lunes, 3 de agosto de 2015

Marijuana may have therapeutic value–we simply need better quality evidence

Double standard for e-cigarettes vs. medical marijuana

by Sally Satel

Did you read about the new review paper on medical marijuana published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association? In case you missed it, the paper gave a less-than-ringing endorsement of marijuana’s therapeutic benefits.

I was surprised by the anemic media coverage. It should be of national interest given that 23 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana. According to the JAMA findings, many of the conditions for which medical marijuana is being officially used, from spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis to sleep disorders, are supported at best by either “moderate quality” data — as the report put it — or “low quality” data across the 79 randomized, placebo-controlled trials reviewed by researchers.

I found only CBS News and Reuters covered the report as hard news and the Denver Post published an editorial (“Moment of Truth for Medical Marijuana”). These are big outlets, to be sure, but they are conspicuously modest in number. By contrast, the media can be relied upon to cover potentially harmful effects of vaping. In January, for instance, the New England Journal of Medicine published a report entitled “Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols.”

Media coverage ensued: “E-cigarettes Can Churn out High Levels of Formaldehyde,” read the NPRheadline. “E-cigarettes can Produce More Formaldehyde than Regular Cigarettes,” warned the Los Angeles Times. “Before You Vape: High Levels of Formaldehyde Hidden in E-Cigarettes,” cautioned NBC News. “Study Links E-Cigarettes to Formaldehyde, Cancer Risk,” said The Wall Street Journal. The Baltimore Sun,Associated Press (appeared in Washington Post), Reuters (appeared in Scientific American), and CBS News also picked up on the NEJM report.


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