you mean outstanding propaganda...
    They should at least say something like "most studies show no connection between cannabis use and cancer" which is the truth. But they say instead "there is no way to be certain...." well that's true about a lot of things, for example global warming right? SOME studies refute it.
    And I doubt there is evidence that cannabis use increases AIDS risk. Do you have a citation for that?
    And the story about the boy whose entire life falls apart because of pot! I think the real reason is tucked away early in the story where he mentions they sometimes packed cocaine into their 'blunts.'

  • Funky Fresh says:

    Oh, come on Monkey. Enough with the propaganda already! Surely a site aimed at educating teens would be most effective by driving them to the primary scientific literature! They totes love that stuff. I hear kids these days spend their nights rolling fatties, tweeting, and reading the British Medical Journal.

  • Isabel says:

    Yeah they're just kids after all. They don't need citations. Let them learn about that boring shit in college (btw FF the blog is being touted as sciency and fresh over at the Intersection - it is neither) at least you admit it's dubious propaganda, and DM think's it's science. As someone pointed out, the mj section makes it sound worse than the meth section, which doesn't even mention tooth loss. It's tragic that anyone could respect a site like this.
    The bias of the supposedly scientific NIDA is clear in a 2005 letter from the director on their main site who expresses their dedication to studying the evils of "marijuana" (that fucking word!) because 2 out of 3 users "abuse" the drug for the first time between 12 and 17.
    And no I'm not for youth using any drugs, but I feel they should be educated so that they enter adulthood prepared to make wise choices.

  • Pinus says:

    Isabel,
    Do you really think that young people are being educated to make smart decisions about already legal drugs (nicotine and alcohol)?

  • Funky Fresh says:

    And no I'm not for youth using any drugs, but I feel they should be educated so that they enter adulthood prepared to make wise choices.

    What the hell are you blathering on about, Isabel? The meth section doesn't mention tooth loss? OH NOES!!!!! Sound the alarm! It's inaccurate propaganda!!!!!!111!!1!!!ELEVENTY!!!
    You're right. We should always direct everyone to the primary literature. Next time someone asks me a question about their health I am going to print out a fucktillion papers for them on the topic and tell them to work it out.

  • Isabel says:

    "You're right. We should always direct everyone to the primary literature. "
    You mean when you discuss risks on a new, science-y web site, yes, you should cite the literature.
    Also you should accurately summarize the literature, not cherry pick outdated unreplicated studies and say vague things that actually counter the literature and use no citations, all in the service of scaring kids away from a drug because your govt hates hippies (or whatever it's current problem is).
    Come to think of it, the meth section didn't even mention AIDS.
    That's propaganda, not science.
    You think tooth loss is no biggie? For an animal to lose a mouthful of teeth is horrific. It is in the 'adult' brochure - why leave it out of the teen one?

  • Funky Fresh says:

    I think it's a conspiracy waged by the American Dental Association!!!! Call foul! Call foul!!!!! PROPAGANDA!!!!!!!

  • Isabel says:

    Some people seem to need a reminder of what propaganda is and why some of us feel it is incompatible with science education.
    From Wikipedia, and a pretty accurate assessment of the Sara Bellum Blog's "marijuana" (I've decided the word's going in quotes from now) information, especially in context of its treatment of other drugs:
    Propaganda is communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense, often presents information primarily in order to influence its audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.

  • Isabel says:

    Isabel,
    Do you really think that young people are being educated to make smart decisions about already legal drugs (nicotine and alcohol)?
    Posted by: Pinus
    It sounds like you are changing the subject. The topic is DM's characterization of the Sara Bellum blog as an "outstanding" attempt to educate the pubic about health/science. He refuses to see it as the propaganda it is. I find this incredibly naive and irresponsible.
    I am only discussing details for the purpose of making a case that the blog is full of shit. I don't as a rule get involved in "marijuana" debates - it's pointless bullshit.

  • pinus says:

    Isabel,
    I was asking a question...the beauty of this blog (and others) is that the comments are allowed to drift about, sometimes in useful directions. I found your statement about educating youth to be interesting...and was curious if you actually believed it, or it was just nonsense to support your other ideas.

  • Isabel says:

    "And no I'm not for youth using any drugs, but I feel they should be educated so that they enter adulthood prepared to make wise choices."
    nonsense?
    Do I believe the above statement? Well the alternative would be to believe they should NOT be educated to make wise choices, so I guess I do believe it, yes.
    And no, I do not believe they are currently being educated to make wise choices about any drugs, if that is what you are now asking, especially if the SB website is typical.

  • pinus says:

    That was what I was getting at I suppose. I think that drug education, just sticking with legal drugs, is pretty weak.
    For example...nicotine:
    "More than 3 and one-half million teens between the ages of 12 and 17 use tobacco-that's about 15 percent of teens that age. Of those, just over 3 million, or 13 percent, smoke cigarettes. In the U.S., 66.5 million people, or about 29 percent of the population, use tobacco"
    (source...that weird sara bellum blog)
    And given that we know that early exposure to drugs, while the brain is developing, can lead to some pretty dramatic alterations of function, I think that we, as scientists and policy makers, need to seriously revisit how to 'educate kids' about how to make decisions as adults...because it seems like most people who develop dependence issues, already made those decisions prior to being an 'adult'. (Now I can dig up references here if you really want, but I think this is pretty well established). And I am just talking about legal drugs now.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    The topic is DM's characterization of the Sara Bellum blog as an "outstanding" attempt to educate the pubic about health/science.
    What I said was that I thought it was outstanding that the NIDA effort was departing from static, infrequently updated web pages to adopt a format (blog) which can be used to react quickly to topical news events. Such as Michael Jackson's death.
    I didn't say that I thought the scientific content on this or any of NIDA's informational sites was itself an outstanding bit of communication. When you started ranting about how there was no scientific citation, I pointed out that there is, it just requires clicking a couple of times to get to the primary research article citations.
    Your ranting, Isabel, takes no notice of any of this and steps off into the usual and poorly defended charges of propaganda and bias.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Propaganda is communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense, often presents information primarily in order to influence its audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.
    The part bolded, of course, is exactly what you are doing Isabel. You wax on about bias and BULLSHIT! (I quote) science and propaganda and suggest conspiracies. You attribute all sorts of motivations to my blogging. I have yet to see you grapple with *any* scientific point raised, other than to call it names or to try to distract with off-topic bleating.
    I returned once more to your cut/paste jobs that you posted and I still say that you have failed to present any on-topic points. The first three or four were entirely complaining about policy history which is totally off topic. Your India Hemp study which you lurve (and cited this: http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/Library/effects.htm), was conducted in 1893-94? And it consisted of asking people their opinion on whether or not cannabis "deadens the intellect or produces insanity" and the like? You think this is definitive and all modern peer-reviewed science is biased bullshit? You would be all up in my face if I was citing a similar thing indicating cannabis was harmful in the face of a consensus of modern peer-reviewed science saying it is not...agreed?

  • Isabel says:

    You still haven't answered the question, the main one - what does any of this have to do with policy? You are the one who keeps making the connection. So why can't you at least do your homework? What is so painful about admitting cannabis is RELATIVELY innocuous for most users and should be de-criminalized? You can still discuss the dependency issues.
    Sorry you didn't find the Hemp commission's report interesting or relevant, considering it included (among other aspects you didn't mention) an immense field study that covered the entire country of India, which interviewed over one thousand physicians, health officials and other officials (in other words each having experience of 100's or 1000's of individual users in their geographic area) in a time and place when all types of cannabis preparations, including hashish, were very widely used and legal. You are not a very curious person are you?
    I was specifically recommending that you read the Shafer report first. Did you read that one? They were well aware of and concerned about the small subset of dependent users, and still came down hard for de-criminalization. So please tell us what they over-looked, what new information has challenged their conclusions. That is the question!!!!
    I kept up with research up to about 2000, and still follow-up when I hear media reports about studies, and have spent way too much time in recent weeks confirming that there is nothing new to see here, especially nothing to get all snarky about.

  • Isabel says:

    "You would be all up in my face if I was citing a similar thing indicating cannabis was harmful in the face of a consensus of modern peer-reviewed science saying it is not...agreed?"
    Agreed. That was exactly my complaint about the Teen website "blog". The "modern peer-reviewed science" finds no connection between cannabis use and AIDS or cancer.
    Sorry dude you are the cherry-picker here. And I have no "political agenda" I just agree with the expert concensus.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    You are the one who keeps making the connection [to policy]. So why can't you at least do your homework? What is so painful about admitting cannabis is RELATIVELY innocuous for most users and should be de-criminalized?
    HAHAHAH do you even listen to yourself? You are the one who absolutely insists on the conflation of observable facts with policy.
    have spent way too much time in recent weeks confirming that there is nothing new to see here,
    And I have no "political agenda"
    right, so if you are so up on the lit and have failed to point to any place that I have mischaracterized that lit..what exactly is your problem here? That I refuse to express a "political agenda", i.e., to discuss policy implications?
    Agreed. That was exactly my complaint about the Teen website "blog".
    right. so we are in total agreement that your ancient, non-peer-reviewed surveys and political opinion mongering named reports are inferior ways to get at the actual risks of cannabis? And that they are in the category of policy propaganda? good, we're making some headway.
    The "modern peer-reviewed science" finds no connection between cannabis use and AIDS
    This isn't exactly what it said on the static teen site on marijuana. It said that

    since marijuana can affect judgment and decision making, using it can lead to risky sexual behavior, resulting in exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

    This is by no means saying that if you smoke cannabis you will get HIV. Not at all. it is saying it affects judgment and decision making- big lit there. Do I really need to review that?
    More specifically there are some papers which bear on the question of an individual engaging in risky practices when acutely intoxicated on cannabis.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16980913?ordinalpos=53&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16604429?ordinalpos=62&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15273583?ordinalpos=110&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
    then there are the correlational ones where the association is with cannabis smokers but the connection to acute intoxication driving risky sex is not explicit. such as
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16691461?ordinalpos=60&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14593854?ordinalpos=135&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11547625?ordinalpos=166&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
    and while we are talking about it, marijuana smoking is also associated with other non-sex behaviors that increase risk of HIV infection
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11889281?ordinalpos=152&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
    sooo.....is this absolutely the best kind of proof? No, but you will never get that with humans because you cannot do controlled prospective studies. You don't randomly assign highschool seniors on prom night to the cannabis and no-cannabis groups and see who gets busy, who uses condoms, etc . Can't do it.
    I submit, as always, that using these structural limitations of human studies to refuse to come to a reasonable synthesis of the data is a scientific denialist position. A position being driven more by a pre-existing refusal to believe that there could be even the slightest or most isolated harm associated with cannabis, than it is by a reasonable reading of the available data. In this case, so far as you actually can get the relevant data within ethical constraints, there are papers published that support the statement about judgment and risky sexual behavior.
    So what exactly is your problem with the statement, Isabel? That someone might get the idea that cannabis is not entirely harmless? oh, the horror!

  • Isabel says:

    "right. so we are in total agreement that your ancient, non-peer-reviewed surveys and political opinion mongering named reports are inferior ways to get at the actual risks of cannabis? And that they are in the category of policy propaganda? good, we're making some headway."
    WTF? political opinion mongering named reports?????
    You are definitely insane.
    No we are NOT agreed!
    I will have to force myself to not look at this blog, it is too disturbing...
    btw,
    "You are the one who absolutely insists on the conflation of observable facts with policy"
    No YOU do. Three taunting posts in a row. But you won't own up to it, so you are useless to talk to.
    And you refuse to say if you feel the Shafer Commission's Report, based on a group of scientists, MDs and policy-makers who spent a year looking at all the evidence in the US and several other countries including the peer-reviewed literature, and came down for decriminalization despite very heavy pressure to rule the opposite. And their conclusions have not been invalidated in any way by new information, including the studies you are discussing.
    That group of conservative old men, hand-picked by Nixon to rubber-stamp his evil plan to throw hippies in jail or some such bullshit, were forced to come to a very different conclusion when they looked at all the evidence, which enraged their leader, and was career-suicide for Shafer. If anything they went in to the project biased AGAINST cannabis.
    Oh well good luck, I hope you break out of your narrow outlook someday.

  • studies cb's says:

    wow, i'm really stunned to learn that these commission reports from the early 70s and earlier are truly the end-all, be-all of the cannabis literature. you'd think in the 30something years or more since, what with the discovery of the principal psychoactive molecule in the mid 60s and all, and those endogenous signaling components relatively recently, that maybe there would be some other evidence to consider. truly disappointing, man.
    it must really suck, living in a world that advances only when there's a government report to tell us so.

  • DuWayne says:

    Oh for fucks sakes DM, fuck your tiny little evidence!!!111!!1 You seem to be forgetting that cannabis is fucking magical!!!!!1111!!1!
    Evidence is totally weak in the face of the magic that is cannabis!!!!111!1!!
    Here's a fucking clue boys and girls, DM has never made a statement of policy...Trust me, I have tried and tried to weasel one out of him to no avail. All that he has to say, is that cannabis isn't all sunshine and motherfucking roses. Which apparently isn't acceptable and rightly so;
    Because cannabis is motherfucking MAGICAL!!!11!!!11 AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAAHAHA!!!!!11!!!!

  • becca says:

    "failed to point to any place that I have mischaracterized that lit"
    Since you asked so nicely... I do so love an opportunity to call bullshit...
    Example of literature statement:
    Additional longitudinal research with this population will be needed for explaining whether these select substance use behaviors are probable risk factors predisposing young rural adolescents to report engaging in sexual behaviors or a result of other factors. (Dunn et al, J Sch Health, 2008, "Self-reported substance use and sexual behaviors among adolescents in a rural state"; emphasis added)
    (in that study at least, IV drug use was way more associated with risky sexual behavior than was marijuana, and, surprisingly to me at least, recent cigarette smoking produced a higher OR than marijuana as well)
    Example of a DM propaganda statement:
    "pot intoxication, increases risky sexual behavior."
    Yes, and the absence of pirates increases global warming...
    Correlation!=causation, ect, ect....
    Does cigarette smoking alter judgment about whether to use a condom, or does the sort of person who smokes a lot as a teenager tend toward opting out of condoms?
    Applying your logic to the first paper: Does that mean the use of ED medications impairs the judgment of gay men?
    Second paper: DEFINES having sex while very high as high risk behavior (using that study to argue "marijuana leads to risky sexual behavior" constitutes a "begging the question" logical fallacy)
    Third paper: Oh dear. What do I say about the idea that marijuana users are more likely to act as tops and engage in unprotected anal sex, but not more likely to act as bottoms and engage in unprotected anal sex?
    Particularly given the notion that, if I'm not mistaken, the *bottom* is usually at a higher risk of infection (so it's not just that marijuana users are poorer at accessing risks and/or more indifferent to them).
    Also, more relevantly, use DURING sex only approached significance (whereas global use did manage to get the OR so it didn't span 1). This would argue against your interpretation that it's related to acute intoxication.
    Fourth paper: you say "the connection to acute intoxication driving risky sex is not explicit"; they say "The results of the event analyses did not support the hypothesis of a situational influence of cannabis making sexual risk behavior more likely." I wouldn't describe that as "not explicitly connected" I would say that as "explicitly NOT connected, as far as these data show".
    Fifth paper: sorry, I don't have access to this one
    and finally
    Sixth paper: If you use IV drugs, you're more likely to start earlier if you smoke marijuana. You are also more likely to start earlier if you DON'T use cocaine.
    sarcasm
    Clearly, the most parsimonious explaination for these data is that marijuana directly causes teens to inject drugs, and cocaine prevents teens from injecting drugs. Shouldn't we evaluate whether we can get teens to start doing cocaine instead of marijuana?
    /sarcasm
    I'm not arguing those papers aren't good science, but I AM arguing they aren't supporting your particular claim.
    I think statements like "a high risk preference/hedonism personality is associated with multiple risky behaviors, including drug use and unprotected sex" would be a perfectly "reasonable synthesis of the data" from papers like #4. I submit that "pot intoxication, increases risky sexual behavior" is such an egregious misreading of paper #4 that it verges on denialism.
    C'mon, DM. You don't have to prove cannabis use causes risky sexual behavior to demonstrate cannabis use can have negative consequences. Pick another battle.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    C'mon, DM. You don't have to prove cannabis use causes risky sexual behavior to demonstrate cannabis use can have negative consequences. Pick another battle.
    I didn't pick it. Isabel did. I just didn't cower away just because the evidence is not terribly strong. And I am delighted that at least one person read into the papers enough to have a reasonably informed opinion and argument.
    Your observations are arguable interpretations for the most part and it is indeed the case that we must always keep in mind the risky, impulsive behavioral traits as causing both the drug use and the risky sexual practices. sure. (the answer to your ED med question is, yes, of course. it is not necessary that the cognitive / behavioral mechanisms are the same however)
    you mistook my point about "not explicitly connected". I was referring to the lack of connection to *acute intoxication* but the association with being a cannabis smoker in general. The NIDA info page statement to which Isabel objects could be taken to mean either thing actually, and there are papers reporting impaired decision making in cannabis users who are not acutely intoxicated (cue a whole 'nother complicated literature to argue over).
    Your comment that "correlation!=causation" is a triumphalism that I think bears correcting. It is seen commonly enough in a similar context as if one has scored some tremendous point. This is an error of statistical reasoning. The accurate concept is that a simple correlation does not in and of itself prove causation. This is quite different from using the triumphalist phrasing as if correlations cannot tell us anything about causation. The point being that if you run down a list of putative cause-effect relationships you can start building a picture of which factors are most likely to cause others and which ones are unlikely to be causal. You yourself engage in this with your attribution of risky sexual behavior to other practices. and yet some statistically resolvable effect of cannabis is still there in the studies. You keep seeing this in various types of studies and it starts being difficult to argue that there is no causal role at all.

  • Isabel says:

    "it must really suck, living in a world that advances only when there's a government report to tell us so."
    This is so incredibly ignorant. You are missing the whole point. And you do understand a lot of MDs and PhDs were involved in the research? And that they performed real scientific studies and reviewed real, peer-reviewed literature? And that most commission members went into the project thinking they were dealing with a serious threat? And that 1972 was after the mid-60's?
    Repeatedly, historically, people get nervous about drugs, and want to outlaw them. Commissions are formed, and repeatedly, when they actually look at all the relevant evidence, they come down against cannabis prohibition. It's a fascinating pattern all to itself really.
    The Shafer Commission was the last time such a major event took place in the US. Use was widespread, and they looked at the issue from a multitude of angles. They also looked at heavy use in other countries. They found problems, but remarkably few serious ones.
    So the onus is on you guys to explain what sorts of breakthrough scientific discoveries have been made since that you feel might suggest we should overturn this decision. I've seen all your evidence, I was very involved with this issue until about a decade ago, and there is nothing that would change that decision. Nothing. I'm still interested as a user. But haven't come across anything that might challenge the report's conclusions.
    I am not saying you shouldn't study the issue of cannabis dependence if that's your thing, just that it's existence is hardly a new discovery, the patterns observed in all three time slices are remarkably similar. There is no contradiction with earlier studies.
    So WHY is any of this relevant to policy issues? Something cannabis activists need to deal with or else they're denialists? Or whatever DM's snarky remarks are supposed to mean? If you are going to make these comments at least read your history DM. It's actually really interesting. And stop claiming activists should hang on YOUR every word unless they're denialists. And be sensitive about the unfairly arrested and jailed and don't be so 'in your face' with every little study you uncover as if you've made some big discovery that justifies their suffering.
    I played DM's game with the cancer issue and the AIDs issue. There is no evidence for either that has not been disproved by later, larger studies, and that is not very weak to begin with. This is always the case. It's the same with the 'gateway drug' claims. Etc. Yawn.
    Oh wait I forgot. I'm trapped in that Bill Murray movie. Hey ya think pot might be dangerous? We'd better look into it. Have fun!

  • becca says:

    The ED medication factoid is an interesting one, since I can think of a lot of plausible ways casual mechanisms could flow.
    Honestly, I'm actually still confused about your "not explicitly connected" point. It still seems to me that paper #4 does more than fail to explicitly support a connection between acute intoxication and risky sexual behavior (in that it explicitly rejects that connection based on that particular dataset).
    The correlation != causation argument does too often serve to trivialize interesting connections. On the other hand, the argument that "X causes Y" should not be made on the basis of correlation alone if it's already known Y causes X as well. I think it's plausible that marijuana use causes bad judgment but I'm pretty sure bad judgment causes marijuana use.
    Or maybe it causes Good judgment, and we're misreading "risky sexual behavior". Purely hypothetically, a woman could go from never having had an orgasm to smoking pot and having one, and then choosing to increase her number of sexual partners ... it would appear the marijuana increased the 'risky sexual behavior', but I would argue we shouldn't always count such scenarios as negative effects of marijuana. Life is complicated.
    As far as I could tell, most of those studies (although there was at least one exception) did not attempt to statistically resolve the individual effects they were studying.
    e.g. if marijuana users are more likely to be IV drug users, is risky sexual behavior really a result of the marijuana use, or could it be due a very high rate of risky sexual behaviors in the IV drug using subset?
    Science is complicated.

  • Isabel says:

    All the arguments for serious effects of "marijuana" rest on a big pile of ifs and tenuous 'butterfly' effects or dubious correlations and the idea that we have no control over teens except through heavy-handed propaganda and law enforcement. Regular and heavy users risk bronchitis, more frequent colds and possibly related depression of their immune system, as far as I can tell. I don't take those effects lightly. The anxiety attacks in new users are transient, the triggering of schizophrenia in some at risk users hasn't resulted in greater numbers, it doesn't seem to be a cause. That's really about it. Boring, but we hate this drug and kids will not listen to reason, and if we don't say it's evil and link it to AIDS, cancer, and car crashes they will be enticed into using it non-stop and will then of course fail in school.
    If it's legal for adults to use, my kid might think it's okay to be stoned day in and day out (use=abuse after all right?) and they might have unsafe sex and therefore might be exposed to a disease which they might come down with which will ruin their lives, Or based on dubious correlations which are based on the drug's illegal status as this gives people exposure to more dangerous drugs - they might take other drugs since they will be exposed to drug dealers....(ironically this becomes another strike against cannabis on the teen site).
    Or on insisting on effects that we feel SHOULD be there even if they are not - just look harder and eventually you'll find all the cancer sufferers, etc. The smoke contains carcinogens so it HAS to cause cancer. People are impaired so it MUST cause car accidents. Nevermind that people who are new to the drug or smoked too much and need to drive (it happens) tend to drive really slowly and carefully, and in fact avoid driving altogether if they can.
    And I don't know if it's really true that all drugs lower inhibitions. Or impair judgment...if we can use our common sense for a moment and be really un-PC, what drug would you use to loosen up your girlfriend if you were a teenage boy? I think pot would be pretty low on the list. It might very well have the opposite effect. It makes people self-conscious, I don't think they loosen up socially. They may become more cautious. But I know, no common sense allowed. I haven't seen any studies on that, but "loosens inhibitions" isn't usually on the list.
    A very small percentage become dependent and can't control their use, but as the large surveys show (and this is where they become useful) these users do not cost society much, mainly in the area of dealing with the dependence directly, eg DM's specific area of interest. But on the whole they go to work, otherwise maintain their health, don't become violent, abandon their families, or otherwise break the law. So the costs to society even in these cases is not great enough to justify prohibition. It is bizarrely arrogant to think you have some new approach to the situation simply because you are a younger scientist, that you don't even need to define this whole new perspective you seem to have!
    It's fine to study the dependence issue, very helpful research if it's done right AND with sensitivity to the current reality, but this research has no bearing on the prohibition issue.

  • DuWayne says:

    It's fine to study the dependence issue, very helpful research if it's done right AND with sensitivity to the current reality, but this research has no bearing on the prohibition issue.
    Let me fix that for you...
    It's fine to study the dependence issue, very helpful if it is done right. But this research should have no bearing on the prohibition issue...
    Where exactly did you study science Isabel and in what field? Because you seem to be confused about what science is all about.

  • studies cb's says:

    I've seen all your evidence, I was very involved with this issue until about a decade ago, and there is nothing that would change that decision. Nothing.
    that pretty much says all i need to know.
    since 1972, research has measured the many and varied central and peripheral responses to THC, has determined the regions of action in the brain, that there are two receptors responsible for the physiologic actions of THC (maybe more), how those receptors work, how those receptors respond to THC, that there are endogenous signaling molecules that act at the cannabinoid receptors, how those signaling molecules work, synthetic agonists and antagonists and endogenous transport inhibitors and endogenous degradation inhibitors have been made, and we've learned how disruption of the endogenous signaling relates to the physiologic effects of intoxication. i'd say that's a fair amount more information is available now, wouldn't you say?
    you might be interested in knowing the basal ganglia contain a whole shitload of CB1 receptors, that cannabinoid receptors and opioid receptors interact quite a bit, as do cannabinoid and dopamine receptors. and responses to other drugs like alcohol and opiates are altered after THC exposure. a few examples, since i don't have time to be exhaustive.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16672664
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16823391
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11713615
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18504086
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16228194
    you're all to willing to discard 37 years worth of research that has occurred since a decision you agree with. that decision occurred before we knew jack about what the drug is actually doing pharmacologically. we are just now acquiring the combination of knowledge and methods to ask the really good questions. but apparently the answers to those will not matter to you, because you've already quite clearly made up your mind.

  • Funky Fresh says:

    very helpful research if it's done right AND with sensitivity to the current reality

    I don't know about y'all but I do my research to test hypotheses. I don't give a fuck about being sensitive to the current reality.

  • Isabel says:

    Well, you could not stir things up when you have weak results that need repeating, why not leave that to the sensationalist mass media? You might choose to not trumpet a study that suggests withdrawal from cannabis is similar to withdrawal from nicotine when even the authors feel their study is questionable because of the high drop out rate and lack of controls and because it only includes people with both addictions so shouldn't be extrapolated to the general user. That sort of thing. Sort of like if you were looking at racial characteristics (perfectly acceptable) in 1930's Germany, you know, if your research or sensationalist reporting might have an effect on people of certain groups being rounded up...oh never mind. Carry on. I'm past caring about this silly discussion and I will force myself to find new on-line diversions!!!

  • BikeMonkey says:

    hahaha, don't let the door hit ya where the good lord...

  • Funky Fresh says:

    I am convinced that when Isabel comments she takes a bunch of related words, writes them on cards, throws them in a hat, and writes them in the order they appear. Why? Because that bit of drivel makes absolutely no sense. Her comments are like MadLibs. Ladies and gentleman, I offer you:

    Well, you could not stir things up when you have weak results that need repeating, why not leave that to the sensationalist mass media?

    I swear I need the fucking Rosetta stone to figure that shit out.

  • DuWayne says:

    I'm past caring about this silly discussion and I will force myself to find new on-line diversions!!!
    Oh NOES!!!!!111!!!1@!@!!! But, BUT - I was hoping you would help spread us the word of the magical Cannabis, given us by the Lord's of Kobol!!!!!11!1!!
    Whatever shall I do???????

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