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« Be Careful What You Wish For | Main | Hello, Mary Robinson? Hello??? »

More Damned Lies And Statistics

It makes it increasingly difficult to take the drug warriors seriously when they pull crap like this.

The survey, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said drug-related emergency room visits rose 6 percent in 2001 over the previous year, to 638,484.

The number of times marijuana was mentioned as a drug patients used rose 15 percent, the study said, greater than the increase in cocaine use, which rose 10 percent, and heroin and methamphetamine, which were unchanged.

Note that it doesn't say that marijuana caused the emergency-room visit--just that it was "mentioned as a drug patients used." Had they been asked, even greater numbers might have offered up milk as a "food patients used." Since there's zero reason to equate correlation with causation, Fearless Leader is either being idiotic, or disingenuous when he says:

"Marijuana-related medical emergencies are increasing at an alarming rate, exceeding even those for heroin," White House Drug Czar John Walters said in a prepared statement. "This report helps dispel the pervasive myth that marijuana is harmless.

Note also that he misleads by citing a rate, rather than any absolute problem. If the number of instances of something go from one to three in a year (in a population of hundreds of millions of people), one can honestly, and disingenuously say that the rate is "skyrocketing," because it's tripled.

This one has to have good people like Iain Murray torn. Which to defend, the War On (Some) Drugs, or valid and non-deceptive use of statistics? Can't have 'em both in this case.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 25, 2002 06:24 PM
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You missed another very important point. Did the number of emergency room visits overall increase? Even if the number involving a particular cause increased, if the overall number increased by the same or a greater percentage, there is no reason to believe that particular cause is any more pervasive than it was. Because we are in a recession and people are getting laid off, the raw number of emergency room visits may well have increased because of a greater number of uninsured people seeking medical care. If emergency room visits as a whole are up 6%, an increase in visits related to any cause or correlated with any behavior would be expected to rise 6% as well.

Posted by Anonymous at August 26, 2002 06:13 AM

Here's a article from the Guardian that is trying to keep some of the old myths that 'Cannabis causes psychosis' alive.,11908,776610,00.html

The first thing I thought after reading this article is that if Cannabis is so harmful to brain processes. Then, surely our worlds most noted experts on brain processes could have come up with a synthetic drug that out performs Cannabis on a wide scale as a medicine without all the harmful side effects by now. Oh wait, they haven't, I sense jeolousy in the air.

Posted by Hefty at August 26, 2002 08:31 AM

It could also be a result of the medical marijuana movement. Since medical marijuana users have, well, medical problems, one might expect a lot of them to need, you know, medical care. And the at least ostensible legality of it might lead them to be more straightforward, along with encouraging more widespread use to treat pre-existing problems. So the medical problems could be leading to increased marijuana usage, rather than the other way around.

Or maybe....Reefer Madness was ALL TRUE.

Posted by Mike at August 26, 2002 10:09 AM

I have been known to roll leaves in paper, light same on fire, breathe in the smoke til my eyes turned red, and ask for a discount.

BUT I had to participate in a drug rehab for a family member and I was surprised to hear that marijuanna was mentioned more than a few times. I questioned the doctor in private and he told me that pot with a THC count above 20% was causing serious problems, and that for many kids was addictive.

Keep in mind that driving 20mph on a freeway at 11PM ain't the safest way to drive and that a person on weed shouldn't drive cabs, busses, planes, mix drugs in a pharmacy, or many other activities. Brain surgery comes to mind.

Posted by Howard Veit at August 26, 2002 04:14 PM

Grass may be getting stronger, and it's even possible that there are ER visits related to it, but my point is that one wouldn't actually know that from the reporting here.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 26, 2002 04:49 PM

"Grass may be getting stronger, and it's even
possible that there are ER visits related to

There were no reliable assays of THC content
in the 1960s. Assays have always been sporadic,
and of statistically meaningless sample sizes
since they became chic to trumpet in recent years.

Having visited an emergency room a few years ago
for reasons entirely unrelated to any
illegal drug, I am now fairly certain that I am
counted among those "drug related" ER "mentions".

"Have you ever used any illegal drug?" was among
the first questions they asked. I went to
college in the 60s, so I said "yes". I was too
weak to bridle "What the hell has that got to do
with anything?!?!" That was enough for
their "scientific survey". So I became
statistical "mention" according to the "science"
behind this federally funded "study".

Longtime blogger on drug issues, and sometime
National Review contributor Richard Cowan,
has just thoroughly FISKed this SAMSHA "scientific
study" at

Posted by at August 26, 2002 08:03 PM

as I began use -after- diagnosed w/ manic depression, and only began prescription drug use during times of abstinence from "pot", I do not understand why the gov. feels such a need to control my use, and or production of my own "medication". I spent more time in er's and hospitals recovering from what the "prescribed LEGAL pharmacuticals" have done to me, and am now in an extreme state of anxiety,(not smoking for over 30 days) because the meds prescribed to me are so expensive that I can choose to pay all my bills or buy the meds, am in florida and cannot understand where they get off putting people on medically needy programs that dont cover enough of their meds to give their Quality of Life back. I either run at 331/3 while life zips by at 78 rpms and leaves me with no control; or off the meds and vulnerable to my schizophrnia again

Posted by m mcgowan at April 13, 2003 07:22 AM

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