Tags: self-correcting nature of science

Oops, we already endorsed medical marijuana years ago!

03/18/09 | by the professor [mail] | Categories: Announcements, Drug-Regulation Policy

After only 5 postings (and two of them hardly count because they are administrative announcements), we have our first ‘oops.’ The “Position Statement on Medical Marijuana” was posted as if it were a significant change in policy when in fact it actually wasn’t anything new. Yes, it should have been obvious to many that the ASNet tacitly supported the medicinal use of marijuana from the mere absence of any mention on the ASNet website of the alleged high addiction liability of marijuana. And yes, those privy to an advanced copy of “Fundamentals of Drug Addiction” are abundantly aware that marijuana is not considered a prototypic addictive drug and in fact not even discussed until over half way through the book. But surely the public announcement endorsing the medicinal use of marijuana was new, wasn’t it? Well, not exactly. :oops:

Hidden among the pages of the ASNet website is a page describing the advocacy of rational drug-regulation policy as being an objective of the ASNet. Surprise, surprise—prominently displayed on the corresponding page is a recommendation to “Relax the current Federal laws regarding medicinal marijuana, permitting its use for a limited number of conditions where its psychoactive as well as its clinical effects are beneficial. Follow the progressive lead of several states (e.g., California) and Canada where medicinal marijuana is currently permitted.” The copyright date on that page is 2004.

And now you have the secret as to why the Google AdSense material appears on so many of the ASNet web pages. Google provides real-time counts of visitors to the pages where these advertisements appear. Relax, no tracking information is collected (we wouldn’t know what to do with it if we had it); only the number of page visits to each corresponding page is updated in near real-time and logged for later reference. This helps direct the work on this website to the pages where the most interest is being shown as evidenced by the number of page visits. And of course, we make a few cents when you click on the links provided by the Google Ads (at least I think we do; I’m not really sure because the ‘cash register’ isn’t ringing much). But most importantly, we get feedback and encouragement to resume work on this website which is all the ‘pay’ really needed and perhaps more than sometimes deserved. The previous policy statement was re-discovered when exploring the pages that needed to be ported from the old Addiction Research Unit website hosted by the University at Buffalo. That website has been defunct for some time; it was developed to support the neuroscience research facility which was closed shortly after the start of the “New Millennium.” A number of Addiction Research Unit web pages remain in limbo or as URL markers directing viewers to the phoenix version found on the ASNet.

The nice thing about being a scientist is that one can acknowledge and correct their ‘mistakes.’ Science is said to be ‘self correcting’ in the sense that new evidence or even re-interpretation of existing data often prompts a revision in theory, policy, or simply the assertions promoted by the scientific entity be it an organization or an individual. The ASNet will undoubted have to correct or even recant some statements found on these pages from time-to-time. Hopefully, it won’t happen often, but if the worst ‘oops’ is in the past we certainly would be very, very lucky.

One last note in case you look for this post in the somewhat distant future (tomorrow?). The nice thing about being the blog ‘owner’ is that one gets to rewrite history, to correct the glaring mistakes, to fix to awful omissions and the embarrassing blunders as well, of course, to correct ones position when found to be incorrect. A few snips with the text editor and the reference to “coming out of the closet” (it was a very bad pun anyway :-/) will be lost forever, and the ASNet will proudly display its position endorsing the use of medicinal marijuana while subtlety mentioning that this position has been publically advocated since 2004.


“The (sometimes absent-minded) Professor”

Related Topics on the ASNet
ASNet Profile
Drug-Regulation Policy Advisory
Position Statement on Medicinal Marijuana
ASNet Medical Marijuana Web Page

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