August 25, 2014 | In her latest blog post, US National Institute on Drug Abuse director Nora Volkow claims that “science should guide marijuana policy.” But if the nation’s top anti-drug doc truly believes that facts, not ideological rhetoric, ought to shape America’s drug policies, why does she feel the need to keep distorting the truth about pot?
Writes Volkow: “Besides being addictive, marijuana is cognitively impairing even beyond the phase of acute intoxication and regular use during adolescence may cause a significant, possibly permanent IQ loss.”
Or, more than likely, it may not. In fact, the very study Volkow relies on to make this questionable claim was publically repudiated in a 2012 review published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That review suggests that socioeconomic differences, not pot use, are responsible for dissimilarities found among former teen marijuana users and non-users. In fact, once economic variables were factored into the assessment, the analysis reported that cannabis’ actual effect on IQ was likely to be “zero.”
As for Nora Volkow’s allegation that pot is addictive, well, a bit of context is necessary. Do a minority of people who experiment with cannabis at some point in their lives exhibit symptoms of drug dependence? Yes, about nine percent do so, according to the National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine. But this percentage is similar to that of anxiolytics and is far lower than the dependence liability associated with other substances like alcohol (15 percent) and tobacco (32 percent). So concludes the Institute in its report “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base”: “[A]lthough few marijuana users develop dependence, some do. But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.”
NIDA’s head also writes, “Brain scans in users who started when they were young show impaired neural development, probably because cannabis interferes with normal brain maturation.”
By By Paul Armentano
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