About That Controversial New Book on Marijuana and Violence…
Marijuana legalization advocates are up in arms over a recent book and accompanying New Yorker article which claim that cannabis use is far more dangerous than the public has been led to believe and that rising legalization rates could lead to a massive increase in violence.
The book “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence” was published by former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. The article, based on the book’s thesis, was written by the New Yorker’s Malcom Gladwell.
Berenson claims that scientific research has consistently linked marijuana use to the development of schizophrenia and other types of psychosis, which we know are also linked to violence. While Berenson does not advocate for a “zero tolerance” policy towards cannabis (he prefers decriminalization coupled with strict regulation), he believes it’s important for the public to be aware of the inherent risks that marijuana poses — risks that are even greater for adolescents and those predisposed to mental illness.
Berenson relies in part on a 500-page report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published in 2017 which concluded “the higher the use, the greater the risk” when it comes to schizophrenia and marijuana. But Ziva Cooper, who served as a committee member on that panel, disputes Berenson’s conclusions.
“To say that we concluded cannabis causes schizophrenia, it’s just wrong, and it’s meant to precipitate fear,” Cooper told Rolling Stone, adding there was never enough evidence to prove causality over correlation.
A number of other experts have also pushed back, arguing that’s not exactly what the science says. Among them: David L. Nathan, founder and board president of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, who debated Berenson on CNN’s Smerconish program. You can watch a clip here.