Re: More reefer madness

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 43, No. 10, December 2001, Page 550 Letters

Had Ray Baker chosen to write his article [More reefer madness. BCMJ 2001;43(6):315] as a letter to the editor, I might have been less annoyed regarding the content. After all, this is, purely and simply, an opinion piece. Indeed, he says as much in the second paragraph. It is unacceptable that this piece of writing appear under the banner of “Council on Health Promotion” and be signed by the author as Chair, Committee on Addiction Medicine. I expect that anything written as a report of a committee, or even a consensus of the committee, would be appropriately referenced when such statements regarding all of the negative effects of marijuana are made. It would then be possible to argue the merits of the research to which the statements refer. The fact that something appears in print does not constitute fact until all of the factors, such as the methodology of the study, the appropriateness of the conclusions regarding the evidence, and so on have been taken into account. Also, it is important to know whether other data were available giving a contrary view and the policy of the journal with respect to acceptance and rejection of articles sent to it. It is difficult to carry out an intelligent dialogue about a topic as complicated as this if the information on which it is based is suspect.

I agree with Dr Baker that more research needs to be done before physicians are put in the unenviable position of prescribing a drug whose very method of administration leads to toxicity similar to that produced by other air-borne pollutants. His position is, however, that the drug itself is bad and its use will have all sorts of negative effects, especially on our youth. Is marijuana abusable? Of course. Does this fact alone make it unacceptable for use? Considering the number of people who have smoked this weed in their youth or as young adults, I find it strange that the so-called impairment produced by the drug is not widespread. I could argue that some of the brightest and best of our students smoked pot while attending university. If brain damage occurred, it must be infinitesimal.

I am surprised that the editors of the BCMJ permitted this article to be published in any format other than as a letter to the editor.

—H.D. Sanders MD 
North Vancouver, BC

As explained in the editorial “Due editorial diligence,” BCMJ 2001;43(9): 492, the Journal’s Editorial Board does not screen a number of departments, including that of the Council on Health Promotion, so we encourage you to read these items critically. Having said that, we are confident that Dr Baker’s column accurately reflects the position of the Committee on Addition Medicine.—Ed.

H.D. Sanders MD. Re: More reefer madness. BCMJ, Vol. 43, No. 10, December, 2001, Page(s) 550 - Letters.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply