Vice Squad
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Marijuana Addicts

Several news outlets reported yesterday that marijuana "addiction" is on the rise in the U.S. This assertion is based on an article that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, stating that marijuana dependence is increasing, in part due to the increased potency of the drug. Last One Speaks commented on the absurdity of the addiction claim yesterday. Marijuana is not physiologically addictive. It is not possible for one's body to become dependent upon the drug, unlike nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. Of course, some individuals will engage in irresponsible use of any substance, but that gets lost in the story as propaganda about increased marijuana "addiction" and "increased potency" gets tossed around the media.

Dr. Gopal Upadhya, medical director at a private substance-abuse treatment center in New York City said that it was interesting to see that as the purity of marijuana has increased, the number of addicts has also increased. He likened it to the difference between crack and cocaine. "One reason crack is difficult for people to get off is because it's purer," he said. Despite the chilling similarities between modern pot and crack, Upadhya mentioned that he very rarely sees people seek treatment for marijuana abuse. Interesting.

Vice Squad has previously discussed the fact that the whole "increased potency" story with respect to marijuana is a lie based on shoddy science, and repeated over and over again by the prohibitionists until it starts to sound like a fact.

Note also that an "abuser" of a drug is defined in part, as someone who has had legal problems with the substance! I wonder if the legal regime of marijuana was changed if "abuse" rates would be similar to caffeine abuse rates. Oh, that's right, we don't keep track of caffeine abuse rates. It turns out, we don't keep track of marijuana "abuse" rates either, but that didn't stop the authors from presenting their findings. The third paragraph of the JAMA article states that "no long-term trend information is available about whether the prevalence of [marijuana abuse] is increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable in the United States." Therefore, the authors of this article attempted to conduct their own survey. I'm not even going to get into all the design problems with this survey, of which there are many.

What's fascinating is that this story is all over the media, with zero questioning of the initial report's context, survey design, or accuracy. The power of the prohibitionists and their misinformation campaign is substantial.

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