On Drugs

On Drugs Your article1 implied that there are scientific reasons why research-ers don't support drug decriminalization. But there's a much better explanation: They want to keep their jobs and their grants. NIDA [National Institute on Drug Abuse] assistant director Hanson wouldn't even support needle exchange--for which the evidence is overwhelming--when the chips were down. Director Volkow claims, despite the evidence, that we don't know yet whether marijuana is toxic to the adolescent brai

Maia Szalavitz
Dec 14, 2003

On Drugs

Your article1 implied that there are scientific reasons why research-ers don't support drug decriminalization. But there's a much better explanation: They want to keep their jobs and their grants.

NIDA [National Institute on Drug Abuse] assistant director Hanson wouldn't even support needle exchange--for which the evidence is overwhelming--when the chips were down. Director Volkow claims, despite the evidence, that we don't know yet whether marijuana is toxic to the adolescent brain.

But, we've run a natural experiment on that question for the last 30 years, with teen-use rates ranging from 50% to 70% around the developed world. If marijuana were really harmful, we should have seen some evidence by now. Despite an exhaustive search (and remember that studies showing no effect are far less likely to get published), there's no evidence for significant, permanent impairment even in the heaviest users. There's no evidence to support the notion...