It seems that every time a new article from a respected media company is published on the downsides of marijuana, we hear cries from the enthusiasts about the fear-mongering running rampant and they’re instantly dismissed. One just needs to look at the comments on any negative-leaning study posted to the subreddit r/cannabis to find dismissals from commenters who seemingly didn’t even read the article at hand.
However, as is the case with most issues with two sides, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. While the fear of marijuana is certainly a result of decades of brainwashing from the government in order to make the plant look as evil as possible, marijuana also isn’t some miracle substance that heals absolutely. And while there are many instances of correlation between heavy smoking and the development of psychosis, there are many more cases of smokers using cannabis responsibly and very effectively as a medication at the same time.
On June 23rd, the Times published an article about the link between youth smoking and the development of psychosis or other illness related to marijuana’s heavy-use. It was focused mainly on those under the age of 18 coming under the grip of an addiction to weed, and also the emergence of very high potency THC on the market.
Ganjapreneur had many gripes with the article. For starters, the author, TG Branfalt, had issue with the framing, saying that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to smoke marijuana. So to frame this as a marijuana problem is skewing the focus, which should be centered on underage smoking.
Secondly, Branfalt countered the popularity of high potency THC by saying they’re increasingly hard to find on the market.
Finally, the most alarming disease coming from the Times article is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), which leads to uncontrollable vomiting. Branfalt at Ganjapreneur claims this is coverage bias because there is only one study that has attempted to find the rate in which this condition emerges and lots more research is needed before large media outlets should be reporting its significance.
In conclusion, does the New York Times have a story with substance on their hands? Certainly. But it’s framing is a little misleading, and the way it leans on information that isn’t entirely formulated definitely plays into the hands of fear-mongerers.