"[W]e—especially cannabis advocates and those in the elite media who have for too long credulously accepted their claims—need to come to terms with the truth about the science on marijuana."

"The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. ....Last year, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults—an increase of 37 percent for murders and 25 percent for aggravated assaults, far greater than the national increase." -  Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

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David R. Brumbelow's picture

Excellent article on the dangers of marijuana.

David R. Brumbelow

Ed Vasicek's picture

This is a very thorough argument for people who want to study this in depth. Unfortunately, its thoroughness makes it a poor article to use on a popular level.

"The Midrash Detective"

Bert Perry's picture

d**ned lies, and statistics here.  Let's start with the lead statistics; it sounds pretty scary that the four states that legalized have a 37% higher murder rate than before, right?  Well, calculate the overall murder rate (3.4/100k), and they are actually quite a bit lower than the national rate of 5.4 murders/100k people.  So does dope cause, or prevent, murder?  As a former Boulderite, I guarantee you that funny weed didn't make its debut there in 2014!

Moreover, since 2014, the overall murder rate has increased from 14249 to about 17284, an increase of 21%, and the population in the four states affected has increased ~ 6.52% vs. a national average of 2.2% from 2014 to 2018.

So what they're talking about here is a 10-12% shift vs. the trend, not a 37% shift.  It is also worth noting that except for Alaska, three of the four states are run by Democrats and were thus likely disproportionately affected by the Obama adminstration's response to the Michael Brown/BLM events; to dial down police responses to crime.

And that, brothers, is a BIGGIE.  In Baltimore, one of the hardest hit cities, murder went up from a population-adjusted rate of 33.8/100k to a horrendous rate of 57.8/100k.  That is a 71% increase.  

Sadly, what Berenson is doing here is to take reports that have yet to achieve statistical significance, but treat them as if they did.  For example, the National Academy of Medicine meta-review he cites says merely that cannabis use is "likely to" increase the risk of certain conditions forming--in statistical speak, that means they suspect it, but don't yet have statistical significance.  We are not talking about correlation, let alone  causation here.

Again, for reference; not a doper, never have been, and medical scratch tests told me I'm allergic. I'm amenable to the notion that psychoactive drugs are going to have serious, long-lasting side effects, especially when drugs are used to the level of getting "stoned".  Regarding medical use, no doubt there's some doubt about whether it's good at all, good for some and not for others, or a general good thing--though I've got a # of acquaintances that tell me a lot of good things about it.

All I ask is that when the data don't clearly prove a hypothesis, we simply admit that.  



Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Greg Long's picture

Well, you picked out one of many of his examples, but his premise doesn't rest on one data point alone.

Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Bert Perry's picture

2, actually, but the kicker is that both demonstrate the writer is being pretty sloppy with evidence. 

To go further in that vein, is anyone really surprised when the heavy user of one drug also uses other drugs?  Of course not; but at the same point,if we're going to define a drug as a gateway drug, we must ignore the fact that someone who gets drunk might also get stoned, and the person who might get stoned on dope just might consider cocaine.

Side note; the far more beneficial question is why one would feel the need to get drunk or stoned in the first place.  Per Proverbs 31, it's often pain & suffering.  

Going further, would we (again) be surprised that those suffering mental illness might seek to self-medicate?  And that we might see a correlation between mind-altering drugs and those whose minds are altered?  Again, of course not; and the question of which came first needs to be addressed.  The correlation is doubtful, and even if inarguable, wouldn't get us to the point the author argues.

(not a moot point for me, as several of my relatives have been on SSRIs and other such drugs, at least a few of them inpatient)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Appreciate your thoughts, Bert and Gregg.  It seems to me -- in my experience -- that those who use marijuana frequently do not seem to be mentally sharp people [not talking IQ, but ability to focus on deep things], nor do they seem to commit to church involvement or clubs, for that matter.  They may be somewhat social, but not as social as the norm.  But I have no stats.

At the same time, I cannot help but respond to what seems a pattern.

"The Midrash Detective"

Bert Perry's picture

To be fair to the author, one thing that needs to be noted is that regarding the need for good statistics, the DEA (same guys that enforce drug laws) are in control of the supply of marijuana for research.  It's very stringently controlled, and of course, if you're a researcher (even an undergrad assistant) and fail in those controls, your career is basically over.  Not surprisingly, there are not a whole lot of good studies from U.S. researchers on the topic.

To draw a picture, the plot for test samples is 12 acres, and generally is not even planted.  

And of course, if one is suspicious that THC/etc. could cause serious problems, precisely how much research do you want to do?  There is a certain point where you need to design small experiments with willing participants so you don't end up doing "Auschwitz twins studies" and such.

I'm still in favor of medical marijuana and am leaning towards favoring full legalization, but no sense in denying where things are scientifically.  It is a mess.  And to make things worse, the medical uses may be very dependent on the person--i.e. a small portion of the people with severe back pain may benefit hugely, but if you try the therapy on a broader group, you may not see the effect.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.