Is cannabis addictive ??? was Re: Poitical abuses...

Matt Jones jonesmat at ohsu.edu
Fri Nov 1 14:16:59 EST 1996

In article <552br3$gjq at falcon.le.ac.uk> Dr E. Buxbaum, EB15 at le.ac.uk
>Matt Jones <jonesmat at ohsu.edu> wrote:
>>When I asked for citations, what I meant was a pointer to some public
>>archive of research findings (like a scientific journal), that everyone
>>can go look up, rather than having to take your statements at face value
>>without any critical consideration.
>>Thank you,
>Go into medline and do a search on "cannabis" and "addiction". This will
give you enough 
>literature to keep you reading for years....

Dr. Buxbaum,

You made a number of statements about cannabis clearly being addictive. I
simply asked you what evidence *you* drew on to support those statements,
not whether anyone had ever written anything about the subject. After
several exchanges in this thread, you have not provided a single

At any rate, I did exactly as you suggested. I looked up "cannabis" AND
"addiction" on Ovid-Medline 1992-1996. I then read the abstracts of these
papers (not the whole paper, so of course my interpretations are sketchy.
I have assumed that the abstract accurately reflects the content of the
paper itself). Here is a summary of what I found. You may or may not be
interested in this:

Exactly 14 papers turned up in a boolean search for "cannabis" AND
"addiction" between 1992 and 1996. THE CITATIONS TO THESE PAPERS ARE

Two papers (#'s 5 and 7) conclude that cannabis is addictive. One of them
(#7, a french study) repeatedly refers to cannabis users as "drug
fiends". Neither study did any experiments to directly address whether
cannabis is in fact addictive, but assumed a priori that this was so. No
definition of addiction was given in the abstract. 

None of the studies concluded that cannabis is not addictive.

Four studies (#'s 2,9,11 and 14) concluded that cannabis is less
addictive (or less harmful) than other common drugs (alcohol, cocaine,
heroin...). None of these studies did any experiments to directly address
whether cannabis is in fact addictive, but assumed a priori that this was
so. No definition of addiction was given in the abstract.

The remaining eight studies (#'s 1,3,4,6,8,10,12 and 13) did not directly
consider whether or not cannabis was addictive, but focused on issues
related to its biochemistry, detection or relation to psychopathology
(e.g., scizophrenia).  Of these, #'s 4, 6 and 8 made no assumptions about
whether cannabis is addictive or not, and the rest assumed a priori that
it is. No definition of addiction was given in the abstract.

Here's my analysis of this (admittedly cursory and partial) reading of
the last four years of research into "cannabis" AND "addiction":
1)      There is hardly any research into "cannabis" AND "addiction".
2)      By far, most studies don't even directly address whether cannabis
is addictive or not. 
3)      No obvious or unambiguous definition of addiction exists.
4)      Studies that explicitly discuss addiction assume from the start
that cannabis has this property, but do not test this hypothesis. 
5)      If cannabis is addictive (which has not been demonstrated or
experimentally supported in the last four years), it is less addictive
and harmful than alcohol, cocaine, or heroin. 

This is not my main field of expertise, so undoubtedly I'm sure to
irritate a lot of people by posting this. I hope that it doesn't escalate
into a flame war. But according to *your* suggested medline sources, Dr.
Buxbaum, there appears to be insufficient modern experimental evidence to
conclude that cannabis is addictive (whatever that word means). 

Thank you for your patience,
-Matt Jones

1)      Archives de Pediatrie.  3(5):440-4, 1996 May.
2)      Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease.  184(4):220-7, 1996 Apr.
3)      Acta Medica Portuguesa.  8(1):5-10, 1995 Jan.
4)      Bulletin on Narcotics.  46(2):109-21, 1994.
5)      Annales Pharmaceutiques Francaises.  52(6):323-30, 1994.
6)      Alcoholism, Clinical & Experimental Research.  18(5):1114-20,
1994 Oct.
7)      Bulletin de l Academie Nationale de Medecine.  178(6):1029-37;
        1037-42, 1994 Jun.
8)      Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie.  62(6):186-96, 1994 Jun
9)      Acta Medica Portuguesa.  6(11):507-16, 1993 Nov.
10)     Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.  10(2):171-9, 1993 Mar-Apr.
11)     Actas Luso-Espanolas de Neurologia, Psiquiatria y Ciencias
          20(2):81-91, 1992 Mar-Apr.
12)     Annales Pharmaceutiques Francaises.  50(2):59-67, 1992.
13)     British Journal of Nursing.  1(13):648-51, 1992 Nov 12-25.
14)     British Journal of Addiction.  87(2):259-66, 1992 Feb.

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