Marijuana And Increased Violence
As a person who has been solicited twice in the last three years to invest in marijuana farms, I have been curious about the explosion of use of cannabis both locally and nationally. Medical marijuana has been approved in Maryland by our leaders. I took particular interest when I came across Mr. Alex Berenson’s speech titled “Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence” delivered at the Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington D.C. on Jan. 15, 2019. Mr. Berenson was an investigative reporter for the New York Times from 1999 through 2010.
“Far less work has been done on marijuana than on alcohol, in part because advocates have stigmatized anyone who raises the issue but studies showing that marijuana use is a significant factor for violence have quietly piled up,” says Mr. Berenson. “In September of last year, a large federal survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the United States …, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of cannabis. … 7.5 percent of young adults 18-25, met the criteria for serious mental illness in 2017, double the rate in 2008.”
“Most people with mental illness are not violent,” says the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Most means over 40 percent, the truth is psychoses is a shockingly high risk factor for violence, says Berenson.
Dr. Seena Fazel, an Oxford University psychiatrist and epidemiologist, found in in his study published in PLOS Medicine in 2009 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.”
The marijuana-psychosis-violence connection is even stronger than those figures suggest. Along with alcohol, the drug that psychotic patients use more than any other is cannabis. In Schizophrenic Bulletin a 2010 reviews states, that “27% of people with Schizophrenia have been diagnosed with Cannabis use disorder in their lives.”
A Swiss study of 265 psychotics, published in Forensic Psychiatry, June 2018, found that “young men with psychoses who used cannabis had a 50 percent chance of becoming violent.”
“The most obvious way that cannabis fuels violence in psychotic people is through its tendency to cause paranoia,” Mr. Berenson says. A 2007 paper in the Medical Journal of Australia on 88 homicide defendants who committed homicide during psychotic episodes found that most believed they were in danger from the victim and almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis…”
It’s worse than that it appears that the link between marijuana and violence is not limited to preexisting psychoses. A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence found in a survey of 9,000 adolescents that “marijuana use was responsible for a doubling of family violence.” Also a 2017 paper in the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology examined drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men found that “drug use contributed to a five-fold increase in violence.” The drug used nearly always was cannabis.
In a 2017 speech calling for federal legalization, Senator Cory Booker stated, “states that legalized marijuana are seeing decreases in violent crimes.” This is not true.
Berenson states, “the first four states to legalize recreational use of marijuana were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. Combined these states had 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. Last year, after legalization, they had 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.”
“Before we can do anything about cannabis advocates and those who credulously accept their claims the elite media must come need to come to terms with the truth,” Berenson cautions.
It is clear that the medicinal use of cannabis and its decriminalization in Maryland have opened more pathways to access for adolescent’s young adults and in general everyone in Maryland.
I fully understand the states craving for tax revenue but casinos and marijuana even if only for “medicinal” purposes may prove a Pandora’s box of nightmares in the future. Particularly for our young adults and adolescents. Don’t you think the younger generation has enough to deal with without adding decriminalized of this seductive and in appearance harmless drug when the reality might be quite the opposite?
Healthy Air Act Deserves Support
Among the many bills being proposed in Maryland this year, is one that is of special interest to those of us on the Eastern Shore.
It is the Community Healthy Air Act (CHAA). This bill would require the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to “assess air pollutants and public health risks associated with large animal feeding operations in the State.” This would be a one-time study and would require that the findings be reported to the Maryland General Assembly. This bill does not regulate poultry operations in any way.
Recently MDE proposed to do a very limited study, funded by the Delmarva Poultry Industry and the Keith Campbell Foundation, that would only involve two monitors and not require any analysis of the health impacts of the findings.
Air emissions from many different pollution sources are already monitored in our state, so why not find out what is in the air we breathe around large animal feeding operations? Residents who live downwind of the exhaust fans from these poultry houses report that their homes become covered with particulate manner, which can trigger asthma and other respiratory disease, and they must keep their windows closed and use air filtration machines inside their homes in order to breathe. We need to find out what is in the air.
Let’s pass the Community Healthy Air Act (SB 542) this year.
Proposed Bills Require Shore’s Attention
Everything old is new again. At least as it concerns legislation in Maryland, that is.
Sanctuary State laws are back, increasing the minimum wage is back, physician assisted suicide is back, ranked choice voting is back and bigger than last year.
Gov. Hogan has several bills dealing with school accountability that really need to be passed and enacted into law. Unfortunately, the Democrats in the legislature are more interested in blocking his popular Executive Order from last year making the school start date after Labor Day than they are in actually requiring accountability for the millions of dollars we spend on education every year in Maryland.
New “common sense gun laws” are proposed this year that will apply to “long guns,” i.e. hunting rifles and shotguns.
I urge my fellow Eastern Shore citizens to take the time to pay attention to what’s going on in Annapolis – most of it is not in our best interests.
You can find out all about current proposed bills by going to mgaleg.maryland.gov.
Members of the Republican Women of Worcester County (I am legislative committee chair) are definitely tracking legislation and urging citizen action (emails to legislators, phone calls and testimony at hearings).
I hope we can work together to defeat some of these proposed bills which will harm our way of life if passed.