Pubdate: Tue, 13 May 2008
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2008 The Denver Post Corp
Author: David Harsanyi
Referenced: The new 'report'
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


It could be argued that the most useless job in Washington, D.C., is 
held by John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control 
Policy. He's otherwise known as the country's Drug Czar.

And when you consider the spectacular number of useless jobs in 
Washington, that's quite an accomplishment.

No one is saying, of course, that it's easy being a figurehead of a 
cost-inefficient organization charged with implementing the biggest 
domestic policy disaster since Prohibition. After all, it means 
advocating that thousands of non-violent offenders be sent to prison 
- -- quite often after paramilitary raids have reeled them in.

It means denying citizens dying of cancer, AIDS and other painful 
diseases the medical marijuana they claim alleviates their pain. It 
means ignoring the will of citizens in states like California and 
Colorado, where medical marijuana was legalized.

Being the Drug Czar means overstating and misleading Americans with 
so-called studies. He's not alone. From the Centers for Disease 
Control to the Surgeon General, government agencies are under the 
impression that when their view of some "greater good" is at stake, 
concocting studies to propagate flawed policy is acceptable.

Take, if you will, the new report titled "Teen Marijuana Use Worsens 
Depression: An Analysis of Recent Data Shows 'Self-Medicating' Could 
Actually Make Things Worse." Scary stuff.

"Adolescent marijuana use may be a factor that triggers psychosis, 
depression, and other mental illness," explains Walters, who admits 
"research about causality is still ongoing."

Ongoing, doubtlessly, until Walters unearths the answer he's looking for.

It's not often you see half-baked phrases like "Could Actually" in 
the title of a study. You'll also notice Walters also says it "may be 
a factor." Because, in other words, "it may not" be a factor at all.

The study of causality -- proof that one thing causes the other -- is 
imperative. (A recent British government study was "unconvinced" that 
any such relationship exists). Surely, one "could actually" find a 
link between depressed teens and alcohol consumption, or overeating, 
of any number of self-destructive habits.

As Michael Fendrich, a psychologist and director of the Center for 
Addiction and Behavioral Health Research at the University of 
Wisconsin, told WebMd, the study "overreaches" and is "kind of sensationalist."

And in the end, it is also irrelevant. Children shouldn't use drugs, 
and even if drugs were legalized, no one is advocating children 
should be able to use them.

This does not excuse the fact that government agencies have become 
public relations firms that attempt to manipulate public opinion 
rather than simply implement policy. Should government be 
self-servingly selective in the studies they rely on?

For instance, a study by the University of California at San 
Francisco found that marijuana was effective to relieve pain. "If 
marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance 
carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a 
wonder drug," wrote Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a Harvard psychiatrist.

Yet drug warriors have decided that adults cannot make decisions 
regarding marijuana for themselves because somewhere, somehow, it 
might get into the hands of children -- and that, of course, never 
happens today.

As you read this, the Office of National Drug Control Policy is 
conducting a series of regional "summits" hoping to convince 
educators that random drug testing of your children is a great idea.

No doubt, they will brandish their most recent study as evidence that 
action must be taken. And no doubt many children will have their 
first taste of unnecessary government intrusion.

Then again, it could actually, sorta, maybe work. Right?
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake