Popular book on marijuana’s apparent dangers is pure alarmism, experts say

The above-linked article was ostensibly intended to refute some “alarmist” warnings about marijuana use in a recent popular book. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t comment on its merits, but I did wonder if this wasn’t another volley in the long shooting war over pot.

There’s science on both sides, and that’s part of the problem. It’s tempting for advocates to cherry-pick studies to suit their ends, while ignoring others that do not. Again, that happens on both ends of the debate.

Also, seems as if whenever I write about cannabis, I get an email from somebody who says I need to go back and read the research. I think the problem is I have read the research, and too often it fails to confirm claims made on its behalf.

Not that this is so unusual. Science is not a fixed set of conclusions. It’s a process of observation and experiment that allows us to study the natural world. Of necessity, the body of scientific knowledge must continually adapt to new information, regardless of whether it fits our preconceptions.

As the saying goes, if it’s proof you want, try science. But absolute certainty is the realm of religion.

There are some real obstacles to overcome in the study of cannabis. Over 400 chemicals are involved, and the two most important ones, CBD and THC, have very different, even opposing, effects. Then there are the longstanding government restrictions on research that have left us with a limited body of reliable science. That’s a very real obstacle we must accept.

To me, it suggests caution when making claims. That doesn’t go over well in the media, where the motto is “strong opinions, forcefully expressed.” That’s how you get booked on talk shows.

Oddly enough, this book’s author is actually pro-legalization. He just argues for continued careful examination of the potential hazards. He may have overstated some of them, but those hazards do exist. There’s as much evidence to support his conclusion as the opposition view.

I wish somebody had been around a couple decades ago to remind medical professionals about the well-known risks of long-term opioid use. Not sure they’d have listened, however.

Meanwhile, the cannabis industry marches on, albeit with a few hiccups:

New problem for legal weed: Exploding pot factories