Your "research" leaves a lot to be desired. Cannabis has been in common use
in the western world since the 1960s, yet you limit your search to the last
four years. If you had bothered to do the search for the period
1966-present, you would have obtained answers to your questions. Regarding
> Here's my analysis of this (admittedly cursory and partial) reading of
> the last four years of research into "cannabis" AND "addiction":
> 1) There is hardly any research into "cannabis" AND "addiction".
There are 72 articles on "cannabis" & "addic$" in Medline 1966-present. In
fact, if you had bothered to use "addic$" to get addictive as well as
addiction in your search you would have found 24 instead of 14 articles.
> 2) By far, most studies don't even directly address whether cannabis
> is addictive or not.
Strange as it may seem to you, scientific papers do not regurgitate
established facts. The fact that people do present themselves to health
workers with cannabis addiction (see definition below) clearly show that
cannabis is addictive. I don't know your exposure to cannabis users, but in
my experience as a casual user in highschool some users do get addicted (in
my group 2 of 8 casual users).
> 3) No obvious or unambiguous definition of addiction exists.
Rubbish. Miller et al. (Advances in Alcohol & Substance Abuse.
8(3-4):33-42,1990), for example, use the DSM-III-R criteria. for substance
dependence. They also define it elsewhere (in Journal of Substance Abuse
Treatment. 6(3):183-92, 1989)
The definition of marijuana (Cannabis) dependence (addiction) contains
three critical elements. These are (a) preoccupation with the acquisition
of marijuana, (b) compulsive use of marijuana, (c) relapse to or
use of the marijuana. The manifestations of abnormal marijuana use may
assume many forms. Medical, psychiatric, neurological, traumatic, and
sociological sequelae occur commonly in acute and chronic marijuana use.
Marijuana dependence must be diagnosed primarily as the etiological or
precipitating agent to adequately prevent and treat these conditions. The
central role of marijuana addiction can be identified. The consequences
the marijuana addiction should be separated from the marijuana addict's
actual motivation or craving to use marijuana. Marijuana addicts use
abnormally because of what marijuana does to them and not for them.
Marijuana reinforces its own use. Psychosocial stressors are not required
to produce a marijuana addiction in biologically susceptible individuals.
Consequences that result from an addiction to marijuana do not produce
abnormal use. A presumptive diagnosis of marijuana dependence (addiction)
can be established by detecting significant consequences associated with
marijuana use. A definitive diagnosis entails confirming the presence of
addictive behavior by identifying a preoccupation, compulsivity and
relapse relative to the drug, marijuana. [References: 92]
> 4) Studies that explicitly discuss addiction assume from the start
> that cannabis has this property, but do not test this hypothesis.
> 5) If cannabis is addictive (which has not been demonstrated or
> experimentally supported in the last four years), it is less addictive
> and harmful than alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.
Cannabis being less addictive than cocaine or heroin seems
well-established, although your references do not deal directly with that
issue. Only reference 2) discusses alcohol and it only discusses one effect
of drug abuse. It does not compare addictiveness.
In summary, there is no doubt that cannabis can be addictive. Cannabis,
however, share this feature with many legal drugs, e.g. alcohol, nicotine,
coffein and it can be argued that cannabis fulfill the "need" for such
drugs in many Eastern and Arabic cultures. Personally, I support the
legalization of cannabis based on my present knowledge of area. My own
experience and the 60s experiment suggest that cannabis is not
significantly more addictive than alcohol. I do however accept the opinion
of other people who argue that we need fewer not more legal drugs. And I do
hate stupid pseudo-research suggesting that we don't know that cannabis can
be addictive. It reminds me too much of the tobacco industries claim that
we do not know that smoking causes health problems.