Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Another Article About the Marijuana/Schizophrenia Causation Issue

By Dr. Samuel T. Wilkinson, "a resident physician in the Department of Psychiatry at The Yale School of Medicine" in the July 1, 2013 Wall Street Journal.  As I have also pointed out in my writings on the subject:
If legalization is certain to decrease the power of drug lords in Mexico and other countries, then this is certainly a favorable outcome. However, if the trade-off is that more people suffer from schizophrenia—and thus more Americans are homeless and debilitated—then this must be recognized and discussed by the general public. This association between marijuana and serious and devastating psychotic disorders has been absent or under-recognized in the public debate.


  1. The last sentence in the article makes me think that this is not only a cannabis Prohibitionist but also one for alcohol. We accept the price of alcohol because it is lower than the price of banning it. I have no problem in mapping out the accurate price of legalizing cannabis. Funny, because the prohibitionists have fairly consistently been opposed to do so in between pious articles about how this price is too high to bear. The hypocrisy is infuriating.

    The attorney general must approve the furnishing of study drugs in the case of cannabis/marijuana. When those who study it are given unfettered access to their study materials, the Prohibitionist side will deserve to be taken seriously on the subject of using science.

  2. I don't doubt that both alcohol and marijuana can trigger or exacerbate schizophrenia; but I think prohibition makes it worse.

    I know that potency and strains of marijuana greatly affect outcomes.

    With legalization -- hopefully at least -- we'd know exactly what we are getting.

    I know the difference between beer, wine, 20 proof 40 proof, 50 proof and so on.

    If I was given the wrong goods, I could sue.

    If I wanted to smoke marijuana and bought it illegally I'd have no way to verify and no legal remedy.

  3. TMLutas: The unwillingness of the mass media to discuss the risks associated with marijuana means that a lot of teenagers (those for whom the risk is the highest) believe what they are constantly being told: that marijuana is safe. Even the risks associated with alcohol use, again, especially by young people, are generally undiscussed by news and entertainment media. This is largely a problem of a reluctance by opinion makers to admit that intoxication has risks. If marijuana and alcohol risks were given even 1/10th the exposure that obesity risks are, it would doubtless have some effect on use rates, especially first use rates.

    Jonathan: the problem is that much of the risk associated with marijuana, like alcohol, isn't being taken by rational persons saying, "I'll only drink 10 proof alcohol" or the equivalent for marijuana. It is teenagers, who are not noted for their ability to make rational decisions about much of anything, as demonstrated by their driving records, pregnancy rates, STD rates, and almost every other risky behavior.

    In addition, we do not yet know if there is a safe level of marijuana exposure. We know that both alcohol and marijuana are risks, and frequency certainly increases risks. I also see no way that legalizing marijuana is going to produce marijuana with THC content on the packaging. It's a plant. We know that cigarette makers intentionally fiddle with their product to enhance addictive qualities, and the fear of lawsuits did not restrain them. I see no reason to believe that marijuana is going to be a different situation.

  4. Clayton - I agree with you that the accurate risks of these substances should be known and discussed and that we're doing a poor job of it. We have been fouling that job up for a century and huge numbers of people have, in ignorance, taken risks that they would not have taken if they were better informed.

    I want well informed people who take drugs because they have weighed the costs and judged the benefits as worth the risks. This standard should be constant no matter what the substance is from pot to booze to penicillin. I do not feel better if someone dies from a legal drug than if the drug is illegal. Accurate information is key across the board and prohibitionists' tendency to distort information by holding up research studies and lying about actual effects drive me up the wall. The lying marketing speak from drug pushers drives me up the wall too but you can't do anything about it because the pushers are already committing a crime and are thus not going to be affected by FTC truth in advertising campaigns.

  5. This is a useful link:

    There may not be a safe level of marajuana exposure until AFTER the initial exposure, which makes it a sort of Russian Roulette.

  6. TM: While anyone selling marijuana would be subject to FTC action, the "it's risk free" rhetoric does not come from those with an economic interest, but a religious belief in marijuana's wonderfulness. They won't be subject to FTC action.

  7. The religious beliefs exist, I've seen that too. The documentation via scientific study after study would be the most effective method of cutting that back to fit reality. Again, we've not gotten there due to the relative lack of studies because the AG has to issue a permit for legal marijuana to do the studies and AGs of both parties have held up the permits.

  8. Fortunately, there is no shortage of studies being performed that do not require permits for marijuana. The longitudinal studies don't supply marijuana to the subjects; they just ask people in the sample group about their behavior.