A Recent Study Says: ‘Follow The Money”

By |Published On: September 19th, 2014|

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Last week the world’s tabloid press bombarded the airwaves with an extraordinary headline from Australia, spearheaded of course by the Daily Mail.
“Teens who smoke weed every day are 60% less likely to finish high school and seven times more likely to attempt suicide”.
Headlines like this make us slump in our chairs. Yet another pounding from an astonishingly alarmist piece of journalism. Seven times more likely to attempt suicide? It seems so far fetched, even the anti cannabis lobby couldn’t have expected it.

We waited for the dust to settle and had a look at the report which was published in
The Lancet Psychiatry Journal. It’s all about correlation and causation once again, with nothing really being irrefutably pinned on cannabis . It seemed to be a large enough study, but although cannabis use was measured at the start of the study, it seems the study didn’t take into account any prior personal history. Were there suicidal tendencies or school problems before the study took place? Further investigation noted, despite a sample size of  over 2,500 people, only 78 people had attempted suicide, and of them, only two were daily cannabis users. We can argue the methodologies for days and days, but it isn’t what this blog post is about.


Right at the top of the report was a list of authors. One name stuck out like a sore thumb. Prof. Jan Copeland. It took a while to register where we’d heard that name before, and then it clicked; Prof Copeland heads up the Australian National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) at the University Of New South Wales. (Yes, you did read the word ‘prevention’ there).
The NCPIC is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and was responsible for the 2012 ‘Dunedin Report’ that claimed cannabis use can lead to an 8% drop in adolescent IQ’s. (It was a matter of days before the world’s medical cannabis fraternity debunked the report in no uncertain terms but the damage had been done.)
Prof. Copeland was an author of the ‘IQ report’ which had an astonishing press coverage by powerful people.


So now, two years later, we’re getting the backlash of yet another high profile, well publicised report warning us of the spectre of teen suicides on dagga. All from the same prohibition government funded varsity think tank. Hmmm, are you getting the picture here?

When the British Medical Journal published it’s extremely disappointing ‘Should Doctors Prescribe Cannabinoids’ article earlier this year it was noted by Peter Reynolds, Leader of UK Cannabis Political Party CLEAR, that three of the authors were affiliated to, (yes you guessed it) the NCPIC.  The report seemed to altogether fly in the face of respected cannabis research and no less than three of it’s authors failed to declare their affiliations to the NCPIC. This is what Peter Reynolds had to say at the time.

We’re not trying to say all negative cannabis reporting is flawed, but it is glaringly obvious that governments worldwide are still looking for research to support their desired outcomes. Humankind, as with other mammals, have been using cannabis for a few thousand years yet research is still being done on what it does.
Look no further than teen use in Holland and Portugal being amongst the lowest in Europe for evidence that the more legal it is the more it can be kept out of the hands of teens. And of course, as soon as something isn’t ‘forbidden’ any more, all the fun goes out of it for the misfits and renegades.

Unfortunately, it appears evidence from other countries or common sense is not used when weighing up the pros and cons of cannabis legalisation in South Africa, and using government funded statistics to aid your decision making is going to give you a very biased and downright dangerous view of the cannabis argument.

We agree that the use of cannabis by young teens is not advisable, but the problems it causes, in the unlucky few that just shouldn’t be taking cannabis, are really self evident, temporary, and not wrapped up in a ‘maybe in the future’ hypothesis. The human race will continue to alter it’s consciousness recreationally and teens will use the cannabis plant like countless millions before them.

Concern about teen cannabis use is an argument for legalisation. Telling a teen to NOT do something is counter productive – rather equip them with sound advice for WHEN they try cannabis.

So next time you are sitting in the lounge at home having another heated debate with your family about the perceived harms of Dagga – be absolutely sure you know where the money came from to fund the studies that are being used to enforce the argument.
If you look deep enough into all the studies, the dangers of cannabis come from prohibition itself, and all the teens we meet have seen all the way through the disinformation.


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About the Author: Jules Stobbs

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  1. TGIF September 19, 2014 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Meaningless study without context. How does this relate to the damage caused by teens smoking cigarettes, consuming alcohol, bad diet (high sugar) and legal pharmaceutical drugs? All those drugs kill, dagga does not.

    The principles of science are about collecting evidence and establishing facts, based on the evidence, wherever it may lead. Having a preconceived idea (dagga is bad) and then selectively collecting evidence to substantiate that is not science.

    • Jules Stobbs September 25, 2014 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Agreed TGIF, but with clever newspaper headlines, copywriters can wield enormous damage with their keyboards. Big typeset and LOADS of coverage to the masses. ” – DAGGA IS BAD – look, we’ve proved it.

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