Malcolm Gladwell wrote a flawed weed moral panic piece for The New Yorker

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The video above is an anti-drug PSA from the early 1970s, in which a slick talking magician offers drugs to children on a playground. “Hey kiddies, gather round, the man with the goodies is here!” he says as he sets up a small performance table and uses magical flourishes to show off his illicit wares. One of the kids in the audience, playing the part of a heckler, challenges the prestidigitating pusher at every turn with spoilers like “They say amphetamines can cause something like schizophreem,” “Withdrawals from barbituates can cause convulsions,” and “[LSD can cause] bad trips and a chance of chromosome damage.”

When I started reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest New Yorker article, Is Smoking Marijuana as Safe as We Think?, I was reminded of this commercial — specifically, the part where the magician, annoyed by the kid’s heckling, makes a marijuana bouquet spontaneously appear in one hand and a joint in the other. He says to the kid, “Grass. Anything wrong with pot?” The kid replies, “They’re not sure yet, they just started studying about it.” Gladwell starts off his article like this kid (who was correct in 1973), by arguing that we still don’t know anything about marijuana’s effects. The problem is, it’s 2019 and Gladwell’s article disingenuously cherry-picks some facts and fails to disclose other facts as part of what seems to be a strong anti-pot agenda.

On Twitter, science journalist Dave Levitan pointed out a number of major problems with Gladwell’s piece. For example, Gladwell wrote “smoking pot is widely supposed to diminish the nausea associated with chemotherapy. Read the rest