junk science reefer madness
junk science reefer madness

Why No One Should Listen To Alex Berenson And His Reefer Madness

Junk science in Reefer Madness is already being called across the board

Posted by:
Nanci Chi-Town on Sunday Feb 24, 2019

Why No One Should Listen To Alex Berenson And His Reefer Madness

alex berenson cannabis

The Perfect Example Of Junk Science


Despite the progress we’ve made so far with cannabis legalization, there will still be many prohibitionists who promote the stoner stereotype, perpetuate stupid myths about pot, and deny the benefits of cannabis.


Even though there are thousands of studies that have already been done, proving that cannabis is beneficial and not harmful. They’re like the flat earthers of the cannabis world.


And among them, Alex Berenson is among the worst.


Berenson actually invested time and energy in writing a book called Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence. The book is already available in bookstores throughout the United States, and it’s full of ludicrous claims about the “harms of cannabis” on kids. For one, he says that by 2040, the 160,000 infants who were born in the last 10 years will suffer from incapacitating forms of mental illness because of cannabis, while thousands more will commit heinous crimes such as murder.


He also claims that advocates of cannabis simply ignore the proof that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in the plant, actually causes schizophrenia and can even prompt individuals to engage in violent behavior when they experience a psychotic break.


In the book, Berenson cites the huge review conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently. The report studied the current evidence available on the benefits of cannabis, and said that in the part discussing the connection between psychosis and cannabis, “declared the issue settled”. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Though the issue wasn’t indeed settled, the report written up by the National Academies was very carefully worded. Anyone who’s been following the news on cannabis and psychosis knows that the issue still has a lot to uncover, since some studies show that THC can provoke unwanted side effects among people with psychosis but others don’t. There’s also a lot of debate in the industry: does cannabis induce psychosis among those who have it, or does psychosis cause people to consume more cannabis, as a means to self-medicate?


In a statement to Civilized, Berenson makes it clear: “Cannabis causes psychosis. Psychosis causes violence,” he says. “The advocacy community – and the for-profit cannabis industry – have spread myths and in some cases flat-out lies about cannabis for far too long. It’s time for the pendulum to swing to a more honest discussion of risks and benefits, no matter how difficult that fact may be for cannabis lovers to accept.”




Medical professionals and scholars have called Berenson out on his bullshit. Seventy-five of them wrote a letter, strongly criticizing his work and referred to it as “alarmism”, created to instill fear in the public “based on a deeply inaccurate misreading of science.” Academics from famous, reputable institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Columbia University, and New York University are among the signatories included in the letter; others include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and doctors.


“We urge policymakers and the public to rely on scientific evidence, not flawed pop science and ideological polemics, in formulating their opinions about marijuana legalization,” they write.


It’s disturbing, but more so entertaining, to see Berenson, an experienced journalist, actually ruin his reputation and career by writing the book. He pretty much shot himself in the foot doing so, and he did nobody any favors. He wasn’t helping parents or children; he’s merely a prohibitionist trying to persuade people. The problem was he didn’t use any thorough scientific analysis, and he opted instead for anecdotes and observations instead of listing proof that cannabis causes psychosis or is harmful – because there isn’t any.


Much of the book is dedicated to using anecdotes as a means of proving that violence is usually committed when one is high on pot. Berenson goes as far as saying that things will get worse, and it’s inevitable as the cannabis industry continues to grow in scale.


Whether it’s cannabis or anything else, everyone needs to understand that you must never believe EVERYTHING you read. Alex Berenson’s book is one, but you also have to consider that many anti-cannabis studies out there have been funded by companies that actually benefit from the drug’s prohibition. Do the work yourself, and think twice before believing what’s out there. Even if the work comes from an established journalist such as Alex Berenson.








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