A headline appeared in a major British news site Tuesday that looked insane to rational people but, presumably, rational to insane people. It read: “Smoking cannabis ALTERS your DNA ‘causing mutations that can trigger serious illness, including cancer.’”

The article, published by the 120 year-old newspaper Daily Mail, says, “Smoking cannabis can alter a person’s DNA, causing mutations that expose a user to serious illnesses, experts have warned… The disease-causing mutations are passed on to their children, and several future generations, it has emerged.”

The real choice nugget of deranged science and infantile journalism comes when an Australian researcher Dr. Reece is quoted in the piece saying, “Even if a mother has never used cannabis in her life, the mutations passed on by a father’s sperm can cause serious and fatal illnesses in their children.” How Reece arrived at this conclusion is never described, nor is the purpose or methods of his study, and no part of it is questioned by the journalist responsible for the article.

Many reasonable readers would (very understandably) brush off such a ludicrous article. But since part of our job at the Dabs Mag is to sift through what others in the media are saying about cannabis, we couldn’t help but link this article to a string of similarly unfounded nightmare imagery-filled anti-weed stories, all coming from the same newspaper.

Here are a few of the Mail’s best recent 420-unfriendly headlines:

  • Cannabis kills 30,000 a year
  • New York City police commissioner says marijuana is responsible for the ‘vast majority’ of drug violence in the city
  • Just HALF a joint of cannabis ’causes psychosis-like effects in healthy people that’s similar to schizophrenia’, say experts
  • The more cannabis you smoke, the more likely you are to be a loser, finds international study

So what the fuck is going on here? Though the Daily Mail can be shallow, stupid, and flat-out misleading, it’s hugely popular and credible with a major portion of readers in Britain and the rest of the world. Their site has 9 million daily browsers and their printed paper has nearly 2 million readers, according to the Guardian.

Former Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband called the Mail, “immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, Muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting…” The site has issued such offensive and clumsily written headlines as “Arise Dame Angelina: After days of hobnobbing at rape summit, starstruck William Hague hands Jolie a gong.” In addition to cannabis, the news source has also linked cancer to flip-flops, using Facebook, and “romantic candle-lit dinner.”

To make things even stranger, the Daily Mail from time to time also writes articles with pro-marijuana sentiments. These stories are, of course, also largely exaggerated and simplified. They claim that, instead of taking thousands of lives, cannabis can save the lives of children and treat heroin addiction. So, at least they’re near equally bogus on both sides of the argument.

But it sucks that a major newspaper can’t be relied on for thorough and informative articles on cannabis, especially at such an important moment for the legal and social standing of the plant. All you could learn from reading the Daily Mail on the issue is that marijuana could either kill you or save your life. And that means a big mass of the British population is learning to mistrust any research on cannabis, even when it could inform them in ways that are beneficial to their health.

So, I guess you better just perform your own cannabis research study using yourself as the guinea pig and a wax-coated spliff as your research instrument.


Photo via Flickr user Jon S