Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Putting Cannabis “Research” Into Perspective

with 31 comments

Just Say No!

The furore around yesterday’s BMJ article on cannabis and psychosis is reverberating around the world.  It shouldn’t be any surprise really that a psychoactive substance has psychoactive effects but it provides opportunity for good sensationalist copy.

In the course of dealing with today’s events, two incisive and illuminating facts emerged:

First, the study which is published in the BMJ includes a statement that says:

“Furthermore, we used a rather broad outcome measure, defined as a minimum of one positive rating on a G section item, representing psychotic experiences rather than clinically relevant psychotic disorder.”

The study asked people to say if they used cannabis and if they had experienced one of a series of “subclinical” symptoms of psychosis, like an hallucination. If they had just one yes in 10 years they counted towards the study’s findings.

Secondly, I was reviewing the number of cannabis related hospital admissions –  approximately 1000 per annum. As a comparison, I checked on the number of emergency peanut allergy cases – approximately 3000 per annum.

Just say no to peanuts?

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 2, 2011 at 11:01 pm

31 Responses

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  1. I am allergic to peanuts – and it sickens me that they are an everyday part of society and stop me enjoying a lot of food, yet cannabis which has never killed anyone remains illegal.

    Peanuts present a lot more danger to society than cannabis!

    Also, aren’t you a lot more likely to get cancer from smoking tobacco than psychotic from smoking cannabis? Prohibitionist logic baffles me.

    Nuff Said

    March 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm

  2. I knew I was getting all these great ideas from somewhere Jason!

    Nuff Said

    March 2, 2011 at 11:50 pm

  3. I like to think we’re just on the same page.

    Logic has taken a hammering though, any impartial spectator, you’d hope, would have a good laugh at all this.

  4. I have spent today starting to research cannabis in Multiple Sclerosis trials and stumbled across your blog. I was astonished to read the article on the BMJ, being a medical student I expected publishings on their to be sound, well researched and non-biased. The abstract, the part which most people will read and interpret is shockingly misleading and entirely counterproductive to any public support for medicinal use of Cannabis.

    The fact that this article has gained such publicity with most news agencies having stories on their websites will do nothing but produce unfounded fear of the substance. If cannabis was simply a recreational drug with no medicinal links the issue would not be so large, but with the untold clinical potential of Cannabis it seems inhumane to restrict it’s use by sufferers of genuine illness.

    I would highlight recently the article published by John Zajicek (Role of Cannabinoids in Multiple Sclerosis) which finally shows positive results and a genuine case for Cannabis based treatments, namely Sativex. Articles published in 2003, using similar cannabis based treatments proved similar results, but because of their method of analysis were not deemed to have any clinical use. It has taken 8 years for a positive results study to be published, when it should have come from the initial trials. In this time patients have been suffering, and resorting to illegally obtained cannabis to alleviate their symptoms, all because of an unfounded, and uneducated opinion of the substance.

    It’s a bit of a rant I know, and posted on a light hearted topic, but reading the article made me want to type.

    Alex Carver

    March 3, 2011 at 1:01 am

  5. There is no reasonable argument against cannabis being anything other than brought into line with booze and fags. Not sure how to spell alchol and ciggeretes, far to stoned and whacked on KP`s



    March 3, 2011 at 1:33 am

  6. Peter – the points you make are all true, but you have missed something even more basic about this study

    Imagine if a study were done into the effects of drinking and the study made no attempt to quantify what type of alcohol was being drunk – whether it was vodka or beer – and under a regime where that booze had been supplied by an unregulated illegal trade and was a highly uncertain quality product. Would anyone in their right minds draw any meaningful conclusions from such a study about the dangers of alcohol as supplied by a regulated and properly controlled trade? Of course not.

    So why is it done with cannabis?

    There are other serious flaws with this study and the way it was reported. I’ve gone into more depth on the the ukcia blog (click the link on my name).

    To be honest, this study come very close to being cod science, we need to make a lot of noise about it.


    March 3, 2011 at 7:39 am

    • Exactly.. Derek you are the winner of the ” hitting the nail on the head” award 🙂 well done.. It is astounding that such an organisation will willingly release such house of cards statements, they will be building skyscrapers on quick sand next.


      March 3, 2011 at 8:26 am

  7. Peter, I will appreciate that the study measured relative risk increase, rather than absolute occurrence increase, but if anything it’s an argument in favour of regulation, just to make sure that the young people don’t have access to it. It was (rarely for cannabis) a decently conducted piece of research.


    March 3, 2011 at 8:45 am

  8. I have read that there are due to be several patented cannabis derived expensive medications due to be marketed soon, so they will want to be keeping up the pretence of how “dangerous” natural cannabis is, and these “dangers” must be removed with their “wonderful” patented process.
    this is nothing but Big Pharma pulling the strings again.


    March 3, 2011 at 8:47 am

  9. Furthermore, hospital admissions are skewed by the drug, and the mental illness’s stigma. Anyone would go to hospital if they had an allergy attack, but a psychosis incidence will not have the same urgency and immediacy of life threatening physical symptoms.

    This is, again, a good argument to end prohibition, to allow anyone who does suffer as a result of imbibing can receive more easily, proper medical attention.


    March 3, 2011 at 9:10 am

  10. It’s perhaps worth reproducing the whole of that quote from the German study because it reveals the incredibly weak nature of its conclusions. It’s not about clinically diagnosed psychosis at all. It’s about what may be just one trivial thought or mental confusion in the space of 10 years. Once you delve behind the headlines, phrases like “might under certain circumstances” start to appear and then you realise how meaningless the study’s conclusions are.

    “Furthermore, we used a rather broad outcome measure, defined as a minimum of one positive rating on a G section item, representing psychotic experiences rather than clinically relevant psychotic disorder. It has been shown, however, that psychotic experiences show continuity with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. In addition, given that fact transient psychotic experiences might, under certain circumstances, become abnormally persistent, giving rise to clinical psychotic disorder”

    Peter Reynolds

    March 3, 2011 at 9:18 am

    • So in short this is a load of meaningless guff, blown up with non commital weasel-words.
      Sir Humphrey (from ‘Yes Minister’) would have been very proud to have written it.


      March 3, 2011 at 9:35 am

  11. What is clear is this.

    It gives the Newspapers an opportunity to rubbish cannabis and call, yet again, for the status quo. What is depressing is, that this is just s symtpom of the mountain we have to climb before we get a proper regulatory and control system in place which would minimise any potential harm of any drug, and eliminate the harm of prohibition.

    How do we do this?

    We carry on. We keep on talking to our friends and relatives that disagree with us and we do our best to persuade them.

    It is the only way any real change has ever taken place.


    March 3, 2011 at 11:01 am

  12. I think that sadly, the only way things will change is after America legalises. The level of debate is “how to legalise” rather than “oh no killer toxic super skunk children murderers psychotic crazy ban ban ban”.

    I give it 10 years after America takes the lead, couple of years for the federal/state legal stuff to be done, then we will follow a long time after when nothing bad happens to them.


    March 3, 2011 at 11:43 am

  13. Here we go again…

    By the way Peter I noticed a user by the name of “MrLilley” posted on your thread at I think it would be a good idea getting in contact with a few MP’s such as himself who share similar views on cannabis prohibition.


    March 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

  14. It’s things like this that really get to me:

    Cannabis and psychosis link confirmed
    Car Rentals
    Using cannabis in teenage years or as a young adult can increase the risk of psychosis, one new report has suggested. The study, which was published by the British Medical Journal, tracked 1900 people over 10 years. While the link between marijuana and …

    That’s a random cannabis news story google emailed me. Look at the title – cannabis and psychosis link CONFIRMED, what absolute
    BS. Ignorant people will read things like that
    and lap it up, I bet the prohibitionists are well happy with themselves.

    Nuff Said

    March 3, 2011 at 12:07 pm

  15. Too right nuff. Feeling pretty down about the whole situation. Can’t face the daily mail today. Need my meds. We won’t see any change here untill the us starts legalizing.


    March 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm

  16. Just say no to Cameron and Brokendick, just say no to the Daily Mail (unless you run out of toilet paper) and most of all just say no to pea nuts.

    Everyone plant up in time with the healing herb.

    Treat cannabis like its legal, live like its legal as it will be legal very soon.

    Cameron you are a pussy and a thief.

    Architect NZ

    March 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    • Your write
      just look at the kinda clowns we have running the UK.
      Last week william hauge had gadaffi in south America and the PM like a little boy was off round a middle east that was on fire with revolt selling arms!
      This week the PM has suggested a no fly zone on libya even though we have no aircraft, no friggin navy and if no fly goes ahead we will be flying out of cyprus to libya to enforce the zone, the trip alone is the same distance as tunisia to london.

      We are ruled by rich vested interests, whom only ambition is to set themselves up as multi millionaires so that when peak oil and the shit really hit’s the fan – they will be the least to loose out and suffer –

      Ignore the bastards – keep on smoking and growing – we are adults not the libcons toys to play with!

      Paul Smith

      March 3, 2011 at 9:23 pm

  17. Strange that the DM didn’t add this bit to their coverage (nor have the Beeb)

    “The evidence on cannabis and psychosis has influenced the decision in the UK to retain criminal penalties for cannabis use, despite evidence that removing such penalties has little or no detectable effect on rates of use.12 An informed cannabis policy should be based not only on the harms caused by cannabis use, but also on the harms caused by social policies that attempt to discourage its use, such as criminal penalties for possession and use”

    Does this contradict Mr Cameron’s interview a little? although he probably doesn’t care as he thinks cannabis is very, very toxic! I’m suprised this new study didn’t pick up this new found ultra toxicity…


    March 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm

  18. Nice one bob. I’ve posted that oin their comments page


    March 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    • Thanks Mr Pharma, They’ve banned me from posting on the Daily Mail, ALL because I posted the Rick Simpson link on there!


      March 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

  19. and to the guy that contacted me from the


    March 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

  20. Posted my reply to the DM propaganda.

    They just don’t get it do they…

    There is a problem with substance abuse in the UK (legal & illegal) but that’s no reason to criminalise & persicute sensible substance users.

    Why do they always think cannabis users are addicts, thats like saying people who drink a couple of glasses of wine on a friday night are alcoholics.

    I’ve smoked Hash/Weed for over 30 years – sometimes with long breaks where I’ve smoked nothing at all, it’s never done me any harm at all – but getting a criminal record for possession would cost me my home & job, where’s the justice in that. The punishment must fit the crime and < 4 years for knife crimes & 5-14 Years for cannabis posession does not.

    Mr Bimble

    March 3, 2011 at 6:43 pm


    Thought you all might find this thought provoking?

    Rupert George

    March 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm

  22. Once you get a taste for Peanuts, after a while you’ll have a Brazil nut then, before you know it, your living on the streets, spending all day trying to find that next walnut hit.



    March 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm

  23. Marihuana cultivation requires to be legal in all America, politicses need to discontinue discriminizating, get real, go take the cigarrets and lager cups out of the mouths on those kids in place of going behind us. .

  24. I just made my own study of this study ( and yeah it’s complete junk. I think you were right to zone in on this – “Furthermore, we used a rather broad outcome measure, defined as a minimum of one positive rating on a G section item, representing psychotic experiences rather than clinically relevant psychotic disorder” – as the core of what’s wrong with it, but you could also have mentioned that at one point the authors casually mention that the incidence of so-called “psychotic disorder” is estimated to occur within 15-28% of “the general population” i.e. this supposed sickness is a natural and common phenomenon, which “shows continuity” with actual psychosis in the same way that having a healthy appetite “shows continuity” with obesity and other eating-disorders. Also check out Figure 3, in which the findings of the study are summarised in a graph which in fact bears no relation to the results obtained! The longer you sit staring at that graph the more you see how absurd and propagandistic it is;

    Jason Pilley

    June 28, 2011 at 3:05 am

  25. “…the incidence of so-called “psychotic *experiences*” is estimated to occur within 15-28% of “the general population,”” that should have said.

    Jason Pilley

    June 28, 2011 at 3:13 am

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