It became a unprecedented second in hashish studies: On September eight, 2020, the magazine Neuropsychopharmacology retracted a paper it had posted six years earlier, titled “Cannabinoid type 1 receptor availability in the amygdala mediates risk processing in trauma survivors.” Among the authors of the retracted paper is Alexander Neumeister, a disgraced ex-NYU professor who studied the endocannabinoid gadget as a part of the neurology of PTSD.

Many hashish research have been debatable. Some are truly wrong. But fantastically few reports concerning hashish or cannabinoids emerge as retracted – completely marked as papers now not assembly the requirements of technological know-how that we assume.

What type of malpractice merits a retraction? Guidelines are set out by using the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). According to the COPE suggestions, journal editors need to bear in mind a retraction for reasons, which includes:

Honest blunders that invalidates a result (e.G. A coding errors produced totally wrong information)
Fabrication or falsification of records (e.G. Photoshopping pix)
Plagiarism (such as immoderate self-plagiarism)
Undisclosed conflicts of hobby
Copyright infringement
Manipulated peer overview, and so forth.
Oftentimes, specifically inside the case of honest blunders or authorship disputes, an editorial might be corrected instead of retracted. And if the journal is aware of an trouble, however an investigation into the author(s) is ongoing, editors may use an expression of issue to warn readers about an unresolved issue.

Alexander Neumeister, a NYU trauma researcher, became stuck embezzling cash, starting up a string of investigations into his misdeeds. In 2016, 8 medical trials run with the aid of Neumeister have been shut down and he turned into fired from his function at NYU. According to an editorial in The New York Times, “In numerous times … Dr. Neumeister had falsified documents by means of signing a fellow investigator’s call on reviews.”

Though his sentencing became no longer approximately hashish in line with se, the privilege of being a white professional changed into obvious at the realization of his trial. Medscape journalists described the bizarre scenario wherein Neumeister would avoid dealing with the track, so to speak, via clearly gambling track: “In June 2018, [Neumeister] pleaded guilty to the theft of $87,000, and then a choose sentenced Neumeister — a classically trained pianist — to play piano for ‘an hour at the least twice weekly for the following 3 years at institution centers in Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, and Waterbury.’”

Even throughout the 2018 trial, the effects of his misconduct hadn’t yet leached into his scientific guides. It took any other two years before america Office of Research Integrity (ORI), a division of the department of Health and Human Services, addressed this issue. On Jan. 7, 2020, the ORI disclosed “that Respondent [Alexander Neumeister] engaged in research misconduct by way of intentionally, knowingly, and/or recklessly falsifying and/or fabricating records in the scientific facts of research supported by means of six (6) NIMH offers, resulting inside the inclusion of falsified and/or fabricated research techniques and effects in four (4) posted papers… . “1

Among the papers red-flagged by the ORI become the 2014 Neuropsychopharmacology article on how threat processing in trauma survivors was mediated by way of CB1 cannabinoid receptors within the amygdala.

Neumeister, according to the ORI, “misrepresented the characteristics of the subjects entered inside the research document by means of:

combining facts from a couple of topics to represent single topics to justify economic payments
changing and/or instructing his team of workers to trade, omit, or forget about medical and psychiatric assessment information contained in the digital and/or written studies statistics…”
Although Neumeister usually collaborated with different researchers, simplest he’s assigned blame for the misconduct. The punishment? The ORI concluded: Neumeister must “exclude himself voluntarily for a period of two (2) years … from any contracting or subcontracting with any business enterprise of the USA Government.”

The meager consequence of the ORI research parallels his extraordinary community-service sentencing.


Neumeister settled the ORI’s allegations without admitting guilt, but his corrupt behavior left little room for misinterpretation. Yet it wasn’t until eight months after the ORI’s damning findings had been launched that Springer Nature, the writer of Neuropsychopharmacology, retracted the paper. What took goodbye?

“The editors have retracted this text. An investigation performed by way of the USA Office of Research Integrity (ORI) concluded this newsletter consists of ‘falsified and/or fabricated studies techniques and consequences.’

The authors A Neumeister, H Huang, M Zheng, R E Carson, M N Potenza, R H Pietrzak, and D Piomelli have selected no longer to comment on this retraction. The authors S Corsi-Travali, S-F Lin, and S Henry have not answered to correspondence about this retraction.”

As Retraction Watch wryly noted, “The word itself sounds loads like a baby who says ‘I’m invisible because my eyes are closed.’”

The radio silence from Neumeister’s coauthors raises questions about scientific integrity. It is all the more concerning when considering that one of authors who refused to comment is Daniele Piomelli, editor-in-chief of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Published by Mary Ann Liebert, CCR is perhaps the preeminent scientific journal specializing on the endocannabinoid system, as well as the plant that led to its discovery. Numerous high-quality articles have appeared in CCR, which has been endorsed by well-regarded organizations such as the International Cannabinoid Research Society and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians.

To be clear: Project CBD is not suggesting that Piomelli or Neumeister’s other coauthors engaged in unethical behavior that caused the retraction of the CB1 paper in Neuropsychopharmacology. But would Piomelli also remain silent if misconduct arose in the journal he edits? Since its launch in late 2015, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research has not issued a single retraction. Neither has CCR marked any articles with an expression of concern.

Is this because cannabis researchers are exceptionally well-behaved and mistake-free? Actually, a dearth of retractions suggests a lack of enforcement. By not investigating misconduct, a science journal won’t have to acknowledge that poor scholarship was published in its pages. But this avoidance behavior engenders the problem, allowing it to fester as bad actors slip under the radar and continue to commit fraud.


Retractions are not necessarily a signal that the institution of technological know-how has long gone wrong. They are, in reality, an integral element of self-correction, to which the scientific technique aspires. It isn’t enough to perform “precise” experiments to identify what’s authentic. Equally crucial is weeding thru studies to ensure that terrible research does no longer pollute the literature, figuring out what we now understand is fake.

In fact, papers may be retracted simply for being wrong. Consider a 2009 examine purporting to expose that curcumin and resveratrol bind to the CB1 receptor and inhibit its activation. Four months after its booklet, the authors at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock retracted the article, stating:

“Subsequent studies in our laboratory and data acquired from 3 additional independent labs… have didn’t reflect these preliminary findings… As such, we’re retracting our article from publication in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (JPET)…

The authors would love to extend their honest apology to JPET and the clinical network as a whole. It is our hope that the speedy correction of our preliminary report with the aid of presentation of findings performed via four impartial laboratories will help to minimize any future ramifications on account of this very unlucky state of affairs.”

The Little Rock researchers additionally recommend why this may have happened, pointing to possible infection with a commonly-used CB1 inhibitor. A be aware like this does more than enough to accurate the record. It ought to be a badge of honor, not of shame.

Even after a retraction, publicity is crucial to make certain the work is now not referred to. Not all citation managers alert the customers when they try to reference a retracted article. (Zotero is a top notch exception, linking to a database compiled via Retraction Watch.) Quietly brushing misconduct under the rug makes it even harder to correct the file.

Researchers at the University College of London recently noted Neumeister’s fraudulent CB1 take a look at in a scientific evaluation on “The Effectiveness of Cannabinoids inside the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” And of the 30 citations to Neumeister’s falsified paintings have been garnered between the ORI record and the booklet of the retraction note. By dithering for 8 months earlier than retracting the Neuropsychopharmacology article, Springer Nature allowed falsehoods to propagate in addition into the scientific literature.


A handful of cannabis-associated retractions may be discovered by looking the Retraction Watch database. When unethical behaviors are stuck, consisting of the falsification or fabrication of statistics, authors will often respond that (1) a student no longer with the university completed the experiments in question, and (2) they no longer have get entry to to the unique information. These defenses have the identical hollow ring as repeating “I don’t consider” in a court room to avoid duty.

Some researchers have interaction in a exercise euphemistically called “salami slicing.” It way cutting up a information set into many portions and publishing each result one by one, as though they had been all from separate experiments. The evaluation of academics is largely based on metrics like the effect component (which roughly measures how many citations one’s papers accrue), in addition to the sheer variety of papers they’ve posted. Salami reducing is a way of gaming the device by using reading one’s information to locate the minimal publishable gadgets from one set of experiments. The diced-up papers may even cite each other, further bolstering the impact thing metric.

This practice appears to be the impetus for two retractions from Harvard researchers in 2011. The first paper defined the role of the endocannabinoid system in bone marrow stem cells, followed some months later by any other paper at the impact of just the CB2 cannabinoid receptor. Both papers had been retracted within the yr, with the second one withdrawal note bringing up duplication “of facts, text, and images which are nonessential to the paper.”

But retractions aren’t continually the end result of misconduct on the authors’ element. Consider, as an example, what came about with a 2017 observe, “Confirmed marijuana use and lymphocyte matter in black human beings residing with HIV,” published in Elsevier’s Drug and Alcohol Dependence, and subsequently retracted.

The authors of this paper had the misfortune of selecting to make use of a sure assessment device, referred to as the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS), which become copyrighted with the aid of the UCLA professor Donald Morisky in 2006. Morisky has end up infamous for harassing researchers.

A usual case might cross like this. The MMAS is hired by means of scientists who need to assess if hashish customers are greater or much less possibly to take their conventional anti-retroviral drugs to deal with HIV. So they electronic mail Morisky for permission to apply his patented eight-query scale, but after weeks of silence they decide to move in advance with out permission – it’s only a research tool, in spite of everything.

But most effective days after the very last publication in their article, an e mail arrives from Morisky’s lawyer giving the authors 3 options: retract the thing, face a lawsuit, or pay exorbitant fees – as much as tens of hundreds of dollars, for use of the MMAS.

The authors retracted the 2017 article, with a observe that study, in part: “It is crucial to word that the retraction of this text isn’t always the end result of any studies misconduct on the a part of the authors or that of the crew. The retraction pertains to the posted model of the thing that incorporates the MMAS-eight scale. The magazine will submit a revised version that doesn’t contain the tool or any references to it.”

Some researchers have even said that Morisky and his attorney upped their rate after agreeing to a charge. This predatory practice leans heavily at the stigma of retractions to coerce a agreement. And now Morisky has been sued by way of his legal professional, and they’re in a criminal wrangle over manage of the MMAS-eight scale.

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