Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence


Marijuana Dry Stream Bed
Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence

USA – -( Ten states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Twenty-two other states, along with U.S. territories Puerto Rico and Guam, allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes.

Let's examine some hidden issues about marijuana use.

Before we start, permit me to state my values about medical or recreational use of any drug. We each own ourselves. If we choose to take chances with substances that can ruin our health, lead to death and otherwise destroy our own lives, that's our right. But we do not have a right to harm others in the process of harming ourselves.

Alex Berenson is a graduate of Yale University, with degrees in history and economics. He delivered a speech last month at Hillsdale College's Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., on the hidden dangers of marijuana use.

He told his audience, “Almost everything that you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything that advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.”

The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Marijuana is most commonly prescribed for pain, but it's rarely tested against other pain relief drugs, such as ibuprofen. Last July, a large four-year study of Australian patients with chronic pain showed that cannabis use was associated with greater pain over time. Marijuana, like alcohol, is too weak as a painkiller for people with terminal cancer. They need opiates.

Berenson said, “Even cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, who co-founded the Marijuana Policy Project … acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws mostly as a way to protect recreational users.”

Marijuana legalization advocates sometimes argue that its use reduces opiate use. That is untrue. Berenson said, “The United States and Canada, which are the countries that have the most opioid use, also have by far the worst problem with … cannabis.” Marijuana carries not only a devastating physical health risk but also mental health dangers. A 2017 National Academy of Medicine study found that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk. … Regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.” Also, a paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry last year showed that people who used cannabis in 2001 were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjusting for other potential risks.

Something else that's not given much attention is that cannabis today is much more potent than it was in the 1970s, when most marijuana contained less than 2 percent THC.

Marijuana And Fireworks
Berenson said that the difference between yesterday's marijuana and today's is like the difference between “near beer and a martini.”

Today marijuana routinely contains 20 to 25 percent THC, as a result of sophisticated farming and cloning techniques. As such, it produces a stronger and quicker high. Berenson said that the difference between yesterday's marijuana and today's is like the difference between “near beer and a martini.

Berenson cited several studies and other findings showing a relationship between marijuana use and violence and crime. According to a 2007 paper in The Medical Journal of Australia on 88 felons who had committed homicide during psychotic episodes, almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis.

A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents and found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence.

The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. In 2013, those states combined had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults. In 2017, 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, even after accounting for differences in population growth.

One of the problems with legalization of marijuana is that it gives social sanction to its use. A preferable strategy would be simple decriminalization, which does not imply social sanction. Moreover, where there is no criminal activity associated with any drug usage, it should be treated as a medical problem, as opposed to a criminal problem.

Walter E.Williams
Walter E. Williams

About Walter E.Williams

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. Williams is also the author of several books. Among these are The State Against Blacks, later made into a television documentary, America: A Minority Viewpoint, All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa's War Against Capitalism, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty Versus The Tyranny of Socialism, and recently his autobiography, Up From The Projects.

  • 48 thoughts on “Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence

    1. what a crock of shit this article is!! i’m not a smoker but been around people who did my whole life,the biggest problem with people who smoke is getting them to move when they’re stoned,getting violet,my ass!

      1. Alex’s empirical study of one trumps the statistically relevant scientific study of thousands of users in controlled studies. I’ve read the original article that Dr. Williams is succinctly reporting on. Facts matter.

    2. What a wonderful world it will be. Nobody will have to work anymore. We will receive a universal income to do nothing but lay around and smoke pot 24/7. We can dispose of unwanted babies all the way up to the delivery time. Just kill them and throw them away like yesterday’s trash. Folks, we are seeing our society falling apart. Will there even be a society to save in the coming years?

    3. Pot users sure are vocal about pleading their case for the substance. I took a real interest in the article because of my health issues, but I think the use of any form of pot would just add to my problems. I have had several surgeries, in fact 4 in the last year, and I am given a prescription for OXY. I will take it the day of surgery and the day after and that is the end of my use. From there Tylenol takes the edge off. Oxy causes other uncomfortable situations and I have no desire to get hooked. A number of years ago I did smoke a couple of joints of pot and all it made me do was cough. What fun is that.
      I can live without this stuff.

    4. Reclassify MJ from Schedule One. Decriminalize it, fine. Just remember, it is still against federal law to use it, or to possess it. Do either and you can lose your 2nd Amendment rights. Maybe that’s why the liberals want to legalize it at the state level.

    5. “The United States and Canada, which are the countries that have the most opioid use, also have by far the worst problem with … cannabis.”

      News flash: Drug abusers found to abuse drugs! Marijuana use does not mean the user will become addicted to opiates. If it did the opioid problem would be a LOT worse. Besides, we have an opioid overdose problem, not everyone using opioids is a problem. Less than one half of one percent of opioid users OD.

      “According to a 2007 paper in The Medical Journal of Australia on 88 felons who had committed homicide during psychotic episodes, almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis.”

      So? How many misused alcohol, or other drugs, how many had mental illnesses or prior violent histories? Is there any proof marijuana made them violent?

      Walter Williams is a great man who I respect enormously, but this Berenson guy has been everywhere lately spreading fear about marijuana. It helps a lot of people, especially people with PTSD. Psychedelics, psilocybin, and MDA also have the potential to do a lot of good, but research has been almost impossible because of our draconian drug laws. Enough! Stop hurting people by preventing them from going outside a medical establishment that has failed to help them.

      1. And, not forgetting that the “studies” done here in Australia have been questioned and found to be grossly inaccurate,
        For the most part the studies that find any herbal or alternative medicines or treatments that are “dangerous” were funded by the pharma industry. Profits before truth!
        From personal experience. I have a friend with mental heath issues who is on a cocktail of medications, which don’t seem to work. What does stabilize his moods and stop the “voices” is a single cone of weed each day.
        Used in moderation, most things are not dangerous. It’s the misuse that causes problems.

    6. Holy Cow.A modern day form of “Reefer Madness” propaganda!!Prohibition fails every single time.Medically, marijuana & CBD whether derived from cannabis or hemp can very useful.Cannabis should removed as a schedule 1 drug, clearly.That would allow for true research.As for recreational use, one needs to make quality decisions.Big Brother is far to involved in our lives and certainly unable to Save Us All!!

    7. If you read “Imprimis”, which is the scource of this article you should realize that the sampling Berenson uses for his statistics is seriously flawed. He uses the inmates of a facility for the criminally insane where he is employed as the pool for his samples. Seriously flawed and biased product.

    8. The argument that murders went up when cannabis rules were relaxed stinks of the same fallacious arguing of the anti-2A crowd. You do know that Portland’s government has rolled out the welcome mat for homeless and Antifa in the same time frame, right? But oh, no! There could not possibly be any other cause but cannabis! You also failed to mention the myriad troubles of long term prescription opioid and opiate usage such as permanent addiction and actually causing new pain. Cannabis, like everything else, has risks I am sure. It is not some magical solution and it is not some demon plant either. Some of the prescription drugs made from it do not even contain the THC that would get the patient high.

    9. I live in Colorado. What the author says is accurate and actually understated. We have had a bunch of crime and damage done in our state thanks to MJ and now with people ripped while driving at all times of the day–at least the drunks drove late at night and early in the O-dark hours. HOW CAN A FEDERAL CRIME BE MADE LEGAL BY STATE ELECTIONS—CAN WE VOTE TO ELIMINATE EVERY FEDERAL ANTI GUN ANTI-SECOND AMENDMENT LAW–NOW THAT MAKES SENSE!

      1. Because the Federal Government was created by the States to serve their interests, not to rule over them, contrary to the wrongheaded opinions of our hauty black-robed overlords.

        BTW, whistling past the graveyard, where is Ruth Ginsburg? Her photo published recently by the NY Times to reassure us the old girl’s miraculous recovery is on-track was taken some time before this latest brush with the grim reaper, November last year or the year before, if memory serves.

        While not conclusive, using an unrepresentative photo could be an indication Ginsburg’s actual condition fails to match up with the accompanying narrative. Now, I have no desire to hasten her elevation to the celestial realm, but our highest court functions best with a full compliment of Justices on-board working together to handle the toughtest calls. If Ginsburg is incapacited and unable to fufill her responsibilities perhaps it’s time to consider something like a 25th amendment for the judiciary. Just sayin’

    10. This is seriously the biggest sack of lies I have ever seen. Show me just one documented case of someone getting Schizophrenia from Marijuana! Show me one documented death due to the use of Marijuana! Good luck with either endeavor.

      With that said, in my family alone I have had 4 members die from alcohol or prescription drug use. Where is the call to ban those? In fact, prescription drug use has become like the plague and is a major issue in this country. And people from every walk of life are getting addicted to those prescription drugs! Guess who is responsible for that. If you answered doctors and the pharmaceutical companies, you would be correct. Peddle this nonsense somewhere else. I have been using Marijuana for 25 year’s, run my own successful business, have never committed any crime. Hell, I have never even had a ticket of any kind, and I also have never had any type of mental disorder.

    11. Want to know why these sorts of warnings always fall on deaf, ears? Why pot smokers universally dismiss such apparently persuasive and well-researched predictions of inevitable devastating consequences? Why after 86 years of the government’s anti-pot propaganda crusade (beginning with 1936’s “Reefer Madness”) has resulted in 10’s of thousands, if not 100’s of thousands, of incarcerations, wasted dozens of billion$, and the absurd criminalization of a significant portion of our population?

      The answer is simple, if not obvious, and completely analogous to a situation near and dear to the interests of ‘Ammoland News’ readers. The claims of anti-pot preachers are as unrelated to reality and as intellectually vacuous as the claims of gun-grabbers, and just as detrimental to the freedoms of a self-governing people.

      Before the calls for Tar & Feathers reaches critical mass, let me be clearly understood: I’m not defending the abuse of pot, alcohol, or any other drug, nor the wonton use of firearms. What I’m advocating is a blanket refusal to accept the bogus comparison of unmistakably abusive behavior with restrained, careful, and conscientious behavior. The latter does not portend the former, to assume so is to turn ’cause & effect’ on its head. And the persistent effort to compare the one with the other is the special provenance of ‘true belivers,’ deceivers and other con artists.

    12. You cannot argue for bans for X and against bans for Y and expect to maintain credibility. Is habitual or occasional use of marijuana a bad idea for most anyone? Yes.

      The real question though is: Do you approve of government having power to make these kinds of determinations for you?

      I do not.

    13. Bullshit article! Don’t like it don’t use it. No different than any other substance, modification and not over use and it is fine. Alcohol is proven to be far worse than canabis.

    14. Utter nonsense! Berenson took his statistical sampling from a base of 300 INMATES in a prison for the Criminally Insane!! He then applies his findings to the society at large.. Brilliant!! The man is misinformed..

    15. If it wasn’t for the use of a medical marijuana product my son would be having 3-10 seizures during the day and many more at night. It literally has saved his life. His neurologist has supported his usage as well as his physician. That being said, I voted against the recreational form in MI. There is a HUGE difference between what is used medicinally and what will be used recreationally; namely the THC content. The THC content has been altered dramatically since the 1970’s. Those who grow and process marijuana focus on this chemical because it’s what most people want – to get high. It is also the reason why so many states passed recreational usage laws. Politicians put Bills into place that would have detrimental effects on the public because people are lazy and ignorant. Research the Opium Wars of Britain against China and you will see where this is going.

      THC is the psychoactive substance that makes you high. It is the component responsible for the severe psychological affects like schizophrenia, depression, hallucinations and psychotic breakdowns.

      But it is NOT the only substance in marijuana and it is NOT the biochemical component that medical marijuana users consume to stop pain, cancer, intractable seizures, MS, Parkinson’s disease and the many other neurological illnesses today. That compound is called cannabinoid and does NOT have any negative, psychological affects. There are several cannabinoid chemicals documented through peer-reviewed clinical studies – over 2,000 to be exact.

      Those against marijuana use biased information to influence law-makers and parents – fear is the great motivator. They lump everything together never making a distinction between THC and cannabinoids. The average person is stuck believing what the “experts” say. Much of what Berenson states is true BUT it is the THC levels and NOT marijuana in general. To control the THC levels should be the primary focus with law-makers – regulate how much THC can be in a product. Other misinformation is the fact there are certain genetic markers that can predict who might have negative psychological reactions to THC. Some are already known, while others need more research. If weight loss/gain, alcoholism diabetes and other known disorders can be traced to a genetic dysfunction, why not explain to the public marijuana use can be related to certain genetic problems? Parents could test for any genetic issue to avoid problems down the road.

      I tried the most well-known cannabis product, made from hemp (< 0.01% THC) from the Stanley Brothers of Colorado – Charlotte’s Web – to treat my son’s seizures. I’ve tried other products with similar % of THC. They did not work. When I used a product with a slightly higher THC level it completely shut down his seizures. This is the case for many suffering from seizures. They may need a minute amount of THC.

      Contrary to what Mr. Williams states, cannabinoids HAVE been tested against other pain medications proving it has even more pain-fighting chemical properties than many most medications. There are well over 120 studies showing how cannabinoids cause apoptosis in cancer cells – they commit their own cell suicide.
      Cannabinoids cross the blood-brain-barrier meaning the brain ALLOWS cannabinoids into itself. Very few elements cross the BBB. Our brains, central nervous system and the entire digestive system have cannabinoid receptors meaning our bodies easily accept cannabinnoids. Cannabis is like a glove fitting a hand. When used properly and with the proper biochemical constituents, it saves lives, stops pain and should be used when other drugs fail. “First, do no harm.”

      Our bodies do NOT have receptors for Prozac, Ritalin and other psychoactive drugs. The body is forced to uptake them. Cannabis has been used for a few thousand years to treat many of man’s ills.

      I do not advocate the use of recreational marijuana. I do advocate for the intelligent, unbiased use of it for medicinal reasons. I ask parents to do their own research as they should for any drug or substance. I expect articles like this not to use fear and biased information when readers may not know everything there is to know on a subject. When someone writes an article on a “hot” subject, please use all available information regardless if it “fits” your agenda.

    16. Hell, excess and poor judgement together can cause any substance to become a problem. As an Oregonian, I am fully expecting the motor vehicle accidents to increase considerably, but knowing the hedonists in state government who think anything is OK, and who put a lot of dope tax and permit money away, we’ll likely never see the statistics, because they’ll stonewall them. Damn, I hate what the Leftists have done to my state!

      1. I am of the belief that the States pushing this are doing it just for the money it will bring into the treasury. First they will get to tax the product when you buy it, and then fine the impaired person when he is stopped by the Police and arrested for DWI. I have heard for years that smoking marijuana is worse than smoking cigarettes as to lung decease and cancer. while the left is railing about smoking cigarettes they want us to smoke marijuana. Follow the Money !

          1. Apparently you missed these:
            Smoked Marijuana as a Cause of Lung Injury

            Effects of cannabis on pulmonary structure, function and symptoms

            Respiratory and Immunologic Consequences of Marijuana Smoking

            Marijuana and Lung Disease

            Cannabis use and risk of lung cancer: a case–control study

            Effects of Marijuana on the Lung and Immune Defenses

            The Association Between Marijuana Smoking and Lung Cancer – A Systematic Review

            Marijuana use and cancer incidence (California, United States)

            Due to limitations of space and my time I did not list the other dozens and dozens of clinical studies associating smoking marijuana and lung diseases including cancer.

        1. Socialists in DC, have been chasing after the votes of the marginalized for years now…
          Not only does the legalizing of pot, create a tax base, for legislature to spend on disarmament, the assaults on the 1A, and the 2A, but it also creates a mindless following of voters.

          In the sad world of political voter marketing in DC, Obama/Hillary capitalized on the votes from LGBT communities, in need of affordable cures/treatments for HIV/AIDS. They then tried to push their heath care through under all the false pretenses, as their lifestyle created a health risk for HIV/AIDS..
          Not to mention the costs of abortion on demand…

          Here’s another reason to take a closer look at pott, and the health problems, as if the cost of DUI, the costs of insurance, or accidents, etc… wasn’t already enough:
          A Radiologist with some knowledge on the matter says…

    17. Back in the 80s I was a pot smoker,!! For 3 years a heavy smoker , got withdrawals when I didn’t have a high !! Lost those years memories of my kids in there impressable years!! I weened myself off , it took a few years. Came to the realization that it’s bad for me .since then my mind is more active and creative with common sense! I enjoyed the high but it took over my life!!! There is one thing that pot avocaites fail to realize is that the insurance companies run this country!!! If you smoke even days before and there’s a trace of marijuana in you system and get hurt on the job, I’m almost positive that workman’s comp will be denied !! So to all the wise pot smokers advocates out there and in which I have told many co-workers!! How important is your job and family

      1. My experience, too. When you are a regular marijuana user, you put your life on hold and cease to grow mentally. I shudder to think of the damage done to people who start using it in grade school. I know a couple of them, and they never made anything of themselves.

      2. I own my own business and would never work as a slave for someone else so it does not matter to me at all. Do you use that same logic with all of the people addicted to alcohol and pain meds? There are a ton of those people in our country.

        1. Travis, of course. I have known a number of people that smoked when I was young. And they ruined their lives becoming pot heads. One had been one of the smartest students in my class. Several years after high school I met him. He was working landscaping jobs and didn’t look good. He told me he worked landscaping so he could scope out wealthy homes and steal for his pot habit – he was still a huge pot head. Pot tends to make people less ambitious, and just like other mind-altering drugs, affects their mental acuity.

          Pot in and of itself may not be bad, but those that I know that have used, or still do use it, are not the most successful people I have met. You might be a rare exception to that rule. I am also not stating you or anyone else should or shouldn’t use marijuana, just I have seen the damage it does close and personal. I also have known a few alcoholics, and they, too, ruined their lives. No mind-altering drug is harm-free.

          The other issue with “legalizing” pot is that it is still a federal crime and if you are caught in possession of marijuana and a firearm, you are facing a major felony charge, without having committed a “real” crime other than the crime of possession of marijuana while in possession of a firearm.

    18. By legalizing recreational use we are giving it the stamp of approval. While I don’t really care what you do in the privacy of your home, the problems will arise when pot smokers venture out on the road as we all know they will. As if we don’t have enough impaired drivers as it is.

    19. Gotta get em hooked on oxy’s to make the pharmaceuticals portfolios grow i guess, or even better SSRI’s, then you have to take some other drug to be able to poo or have sex, and when you stop ssri’s you’ll be eating xanax’s like crazy. its like pharmaceuticals beget more pharmaceuticals, yet there are those on here, whilst on their superior moral high chairs that are regular users of such mind altering chemicals as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and opioids. Lets face it, alcohol is a thousand times more dangerous to yourself and to others around you. If you get drunk all day everyday its going to destroy you, if you get high all day every day its going to destroy you, if you take opioids in their various forms all day everyday its going to destroy you. Conservatives are just as totalitarian as liberals trying to force you to conform in to their way, just stop, leave me alone, freedom is too hard for a lot of people

      1. I am a conservative and I support the legalization of medical cannabis. The article did not cite the studies referenced and therefore is just heresay. I like Mr. Williams on most stuff but think he suffers from a little confirmation bias on this one.

      2. Rebeltarian, I am a Conservative, and don’t believe, as I suspect most don’t believe, what you state about Conservatives. Conservatives believe in freedom and personal accountability and responsibility.

        People that already use illegal drugs are not stopped by current drug laws. Just as Prohibition didn’t work, drug laws don’t either. We criminalize behavior, not property. Legalizing drugs will leave more resources available for real crime. Just like we don’t make the mere possession of alcohol illegal, those that don’t commit crime will not be in violation of the law just because of possession and use of other drugs.

        There will be issues as to where and how one uses drugs, such as smoking pot or injecting Heroin in public. We already have laws about public intoxication and drinking in public or while driving, so some laws would need to be changed to address the issues of these other drugs.

    20. We have dope shops at just about every major intersection in my state. Some businesses even have armed guards with signs outside saying such! It is easy to tell a pot head. Red eyes, wide big smile, and that laugh! Guns and left handed cigarettes do not mix!

    21. First off I am a fan of Walter Williams since the 1980’s. That being said i wish just once I could see an article like this which points out alcohol for exactly the same things, point for point, as pot. Anything less strains at the bonds of credibility and smacks of some sort of bias or hypocrisy. In the medical realm one immediately becomes suspicious of the role of Big Pharma. There was a good reason this country took the drastic step of a Constitutional amendment to ban alcohol. It was not a light or transitory reason. But at least it was done legally as is not the case with pot at the federal level. At the bottom line all anti-gun rhetoric, studies, comparisons etc. is the same sort of pseudo political mish-mash. .

      1. As in accounting as a college major, economics majors are very well versed in calculating statistics/mathematics…
        He isn’t speaking as a medical doctor in this context!

          1. I suppose it’s because the government has been approving pott lately, and not booze..
            .. A curent event article!

            Write to Ammoland, or the author, and ask for an article with the stats on alcohol abuse.
            I’ve seen a lot of families hurt by alcohol abuse.
            My older brother was killed by a drunken driver in 1978.
            They’ve been telling us for years about cirrhosis of the liver, and brain damage, from drinking too much!

            I don’t know of anyone who takes oxytocin and likes guns, so I couldn’t tell you if someone is being hypocritical…

          2. Who among us does not already know the perils of alcohol? Our culture as a whole has only been exposed to pot in the last sixty years or so, and it is widely considered to be harmless. It’s becoming clear that it’s not, and people need to be educated. These other substances are certainly topics for further discussion, just not in this article.

            1. Well, speaking only for myself, I can’t say for sure if marijuana is harmful, or not, but I used to smoke it.. .. and would forget what I was going out to the tool shed for. True story!
              I couldn’t see straight driving down the road once, and flipped my car over and totaled it too…

              I finally gave up all of the drugs when I started driving a semi tractor trailer..
              I don’t miss it at all either… Now, it’s medically ok to be under the influence. 🙁
              It dulls the mind, inhibits ambition, makes me addictively hungry, and costs too damn much!
              After all these years, I’m sure glad Bill Clinton never inhaled it 🙂

      1. Here we go again with this “Reefer Madness” argument again. The calling it dope are the dopes. 3/4’s of the people yelling about guns don’t own one and produce articles like this. Walter is badly misinformed. He is buying the lefts goods. We certainly don’t need to shoot our feet because the left doesn’t like guns. The push to get the guns is coming in the Senate and the Senate is loaded with “Repo Rinos” who will roll on command. Trump is the last hold on the gun grabbers. Failure to support him will be Gun Control in the Senate, Impeachment in the house…

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