Today's extraordinary New York Times piece on cannabis and psychosis
Three years ago I was practically set on fire for writing in Tell Your Children that cannabis may cause schizophrenia. Today the paper of record reports it as a fact, no qualifications.
I cannot stop thinking about sea change represented by the New York Times’s article today about the mental health dangers of cannabis.
In January 2019, Simon & Schuster published Tell Your Children, my book arguing cannabis use causes psychotic episodes and is likely a significant contributor to schizophrenia (and thus to violence, because untreated psychosis drives violence).
Two three-word sentences summarize the book’s thesis: Cannabis causes psychosis. Psychosis causes violence.
This simple statement stirred a furious media response - not just to the second sentence, but to the first, and not just from cannabis advocates but from nearly the entire non-conservative media.
The Washington Post published an op-ed calling the book “the return of ‘reefer madness.’” And another that criticized it for promoting “myths about marijuana.” And still another that said it was “ramping up the alarmism.” (That particularly risible piece was headlined “I smoked weed with my son. We’re closer now.” Sure you are. You should invest a couple hundred bucks in an eight-ball and try a few bumps with him, you’ll be thick as thieves.)
Again, those three pieces ran in The Washington Post - not openly left-leaning outlets like Rolling Stone or Vox. Reporters at those places engaged in a semi-coordinated campaign to smear the book - and me.
At Vox, German Lopez - a drug apologist who now works for the Times - wrote an endless screed, complete with charts, that claimed to explain “What Alex Berenson’s new book gets wrong about marijuana, psychosis, and violence.”
(Those were the days:)
Want to know what Tell Your Children gets wrong about cannabis, psychosis, and violence?
In the years since the book has come out, the scientific and epidemiologic evidence has only become stronger.
But the evidence was powerful even before I wrote Tell Your Children - which is why I could write it with such confidence. In fact, what was interesting even at the time was that the people who hated the book were unable to find factual errors in it (aside from a couple of what were essentially typos). Thus they attacked it on the now familiar grounds that it was filled with “misinformation” - that is, information they did not like.
No, the science hasn’t changed.
What has changed, I suspect, is that more and more parents are seeing what high doses of THC can do to their teenage (and in some cases adult) children, and sometimes in an astonishingly short time:
Elysse was 14 when she first started vaping cannabis… After the second or third try, she was hooked. “It was insane. Insane euphoria,” said Elysse, now 18…
But the euphoria eventually morphed into something more disturbing. Sometimes the marijuana would make Elysse feel more anxious, or sad. Another time she passed out in the shower, only to wake up half an hour later… Starting in 2020 she began having mysterious bouts of illness where she would throw up over and over… a gastroenterologist diagnosed her with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that causes recurrent vomiting in heavy marijuana users.
This woeful tale comes not from a Drug Enforcement Administration pamphlet but from The New York Times. Which went on to write:
In addition to uncontrollable vomiting and addiction, adolescents who frequently use high doses of cannabis may also experience psychosis that could possibly lead to lifelong psychiatric disorder, an increased likelihood of developing depression and suicidal ideation, changes in brain anatomy and connectivity and poor memory.
Too many parents have seen the truth. Nice woke parents who let their children use cannabis - “We’re closer now” - and now see those kids’s lives going, well, up in smoke.
The crime issue is more complex, but suffice it to say that the years following recreational legalization have not been happy ones for public - or traffic - safety, and cases revealing a striking connection between cannabis and violent crime keep popping up. Cannabis causes psychosis. Psychosis causes violence.
When I wrote Tell Your Children, I imagined full national legalization of cannabis was all-but-certain. I’m not so sure. The high potency version of the drug is just too obviously harmful, and a lot of parents now feel suckered.
The green wave may finally have peaked and be beginning to recede. Only time will tell how much damage it has done.
Meanwhile, please, Tell Your Children.