Clearing the Smoke on the alleged Link between Marijuana use, Mental Illness and Violence (Again)
Here we are, nearing the end of the second month of 2019 and we’ve got a bunch of Reefer Madness to dispel. I feel I spoke about this topic in 2018, but here we are again. Another opinion piece strung together with outlandish claims about cannabis needing to be debunked.
If you’re not sure about what I’m talking about, I’m referring to an article published by Michael. D Breen in the Concord Monitor. The Article entitled; “My Turn: Link between marijuana use and mental illness is clear” provides absolutely no reference links and out-of-context quotes from dubious studies strung together to sound like a coherent argument. The problem, it’s all speculative.
To serve the greater good, I have decided to go through the arguments, un-cited studies and provide context to all the hogwash mentioned throughout the article.
Let’s get started.
Medical Marijuana is a Trojan Horse for Recreational Marijuana
One of the first arguments by the author was to say that “medical cannabis is merely a smokescreen for recreational cannabis”. He tries to back up his argument by quoting Rob Kempia, the co-founder of Marijuana Policy Project, who said that marijuana acts as a type of Trojan horse for recreational marijuana.
While it’s true that Medical cannabis paves the way for recreational marijuana, it doesn’t mean that medical marijuana does not exist. There are hundreds of proven medical benefits of the individual cannabinoids in marijuana, as well as ‘whole-plant medicine’.
The mere fact that the FDA approved Epidolex, a CBD-derived drug to treat a rare form of Childhood epilepsy, is a testament to the medical efficacy of cannabis. Not to mention the thousands of studies conducted on mood-disorders, inflammation, chronic pain, bone health, cancer, diabetes and so forth.
Let’s also not forget the patents held by the US government on the antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties of THC and CBD. To say that “medical marijuana” only exists to legalize recreational cannabis is a flat out lie.
Marijuana had only 2% THC in the 1970’s
“While being heavily marketed as medicinal, marijuana’s 2 percent THC content of the 1970s has increased to 20 to 25 percent today. Usage escalated alongside potency.”
In the 1970s, cannabis had an average THC count between 5%-10%. Higher-end strains like Acapulco Gold were somewhere in the 10%-15% margins. 2% THC is essentially Hemp. Nobody smoked hemp to get high. It just doesn’t happen.
Secondly, he attributes the rise in potency to a “rise in use”. However, the major spike in US cannabis consumption happened during the Raegan era of Drug Prohibition. But more disturbingly is that he goes from “Potency, to Drug use” and then links it to “mental issues”.
“Mental health issues doubled simultaneously among marijuana’s heaviest users, young adults ages 18 to 25”
While Mental Health Issues might have been on the rise, there is no direct correlation between cannabis legalization and mental health issues. It’s true that people with mental health disorders tend to self-medicate with marijuana, cannabis isn’t “causing” mental health issues.
Rather, a spike in population, coupled with broader interpretations of what constitutes a mental health disorder all attribute to this. Society has also become more “anxious” over time, does this mean that cannabis is responsible for this too?
Marijuana, Mental Health and Violence
“The replicated nexus between marijuana, mental illness and violence documented in both psychiatric and epidemiological studies is also revealing.”
To answer this point, I’ll quote the actual study he failed to cite. The first paragraph no less.
“Several studies have linked marijuana use to increased risk for psychiatric disorders, including psychosis (schizophrenia), depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders, but whether and to what extent it actually causes these conditions is not always easy to determine.32 The amount of drug used, the age at first use, and genetic vulnerability have all been shown to influence this relationship. The strongest evidence to date concerns links between marijuana use and substance use disorders and between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders in those with a preexisting genetic or other vulnerability” – Source
In other words, while there is some correlation, the same study does not claim “causation”. “The amount of drug used, the age at first use, and genetic vulnerability have all been shown to influence this relationship.” This literally means that marijuana is only one of the multiple factors that play a role in the development of mental disorders.
From these points, the author moves on to attempt to establish a link between violence and mental health disorders.
From his article;
“The U.S. National Institute of Health asserts “robust evidence has accumulated showing that individuals who develop schizophrenia are at an elevated risk when compared to the general population to engage in violence towards others. This violence impacts negatively on victims as well as perpetrators and poses a significant financial burden to society.”
While it’s true that when a schizophrenic patient goes ‘psychotic’, there is no real correlation between an increase of cannabis use and an increase of schizophrenia. The global trends for schizophrenia has remained stable, pre and post legalization.
I could go on, but truly at this point in time people should learn that you should never take an article at face value without fact checking. I have only gone through 10% of the claims made on his position, but with so many bold faced lies, I could probably write a book on debunking this dribble.
One thing is certain, as the ship of prohibition is failing, we’ll here more of these outlandish claims until one day they are all silenced by actual scientific date. Until then, it will be up to writers like me and others to place perspective on these types of articles. Nice try Mike…but not today!