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

Matt Jones jonesmat at ohsu.edu
Tue Nov 12 14:35:30 EST 1996


In article <56aarc$1f8 at falcon.le.ac.uk> Dr E. Buxbaum, EB15 at le.ac.uk
writes:
>And a single reference to a complex problem would not be scientific. 
>Unfortunately, our world is much too complicated for that. The problem 
>with the references you found is that they are too young. Most of the 
>relevant work was done in the 60's and 70's. Modern works do not repeat 
>it, but build onto what is known. However, they will give you pointers
to 
>the older literature. Following them up is "a scholarly job". 

My point all along has been that it is not "obvious" or "clear" that
marijuana is addictive. The number of contrasting comments that have been
made back and forth in this thread support that position. A number of
posters are currently debating the definition of addiction in this thread
right now, and two people have pointed out that, under the definition
given by Lars ((lkn033 at casbah.acns.nwu.edu (LKN)), money and video games
could also be considered "addictive". 

To say that papers published in the last four years are too young to
address the issue of cannabis "addiction" directly is to say that
scientists already know all there is to know about the subject, and
needn't bother testing their hypotheses anymore. If that's true, then
cannabis "addiction" is much better understood than any other field of
human scientific study. This, in my opinion, is rather unlikely. 
Scientists don't just forget about doing experiments once they have
established a hypothesis (quite the opposite). If they did, the earth
would still be flat. 

The shortcomings of my little research project have been concisely
pointed out by Lars  (lkn033 at casbah.acns.nwu.edu (LKN)), and yourself. I
agree that my medline search was fast and dirty, but that was necessary
as nobody seemed interested in providing any direction in the form of
specific citations. Nonetheless, even if there were 72 papers on cannabis
and addiction since 1966, that's still only two to three papers per year,
on average. Even twice that number would not be the hallmark of a
thoroughly understood field of research. 

There are obviously still a lot of questions to be answered about
cannabis "addiction", just as there are about any other kind of
addiction. The fact that few studies directly address the basic question
of whether it is addictive (as heroin or cocain or alcohol are) or not
absolutely does not mean that it's already been proven. If you disagree,
please cite the articles that you think proved it. People generally
publish papers on subjects that they have a good handle on, have the
appropriate techniques to study, and can fit into a coherent structure of
concepts. The existence of few papers on cannabis "addiction" may just as
well mean that it is not particularly well understood. 

-Matt



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