I recently came across an article in Imprimis, which is a publication of Hillsdale College. The article, titled “Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence” was written by journalist Alex Berenson. Berenson has written for the Denver Post as well as the New York Times. He served as an Iraq War correspondent and has written several acclaimed novels and works of non-fiction.
“So, why are you writing a post about marijuana?” you might ask.
That would be a very good question. I am not sure myself except that this article really struck a personal chord with me. And, I have become increasingly concerned about the direction some are trying to take our country in. And besides, it’s my blog, so I will write about whatever the hell I want to! You don’t have to read this post if you don’t want to.
Write about what you know …
First, I do want my readers to understand that I am not coming at this from a “non-experienced,” “puritanical,” or “holier than thou” attitude. Therefore, in the name of full disclosure, I started smoking marijuana in the eighth grade and smoked pretty heavily until my late twenties. It was having a family of my own that had me questioning my lifestyle choices up until that point. I eventually succeeded in walking away from it, but it took a change of scenery and new friends to succeed.
I am not proud of that part of my life and often wonder how different things might have been had I turned down that first joint. Much of my life has been a struggle. And, while there have been some real successes, for example … in martial arts and writing … they have come later in life for me. When I see politicians and “marijuana merchants” praising the miracles of medical marijuana and calling for its legalization, I wanted to remind people that to make an intelligent decision, you have to look at both sides of any story. And, marijuana use does certainly have its “dark side.”
There is a real “Dark Side” to marijuana use!
Berenson started his article by describing the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center located about 70 miles northwest of New York City. It is one of the places New York State houses the criminally mentally ill. These are defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity. Berenson’s wife had worked as a senior psychiatrist there.
The article points out that many of the 300 patients housed at this facility are killers and arsonists. At least one, it seems, is a cannibal. Diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, they’d committed extreme acts of violence against both family members and strangers.
Berenson highlights in his article that, during a passing comment to him, his wife once stated:
Of course, he’d been smoking pot his whole life.
Of course, I asked?
Yes, they all smoke.
So marijuana causes schizophrenia?Alex Benson, Imprimis, January 2019
As recently as 2017, the National Academy of Medicine found that “cannabis use does increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.”
In states like Colorado, emergency room physicians are becoming quite expert at dealing with cannabis-induced psychosis!
The really scary thing for me is that the marijuana kids are smoking today is about 10 to 15 times more potent in THC content than the pot I used to smoke.
How come we don’t know more about this?
The truth is that in the United States tracking cases of psychosis and its causes is impossible. Perhaps this is due to a concern for Constitutional rights to privacy. The government does carefully track diseases like cancer with central registries. However, no such registries exist for tracking schizophrenia or other mental illnesses.
In his article, Berenson points out that other countries such as Finland and Denmark do track mental illness comprehensively. And, they show a marked increase in psychosis since 2000, coinciding with a increase in marijuana usage.
Also according to this article, a large Federal survey conducted in September of last years shows a serious rise in mental illness in the United States as well. And, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of marijuana.
Why does this matter to me?
I cannot help but wonder how many of the young kids we see today engaging in violent behavior such as school shootings are heavy marijuana users? How many members of MS 13 are marijuana users? I am not saying I have any answers. But before we go skipping down the path to legalizing marijuana and classifying it as “harmless as Oreo cookies and milk,” maybe we should be sure we have all the facts, and not just the memes you see on the Facebook or Instagram created by those in a position to make oodles of money if “pot” becomes legal.
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