THE CASE “AGAINST” LEGALIZATION

February 06, 2019 at 5:15 am

For many states, the decriminalization of pot is bringing promises of tax windfalls and potential tourism. But, one former New York Times reporter is going against the grain, taking a deeper look at the mental and medical dangers of the drug.

For more information on Alex Berenson’s book “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence,” click here.

Aired on February 5, 2019.

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>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
10 STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA HAVE LEGALIZED
RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA.
OTHER STATES INCLUDING NEW YORK
AND NEW JERSEY ARE ON THE VERGE
OF DOING THE SAME AND AS IF SOME
OF THE MOST PROMINENT LAWMAKERS
HAVE THEIR WAY, FEDERAL
LEGALIZATION OF POT WILL SOON
FOLLOW.
SOME OF THE REASONS FOR THIS
SEEMINGLY INEXORABLE PUSH
TOWARDS LEGALIZATION ARE WELL
KNOWN.
THAT FAR FROM BEING HARM TO FEEL
OUR HEALTH, MARIJUANA HAS PROVEN
TO BE MEDICALLY BENEFICIAL.
LEGALIZATION LEADS TO REDUCTION
OF THE KIND OF VIOLENCE THAT
ACCOMPANIES THE CRIMINAL
MARIJUANA INDUSTRY, THAT TEN
FORCE.
OF MARIJUANA LAWS HAS
PROPORTIONATELY FALLEN ON
COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND THAT
RATHER THAN SERVING AS THE
GATEWAY TO MORE DANGEROUS DRUGS,
MARIJUANA SERVES AS A GATEWAY
AWAY FROM THE HARDER STUFF.
THAT IN ANY EVENT IS HOW THE
NARRATIVE HAS GONE FOR THE PAST
25 YEARS OR SO BUT IS THE
NARRATIVE VIEW?
HIS N HIS NEW BOOK "TELL YOUR
CHILDREN THE TRUTH ABOUT
MARIJUANA, MENTAL ILLNESS AND
VIOLENCE" FORMER "NEW YORK
TIMES" CORRESPONDENT AND BEST
SELLING NOVELIST ALEX BERENSON
ARGUES VIGOROUS THEY IT IS NOT
OR AT LEAST NOT WITHOUT SERIOUS
QUALIFICATIONS.
HE JOINS US NOW.
WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
>> YOU HEARD ME GIVE THE LITANY
OF THE REASONS WHY LEGALIZATION
IS NECESSARY.
LET'S SEE IF WE CAN BREAK IT
DOWN ONE AT A TIME.
FIRST OF ALL, THAT MARIJUANA IS
MORE LIKELY TO BE GOOD FOR YOUR
HEALTH THAN BAD.
HASN'T CANNABIS PROVEN TO BE
BENEFICIAL TO YOUR HEALTH AND
THAT'S WHY IT'S BEEN LEGAL IN
MANY STATES FOR A LONG TIME FOR
MEDICAL PURPOSE?
>> THAT IS THE EASIEST TO KNOCK
DOWN.
THAT'S CLEARLY UNTRUE.
SMOKED CANNABIS IS NOT
BENEFICIAL FOR NEARLY ANY OF THE
CONDITIONS IT'S CLAIMED TO HELP.
THAT'S THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF
MEDICINE THAT REVIEWED THE
LITERATURE ON THIS IN DEPTH AND
IN 2017 THEY PUT OUT A REPORT
AND THEY SAY PEOPLE WHO SAY IT'S
GOOD FOR CANCER OR IRRITABLE
BOWEL SYNDROME OR DEMENTIA,
THERE'S A LITANY OF CONDITIONS
IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE GOOD FOR,
THERE'S NO EVIDENCE IT'S GOOD
FOR THOSE THINGS.
IT HELPS TREAT PAIN.
IT'S AN INTOXICANT AND
INTOXICANTS HELP TREAT PAIN,
ALCOHOL IS A PAINKILLER BUT IN
THE LONG RUN THERE'S A STUDY
THAT CAME OUT LAST YEAR SHOWING
PEOPLE HAD CHRONIC PAIN AND USED
CANNABIS REPORTED MORE PAIN
AFTER A FOUR-YEAR PERIOD AND
WERE MORE LIKELY TO USE OPIOIDS
SO LIKE OTHER INTOXICANTS IT
ISN'T GOOD FOR PAIN IN THE LONG
RUN.
>> ONE OF YOUR CRITICS DIRECTLY
RESPONDING TO YOU HE WRITES THC
HAS BEEN AN FDA APPROVED
TREATMENT FOR NAUSEA AND
VOMITING ASSOCIATED WITH CANCER
AND CHEMOTHERAPY AND CANCER HAS
BEEN SHOWN TO TREAT ALS, MS,
GLAUCOMA, PTSD, DIABETES,
ANXIETY, DEPRESSION AND A
VARIETY OF OTHER AILMENTS.
>> THE FIRST HALF OF THAT
STATEMENT IS TRUE.
THC, THE STUFF THAT GETS YOU
HIGH, HAD BEEN APPROVED BY THE
FDA TO TREAT THAT PARTICULAR
CONDITION.
NOTHING ELSE.
BUT ALL THE OTHER STUFF HE SAYS
THAT CANNABIS IS GOOD FOR, IT'S
NOT TRUE AND THIS IS WHAT THE
ADVOCATES DO.
THEY TAKE THE VERY, VERY SMALL
SLIVER OF MEDICINE THAT CANNABIS
OR THC OR CBD WHICH IS ANOTHER
CHEMICAL HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO BE
GOOD FOR AND THEY JUMP TO A
MASSIVE ARRAY OF CONDITIONS FOR
WHICH THERE'S NO EVIDENCE OR IN
MOST CASES NO EVIDENCE, IN A FEW
CASES ALMOST NO EVIDENCE.
>> SO WHAT IS THE HARM?
WHAT HARM TO YOUR HEALTH?
>> SO SMOKING IN GENERAL IS NOT
GREAT FOR YOU.
BUT MY BOOK FOCUSES SPECIFICALLY
ON THE PSYCHOACTIVE HARMS OF
CANNABIS.
THAT CANNABIS IS HARMFUL TO YOUR
MENTAL HEALTH AND THAT
SPECIFICALLY PROLONGED USE OF
CANNABIS BY ADOLESCENTS HAS BEEN
SHOWN TO BE LIKE SCHIZOPHRENIA,
WHICH IS THE MOST DEVASTATING
MENTAL ILLNESS OF ALL, THAT EVEN
TEMPORARY USE OF CANNABIS CAN
CAUSE PSYCHOSIS IN HEALTHY
ADULTS AND I DON'T THINK
ADVOCATES FOR THIS DRUG WOULD
ARGUE WITH THE FACT THAT IT
CAUSES PARANOIA IN A LOT OF
PEOPLE AND PARANOIA --
>> BUT TEMPORARY PARANOIA.
>> OKAY, YES.
BUT WHEN YOU'RE ARGUING AND --
YOU KNOW, THIS HAS BEEN A BIG
ARGUMENT AROUND THE BOOK, WHEN
YOU'RE ARGUING ABOUT WHETHER
CANNABIS CAN CAUSE SCHIZOPHRENIA
AND CAUSE PERMANENT PSYCHOSIS,
THE FACT THAT IT CAN CAUSE
TEMPORARY PSYCHOSIS EVEN IN
HEALTHY SPEAK PART OF THE REASON
WHY THE ARGUMENT THAT IT CAN
CAUSE PERMANENT PSYCHOSIS IS A
GOOD ONE.
>> YOU LAY OUT A BUNCH OF
STUDIES LINKING MARIJUANA TO
PSYCHOSIS.
WE DON'T TIME FOR A BUNCH OF
THEM.
GIVE US ONE EXAMPLE THAT AN
UNBIASED OBSERVER WOULD SAY --
>> THE BEST ONE WAS THE BIG ONE
IN 1982347 THE "LANCET," IT
COVERED 50,000 SWEDISH ARMY
RECRUITS WHO WERE IN SWEDEN,
RECRUITED INTO THE MILITARY IN
1969, 1970 AND THEY WERE
FOLLOWED UP TO SEE WHO DEVELOPED
PSYCHOSIS 15 YEARS LATER OR SO
AND IF YOU USED CANNABIS MORE
THAN TEN TIMES, EVEN ACCOUNTING
FOR OTHER FAMILIAR RISK FACTORS
AND OTHER RISK FACTORS YOU HAD A
DOUBLING OF THE RISK, MORE THAN
DOUBLING, 2.3 TIMES THE RISK OF
PSYCHOSIS.
AND OTHER STUDIES HAVE SHOWN
THAT RATE RATIO OVER AND OVER
AGAIN.
IF YOU USE IN ADOLESCENCE, YOU
WEAR TO TO THREE TIMES MORE
LIKELY TO DEVELOP SCHIZOPHRENIA.
AND SCHIZOPHRENIA IS A TERRIBLE
DISEASE.
IT'S TERRIBLE FOR THE SUFFERERS,
IT DESTROIS FAMILIES.
EVEN IF WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS TO 1 IN
100 PEOPLE WHO USE CANNABIS
REGULARLY, IT'S SUCH A BAD
DISEASE WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT
IT.
>> FOR TIME'S SAKE I'LL MOVE ON.
ELECTED OFFICIALS USUALLY FOCUS
ON SOMETHING THAT IS PROBABLY
TRUE HERE IN NEW YORK CITY AT
LEAST THAT THE LAWS, MARIJUANA
LAWS, DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECT
COMMUNITIES OF COLOR,
PARTICULARLY AFRICAN-AMERICAN
COMMUNITIES.
ISN'T THAT A SERIOUS CONCERN?
>> THAT IS TRUE.
THERE'S ZERO QUESTION MARIJUANA
ARRESTS TEND TO FOCUS ON THE
BLACK COMMUNITY.
THE IDEA THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE GO
TO PRISON FOR CANNABIS
POSSESSION OR USE IS NOT TRUE.
>> BUT AS YOUR CRITICS HAVE
SAID, THERE ARE OTHER NEGATIVE
EFFECTS OF BEING ARRESTED FOR
MARIJUANA, BAD FOR YOUR JOB,
YOUR HOUSING.
>> ABSOLUTELY AND I'M NOT IN
FAVOR OF PROHIBITING MARIJUANA.
40 MILLION PEOPLE USE MARIJUANA
IN 2017, WE WON'T ARREST THEM
ALL OR SEND THEM ALL TO JAIL.
THERE IS A TOTALLY REASONABLE
COMPROMISE HERE IN
DECRIMINALIZATION, INDIVIDUAL
POSSESSION, USE, IS NOT GOING TO
BE SUBJECT TO ARREST, YOU WON'T
WIND UP IN JAIL, MAYBE YOU GET A
VIOLATION, THE EQUIVALENT OF
LITTERING OR PARKING TICKET AND
SO WE'LL SAY PERSONAL USE IS
EFFECTIVELY NOT SOMETHING THE
POLICE WILL WORRY ABOUT.
BUT WE WON'T ALLOW A LEGALIZED
SYSTEM WHERE THERE ARE COMPANIES
PROMOTING THIS, WHERE THERE ARE
COMPANIES LOBBYING AGAINST THE
SCIENCE ON THIS.
THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED WITH
TOBACCO AND TOBACCO KILLED 10
MILLION PEOPLE.
>> BUT A LOT OF STATES ARE FOR
LEGALIZATION AND IT'S GOING TO
HAPPEN.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO STOP IT?
>> THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO TO
STOP IT.
I WROTE TO BOOK, TELL YOUR
CHILDREN --
>> SHOULD IT BE STOPPED?
>> IN MY OPINION YES, BUT TELL
YOUR CHILDREN IS ABOUT THE
SCIENCE AND THE MEDICINE AROUND
THIS AND IT'S FOR PARENTS WHO
WANT TO TALK TO THEIR KIDS WHO
MIGHT BE USING WHO MIGHT BE 16
OR 17 AND HAVING NEGATIVE
EFFECTS.
IT'S FAR 25-YEAR-OLD STARTING TO
GET PARANOID AND CAN'T FIGURE
OUT WHY HE CAN'T STOP SMOKING.
THAT'S WHO THIS BOOK IS FOR.
>> ONE OF THE LITANY ITEMS THAT
I FORGOT TO MENTION IS THAT IT'S
A GATEWAY -- FAR FROM BEING A
GATEWAY TO HARDER DRUGS, LIKE
"REEFER MADNESS" IT'S A GATEWAY
AWAY FROM HARDER DRUGS AND THEY
SAY STATISTICS PROVE IT.
>> THAT'S A BIZARRE ASSERTION.
THERE'S NOBODY WHO WOULD DISPUTE
THAT CANNABIS IS A GATEWAY TO
HARDER DRUGS.
THE QUESTION IS WHY.
SOME PEOPLE SAY WELL IT'S A GATE
WAY BECAUSE IT'S ILLEGAL SO YOU
HAVE TO GET IT FROM A DRUG
DEALER WHO MIGHT HAVE HEROIN OR
COCAINE.
SO IN THAT CASE WE SHOULD
LEGALIZE IT AND MOVE IT OUT OF
THIS.
THAT'S A LEGITIMATE ARGUMENT FOR
LEGALIZATION.
THE COUNTERARGUMENT IS WELL,
THIS SORT OF FARM CLOJALLY
PRIMES YOUR BRAIN TO WANT MORE
EUPHORIC CHEMICALS IN IT AND IN
THE LONG RUN THAT IS GOING TO
DRIVE YOU TO USE HARDER DRUGS.
I WOULD SAY THAT THAT IS AN OPEN
QUESTION, WHETHER IT'S MORE A
SOCIAL OR PHARMACOLOGICAL AFFECT
BUT THERE'S TONS OF EVIDENCE
THAT SHOW PEOPLE ON METHADONE,
IF THEY START USING CANNABIS
THEY'RE MORE LIKELY TO USE
OPIOIDS AGAIN.
INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE USING
CANNABIS ARE MORE LIKELY TO
BECOME OPIOID USERS YEARS LATER.
THERE'S VERY GOOD EVIDENCE.
THE STUDIES YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT
ARE REALLY BAD EPIDEMIOLOGICAL
STUDIES.
THEY DON'T ACTUALLY PROVE --
>> WELL THEY SAY, FOR EXAMPLE,
IN THE STATES WHERE MARIJUANA
HAS BEEN LEGALIZE IT HAD RATE OF
OPIOID ADDICTION DECREASED?
>> WHAT THEY SAID WAS IN STATES
THAT LEGALIZED MEDICAL MARIJUANA
OPIOID OVERDOSE DEATH DECEMBER
CREASED.
THAT'S A 2014 PAPER BASED ON
PRE-2001 DATA.
THE STATES THAT LEGALIZED WERE
IN THE WEST.
THE STATES WHERE THE OPIOID
OVERDOSE EPIDEMIC WAS THE WORST
WAS IN APPALACHIA, NOW IF YOU
LOOK AT MORE RECENT DATA --
WHICH WE HAVE -- NOW THAT
LEGALIZATION HAS SPREAD AND THE
EPIDEMIC SPREAD, THAT
RELATIONSHIP HAS DISAPPEARED BUT
YOU WILL NOT HEAR ADVOCATES SAY
THAT.
THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT A PAPER
THAT IS FIVE YEARS OLD BASED ON
TEN-YEAR-OLD DATA.
>> THE BOOK IS "TELL YOUR
CHILDREN ABOUT THE TRUTH ABOUT
MARIJUANA, MENTAL ILLNESS AND
VIOLENCE."
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

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