Dr. Marc Seigel on Cannabis
What Dr. Marc Seigel isn’t telling you about Cannabis and Psychosis
We can always rely on Fox to provide us with some Reefer Madness. This time we hear from Dr. Marc Seigel that talks about anecdotal experiences with “high potency pot”. The same “Cannabis can cause psychosis” argument has been promoted on virtually all mainstream media outlets. However, the reality behind cannabis induced psychosis is not as black and white as these people would like to paint it.
In fact, statistically, psychosis triggered by high potency pot is not as prevalent as one might think. The current ratio of people who “may” have a psychotic episode due to cannabis is 1 in 20,000. Additionally, most of these studies use data sets to determine whether or not cannabis may induce psychosis.
It’s also important to note that correlation is not causation. Nonetheless, it would also be irresponsible to discard it due to our own personal biases. The increased potency of THC in cannabis products could have unforeseen consequences, however, up to date we haven’t really seen a dramatic change in behavior, health issues and so forth.
Dr. Seigel talks about a story where a friend of his had an episode after smoking high potency pot.
In his own words, “Back when I was in college, a close friend of mine developed a bad, paranoid reaction to a strong batch of pot. I will never forget the twisted look of fear on his face. Eventually, he recovered, but it always seemed to me that he was never quite the same, and to this day is quick to be suspicious of people.”
However, later on, he contradicts himself.
“Though the THC content of Cannabis is variable, it has clearly become much more potent over the years, with many times more THC commonly found now in pot than in the 1970s, when it was commonly less than 2 percent. This change is largely responsible for the increase in paranoia and psychosis among the general population.”
This makes you wonder. Did his friend smoke a “potent batch of pot”? Seigel, who is now 68 years old, in all likeliness went to college in the 1970s. If pot was basically “hemp” or “commonly less than 2 percent”, what was the “strong batch of pot”? Double that? 4%? 8%?
These inconsistencies within their rhetoric makes it easy to debunk their opinionated-pseudoscience. The very “studies” he cite within his opinion piece, was the exact same studies that determined that the factor of cannabis-induced psychosis occurs at a ratio of 1:20,000.
This is usually the problem with prohibitionist-charged rhetoric. People cherry pick information to suit their narrative. The fact that Seigel is a doctor doesn’t make him void of bias. And in this specific case, he completely contradicts himself.
More importantly, if you look at the global levels of schizophrenia, there isn’t much of an increase overtime.
Additionally, when you’re “tripping” on any drug…you have a short-induced state of psychosis. It’s controlled psychosis. While the textbook definition of psychosis mentions a “mental disorder”, when a person has a disconnect between thought and emotion in relation to reality…this is psychosis.
Even the IQ Scare is Bullshit
Another prominent argument is that “chronic use leads to a reduction of up to 8 IQ points”. This comes from a Duke study where they tracked the IQ of people who allegedly smoked pot all day. It seems straight forward.
These folks smoked pot, they have a lower IQ score later on in life. However, what Duke failed to do was factor in things like, “are they taking other drugs, socioeconomic status’ and so forth”. When other researchers factored in these conditions, they found that the cannabis group had statistically insignificant reduction in IQ.
However, you won’t hear this on Fox. They prefer to cherry pick the information, utilize outdated and unverifiable data to promote their rhetoric.
So what can we learn by the latest edition of Reefer Madness?
The first thing is that ‘authority’ figures aren’t infallible. They too are charged with bias rhetoric and while I don’t believe that Dr. Seigel spoke with malicious intent, he did assist with creating disinformation.
Secondly, many of the studies simplify the results to “sound better”. “Pot Induced Psychosis” might sound scary, but when you learn that it happens one once in every twenty-thousand people (on a population scale), it becomes less scary. This doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. People with pre-disposition to schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders need to be careful.
After all, you are playing around with your brain chemistry when you smoke. Of course, cannabinoids mimic our own endogenous cannabinoids, but this doesn’t mean that something can go wrong.
It’s important to always take a step back, to rid you of your own biases and to objectively analyze the data to make an informed decision.