With society’s dismissal of absolute truth, came the questioning of all “truth;” and now, we have dismissed facts as well, to fit our perception of what we believe to be morally right or to feel better about following our own desires. Our society has traded facts for feelings and many are offended if anyone dares to offer truth that differs from their feelings/desires. Can we step back objectively enough to see things for what they are? Are we willing to have the tough conversations with those who are taken in by their own desires which are eagerly supported by agenda-driven and financial-driven research? This can be said about many topics in our culture and in politics today; the issue of marijuana is no exception.
“Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have turned speculation about marijuana’s dangers into science. Yet over the same period, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has pushed public attitudes about marijuana the other way. And the effects are now becoming apparent.
“Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.”
The above is a quote from Alex Berenson, an investigative reporter for the New York Times from 1999-2010 and author of the book Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence. He had been a self-described libertarian when it came to drugs until a conversation with his wife (a senior psychiatrist at the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute at the time) drove him to investigate the truth regarding marijuana, mental illness, and violence. All quotes in this article will be from Hillsdale College’s publication Imprimis; January 2019.
I, having worked on a psychiatric unit for 13 years, saw first-hand the effects of cannabis in many patients that came through our doors. Paranoia was the biggest side-effect I witnessed; but it was also accompanied by delusions, and sometimes violence. So I was not surprised to read Mr. Berenson’s statement that, “I had never seen a story where the gap between insider and outsider knowledge was so great, or the stakes so high.”
I urge you to read the Imprimis article in full, but let’s look at some of the myths vs. facts that are found there.
MYTH: Marijuana has many different medical uses.
FACTS: 1. Marijuana and THC (its active ingredient) are only effective in a few narrow conditions. 2. Although mostly prescribed for pain, “they are rarely tested against other pain relief drugs like ibuprofen.” 3. Cannabis use has been shown to be associated with greater pain over time.
MYTH: Cannabis can stem opioid use.
FACTS: 1. “Marijuana is too weak as a painkiller to work for most people who truly need opiates.” 2. “Even cannabis advocates…acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.”
MYTH: Marijuana isn’t a gateway drug.
FACTS: American Journal of Psychiatry (Jan. 2018) stated that people who used marijuana in 2001 “were nearly three times as likely to use opiates three years later.”
MYTH: There isn’t any correlation between marijuana and mental illness.
FACTS: According to top medical journals: 1. “Marijuana can cause or worsen severe mental illness, especially psychosis.” 2.“Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are about three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.” 3. According to the National Academy of Medicine (2017) “Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.”
Some other facts that can be found in this issue of Imprimis include:
Today’s marijuana is much more potent than it was in the 1970s. The THC level (the chemical in cannabis responsible for itspsychoactive effects) has increased from less than two percent to 20-25 percent, “thanks to sophisticated farming and cloning techniques.” This increases the potential for addiction and mental health issues.
Legalization has only led to a ten percent increase in users; but the frequency of use has skyrocketed. “In 2006, about three million Americans reported using cannabis at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number had nearly tripled, to eight million.”
Some of you may remember that U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), in a 2017 speech, said that “states (that have legalized marijuana) are seeing decreases in violent crime.” According to Mr. Berenson, “He was wrong. The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. Combined, those four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults—an increase of 37 percent for murders and 25 percent for aggravated assaults, far greater than the national increase, even after accounting for differences in population growth.”
There are many reports cited regarding violence and mental illness associated with marijuana and disturbing information about children dying from abuse and neglect from the same.
The problems associated with marijuana usage only become larger with the ignoring of facts. Whether one decides to use this or any other drug may be up to them but they, and their loved ones, should be aware of the dangers that come hand in hand with usage.
The church has lost ground and influence as it either remains silent on various topics or, worse yet, endorses various sins and foolishness. Why is it that we accept warnings about cigarette smoking, alcohol, obesity, and other drugs; but, regardless of what science says about cannabis, the facts are either silenced or ignored?
The truth is unpopular regardless its realm. Be willing to be unpopular; speak the truth for the sake of those who might hear. Marijuana has been legalized in Michigan and several other states. Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Speak boldly, compassionately, and with urgency to those who need to hear.
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