“They want to draw a straight line between cannabis and violence and there’s really no credible evidence of a straight link between the two.”
A staunch anti-marijuana advocate is warning New Zealand to, please, think of the children.
Alex Berenson, the author of Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, Violence, is making an appearance at the invitation of Family First, a conservative Christian lobby group, according to Newshub.
“The harms of cannabis are quite a bit larger than are generally realized,” Berenson said in an interview with Magic Talk’s Peter Williams, before getting all scientific.
“There’s CBD — a chemical in cannabis that a lot of people use — it’s non-psychoactive, it doesn’t get you intoxicated (and) it doesn’t seem to have the same risks as THC. THC is the drug they use when they want to get high ; that’s what people who smoke cannabis want. They want to be high,” he said.
“People who take CBD don’t want to be high — they’re taking it for pain relief, or sleep or arthritis. So there’s THC vs. CBD, then there’s medical vs. recreational cannabis. Medical and recreational cannabis are the same drug.”
And they’re both almost the same thing as another, more notorious drug, according to Berenson. “When cocaine became popular in Europe in the 1880s and 1890s, doctors thought it was medicine. They would give it to people for just about anything because people like excuses to take drugs that make them feel good and it has nothing to do with whether they treat any underlying disease, and it’s exactly the same with cannabis.”
The danger, again, according to Berenson, is that high-THC cannabis can cause temporary psychosis. “I’d say there are some people who disagree, but most psychiatric researchers would agree that it substantially increases your risk of developing schizophrenia,” he said. “Especially if you start using (it) as a teenager and especially if you use (it) heavily.”
Academics have offered a more measured evaluation of the connection, if any, between cannabis and psychosis that Family First has been promoting.
“They want to draw a straight line between cannabis and violence and there’s really no credible evidence of a straight link between the two,” said Joseph Boden, an associate professor of psychological medicine at New Zealand’s University of Otago. Boden said Family First’s methods were “sloppy.”
“As scientists, one of the things that we actually have to do apart from maintaining our objectivity about these things is actually to call out when people are misusing research,” he said.
The proposal emphasizes education and harm reduction, borrowing heavily from both the Canadian legalization model, which allows private companies to produce and sell cannabis products, and that of Uruguay, which adopted a more government-controlled — as opposed to profit-focused — model.
The draft bill in New Zealand restricts purchasing and possessing cannabis to Kiwis aged 20 years and older, implements strict parameters regarding advertising and promotion, and outlines measures of the licensing necessary to produce and sell cannabis.
“The primary objective of the legislation is to reduce overall cannabis use and limit the ability of young people to access cannabis,” Justice Minister Andrew Little said.
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Written by David Yasvinski