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The Highly Divisive, Curiously Underfunded And Strangely Promising World Of Marijuana Science


marijuana science research cannabis

I received an e-mail from TIME that discusses their new cover story about marijuana science. I figured I’d post it here for discussion. TIME is a very big media outlet, so this message will reach a lot of people outside of the marijuana world. Please place your thoughts in the comments section below the article:

This week’s cover of TIME investigates the world of pot science in the United States and reports on how legalization keeps rolling ahead in this country. Yet because of years of government roadblocks on research, we don’t know nearly enough about the dangers of marijuana—or the benefits. Highlights from the piece are below.

TIME’s Michael Scherer and Bruce Barcott – a journalist and author of the new book Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America - write in the cover story: “The most common illicit drug on the planet and one of the fastest-­growing industries in America, pot ­remains—­surprisingly—­something of a medical mystery, thanks in part to decades of obstruction and misinformation by the federal government. Potentially groundbreaking studies on the drug’s healing powers are being done to find treatments for conditions like epilepsy, post­traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Alz­heimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, sickle-­cell disease and multiple sclerosis. But there are also new discoveries about the drug’s impact on recreational users.”

On pot research in the U.S., Scherer and Barcott write: “While American research on the potential harms from marijuana is booming, the U.S. continues to lag in funding investigations into the possible benefits. In the late 1990s, the U.S. and British governments commissioned separate studies of medical marijuana…. Both studies reached a similar conclusion: medical pot wasn’t a hippie’s delusion. The research showed that the stuff held real therapeutic potential for specific conditions, including epilepsy, chronic pain and glaucoma. The British responded by treating marijuana as a plant with biotech prospects…. The Americans, meanwhile, doubled down on the war on drugs…. The federal antipot policies resulted in a strange kind of scientific trade deficit. The U.S. leads the world in studies of marijuana’s harm, but we’re net importers of data dealing with its healing potential.”

They conclude: “The science of pot is likely to expand in the coming years, and it could boom if federal restrictions are lifted. What the government once dismissed as a communist plot that prompted murderous rages has turned out to be a window into the very workings of the human mind. In the years to come, researchers may yet find genetic markers that predispose people to pot-­induced psychotic reactions, map out the specific ways in which THC changes the brain and find new medicines for some of the most intractable illnesses. Until then, the great marijuana experiment will continue in a country where 1 in 10 adults—and 35% of high school seniors—admit to conducting their own, mostly recreational, research.”

Jodi Gilman, a Harvard Medical School researcher who has been studying the brains of human marijuana users, tells TIME: “It has a whole host of effects on learning and cognition that other drugs don’t have…. It looks like the earlier you start, the bigger the effects.”

Read the full cover story here: http://ti.me/1A2M6SR

Source: Time.Com


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Johnny Green


  1. I’m pretty troubled by how many people are commenting that this article is an outrage. This article is an improvement on Time’s past position. This article is a step in the right direction. Steps in the right direction are good. Articles that highlight the benefits of cannabis use are good. Yes, some questionable things were said in the article. Deal with it. On the whole, the tone of the article says “you know all those crazy potheads? Science is starting to suggest they’re not crazy after all.” That’s a good thing.

    I’m going to say something that’s been on my mind for a long time, and every activist who claims to want to legalize cannabis needs to have a hard think about this and take it to heart. The United States is not run by flower children – like it or not, the laws of the land are driven by “mainstream” people who read Time and NYT and watch CNN. If we want real change, the mainstream media is going to play a big part in that, like it or not. And that change is going to be gradual. People have been fed bullshit about cannabis all their lives, and it will take time to correct all that misinformation. And you don’t correct that misinformation by challenging every single belief a person has at once, or they think you’re crazy and stop listening to you. You gently work it, one point at a time, and that’s how we’ve been legalizing. Gradually. First we brought people around to the understanding that cannabis could make terminally ill people feel better in their dying days. Then we showed people that it could be useful for a variety of conditions. Then we started showing people the injustice of punishing recreational users, and the financial benefits of reducing police costs, and of taxing and regulating cannabis sales. Now we are slowly bringing the public around to the idea that cannabis isn’t just a pain reliever, that it has actual healing effects that we are starting to measure in scientific conditions. (And like it or not, the mainstream voters that we need to support this movement are not going to get behind us without scientific evidence! I know there’s a staggering amount of anecdotal data out there, and I know science is not perfect and is sometimes dead wrong, but people are skeptics and want to see proof.)

    So frankly, it enrages me every time a mainstream publication lends support to our movement, and a small group of angry activists decides to burn our credibility to the ground by shrieking like children that they will hunt down and destroy any journalist who doesn’t support their views. In this climate, journalists can’t write ANYTHING positive about cannabis without a backlash. Support legalization? “FUCK YOU, LEGALIZATION MEANS LAWS, AND LAWS ARE IMMORAL, THE GOVERNMENT IS ILLEGITIMATE AND CAN’T TELL ME WHAT’S LEGAL!” Quote a highly scientific and rigorous study that says the slightest less than awesome thing about cannabis? “YOU’RE AN IDIOT WHO WANTS TO KILL OUR CHILDREN BY FEEDING THEM ALL HEROIN.”

    I posted a comment on a discussion board where I said I vigorously supported legalization, and commented that I wanted it regulated because I didn’t want kids having recreational access to it, and was trolled off it by a bunch of illiterate dipshits who alternated between three points of view: calling me an idiot and then saying they believed all of the exact same things I did, telling me that I was a monster who wanted my children to take ritalin and binge drink (I suspect these people had their pipes packed with something other than cannabis…), and telling me that I was a prohibitionist who was against science. You know, because if you look the word “prohibitionist” in the dictionary, you’ll find that it means “someone who smokes weed erryday, publicly talks about its benefits and wants it to be widely legally available for medicinal and recreational use alike.”

    Many fine, brilliant activists built the legalization movement, but some activists are fucking it up for everyone by devoting their energy to attacking their allies fellow activists, instead of fighting against prohibition. When a mainstream, middle class American reads these vitriolic comments online, it just confirms for them that “mariahuana” (as it was spelled on my arrest report) is a dangerous drug that causes sensible people to lose touch with reality and act out in rage.

    Repeat after me: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Anyone who does not have the maturity and good sense to take part in the online debate over cannabis like a responsible adult must turn off their computer, walk away and let the people who truly want to see cannabis legalized do the talking. If they don’t, we are going to be fighting an uphill battle not only against Project SAM and the DEA, but against supposed anti-prohibitionists who just want something to scream at.

  2. Time magazine, like most media, are really only interested in maintaining the interest of their subscribers. We’ve listened to the “DANGERS OF MARIJUANA” for decades and though millions use it with positive effects and millions use it medically, they’re still catering to the bugaboo of conservative middle America. They’ll play up speculation that it harms the brains of the young, throw in a few facts and leave the “DANGERS OF MARIJUANA” up in the air for their aging readers. It’s just like “CLIMATE CHANGE”. They want to do more research for years of denial until the facts are undeniable, even by the conservative citizens of middle America while the rest of the world and America have long ago, moved on.

  3. The. ONLY thing that matters in article is that pos’s name harry angslingers name being written.So people can look him up .And start to see what this most unamerican person ever born in America did to this country

  4. And Time, along with many others, should print a giant apology for its role in promoting the reefer madness mentality.

  5. Johnny oneye on

    Time magazine should do a story
    on Cannabis #prohibition
    How many people die without access
    to safe and affordable cannabis
    How many people have been arrested ,persecuted , lives turned upside down from “marijuana #prohibition ”

  6. Controlling Substances is idiotic. But of course what they really mean is controlling people.

    Every tax, every regulation comes with it an army of bureaucrats and behind that an army (with guns) of enforcers.

  7. “It has a whole host of effects on learning and cognition that other drugs don’t have…. It looks like the earlier you start, the bigger the effects.”

    1. BullShi
    2. Alcohol.

  8. Troubled by the constant assertions that anyone not suffering from a horrible disease is abusing ‘recreational’ Cannabis – many of us foster wellness in our lives through the responsible use of Cannabis. If only it weren’t so darned enjoyable I would feel better about it….

  9. Conservative Christian on

    As a nation, we’re slowly starting to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. None of us would want our kids put in jail over a little marijuana. None of us would want the police to confiscate and sell our parents’ home because they grew a couple of plants to help with the aches and pains of growing older. Let’s start treating other people the way we would want to be treated.

    We are American citizens! We can contact our representatives at:
    Congresswomen and Congressmen: http://www.house.gov/representatives/
    Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

    Polite + Friendly + Responsible = Success!

  10. russell bowles on

    “””Nothing says America like a ball/cap, shirt, pants, socks, shoes, and shoestrings made from Virginian/hemp and a bag of Colorado/homegrown…That’s the America I grew up in…”””

  11. Lawrence Goodwin on

    I’m grateful to Time magazine for making the effort. But really, considering so many fraudulent “marihuana” claims by federal, state and local officials and their DECADES of refusal to face the truth about cannabis plants, it’s time for millions of Americans to take this matter into their own hands. First, we all should be grabbing pitchforks and descending on the United States Congress to demand (peacefully) the complete removal of that Spanish slang word from ALL prohibitive U.S. laws. It certainly does not belong anywhere in the Controlled Substances Act. Secondly, we MUST restore cannabis plants–the same species that contributed substantially to the early wealth of America–to their proper role in our economy and society. The fibers, pulp, seeds, leaves and flowers of cannabis plants can ALL be used in infinitely beneficial ways. The ONLY thing we have to fear about cannabis, is the fear of these plants itself!

  12. russell bowles on

    Save the American tax-payer and small farmer…Nothing says America like a ball/cap, shirt, pants, socks, shoes, and shoestrings made from Virginian/hemp and a bag of Colorado/homegrown…That’s the America I grew up in…

  13. Mike Johnson on

    Drugs that heal and get you high are common. Drugs that heal,get you high and have little chance of killing you are rare. People like pot better than politicians. I think the 2016 elections everywhere will reflect that.

  14. Well Done. Keep up the good work.
    I want to touch the subject of Recreational cannabis use which is hugely misunderstood. Silly questions like “Medical Cannabis is ok but how about recreational ?” is totally has no merit any more once we knew thats its not harmful and its has medicinal value. Prevention is better than Cure. its not just for the sick, its also for heathy people so that we dont get sick! I hope they will discuss this more and people starts to wake up. :)

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