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What’s the Deal with CNN?

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Flickr @ Josh Hallett

In less than 24 hours, two stories were posted online by CNN, both about marijuana and both by the same writer. One discussed a study that supposedly debunked the notion that cannabis helps people with cancer pain; the other debunked cannabis helping people sleep.

There were other similarities in the articles as well, including the use in each of the phrase “gold standard” to describe randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies and referring in each article to Morgan Fox of the National Cannabis Industry Association as “she”.

These are small things to be sure, and as someone who used to write four to five 300-word stories a day, 5 days a week, I understand that things can run together. Some go-to phrases are used a little too much and details are missed. 

It may just be the author’s personal point of view and not a CNN issue at all, but the efforts in each article to make the studies seem like the definitive answers to these questions despite millions of anecdotal stories to the contrary is something I would expect from a more “right-wing” outlet, for lack of a better term. This is CNN, home of the never-ending Sanjay Gupta “Weed” docuseries.

Millions of people find relief from cancer pain and help with sleep from cannabis. To be fair, the articles are not completely one-sided, but in the end these are just two studies that looked at a combined (roughly) 1,600 people. Gold standard or not, that doesn’t wipe away what all these people feel on a daily basis.

I understand the need to know more about the cannabis plant, but we have to be careful that we don’t dispute what we see with our own eyes and feel with our own bodies based on the results of a study we took no part in.

As someone who sees multiple studies a day, I can attest to the fact that new ones rebut and contradict older ones all the time. Much depends on the people involved in the study and the way it is conducted. To pretend a study of 128 people can in any way override the millions of people who use cannabis to help them sleep is ridiculous and surprising coming from CNN.

As I said, maybe it’s the author or a coincidence. In any case, it’s just two more studies to throw on the mountain of research that already exists. More research can be helpful, but nothing definitive is going to come from a few cherry-picked studies.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Researchers have admitted that studies of cannabis have been stymied by the Schedule 1 status of the malformed federal definition of marijuana. Previous attempts to allow its research have been concerned with changing the Schedule 1 status of marijuana. They all failed.

    Obviously, the better approach is to first simply reconstruct the malformed federal definition of marijuana to make it literally uphold the Constitution, and with the necessary and proper format to carefully deschedule cannabis, while retaining the Schedule 1 status of marijuana itself until its adulterated medical value is separately reconsidered, which might come soon after, like this:

    The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L., which is, as are the viable seeds of such plant, prohibited to be grown by or sold by any publicly traded corporation or subsidiary company, and such smoke is prohibited to be inhaled by any child or by any person bearing any firearm, as is their intake of any part or any product of such plant containing more than 0.3% THC by weight unless prescribed to such child by an authorized medical practitioner.

    This reconstructed definition sets up these rules at the federal level: If you’re not a corporation, then you can grow and/or sell cannabis. If you’re a corporation, then you can buy and make products from cannabis. If you’re an adult without a gun, then you can use cannabis. If you’re a kid, then get a doctor’s prescription. For kids and gun-bearers, smoking is a no-no for your own safety. For adults, smoking cannabis might still be problematic for a some time.

    Over 30 states have some type of law that creates a market for cannabis, so cannabis should be carefully descheduled to allow its commercial activity to safely commence, its industrial uses to be developed, and studies of its medical value to proceed, but the rescinding of marijuana prohibition deserves a more informed debate. The reconstructed definition provides for all that. As well, its explicit federal prohibitions will inform states and local communities that desire to legislate any supplemental controls over cannabis use.

    Let’s tell our members of Congress how to reconstruct the malformed federal definition to make it literally uphold the Constitution, and vote out those who resist.

  2. Ah, CNN. The “news” network that so frequently blurs the line between real news, analysis, and opinion. Although I have no idea if it’s possible in instances like these that some reporters might be persuaded by agents for traditional chemical approaches to changing human well being and behavior like alcohol and prescription/OTC drugs (also supported by those who profit from them in purveying them to the masses) – could some reporters like these be bought off by said entrenched purveyors? Of course, that also begs the question of how editors/producers could allow something to slip past their vetting unless they (and perhaps some of their supervisors) are similarly compromised).

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