We’ve seen an absolute stampede in the last several years to legalize pot, whether for medicinal purposes or recreational use.
We were told that there are legitimate medicinal uses for marijuana. The evidence for this is entirely anecdotal as medical science has yet to identify any verified and confirmed health benefit to using the drug. While some users celebrate its value in producing pain relief, Alex Berenson writes in Imprimis that “Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis...is wrong.” For instance, a four-year study of patients with chronic pain in Australia showed that cannabis use was actually associated with greater, not lesser, pain over time.
Another flat-out myth is that pot can curb opioid use. The truth, sadly, is quite the other way round. Marijuana is, in fact, a gateway drug, which leads to experimentation with other drugs. The American Journal of Psychiatry wrote in January 2018 that people who used cannabis in 2001 were three times as likely to use opiates just three years later.
But most disturbing of all is a clearly demonstrated link between cannabis use and mental illness. Rather than serving as a cure for psychiatric problems, it’s actually a cause. In particular, marijuana can cause or worsen severe forms of mental illness, particularly psychosis, which in layman’s terms means a total break with reality. Teens who smoke pot regularly are three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.
With about 12 million Americans using cannabis 300 times a year, this is not a theoretical concern. What makes the situation worse is that what teens are smoking today is not your father’s Mary Jane. In the ’70s most marijuana contained less than two percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot. Today, the figure routinely is 20-25%. It produces a stronger high and a quicker high. Marijuana users comprise about 1.5% of all Americans but account for 11 percent of all emergency room cases of psychosis.
The most disturbing thing about all this is the link between marijuana and violence. Dr. Seena Fazel, an Oxford University psychiatrist and epidemiologist, found that people with schizophrenia are an alarming five times as likely to commit violent crimes, and almost 20 times as likely to commit murder.
A study of 265 psychotic patients in Switzerland found that young men with psychosis who were also cannabis users had a 50% chance of becoming violent. Yikes. This seems to be due largely to the link between cannabis-fueled paranoia in psychotic patients. Most defendants who committed homicide during a psychotic episode believed they were in danger from the victim.
As Berenson reports,
The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. Combined, those four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. Last year, 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.
According to reports from Texas, cannabis is also associated with an alarming number of child deaths due to abuse and neglect, far more than from alcohol and more than cocaine, meth, and opioids combined.
The Bible warns us strongly to avoid substance abuse. “Do not get drunk with wine (proxy for substances that affect mental clarity and control), for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). As science shows, we’ll have a healthier and happier frame of mind, we’ll be in control of our thinking and decision-making, and we’ll be safe for other people to be around - if we follow God and allow him to fill us with his Spirit. That sure beats the alternative.