Marijuana also causes psychosis. That last unpleasant truth underpins former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson’s argument in Tell Your Children. This book exposes the marijuana racket in the United States and Canada as being built on half-truths and outright lies ... Marijuana dependency is a real thing, and this book uses big data to highlight the shocking fact ... Tell Your Children will likely be seen by legalization supporters as Reefer Madness repackaged in a less pulpy gloss. They would be wrong, of course. Berenson’s book is a revelation that debunks most of the myths that far too many Americans have imbedded about ganja ... Sadly, Tell Your Children has all the markings of a book destined to fall on deaf ears ... but Berenson can at least take comfort in telling the truth ... Tell Your Children may just be the most important public policy book of the 21st century.
...this theory is deeply flawed. After five years of extensive reporting on the cannabis industry, it seems pretty clear that weed itself isn’t that dangerous ... hearing Berenson promote these distorted, dog-whistle conclusions, it left me with one question: is he trolling us? ... At this point, several experts have publicly debunked the book’s claims — much of which seems to be based on the common fallacy of mistaking correlation for causation ... The idea that weed causes psychosis and schizophrenia is Berenson’s core argument, and the research review Cooper refers to is an important piece of evidence for that argument ... it sure doesn’t look good when the people whose research you draw your conclusions from announce that you have misinterpreted their research ... If Berenson were genuinely concerned about public safety, he might acknowledge that illegal weed is more harmful than legal weed on the consumer end, as well ... to portray yourself as the patron saint of unheralded research, and then to have those researchers say that you completely misunderstood — it’s difficult for me to see Berenson as sincere ... You know who else is driven by profits to stretch the truth? Someone trying to sell copies of his book.
His central argument is best summarized in a few brief lines later in the book: 'Marijuana causes psychosis. Psychosis causes violence. The obvious implication is that marijuana causes violence' ... But as I read Berenson’s book, it was impossible to escape that, while a compelling read written by an experienced journalist, it is essentially an exercise in cherry-picking data and presenting correlation as causation ... the further I got into the book, the more it seemed like Berenson was imitating the strategy he’d meant to mock. Tell Your Children is Reefer Madness 2.0 ... Campos cautioned that he’s only read two photocopied pages from Berenson’s book in which he’s cited. But based on that, he said that Berenson 'pretty badly misrepresented' his argument ... On violence, Berenson’s case is even thinner, with large swaths of the book dedicated to anecdotes of people committing violent crimes, potentially while under the influence of marijuana ... Berenson brings up case after case of a brutal crime, then argues that the attacker had a history of marijuana use or used cannabis shortly before the attack. There’s no evidence marijuana caused the attack ... there are ways to write about all these issues while still capturing the nuance and detail they require ... I do not recommend Berenson’s book.
Berenson was not an expert on marijuana, mental health, or violent crime prior to writing this book. And based on the finished result, it doesn’t seem like he’s become one now, either ... Berenson serves as a guide, a man whose path of discovery is meant to mirror the reader’s own, and he paints the consequences of full-blown legalization in broad, angry strokes ... Much of Berenson’s prose is so heavy-handed that the book’s final lines could only register as absurd on a first read ... Though it’s clear that Berenson has poured an immense amount of time and energy into researching his book, when it comes to marijuana itself, he still makes some pretty basic mistakes ... Berenson relies heavily on selective anecdotal evidence ... The limits of Berenson’s own perspective occasionally reveal themselves, such as when he minimizes the impact that marijuana policing has had on people of color ... In the end, it’s not just that many of Berenson’s claims are demonstrably false (indeed, a number of people have taken to Twitter to debunk them for free). It’s that virtually none of the publications who decided to give him a platform took the time to check him on his assertions.
Mr. Berenson offers other studies and interviews with doctors and scientists and he makes a strong case of the linkage of marijuana and mental illness. He also interviews some of the movers and shakers behind the movement that want to legalize marijuana nationwide ... Tell Your Children is an interesting book that should be read by all concerned and not written off as merely anti-pot propaganda.
A novelist and former New York Times/em> reporter, Berenson (The Deceivers) brings strong persuasive skills, acknowledgment his cause may be lost, and frustrated desperation to this antimarijuana manifesto ... he aims to refute a widespread image of marijuana as an enjoyable, mellow, and harmless mild intoxicant. Those who favor legalization are likely to remain unmoved, but Berenson is certainly meticulous and coherent about making his case, and his well-written treatise never descends into Reefer Madness–like hysteria.