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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Drug scourge

Building on my previous post regarding drugs I wrote a letter to the newspaper which was published this week. This post by Thomas Kleppestø shares some similar points and some new ones and may also be of interest to readers. The following is the letter I wrote which was published in the Southern Suburbs Tatler on 5 July 2012. Continue reading

De Lille’s plan won’t be effective

Today is International Day Against Drug Abuse and Patricia De Lille, mayor of Cape Town, was interviewed on Morning Live about her rap against drugs and the city’s efforts to combat drugs. I don’t have the whole transcript of the interview but I want to focus on one of the things she said in particular, that drugs worked because of supply and demand and that the city was going to go after the supply. That is a very bad way to go about tackling the problem. Continue reading