Pubdate: Sat, 03 May 2008
Source: Dominion Post, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2008 The Dominion Post
Author: David R Currie


I want to clarify some of the statements about cannabis's
possibly harmful effects (Drug swoop targets national shop chain, April 28).

Heavy use of cannabis doesn't cause psychosis. The Indian Hemp Drugs
Commission (1893-94) made that clear.

Studies in Jamaica in 1971 and 1973 showed that groups of heavy users
there showed no signs of mental illness or brain damage, nor was there
any evidence of permanent memory impairment.

I question whether New Zealand's National Drug Intelligence Bureau and
the Drug Foundation have their facts right. Neither made submissions
to the government inquiry into the mental health effects of cannabis
in 1998.

It's significant that, in the inquiry's report, two submissions, one
from the Health Ministry, questioned whether an attribution bias
operated in the diagnosis process in connection with Maori mental
health. They stated that clinicians might have incorrectly diagnosed
Maori patients as suffering from drug abuse to fulfil a prevalent
racial stereotype, when the patient was actually suffering from a
non-drug form of psychosis.

I urge The Dominion Post not to use reports such as last Wednesday's
to document the supposedly bad effects of cannabis when that claim is
highly dubious.

David R Currie

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