Response to “The truth about Dagga”, Natal Witness, 25 March 2015

An open letter to the editor in response to the article “The truth about Dagga” by Jared Cronje which appeared in the Natal Witness, cc’ed to Jared.

Dear Editor,

Kung Fu Panda famously said; “There are no coincidences” and I can only marvel at the placement of the “The truth about Dagga” article by Jarrod Cronje which appeared in your publication on the 25’th of March 2015. Ironically, it is nestled above an article entitled “Corporate interests are undermining efforts to save the planet” and adjacent to a piece named “How to handle Internet trolls“.
The Internet troll article placement is ironic because, had I come across this marvel of misinformation and ignorance in an internet discussion forum, I would not have bothered to respond and would have immediately relegated it to the realm of troll bait while the corporate interest article highlights one of the primary reasons for the ongoing prohibition of Cannabis, namely that it threatens corporate interests and one of the sectors with a vested interest in the ongoing prohibition of Cannabis is the so called drug rehabilitation industry. It has been shown that drug abuse thrives under prohibition but declines sharply in the absence thereof.

Jarrod Cronje just so happens to work for a drug rehabilitation centre and as such has a vested interest in prolonging prohibition and in the perpetuation of falsehoods pertaining to Cannabis use. One could safely say that the scientifically unfounded statements in the article directly contributes to fostering a social environment conducive to his financial well being and I am appalled that your publication would print such a blatantly partisan piece of writing without verifying the facts or at the very least including an objective scientific view, especially if you bill it as “THE TRUTH” in red capital letters. The question, “whose truth?”, begs asking.

The article is fraught with ignorance, awash in untruth, doesn’t cite a single source, scientific or otherwise and really should be relegated to the realm of public opinion pieces rather than be presented as fact in a hitherto respectable publication.

A rebuttal of some of Jarrods fallacious gems folows;

“THC ( tetrahydrocannibinol ), a powerful hallucinogen with serious addictive and dependence properties.”

For any drug to be identified as highly addictive, there should be evidence that substantial numbers of users repeatedly fail in their attempts to discontinue use and develop use-patterns that interfere with other life activities.

Epidemiological surveys show that the large majority of people who have had experience with Cannabis do not become regular users.

In 1993, among Americans age 12 and over, about 34% had used Cannabis sometime in their life, but only 9% had used it in the past year, 4.3% in the past month, and 2.8% in the past week. (Ref: Preliminary Estimates from the 1993 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1994).)

A longitudinal study of young adults who had first been surveyed in high school also found a high “discontinuation rate” for marijuana. While 77% had used the drug, 74% of those had not used in the past year and 84% had not used in the past month. (Ref :Johnston, L.D. et al, Drug Use Among American High School Seniors, College Students and Young Adults, 1975-1990,Vol II, Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1991), p 31.)

The most avid publicizers of dagga’s addictive nature are treatment providers who, admit insured dagga users to their programs. The increasing use of drug-detection technologies in the workplace, schools and elsewhere has also produced a group of dagga users who identify themselves as “addicts” in order to receive treatment instead of punishment. (ref: Jacobs, J.B. and Zimmer, L., “Drug Treatment and Workplace Drug Testing: Politics, Symbolism and Organizational Dilemmas,” Behavioral Sciences and the Law 9:345-60 (1991).)

“In these cases the “medical marijuana” is manufactured to contain the right amount of THC”
Cannabis is a plant mr Cronje, it is grown, not manufactured and any breeder will tell you that it is not an empirical science. Pharmaceutical companies do manufacture synthetic THC, a dangerous and deadly substance to which deaths, brain damage and kidney damage have been attributed. The Cannabis plant contains a broad spectrum of cannabinoids and terpines, all of which are required to achieve optimal healing results.

More and more cases of dagga psychosis and schizophrenia are being reported too”

Researchers at Harvard Medical School say there has “yet to be conclusive evidence that cannabis use may cause psychosis.” Their latest study, published in the journal Schizophrenia Research, adds support to the role of genetic factors in schizophrenia, and that marijuana use alone does not increase the risk of developing the disorder.

I quote from the paper: “The results of the current study suggest that having an increased familial morbid risk for schizophrenia may be the underlying basis for schizophrenia in cannabis users and not cannabis use by itself.(Ref: Ashley C. Proal et all, A controlled family study of cannabis users with and without psychosis. 2013)

“Prolonged use definitely slows normal brain function”

Not only has modern science refuted the notion that marijuana is neurotoxic, recent scientific discoveries have indicated that cannabinoids are, in fact, neuroprotective, particularly against alcohol-induced brain damage. In a recent preclinical study — the irony of which is obvious to anyone who reads it — researchers at the US National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) reported that the administration of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) reduced ethanol-induced cell death in the brain by up to 60 percent. “This study provides the first demonstration of CBD as an in vivo neuroprotectant … in preventing binge ethanol-induced brain injury,” the study’s authors wrote in the May 2005 issue of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

“for those with a predisposition for addiction, dagga is the primary gateway drug to full–blown narcotic dependence.”

Gateway theory has been repeatedly debunked.
One of the first major studies to debunk the gateway theory was commissioned as far back as 1938 by New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. The six year study, conducted by a team of scientists from the New York Academy of Medicine, was the most comprehensive, extensive marijuana fact-finding mission since the Indian Hemp Drug Commission released its monumental aproximately 50 years earlier. Released in 1944 as “The LaGuardia Report,” the study found that: “The use of marijuana does not lead to morphine or heroin or cocaine addiction. The instances are extremely rare where the habit of marihuana (sic) smoking is associated with addiction to these narcotics.

The Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report on marijuana explained that marijuana has been mistaken for a gateway drug in the past because “Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana — usually before they are of legal age.”

Mr Cronje concludes his article by advising youngsters to; “take some time out to educate yourself “.   If you are truly intent on helping people with addiction problems Mr Cronje, then I suggest you take some of your own advice and educate yourself with regards to the latest scientific findings pertaining to Cannabis use and the causes of addiction instead of propagating untruths and falsehoods.

Sincerely,

Lawrence Qholloi Strydom

2 thoughts on “Response to “The truth about Dagga”, Natal Witness, 25 March 2015

  1. Thank you, Lawrence. I truly appreciate the candor and eloquence with which you refute the nonsense of this man.

    Please keep it up!

    Like

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