Misplaced Outrage at JAMA

By Adrian Devitt-Lee On November 14, 2019
Three happy students looking at you with thumbs up in an university campus.

Yet another publication has highlighted that the loosening of cannabis laws tends to decrease the rate at which teens start using cannabis. This time, a letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) highlighted that legalizing adult use of cannabis is correlated with lower rates of teen use. It evoked quite a bit of consternation, with five responses published in JAMA along with a reply by the original authors. There are legitimate holes to be poked in this (and every other) published article, but the responses boil down to critiques that misinterpret the data, insisting that “we don’t believe it,” and appealing to decades of cynical propaganda about protecting children. It’s telling that none of these agitated letters talk about the consequences of teen imprisonment, the policy for which they are advocating. The fact of the matter is that prohibitionist arguments have never been rooted in science. Commentaries polished with the veneer of a medical journal won’t change this.

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Adrian Devitt-Lee, Project CBD's chief science writer, is employed as a research chemist by the University College of London.