10 Dec King’s College Confirms Institute of Psychiatry Misled Media On Cannabis Brain Study.

The Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London issued a press release on 27th November claiming that its latest study shows cannabis causes damage to the corpus callosum.  This was widely reported across the world and many publications extended what was already an inaccurate claim into saying that this “damage” was a cause of psychosis.

As I have already reported and as confirmed by the NHS, the study showed nothing of the sort.  Then, last week, by accident really, I discovered that quietly and with just a small footnote the headline had been changed!

Original: “Study shows white matter damage caused by ‘skunk-like’ cannabis”

Edit: “Study shows white matter damage may be caused by ‘skunk-like’ cannabis”

Professor Shitij Kapur, Executive Dean of the Institute of Psychiatry hadn’t responded to two emails from me, so this time I wrote to the Principal of King’s College, Professor Ed Byrne.  He has now confirmed that the press release has been changed but makes the extraordinary and false claim that “By and large the press coverage was a true reflection of the science.”

Professor Ed ByrneProfessor Ed Byrne

Dear Mr. Reynolds

Thank you for your email regarding the recent article from King’s.

I have discussed it with Professor Kapur and the authors and we believe it appropriate to change the headline to ‘may be caused by’, which has already been done.

The body of the press release is a fair representation of the paper so needs no amendment. By and large the press coverage was a true reflection of the science in the paper so we do not believe the press release requires further amendments.

King’s is committed to a balanced reporting of science and its work and hence we have changed the headline and acknowledged the change.

Thank you again for your diligence.

Professor Edward Byrne AC
President & Principal

Too late! The sensationalist, scaremongering deceit and exaggeration has already spread like wildfire across the world. Dozens of publications have repeated the falsehood and yet again the Institute of Psychiatry is responsible for misleading millions of people. It has form for such conduct, regularly, repeatedly and deliberately confusing correlation with causation and vastly exaggerating the results of its work. This is deceit and fraud at the highest level and if it took place in another context, financial services for instance, it would merit police investigation.

I have written again to Professor Byrne asking him to do the right thing, in particular:

This is a matter of huge importance because it is largely the hysteria drummed up by such falsified science that stands in the way of legal access to medicinal cannabis in the UK. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer needlessly in Britain when throughout the rest of Europe, Israel, Canada and the USA, more enlightened policies enable access to the medicine that people need. I hold the conduct of organisations such as the Institute of Psychiatry directly responsble for the pain and suffering caused.


Peter Reynolds