In his book, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence, reporter and novelist Alex Berenson attempts to stir up public fear over marijuana legalization. This sort of alarmism has been around since the earliest days of prohibition. Rather than contributing to thoughtful debate, his work is a polemic based on a deeply inaccurate misreading of science.
This letter, signed by scholars and clinicians, refutes some of the specious arguments in Tell Your Children and reiterates their support for an end to marijuana prohibition and for the legal regulation of marijuana for adult use.
Overview of the Problems with the Scientific Claims of the Book:
Attributing cause to mere associations. Berenson irresponsibly and dangerously claims a causal link between marijuana use and increases in rates of psychosis and schizophrenia, which have purportedly led to increases in population-level violence. While associations between marijuana use and mental illness have been established, research suggests that the association is complex and mediated by multiple factors other than marijuana, including genetics. Similarly, associations between individual characteristics and violence are multi-factorial. Thus, establishing marijuana as a causal link to violence at the individual level is both theoretically and empirically problematic. Further weakening his arguments, the vast majority of people who use marijuana do not develop psychosis or schizophrenia, nor do they engage in violence, thus making Berenson’s claims far-reaching and exaggerated.
To read the entire article (including list of signees) produced by the Drug Policy Alliance click here: