More Lies and Deceptions Exposed

Star Parker

January 30, 2019

     The media is having another field day at the alleged expense of President Donald Trump.

    Supposedly, per what we read, the president “caved,” “folded,” or “lost” in the government-shutdown showdown with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Except it’s not true.

Our elites spend so much time inside the Washington, D.C., bubble that they’re sealed off from any sense of, connection to, or interest in what this nation is about.

Ours is a democracy. Remember? In the end, the people decide. Trump, who these same pundits love to call a “dictator,” has not forgotten.

It’s a president’s job to lead, to put on the line what he believes is best for the nation. But ultimately, the people decide.

As our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, noted: “In this age, and in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.

Sometimes at the first try, the message doesn’t get through. It means you try again a different way. This is exactly what Trump is doing.

In the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

The president must negotiate through the fog of a hostile media and now with a Democratic Congress more interested in inflicting political damage on the president than in implementing policy that serves our nation.

Trump tried to move negotiations forward after the shutdown by offering to extend DACA protections—protection against deportation of those who arrived illegally as children—and also for immigrants with temporary protected status.

What was the response from Democrats? No response. Counteroffer? None.

Why? Because the Democratic objective is inflicting damage, not advancing solutions for the American people.

Democrats sat back, actually enjoying the shutdown, while headlines like this from NBC ran: “The behavior of this administration while denying 800,000 people paychecks was as imperious as Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal offer of cake.”

Of course, no federal worker is being denied a paycheck. All pay will be made up. But it’s also important to keep in mind that federal worker compensation is on average higher than that of the private sector.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, federal employees earn on average 17 percent more in salary and benefits than their private-sector counterparts. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, private-sector employees are three times more likely to be fired and five times more likely to quit.

All in all, federal workers have a pretty cushy situation. One of the risks is a periodic shutdown disruption. But again, they receive back pay and overall receive good compensation to cover these rare inconveniences.

Now, rather than “caving,” Trump is making a new effort—advancing in another direction—to get the nation’s business done. He’s signed an order to re-open the government for three weeks to open the door for negotiation.

In his remarks, the president noted, “In the last two years, ICE officers arrested a total of 226,000 criminal aliens inside the United States.” In each of the past three months, he said, there were “60,000 apprehensions at our southern border.”

As of 2016, there were 10.7 million illegal immigrants in our nation, 7.8 million of which are in our workforce. Of the 10.7 million, two-thirds have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years.

A just released Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows Trump’s approval at 43 percent and disapproval at 54 percent—exactly where he was last month. Pelosi’s approval stands at 28 percent and disapproval at 47 percent, up from 41 percent last month.

Trump deserves credit for courageous leadership regarding the need for a wall on our southern border to serve our security interests.

If he had a good-faith negotiating partner in congressional Democrats, we might be able to get somewhere.

     Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Contact her at www.urbancure.org

Record Cold Forces Rethink on Global Warming

                                      Getty Images

     Headlines around the world are reporting exceptionally frigid conditions and unusually high levels of snowfall in recent weeks. They tout these events as records, but few people understand how short the record actually is — usually less than 50 years, a mere instant in Earth’s 4.6-billion year history. The reality is that, when viewed in a wider context, there is nothing unusual about current weather patterns.

    Despite this fact, the media — directly, indirectly, or by inference — often attribute the current weather to global warming. Yes, they now call it climate change. But that is because activists realized, around 2004, that the warming predicted by the computer models on which the scare is based was not actually happening. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels continued to increase, but the temperature stopped increasing. So, the evidence no longer fit the theory. English biologist Thomas Huxley commented on this dilemma over a century ago:

    “The great tragedy of science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”

    Yet, the recent weather is a stark reminder that a colder world is a much greater threat than a warmer one. While governments plan for warming, all the indications are that the world is cooling. And, contrary to the proclamations of climate activists, every single year more people die from the cold than from the heat.

    A study in British medical journal The Lancet reached the following conclusion:

     Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather, according to an international study analyzing over 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries.

    How did this bizarre situation develop? It was a deliberate, orchestrated deception. The results of the investigation of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were deliberately premeditated to focus on the negative impacts of warming. In their original 1988 mandate from the UN, global warming is mentioned three times, while cooling is not mentioned even once. The UN notes that:

      [C]ontinued growth in atmospheric concentrations of “greenhouse” gases could produce global warming with an eventual rise in sea levels, the effects of which could be disastrous for mankind if timely steps are not taken at all levels.

     This narrow focus was reinforced when the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a body the IPCC is required to support, defined climate change as being caused by human activity.

 

     IPCC Working Group 1 (WG1) produced the evidence that human-created CO2 was causing global warming. That finding became the premise for Working Group 2 (WG2), which examined the negative impact, and Working Group 3 (WG3), which proposed mitigation policies and actions to stop the warming. The IPCC did not follow the mandatory scientific method of allowing for the null hypothesis; namely, what to do if evidence shows CO2 is not causing warming.

     As MIT professor emeritus of atmospheric meteorology Richard Lindzen said, they reached a consensus before the research even began. The consensus “proved” the hypothesis was correct, regardless of the evidence. To reinforce the point, the UK government hired Lord Nicholas Stern, a British economist, to produce an economic review of the impact of warming. Instead of doing a normal cost/benefit analysis as any non-political economist would do, he produced what became known as the 2006 Stern Review — which only examined the cost.

     If Stern and the IPCC did a proper study, they would find that the impact of cooling is much more deleterious to all life on Earth, especially humans. Anthropologists tell us two great advances in human evolution gave us more control of the cold. Fire and clothing both created microclimates that allowed us to live in regions normally inaccessible. Consider the city of Winnipeg, with three technological umbilical cords: the electricity from the north, the gas from the west, and the water pipeline from the east. Three grenades set off at 2:00 a.m. on a January morning with temperatures of -30°C would render the city frozen solid within hours.

     Between 1940 and 1980, global temperatures went down. The consensus by 1970 was that global cooling was underway and would continue. Lowell Ponte’s 1976 book The Cooling typified the alarmism:

     It is cold fact: the global cooling presents humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for ten thousand years. Your stake in the decisions we make concerning it is of ultimate importance; the survival of ourselves, our children, our species.

    Change the seventh word to warming, and it is the same threat heard today. The big difference is that cooling is a much greater threat. To support that claim, the CIA produced at least two reports examining the social and political unrest aggravated mainly by crop failure due to cooling conditions. The World Meteorological Organization also did several studies on the historical impact of cooling on selected agricultural regions, and projected further global cooling.

     The sad part about all this is that there was a strategy that governments could, and should, have adopted. It is called game theory, and it allows you to make the best decision in uncertain circumstances. It requires accurate information and the exclusion of a biased political agenda. The first accurate information is that cold is a greater threat and a more difficult adaptation than to warming. After all, if you prepare for warming, as most governments are now doing, and it cools, the problems are made ten times worse. However, if you prepare for cold and it warms, the adjustment is much easier.

    The current cold weather across much of the world should prompt us to re-examine climate realities — not the false, deceptive, and biased views created and promoted by deep state bureaucrats through their respective governments.

Border Security Versus Democrat Hypocrisy

In border security debate, policy should trump rhetoric

James Jay Carafano

    Politicians often clothe outrageous policies in reasonable rhetoric. Donald Trump sometimes does the opposite, wrapping reasonable policy in careless rhetoric.

    Remember his earlier call for a “Muslim travel ban?” The policy itself – temporary restrictions on travel from a half-dozen countries – was perfectly reasonable. As the ISIS Caliphate collapsed, its fighters began fleeing to those nations, and Trump wanted to have measures in place to make sure they did not then come here.

Yet the President’s rhetoric helped fuel a bitter, partisan debate which kept the policy in abeyance until a Supreme Court ruling restored common sense by upholding the ban.

AMERICA’S PROGRESSIVES ARE SO BUSY EXTOLLING VIRTUES OF SOCIALISM THAT THEY WANT YOU TO IGNORE THIS

    His call for more border wall, only 237 miles out of the 1954 mile border, has sparked a similar dynamic. The political rhetoric on both sides of the debate frequently flies over the top, obscuring the practical rationale for the policy.

    Border security needs have changed since Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Then, Homeland Security’s focus was to catch illegal border crossers and remove them before they “melted” into the interior.

    Fences were erected in high-trafficked areas to deter or slow crossings, helping the border patrol to catch illegal immigrants within 100 miles of the border. (Deportation of those apprehended after being in the country more than two weekends or beyond 100 miles of the border is a much more laborious and costly process.)

The fencing was both an effective deterrent and a helpful enforcement tool, increasing the likelihood of expedited removal. As a result, illegal crossings declined.

But the threat to the border has evolved. Those crossing the border with children and claiming to be related as well as those claiming refugee status are not put in expedited removal. Both have become popular tactics to “beat” the system.

The only way to prevent abuse of the asylum process is to keep would-be immigrants on the other side of the border until 1) they submit formal asylum claims at official points of entry and 2) those claims have been evaluated.

Making that happen requires more and improved walls. Indeed, Trump’s wall policy reflects the advice of government’s border security professionals.

A similar request from any other president would be considered unremarkable. It’s controversial only because of the hyper-partisan, emotional political atmosphere that has characterized the Trump era.

Conversely, other arguments against the request don’t pass the common sense test.

One argument is that the border is not a problem. The real problem, they say, is visa overstays – people entering legally and then just not leaving.

Overstays have always been a huge problem and do, in fact, account for a large percentage of people here illegally. But part of the reason overstays are a larger share of the population is because border security is working better than it used to. And we should continue to make it work better.

One reason to worry more about border crossers than overstayers is because the latter at least got a visa to come here to begin with. That means they were screened for security, public safety, health, criminal and public charge risks. Those crossing illegally haven’t been screened at all – making them a potentially higher-risk population.

At the end of the day, illegal border crossings and overstays are both problems. It’s not an either/or issue; good policy must address both.

Another weak argument suggests walls aren’t needed because drugs and other bad stuff are mostly smuggled through the ports of entry. There is truth in that, but smuggling also occurs elsewhere along the border. Again, good policy must address both dangers.

We actually need more border security to channel more smuggling attempt to ports of entry, because that is where we are best equipped to screen for bad things.

Perhaps the weakest argument against border walls is that they create a humanitarian crisis. Right now, legitimate refugees suffer their cases are delayed due to the avalanche of false claims now clogging the system. Moreover, to take advantage of the “family” loophole, more and more children are being dragged to the border – often by a non-family member. This has created an epidemic of child endangerment.

Finally, wall opponents argue there are other things we should do to crack down on illegal immigration – from closing catch-and-release loopholes in the wall, to working with Latin American countries to stem the causes of illegal migration and combat criminal cartels.

Here, they are right. The administration should take all those steps. And it’s trying to do so. But the package proposed by the president compliments these efforts. It is not one or the other.

    James Jay Carafano is vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at The Heritage Foundation. He is a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges, E. W. Richardson fellow, and director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies. Read his research. Follow him on Twitter @JJCarafano.

The Dangers of Democracy

The Covington Fiasco Is a Perfect Example of Why the Founders Distrusted Democracy

Jarrett Stepman / @JarrettStepman / January 22, 2019

A student from Covington Catholic High School stands in front of Native American Nathan Phillips in Washington, D.C., in this still image from a Jan. 18, 2019, video by Kaya Taitano. (Photo: Kaya Taitano/Social Media/via Reuters/Newscom)

    In the shallow world of modernity, we throw around a word like “democracy” as a stand-in for “things that I like.”

    Many in popular culture and elite institutions promote democracy as a cure for all that ails us—an unquestioned and unqualified blessing.

Still others turn on a dime and hope for its demise as soon as it produces outcomes they don’t like.

While democracy often plays a good and necessary role in a self-governing society, we have lost the healthy skepticism of its worst excesses that the Founding Fathers understood when they established the governing institutions of the United States.

These excesses were on full display over the weekend.

The frenzied hate mob unleashed on Catholic “Make America Great Again” hat-wearing teens—falsely accused of harassing a Native American at the March for Life over the weekend—is a shameful reminder of how fake news can destroy lives and perpetuate evil.

Particularly disturbing is how so many people—celebrities, politicians, and even some respected leaders who should have been more wary of grabbing their pitchforks before the facts had been unveiled—fell in with the scramble to condemn the students as hateful racists.

Many of these voices called for violence and other heinous actions against the Covington Catholic children. There could be no quarter, no forgiveness, no mercy. The mob needed its pound of flesh.

Celebrities and so-called thought leaders spun out articles and social media posts comparing the Covington Catholic students to segregationists and Ku Klux Klansman, condemning the Catholic Church for a “shameful history of Native American abuses,” and even angrily claiming that smirks and smiles are actually racist.

Even the students’ local diocese quickly rushed into the fray to condemn the students, in effect giving cover to the media outlets seeking to ruin the students’ lives and reputations.

The story was just too good to fact check, too easy to force into a cherished narrative: that white, male Christians are unleashing violence, bigotry, and harassment on minorities all over America.

The problem is, the entire narrative was based on a wild distortion of what occurred.

Media Mob Unleashed

The vicious and often unhinged diatribes we saw launched against the Covington Catholic students laid bare an irrational rage burning beneath the rule of law.

It is no stretch to think that left unchecked, the mob—especially the rage-fueled left—would have unjustly stripped these students of their basic freedoms and abandoned the notion of a presumption of innocence in a rush to judgment.

This is the same pattern we saw transpire in the confirmation battle over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

So, is the problem our reckless and agenda-driven media? Yes, in part.

Media coverage of this incident was dreadful and shameful—a confirmation for many that even America’s most established and influential media institutions have become hopelessly biased and reckless in the age of Trump.

But the problem goes deeper than that. The truth is, fake news was every bit as much a problem in the late 1700s, when our country was formed, as it is today.

The use of the printing press allowed knowledge to travel like wildfire, but also gave hucksters and falsehood peddlers a new tool for spreading their wares more effectively.

True, our news today travels much faster, and social media can spread hysteria like a virus. But there’s also an upside.

Public intellectuals and members of the media continually decry the decentralized nature of the internet and its ability to generate “fake news” and misleading stories. They long for the day when America had just a few big outlets acting as responsible news arbiters.

Some even suggest that the answer is to create government agencies to sort through this information and tell us what the truth is, such as what Europe is experimenting with.

This is a terrible way to address the issue.

It was legacy media outlets in the first place—like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN—that perpetuated the deceptive reporting we witnessed over the weekend and failed to follow basic journalistic practices, such as inquiring about both sides of a heated dispute.

News outlets point to foreign agents and anonymous Twitter accounts that promoted a slanted view of the controversy, but they are just using them as scapegoats. Their own journalistic malpractice is the heart of the problem.

This wouldn’t be the first time these outlets got a story massively wrong and deceived the American people, but now we at least have greater means to debunk falsehoods when they arise.

It was the skeptics who took the time to study the story from all angles, like Robby Soave at Reason, who blew the story up. Soave reviewed footage from the hours of amateur video taken of the incident. While legacy media outlets were still peddling the initial, deceptive narrative, it was collapsing with a simple review of easily obtainable evidence that refuted it.

As my colleague, Kelsey Harkness, noted on “Fox & Friends”: “Just imagine if there were no hourlong, or two-hourlong videos that could exonerate these high school exonerate these high school boys. Their lives could be ruined.”

The Dangerous Whims of Democracy

If anything, we need to learn a valuable lesson from this incident.

We should today heed the wisdom of John Adams, who wrote to his friend John Taylor about the excesses of democracy.

This lesson is especially important now as it’s clear that many—especially on the left—have deep and unrelenting contempt for their fellow citizens who disagree with them. He explained that while democracy is no worse than “monarchy or aristocracy,” it is often bloodier than either and “wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.”

Jarrett Stepman is an editor and commentary writer for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast.

The “Wall” and Illegal Immigration

The “Wall” and Illegal Immigration
 
    The hypocrisy of the Democrats, liberals, etc. – all those failing to protect and defend the original intention of the Constitution, ignores the historical reality that the Framers and Founders based “the supreme law of the land” on the immutable Law(s) defined by the Bible. They studied history to five hundred years before Christ, and called to the truths of science as they understood them at the time.

     Our enemies, foreign and domestic, ignore and reject Truth, scientific and historical, as they attack America. Truth is defined not by what one chooses to believe, but by the order established by the Source and Creator of “the laws of Nature” endowing our “unalienable Rights”.
    Rather than contaminate and infect all that made America great with ideologies and cultures that exist contrary to immutable Law, Americans loyal to the original intention of the Constitution contribute to charitable endeavors such as Christian missionary efforts to share the Truth that sets mankind free and elevates the less fortunate in their own homelands. Rejecting government as their god, they use charitable contributions deducted from the taxes levied by politicians failing in their oath of office to feed the poor and aid those in need.
    The political divisiveness and injustice spewing from those supporting illegal immigration, partial birth abortion, and all the unconstitutional and morally bankrupt political agendas was seen in our legislatures just before the tragedy of our great Civil War as our enemies’ agenda was then to preserve slavery.
    The building of an interrupted 237 mile wall along fractions of the 1954 mile Mexican American border requires a part of the $5.7 billion requested by the President. Compared to the estimated over $150 billion dollar cost attributable to illegal immigration and the crimes associated with it, the cost to American safety and security far outweigh the cost of a wall. Looking a the hypocrisy of Senator Schumer’s previous support of the protections he and his fellow Democrats now fail to provide, those attacking America declare themselves.

a portion of all proceeds from Build the Wall Legos go to the Wounded Warrior Project

 
 
 
 
 
 

Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

Imprimus, January 2019 • Volume 48, Number 1

Alex Berenson

    Seventy miles northwest of New York City is a hospital that looks like a prison, its drab brick buildings wrapped in layers of fencing and barbed wire. This grim facility is called the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute. It’s one of three places the state of New York sends the criminally mentally ill—defendants judged not guilty by reason of insanity.

    Until recently, my wife Jackie­—Dr. Jacqueline Berenson—was a senior psychiatrist there. Many of Mid-Hudson’s 300 patients are killers and arsonists. At least one is a cannibal. Most have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that provoked them to violence against family members or strangers.

A couple of years ago, Jackie was telling me about a patient. In passing, she said something like, Of course he’d been smoking pot his whole life.

Of course? I said.

Yes, they all smoke.

So marijuana causes schizophrenia?

    I was surprised, to say the least. I tended to be a libertarian on drugs. Years before, I’d covered the pharmaceutical industry for The New York Times. I was aware of the claims about marijuana as medicine, and I’d watched the slow spread of legalized cannabis without much interest.

Jackie would have been within her rights to say, I know what I’m talking about, unlike you. Instead she offered something neutral like, I think that’s what the big studies say. You should read them.

So I did. The big studies, the little ones, and all the rest. I read everything I could find. I talked to every psychiatrist and brain scientist who would talk to me. And I soon realized that in all my years as a journalist I had never seen a story where the gap between insider and outsider knowledge was so great, or the stakes so high.

    I began to wonder why—with the stocks of cannabis companies soaring and politicians promoting legalization as a low-risk way to raise tax revenue and reduce crime—I had never heard the truth about marijuana, mental illness, and violence.

***

    Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have turned speculation about marijuana’s dangers into science. Yet over the same period, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has pushed public attitudes about marijuana the other way. And the effects are now becoming apparent.

    Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.

They’ve told you marijuana has many different medical uses. In reality marijuana and THC, its active ingredient, have been shown to work only in a few narrow conditions. They are most commonly prescribed for pain relief. But they are rarely tested against other pain relief drugs like ibuprofen—and in July, a large four-year study of patients with chronic pain in Australia showed cannabis use was associated with greater pain over time.

They’ve told you cannabis can stem opioid use—“Two new studies show how marijuana can help fight the opioid epidemic,” according to Wonkblog, a Washington Post website, in April 2018— and that marijuana’s effects as a painkiller make it a potential substitute for opiates. In reality, like alcohol, marijuana is too weak as a painkiller to work for most people who truly need opiates, such as terminal cancer patients. Even cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.

As for the marijuana-reduces-opiate-use theory, it is based largely on a single paper comparing overdose deaths by state before 2010 to the spread of medical marijuana laws— and the paper’s finding is probably a result of simple geographic coincidence. The opiate epidemic began in Appalachia, while the first states to legalize medical marijuana were in the West. Since 2010, as both the epidemic and medical marijuana laws have spread nationally, the finding has vanished. And the United States, the Western country with the most cannabis use, also has by far the worst problem with opioids.

Research on individual users—a better way to trace cause and effect than looking at aggregate state-level data—consistently shows that marijuana use leads to other drug use. For example, a January 2018 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that people who used cannabis in 2001 were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjusting for other potential risks.

Most of all, advocates have told you that marijuana is not just safe for people with psychiatric problems like depression, but that it is a potential treatment for those patients. On its website, the cannabis delivery service Eaze offers the “Best Marijuana Strains and Products for Treating Anxiety.” “How Does Cannabis Help Depression?” is the topic of an article on Leafly, the largest cannabis website. But a mountain of peer-reviewed research in top medical journals shows that marijuana can cause or worsen severe mental illness, especially psychosis, the medical term for a break from reality. Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are about three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.

    After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.” Also that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.”

***

    Over the past decade, as legalization has spread, patterns of marijuana use—and the drug itself—have changed in dangerous ways.

    Legalization has not led to a huge increase in people using the drug casually. About 15 percent of Americans used cannabis at least once in 2017, up from ten percent in 2006, according to a large federal study called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (By contrast, about 65 percent of Americans had a drink in the last year.) But the number of Americans who use cannabis heavily is soaring. In 2006, about three million Americans reported using cannabis at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number had nearly tripled, to eight million, approaching the twelve million Americans who drank alcohol every day. Put another way, one in 15 drinkers consumed alcohol daily; about one in five marijuana users used cannabis that often.

Cannabis users today are also consuming a drug that is far more potent than ever before, as measured by the amount of THC—delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in cannabis responsible for its psychoactive effects—it contains. In the 1970s, the last time this many Americans used cannabis, most marijuana contained less than two percent THC. Today, marijuana routinely contains 20 to 25 percent THC, thanks to sophisticated farming and cloning techniques—as well as to a demand by users for cannabis that produces a stronger high more quickly. In states where cannabis is legal, many users prefer extracts that are nearly pure THC. Think of the difference between near-beer and a martini, or even grain alcohol, to understand the difference.

These new patterns of use have caused problems with the drug to soar. In 2014, people who had diagnosable cannabis use disorder, the medical term for marijuana abuse or addiction, made up about 1.5 percent of Americans. But they accounted for eleven percent of all the psychosis cases in emergency rooms—90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2006. In states like Colorado, emergency room physicians have become experts on dealing with cannabis-induced psychosis.

Cannabis advocates often argue that the drug can’t be as neurotoxic as studies suggest, because otherwise Western countries would have seen population-wide increases in psychosis alongside rising use. In reality, accurately tracking psychosis cases is impossible in the United States. The government carefully tracks diseases like cancer with central registries, but no such registry exists for schizophrenia or other severe mental illnesses.

On the other hand, research from Finland and Denmark, two countries that track mental illness more comprehensively, shows a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, following an increase in cannabis use. And in September of last year, a large federal survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the United States as well, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of cannabis.

According to this latter study, 7.5 percent of adults age 18-25 met the criteria for serious mental illness in 2017, double the rate in 2008. What’s especially striking is that adolescents age 12-17 don’t show these increases in cannabis use and severe mental illness.

A caveat: this federal survey doesn’t count individual cases, and it lumps psychosis with other severe mental illness. So it isn’t as accurate as the Finnish or Danish studies. Nor do any of these studies prove that rising cannabis use has caused population-wide increases in psychosis or other mental illness. The most that can be said is that they offer intriguing evidence of a link.

Advocates for people with mental illness do not like discussing the link between schizophrenia and crime. They fear it will stigmatize people with the disease. “Most people with mental illness are not violent,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains on its website. But wishing away the link can’t make it disappear. In truth, psychosis is a shockingly high risk factor for violence. The best analysis came in a 2009 paper in PLOS Medicine by Dr. Seena Fazel, an Oxford University psychiatrist and epidemiologist. Drawing on earlier studies, the paper found that people with schizophrenia are five times as likely to commit violent crimes as healthy people, and almost 20 times as likely to commit homicide.

NAMI’s statement that most people with mental illness are not violent is of course accurate, given that “most” simply means “more than half”; but it is deeply misleading. Schizophrenia is rare. But people with the disorder commit an appreciable fraction of all murders, in the range of six to nine percent.

     “The best way to deal with the stigma is to reduce the violence,” says Dr. Sheilagh Hodgins, a professor at the University of Montreal who has studied mental illness and violence for more than 30 years.

    The marijuana-psychosis-violence connection is even stronger than those figures suggest. People with schizophrenia are only moderately more likely to become violent than healthy people when they are taking antipsychotic medicine and avoiding recreational drugs. But when they use drugs, their risk of violence skyrockets. “You don’t just have an increased risk of one thing—these things occur in clusters,” Dr. Fazel told me.

    Along with alcohol, the drug that psychotic patients use more than any other is cannabis: a 2010 review of earlier studies in Schizophrenia Bulletin found that 27 percent of people with schizophrenia had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder in their lives. And unfortunately—despite its reputation for making users relaxed and calm—cannabis appears to provoke many of them to violence.

A Swiss study of 265 psychotic patients published in Frontiers of Forensic Psychiatry last June found that over a three-year period, young men with psychosis who used cannabis had a 50 percent chance of becoming violent. That risk was four times higher than for those with psychosis who didn’t use, even after adjusting for factors such as alcohol use. Other researchers have produced similar findings. A 2013 paper in an Italian psychiatric journal examined almost 1,600 psychiatric patients in southern Italy and found that cannabis use was associated with a ten-fold increase in violence.

The most obvious way that cannabis fuels violence in psychotic people is through its tendency to cause paranoia—something even cannabis advocates acknowledge the drug can cause. The risk is so obvious that users joke about it and dispensaries advertise certain strains as less likely to induce paranoia. And for people with psychotic disorders, paranoia can fuel extreme violence. A 2007 paper in the Medical Journal of Australia on 88 defendants who had committed homicide during psychotic episodes found that most believed they were in danger from the victim, and almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis—more than alcohol and amphetamines combined.

Yet the link between marijuana and violence doesn’t appear limited to people with preexisting psychosis. Researchers have studied alcohol and violence for generations, proving that alcohol is a risk factor for domestic abuse, assault, and even murder. Far less work has been done on marijuana, in part because advocates have stigmatized anyone who raises the issue. But studies showing that marijuana use is a significant risk factor for violence have quietly piled up. Many of them weren’t even designed to catch the link, but they did. Dozens of such studies exist, covering everything from bullying by high school students to fighting among vacationers in Spain.

In most cases, studies find that the risk is at least as significant as with alcohol. A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents and found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence; a 2017 paper in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology examined drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men and found that drug use—the drug nearly always being cannabis—translated into a five-fold increase in violence.

Today that risk is translating into real-world impacts. Before states legalized recreational cannabis, advocates said that legalization would let police focus on hardened criminals rather than marijuana smokers and thus reduce violent crime. Some advocates go so far as to claim that legalization has reduced violent crime. In a 2017 speech calling for federal legalization, U.S. Senator Cory Booker said that “states [that have legalized marijuana] are seeing decreases in violent crime.” He was wrong.

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.

Knowing exactly how much of the increase is related to cannabis is impossible without researching every crime. But police reports, news stories, and arrest warrants suggest a close link in many cases. For example, last September, police in Longmont, Colorado, arrested Daniel Lopez for stabbing his brother Thomas to death as a neighbor watched. Daniel Lopez had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was “self-medicating” with marijuana, according to an arrest affidavit.

In every state, not just those where marijuana is legal, cases like Lopez’s are far more common than either cannabis or mental illness advocates acknowledge. Cannabis is also associated with a disturbing number of child deaths from abuse and neglect—many more than alcohol, and more than cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids combined—according to reports from Texas, one of the few states to provide detailed information on drug use by perpetrators.

These crimes rarely receive more than local attention. Psychosis-induced violence takes particularly ugly forms and is frequently directed at helpless family members. The elite national media prefers to ignore the crimes as tabloid fodder. Even police departments, which see this violence up close, have been slow to recognize the trend, in part because the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths has overwhelmed them.

    So the black tide of psychosis and the red tide of violence are rising steadily, almost unnoticed, on a slow green wave.

***

    For centuries, people worldwide have understood that cannabis causes mental illness and violence—just as they’ve known that opiates cause addiction and overdose. Hard data on the relationship between marijuana and madness dates back 150 years, to British asylum registers in India. Yet 20 years ago, the United States moved to encourage wider use of cannabis and opiates.

    In both cases, we decided we could outsmart these drugs—that we could have their benefits without their costs. And in both cases we were wrong. Opiates are riskier, and the overdose deaths they cause a more imminent crisis, so we have focused on those. But soon enough the mental illness and violence that follow cannabis use will also be too widespread to ignore.

Whether to use cannabis, or any drug, is a personal decision. Whether cannabis should be legal is a political issue. But its precise legal status is far less important than making sure that anyone who uses it is aware of its risks. Most cigarette smokers don’t die of lung cancer. But we have made it widely known that cigarettes cause cancer, full stop. Most people who drink and drive don’t have fatal accidents. But we have highlighted the cases of those who do.

We need equally unambiguous and well-funded advertising campaigns on the risks of cannabis. Instead, we are now in the worst of all worlds. Marijuana is legal in some states, illegal in others, dangerously potent, and sold without warnings everywhere.

    But before we can do anything, we — especially cannabis advocates and those in the elite media who have for too long credulously accepted their claims — need to come to terms with the truth about the science on marijuana. That adjustment may be painful. But the alternative is far worse, as the patients at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute — and their victims — know.

    The above article was adapted from a speech delivered on January 15, 2019, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

 

    Alex Berenson is a graduate of Yale University with degrees in history and economics. He began his career in journalism in 1994 as a business reporter for the Denver Post, joined the financial news website TheStreet.com in 1996, and worked as an investigative reporter for The New York Times from 1999 to 2010, during which time he also served two stints as an Iraq War correspondent. In 2006 he published The Faithful Spy, which won the 2007 Edgar Award for best first novel from the Mystery Writers of America. He has published ten additional novels and two nonfiction books, The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America and Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.