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Ganja, ADHD and false equivalency

Franklin
Johnston

Friday, March 22, 2019

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Since we decriminalised ganja, exaggerated claims have made Dr Manley West and Dr Albert Lockhart look like “bwoys and activists” who did not big-up Canasol and were simply gung-ho; as their goal was to smoke, not to heal. Winners relax with ganja, but losers with dark-stained lips, thumb, forefingers drudge ganja, and chat.

The value chain for ganja is as coca leaf for cocaine, or Poppy flower for heroin, opium; this means profit for big farmers, middlemen, and Big Pharma only. There is no rich Poppy or coca small farmer in 20 countries that grow ganja, and ganja grown in 150-plus will be no different. Selah!

Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) is “a neurodevelopmental disorder (that is a disorder of the brain that emerges as children grow up), which is defined by behaviour. The major symptoms are impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention.” (Vide, Journal of the Centre for Educational Neuroscience, University College London-Birbeck, University of London, UCL Institute of Education).

An article 'Cannabis and ADHD' ( The Gleaner, March 18, 2019) by LeVaughn Flynn is disturbing, as it lauds ganja with no balance. The article lauds Dr Lakisha Jenkins as a noted naturopath and one of the most prominent women in the cannabis industry. “Any condition affecting the central nervous system will benefit from cannabinoids,” it read.

Is Jenkins the one cited in California: “Merced City Council candidate Lakisha Jenkins was arrested Tuesday. Jenkins, 39, was wanted on a felony warrant in Stanislaus County involving at least 17 criminal allegations, including tax code violations as well as possession of more than one pound of marijuana for sale”? A person of the same name had been reportedly charged with possessing “more than 60 marijuana plants” and “unlawful operation of a commercial cannabis dispensary”. ( Merced Sun-Star, October 4, 2016)

Flynn, a self-described ganja activist, writes articles praising ganja despite Ministry of Health cautions, and floats specious claims that, “A 2010 study found that ADHD patients had fewer dopamine receptors” and that “Researchers conducted a pilot study in 2017 to assess if cannabis medication could be an effective treatment for ADHD”. Who did the research, where, who refereed?

We are in volatile times. Belief in ganja is high, so do not mess with the heads of poor people. Media editors, producers, presenters are responsible when ganja activists spout ad hoc, ad hominem views. Do activists say, I am a ganja user and public relations man, not in science, medicine or research, so put the questions to an expert not me? No. Most media treat activist opinions as equal to facts. And the media promotes this false equivalence. Media do not fact-check enough. Someone needs to ask the question: Where did you get your facts?

We have few statistics of sufficient granularity on ganja, so we often use American percentages or ratios. ADHD is a case in point. It landed from America; we have no data history and little local, so we wing it!

Ganja hype post-decriminalisation has spiked, so Cabinet must protect from false claims or exuberance. We can now use ganja, are not arrested, but have no illnesses seeking ganja cures; so why?

ADHD is real, but not without dissent. Every quirk, laziness or lethargy, inability to focus, or distraction is not ADHD. Kids forget, lose things, squirm, fidget, can't sit still; some adults are always late, anxious, impulsive — is it ADHD? This conversation is bigger than ganja, so let's use Occam's Razor and not declare an ADHD epidemic for normal human failings. We need more research and data.

The Flynn article quotes Jenkins: “ 'Most people suffer from a cannabinoid deficiency. Just as how we supplement with vitamins and minerals daily we also need to supplement our endocannabinoid system,' she said.” Will our parents give one-a-day ganja to kids? When is an extravagant claim for ganja illegal? Who protects the public from those who would sneak pseudo-science, products, prescriptions into our media? Stay conscious!

Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK); and lectures in logistics and supply chain management at Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Observer or franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com.


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