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Journalists Lie About Marijuana Like it's Their Job

Margaret Wente at The Globe and Mail writes:

The UK made marijuana possession semi-legal a few years ago, but experienced an explosion of pot use among minors, as well as a sharp rise in harmful effects attributed to more potent strains of weed.
She's just factually wrong. Here's what the Guardian says in an Oct. 2007 article entitled Fewer young people using cannabis after reclassification:
Cannabis use among young people has fallen significantly since its controversial reclassification in 2004, according to the latest British Crime Survey figures published today.

The Home Office figures showed the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who had used cannabis in the past year fell from 25% when the change in the law was introduced to 21% in 2006/07 - still about 1.3 million users.
Similarly, her claim that there's been "a sharp rise in harmful effects attributed to more potent strains of weed" is utterly false. There has been research suggesting that marijuana may increase the risk of certain mental illnesses, but there has been no increase in people actually developing those conditions. The idea that marijuana potency is a factor here is also purely theoretical and unproven. Here's what the Britain's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has to say:
"The evidence for the existence of an association between frequency of cannabis use and the development of psychosis is, on the available evidence, weak. The council does not advise the reclassification of cannabis products to Class B; it recommends they remain within Class C. [Telegraph]
There simply was no "explosion of pot use among minors" and no "sharp rise in harmful effects". Those things never happened, can't be cited, and don't belong in print. The article's flaws don't stop there either, but I want to focus on these points because they demonstrate reckless and presumably willful disregard for basic facts, rather than simple manipulation or selectivity. There's a difference in terms of journalistic ethics, and I think Margaret Wente forgot that.

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Let's let The Globe and Mail know about these clear factual errors. It's easy:
Letters to the Editor - The editor of The Globe and Mail welcomes letters on any subject but reserves the right to condense and edit them. Brevity counts. All letters should be less than 200 words, and must include the name, mailing address and daytime phone number of the writer. The copyright becomes the property of The Globe and Mail if they are accepted for publication. You may also reach us by fax at 416-585-5085.
I know, I know, it feels like you're banging your head against a wall, but enough letters can provoke a response. Do it right now so you won’t forget.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Letters to the Editor: A good Rebuttle

I sent a letter critical of the writer of the Globe and Mail and I hope more people will follow through with Scott's request. It's this type of media activism that can get assignment and editorial page editors to take notice that when drug warriors make false claims. This is the kind of scrutiny that can be applied to many facets of the media's coverage of the drug war.Whether, it's your classic drug bust symbolic victory press conferences with the drugs and cash laying out on a table or an op-ed piece such as the one Ms. Wente wrote for the Globe and Mail.

It's great that Scott uses this blog to that effect and I hope he exposes more of this bad journalism in the future.

A Common Media Problem

I'm not familiar with Wente, but it's disturbingly common in my experience for journalists to simply accept government talking points as truth. More than once recently I've had news people say to me that marijuana "is a whole different drug now" due to increased potency, and I have to start from square one to explain to them why that's pure fiction. Sign...

Stop Tabloid Journalism - Send those letters

Everytime some journalist decides to throw away their professional integrity and become the one-sided megaphone for the prohibitionists, CALL OUT THE SO-CALLED MESSENGER and THEIR PROPAGANDA. Ask the world why a particular journalist is misleading the public. Here's an example,

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080619031026AAiNp1u

As a journalist in the 1980-90's

I can tell you from direct experience that drug testing was pushed into newsrooms almost before it was pushed for police, fire and commercial pilots. Many a good journalist was driven out of the industry because right-wingers would freely impugn writers with drug use innuendo and push for a "random" drug test whenever a journalist attempted any form of objectivity on the drug war policy.

It was and still is a major intimidation for a young journalist to have to
subject themselves to the sexual emasculation of a job interview drug test as a way to start a new job or career. That indelible impression serves to intellectually repress a young reporter. Spend $ 80-thousand on an education then get these thugs threatening it all with drug tests. It tends to induce conformity.

Drug testing in journalism fundamentally subverts the constitution of the United States for all Americans in that it is a litmus test for one political perspective 'support for the political policy of drug prohibition'. Anyone who might not conform to that political perspective is not welcome in American journalism. Conform that with the First fuckin Amendment.

I would rather take a piss test than have my reputation trashed

People should target these so-called journalists who pretend to be authorities on things they know nothing about. When they just distribute their garbage without researching the facts, they should be ostracized widely. It's hard to maintain a career as a reporter if you are well-known BSer.

Finally, anybody who pays $80,000 for journalism degree is an idiot.

"The Liberators, as a PR

"The Liberators, as a PR campaign, need to find a way to connect with the mainstream media."

You can start by changing your group's name. "Liberators" sounds so extreme and the flag waving 1776 "Viva La Revolucion!!!" crowd does not appeal to the mainstream. Of course Fox News and Stephen Colbert may interview you just to crap on you. They lick that stuff up.

My LTE

Simply put a "hard line approach" to drug abuse puts more drugs into the hands of more children by giving the sales and distribution of the world's $ 320-billion annual consumer demand for intoxicant drugs into the hands of addicts and gangsters who thrive on selling to new generations of children. The black market created by Ms. Wente's preferred prohibition policy is also a subsidy program for crime and terrorism.

In Sept. 2006 U.S. foreign policy expert Barnett Rubin told the U.S. congress Foreign Relations Committee: "The international drug control regime, which criminalizes narcotics, does not reduce drug use, but it does produce huge profits for criminals and the armed groups and corrupt officials who protect them. Our drug policy grants huge subsidies to our enemies."

More recently British military expert John A. Glaze wrote a report for the U.S. Army War College that asserted that "an estimated 70 percent of the Taliban’s income now comes from protection money and the sale of opium."

Harm reduction supporters and drug war abolitionists around the world want to see governments stop this subsidy program for criminals and terrorists. Regulate, license and tax the black market for drugs out of existence. Drug war proponents like Ms. Wente 'just say no'.

Brinna's picture

Guerilla Journalism

I sent a letter to the Globe. Thanks, Scott, for the suggestion. Using Yahoo Answers to get the truth out is also a great tactic. And thank you, ph0ed1n, for your Liberators PR work. Connecting, suggesting tactics and following up in a thousand little ways will eventually shift consciousness. I have suggested something similar in my reader blog post -- The Significance of US Govt Cannabinoid Patent 6,630,507

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