June 17, 2024
Pot's legal. But we may come to regret that
Former head of the Centers for Disease Control, Thomas Frieden, tweet-summarized the report’s conclusions: “way too little known; potential benefits unproven, some serious harms definite, many serious risks possible.”
Former head of the Centers for Disease Control, Thomas Frieden, tweet-summarized the report’s conclusions: “way too little known; potential benefits unproven, some serious harms definite, many serious risks possible.”

Some years ago, in conversation with his wife, a forensic psychiatrist specializing in mentally ill criminals, former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson observed that the perpetrator of a recent violent crime had been high at the time, and had smoked pot regularly all his life. Her response — “Yeah, they all do” — jolted him. The result was his book, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence.

Much of the referenced material in Berenson’s book had not yet been published a decade ago. But more recent studies only confirm what a few intrepid researchers were already warning about then.

Indeed, as I noted in a 2008 column, the head of the Medical research Council in the U.K., Professor Colin Blakemore, who in 1997 had been the moral authority behind a pot-legalization campaign, unequivocally reversed his pot-friendly stance in 2007, stating: “The link between cannabis and psychosis is quite clear now; it wasn’t 10 years ago.”

If you haven’t energy for a whole book, but would invest in 16 pages on the subject, you will be well rewarded by Steven Malanga’s in-depth article, “The Marijuana Delusion,” in City Journal’s June issue. Here you will find debunked the blithe claim, still received as gospel by progressives and libertarians, that pot is virtually harmless and even therapeutic.

Unlike marijuana, real medications are deeply researched before coming on the market, and may attest to proven benefits, but are obligated to admit potential harms. Is pot a medicinal drug or a placebo? Nobody really knows. One may argue “who cares, as long as it works” (anecdotally I hear that pot works, and also that it doesn’t work), but that isn’t the point, since the legalization movement made medical claims for pot in order to bring the public onside politically. There was no will on the movement’s side to discover even radically fortified pot’s downsides.

The knowledge was out there for those interested. In 1987 a study of nearly 50,000 Swedish military conscripts followed for drug use over 15 years found that frequent pot use in teenhood was linked to a six-fold risk of schizophrenia as compared with non-usage. A 2004 meta-analysis of studies on pot use came to a similar conclusion. These studies, and others, are suggestive that heavy marijuana consumption, particularly in youth, may cause serious mental health problems. Yes, it is possible that the link isn’t entirely causal; people with mental health issues may be more likely to use marijuana heavily. But at the very least, this ought to be an issue of ongoing concern, particularly now that marijuana is legal in Canada and in an increasing number of U.S. states.

Malanga points as well to the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) exhaustive, 487-page 2017 report, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cabannabinoids. Former head of the Centers for Disease Control, Thomas Frieden, tweet-summarized the report’s conclusions: “way too little known; potential benefits unproven, some serious harms definite, many serious risks possible.” Malanga says the NAM report was virtually disregarded, because the media prefers the “harmless” narrative.

Many pot supporters also pushed the line that pot would likely reduce opioid dependence. But a nationwide-data study by the American Journal of Psychiatry found that adult pot smokers were more likely than non-users to move on to opiates. A report published just last month by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found, in fact, that states with medicinal cannabis were, in fact, more likely to experience problems with opioid addictions.

Another myth is that pot, a mellowing agent, might reduce rates of violence. Malanga cites three studies/reports in, respectively, the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Psychological Medicine and Drug and Alcohol Dependence, all of which found that regular-user teens and young adults were up to five times more likely to act aggressively throughout their lifetimes than non-users. This may puzzle mellow users, but given the enduring concerns of links between heavy marijuana consumption and mental health disorders, it makes perfect sense. As supportive evidence, Malanga cites highly elevated violent crime rates since legalization in a number of states, though the national rate for violent crime decreased by one per cent in the same time frame.

At the time of my cautionary column (in which I stipulated support for decriminalization), the National Post’s editorial position was strong affirmation for pot legalization. Such was the general insouciance amongst my opinion colleagues that I was roundly mocked in print in the next day’s editorial — (rather wittily) titled “Barbara Kay vs. Mary Jane” — casting me as a Prohibition-era Miss Grundy. I took it in good spirit, even admitting in a further column that my near-isolation on the topic professionally helped persuade me that legalization was inevitable, and not worth further pushback.

I should not have caved, however futile continued protest would have been. Of course, today my regret is the equivalent of an open barn door. Still, for the record, in 2008 I was right and the editorial board was wrong.

See Also:

(1) Calls mount for review into case of Halifax man who spent 17 years in prison on wrongful conviction

(2) Independent MP Wilson-Raybould to release book ahead of election

(3) If the PM needs an official residence, we can do a hell of a lot better than 24 Sussex

(4) Pipeline protesters shouldn’t be funded by taxpayers

(5) The Prince of Lightness returns


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July 25, 2019 11:38 am

The loyal PM of Quebec Canada giving the Canadian Province of Alberta and frankly the rest of Canada the middle finger salute…or another way to put it. Taking care of ‘his own people’ first, foremost and always. This should infuriate the ROC, and even some fair minded Canadians living inside the protected bubble of Quebec.

Since Parliament Adjourned, Trudeau Has Announced $2.27 BILLION In New Spending. 62% Has Gone To Quebec. Just 0.1% Has Gone To Alberta.