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The Mind of James Donahue

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Marijuana Gets Bad Medical Wrap Before Critical Court Ruling

 

By James Donahue

December 2004

 

I find it highly suspicious that a team of European scientists announce a link between using marijuana and schizophrenia during a time when the U. S. Supreme Court is considering the issue of state’s rights for allowing marijuana for medical purposes.

 

Professor Jim van Os, of the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, has announced the results of a study that indicates that young people who smoke pot as little as once or twice a week, double their risk of developing psychiatric illness later in life.

 

The study involved contact with 2,437 young Germans, where cannabis use is legal. The test group ranged from 14 to 24 years of age. Ten percent of these youths were considered at risk of developing psychotic symptoms.

 

Four years later, the same group was interviewed again, the numbers were up to 21 percent.

 

From this obscure study, Os concludes that “the evidence is mounting that cannabis can be the trigger to lifelong mental illness.”

 

What the study fails to examine, however, are the other social factors, such as alcohol, other types of drug use, and the general chaos of contemporary life, that might be factors in stimulating psychosis.

 

The very description of mental illness is a suspicious concoction generated by a pack of pseudo-scientists that claim to be experts in the workings of the human brain. They call themselves psychologists.

 

From my contact with psychology students in college, and from years of writing about mental health issues as a news reporter, I have developed a lifelong suspicion that this is a field of quackery that needed to be run out of town years ago.

 

There has been a major battle raging in the United States among users of marijuana, both for recreational and medical reasons, for tearing down the strict drug laws that include this natural and highly beneficial plant from being identified as an illegal substance.

 

The stakes on this case, brought by two women who claim they need the plant for medical purposes in California, because their state is one of 11 that have passed medical marijuana laws since 1996. Marijuana is prohibited, however by federal law. The issue is whether federal authorities have jurisdiction over state governments in this issue.

 

Lawyers for the government argue that a ruling on behalf of the women would jeopardize federal oversight of illegal drugs and encourage people to use “potentially harmful marijuana.”

 

Supporters of marijuana use argue that nobody has ever scientifically proven that marijuana is harmful. The plant, which is inexpensive to produce and easy to cultivate at home, has been found to provide natural comfort to patients suffering from the effects of radical cancer treatment, multiple sclerosis, and a wide variety of other illnesses.

 

But now, out of the blue, appears this study by a psychology professor in the Netherlands, who suggests that smoking the plant causes mental illness.

 

Can we really believe such a report? For some odd reason, even though it originated in the Netherlands, the story got international publicity. Even though the findings are extremely superficial and inconclusive, the story popped up all over the Internet and in our daily newspapers.

 

The timing of the story is incredible. We have to wonder just who this Professor Os was working for when he wrote this report.
















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