B.C. doctor calls out Canadian Medical Association Journal for repeating Trump administration myth about cannabis

This week, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published yet another negative article about cannabis, issuing several warnings about edible products.

Matt Johnson / Flickr


This week, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published yet another negative article about cannabis, issuing several warnings about edible products.

Authors Jasleen K. Grewal and Lawrence C. Loh didn’t offer a single positive sentence about the positive health benefits that medicinal patients might receive by consuming them.

Instead, there was a litany of cautions about the potentially dangerous impact of edibles on children, seniors, and even a family’s pets.

In the past, Vancouver medicinal weed advocate Dana Larsen has ripped the publication’s previous claims about cannabis.

‘Most outrageously,’ Larsen wrote last year about one such piece, ‘the authors claim the idea that cannabis is safer than opioids is just a ‘perception’ caused by ‘media promotion’—a very irresponsible and dangerous claim to make. In terms of overdose potential, addictiveness and harm to the liver, opioids are clearly more risky and potentially harmful than cannabis.’

This week, Larsen ridiculed the publication’s latest claim that cannabis edibles might be addictive.

‘I’m not even sure cannabis edibles are habit forming,’ he tweeted.

But it’s not just cannabis activists who were fuming about the CMAJ.

An actual physician, Dr. Ian Mitchell, took the publication to task on his Twitter feed.

It came in connection with the following statement in the most recent article about edibles.

‘Risks of such products include spread of foodborne illness, overdose owing to variable THC content of products, poisoning from pesticide residues, and potential for unexpected effects given that illicit products may be contaminated with other drugs, such as narcotics.’

Authors Grewal and Loh cited a Denver Department of Public Health and Environment statement in their footnotes to justify this remark.

Mitchell, who lives in Kamloops, thrashed the claim about narcotics getting slipped into weed.

‘Dear @CMAJ,’ he tweeted, ‘there has NEVER been a confirmed case of #cannabis contaminated with narcotics. This is a complete myth that is typically spread by Trump officials.’

Last year, Straight reporter Travis Lupick documented how this fiction was being peddled by the White House.

The president’s spokesperson and so-called opioid czar, Kellyanne Conway, once brazenly declared that fentanyl was being laced into cannabis, among other drugs.

When reporters demanded to know the source, the White House attributed it to National Institute on Drug Abuse director Dr. Nora Volkow.

After media inquiries, the NIDA then cited a Vancouver police report from 2015.

However, Vancouver police have revoked that claim on its website.

‘The VPD has not come across marijuana laced with fentanyl—there was an inaccuracy in this news release, which we later corrected,’ it stated.

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark made a similar claim about fentanyl-laced cannabis in 2016, before the government quickly backtracked.

As Lupick reported, Snopes.com, which busts popular myths, insisted in 2017 that there’s no evidence that fentanyl is being added to cannabis.

Yet in the CMAJ, which touts its three-step peer-review process, there’s a claim in 2020 that edible cannabis products may be contaminated with narcotics.

Moreover, these products could also be addictive.

In light of this history, is it any wonder that Canadians might treat their doctors’ pronouncements on weed with more than a little skepticism?

Charlie Smith

I'm the editor of the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver, as well as a CannCentral contributor.

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