Poorly-written headline on News24 gets almost everything wrong

According to the headline of a recent article on News24, “Regular cannabis use puts young people at higher risk for self-harm and death, a new study finds.

No! That headline is extremely misleading. The article includes a link to the study (which is very good practice) but, unfortunately, I only have access to the abstract (a short summary of the research). However, even with just that we can see several problems immediately.

“Regular cannabis use…”

It was not just regular cannabis use, the study was looking at cannabis use disorder. Cannabis use disorder is diagnosed by a person presenting two or more of a whole list of symptoms. These includes things such as “There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control cannabis use,” “Important social, occupational or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of cannabis use” and “Recurrent cannabis use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.” In fact, “regular use” itself is not a diagnostic criterion at all.

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