Fake News: NO Groundbreaking Research: Cannabis Does NOT Treat ADHD Better Than Adderall

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fake News: NO Groundbreaking Research: Cannabis Does NOT Treat ADHD Better Than Adderall

Did a groundbreaking scientific study conclude that cannibis treats ADHD better than Adderall? No, that's not true: The purported research this claim is based on is only a case study of one man who lied to his doctor before an ADHD test, saying he had taken his prescribed medicine. The doctor later learned the man had smoked weed before passing the test, so he concluded the THC may have helped him focus better. Lead Stories is wondering what the person who wrote this fake story was smoking. It could dangerously cause ADHD patients to believe they should ditch their prescribed drugs and instead self-medicate with a joint.

The story originated from an article (archived here) where it was published by HigherPerspectives.com on October 30, 2015 under the title "Groundbreaking Research: Cannabis Treats ADHD Better Than Adderall". It opened:

The medical use of cannabis is no secret. It can be used to treat a number of ailments, chronic and short term.

According to a groundbreaking new medical study of 30 patients with ADHD, all 30 reported improved concentration and sleep as well as reduced impulsivity after using medicinal cannabis.

These 30 patients all reported having limited success with conventional treatments like Ritalin and Adderall.

22 of the 30 patients opted to forgo their previously prescribed medications and use cannabis to manage their symptoms instead.

It's a small sample group, yet it's an incredibly positive development.

This is what social media users saw:

The words "new medical study" are hyperlinked to a PDF of a case study written by a German doctor in 2007 (it was not new.) This case study did not involve Adderall and did no involve "30 patients with ADHD" as represented in the story. It was a report on one man -- a 28-year-old German who had gone to the doctor for a test required before he could get his suspended driver's license reinstated. The test could not be done on the first visit because the man was exhibited significant symptoms of ADHD, the doctor wrote. When the man returned for a second attempt, he was calm. He told the doctor he had taken his prescribed drug and had been abstaining from smoking marijuana. After the man passed the test, the doctor drew a blood sample -- which revealed a high level of THC, a chemical that is in cannabis. The patient then admitted he had lied to the doctor about smoking weed. The doctor then concluded that the weed had helped the man. There was no "research." It was only a doctor making a conclusion about a patient who lied. Perhaps the publisher did not expect its website visitors would actually click on the hyperlink and read the case study, but that's what fact checkers do. You can read the doctor's report below:

Cannabis improves symptoms of ADHD case study by Alan Duke on Scribd

Why would HgherPerspectives.com choose to present an 8-year-old one-patient case study as "groundbreaking research"? Maybe to sell a product. The rest of the story is an advertisement for a cannabis extract product"

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To be clear, Lead Stories is not saying that cannabis is not helpful for treating ADHD. We have not concluded our own experiments. But we are saying this story is fake.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes higherperspectives.com as:

A site focused on relationship, lifestyle, and health advice that often neglects to cite sources and has mischaracterized results from published research.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about higherperspectives.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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