Yesterday we talked about an author whose new book claims marijuana leads people to commit violent crimes and murders, despite little to no evidence showing that it's true. And now that same author is telling people cannabis can also lead people to becoming psychotic.
Author Alex Berenson wrote a new book called Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence, and is currently doing the media rounds to promote the book. And of course, he's also spreading disinformation about cannabis along with it.
His latest claim is that marijuana use increases a person's risk to schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. He points to a 2017 study by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) that examined the medical benefits of cannabis as proof.
"The NAM did a 500-page report that says basically that nearly all the medical benefits are either unproven or don't exist, and there's a true link to psychosis and schizophrenia, which are terrible diseases," Berenson said.
A spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association responded by noting that most of this research is pretty vague and there's no clear studies proving marijuana use causes mental illness.
"So far, there is nothing to suggest that cannabis consumption causes mental illness, though some research suggests that it may exacerbate pre-existing conditions," said spokesperson Morgan Fox. "There are tens of millions of regular cannabis consumers in the United States, and if it was truly a contributing factor to mental illness, we would be seeing widespread negative effects, and we simply are not seeing that."
There are studies connecting schizophrenia with marijuana, although they usually simply show that people with schizophrenia are more likely to use marijuana than people who don't have it. But they don't say marijuana causes those people to have schizophrenia. In fact there are other studies that suggest cannabis can actually be an effective treatment for people with schizophrenia and similar conditions.
The fact is, there is a lot we do not know about marijuana. But unless we remove the roadblocks to researching cannabis, we'll never know the full story. People like Berenson should be advocating for increased research of marijuana so we know all the benefits and risks, instead of simply going out and spreading scare tactics about how people who smoke joints then go out and murder people.