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December 22, 2013

A notable reader reaction to study about youthful pot usage

I received (and got permission to post here) this notable e-mail from a reader expressing concerns about studies that indicate negative effects from youths using marijuana:

I just read your commentary on daily use of marijuana with teenagers and it's relation to memory loss and alleged relationships to schizophrenia. Perhaps there is some truth to that claim for persons who would of otherwise become schizophrenic without using marijuana. However, in my personal experiences and witnessing of 100's of friends, parents, relatives, professional, doctors, lawyers, etc., in the U.S. and abroad I can reassure the Gov't and the general public that such a report is either biased or manipulated to result in such a outrageous claim. If we the public were to believe everything from FDA, the USDA, or the DEA, we would all be unhealthy, unhappy, and extremely naïve.

My personal experience suggest just the opposite of the article you commented on. I admit I am unique when it comes to beginning my marijuana experience but nevertheless I first tried in the 2nd grade, then again in the 3rd and 4th grade. It was not until the 5th and 6th grade when I and friends began to use more heavily specifically 2 nights/week. Then intermittently there after until the present (I'm 44 y/o). I am a heterosexual, athletic, educated (graduate degree), responsible father, tax/law abiding citizens who functions in society without any abnormalities medically, psychologically, or socially. I have no cri

minal records etc. Essentially there are special interest groups that can only beat the drum of portraying marijuana as a negative drug. Unfortunately this is all these groups can do because the scientific evidence (facts) is not there to prove otherwise. More importantly reports from gov't agencies or even world renowned university's can be extremely biased based on who is funding the research.

When the public demands alcohol, nicotine or caffeine the public gets it. The same is true with marijuana with the exception of legal hurdles which are being experienced today. The facts of the effects of alcohol and tobacco on the youth and general public are astronomical medically and financially speaking. The deaths related to these two legal drugs per year are astounding (Do some real research from professional journals for more information than you want to know concerning real numbers of fatalities). The Irony of alcohol and nicotine being legal and marijuana illegal is as illogical as letting a convicted murder free from jail and arresting a innocent citizen and placing them in jail for that same murder.

If folks like yourself truly believe marijuana is an evil and harmful toward young people or any person with non biased objectionable research to prove otherwise and to not advocate simultaneously for the prohibition of alcohol and tobacco you and your constituents are as discreditable, unbelievable as a typical con man selling snake oil.

December 22, 2013 at 07:47 AM | Permalink


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I suppose there are those who will credit the generalized conclusions about the effect of pot set forth in the anonymous, high-handed, self-praising, unverifiable account of a single individual with no medical training, and whose informal (and best) and very idiosyncratic "education" on the subject comes from lifelong puffing, starting in second grade, no less.

OK, fine.

If a pro-law enforcement person touted an account like that over a study by NIH, for example -- or any science-oriented group of researchers -- he would be hooted off the board as an anti-intellectual, ideology-driven, know-nothing wahoo.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 22, 2013 8:43:08 AM

Bill: Prof. Berman is, well, a professor. He wants to stimulate discussion.

I agree with you about the validity of this comment. Nil. I do commend the commenter for making the effort to comment. The more common problem than psychosis is amotivational syndrome, where young energetic males don't do anything anymore, not even sex. So the comment is pretty good for such a doper.

However, I refer you to my comment about the dose response curve, and of the death of a person by the excessive ingestion of water.

I also understand your possible view that although alcohol and tobacco are very damaging, and marijuana less so, why legalize another intoxicating substance? Beyond the intellectual consistency problem are the economic problems and criminal syndicate problems. The prohibition of marijuana is a federal price subsidy to the Drug Cartel and to the Taliban. The former came close to taking down the government of our friend Mexico. Prices are falling, so the DEA mission to reduce addiction is in shambles. You have stated, perhaps sarcastically, i is easier to smoke dope on campus than to drink. I would support the prohibition of alcohol and tobacco with total Draconian measures. The public would never, and this nation would be less fun, more depressing as 10,000 execution of dealers must be carried out and the lashing of users would be required. You do not want to live in that Islamic style nation, either, I assume.

But we should agree 1) the current situation is intellectually inconsistent; 2) we are in failure as far as limiting access; 3) empirical studies of Colorado should be funded to know the consequences of legalization, especially on young people (so if psychosis shoot up, amotivational syndrome takes the economy down, as it may have in Jamaica, rates of use shoot up in young people due to availability, then maybe legalization is not a good idea for the rest of the nation).

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 22, 2013 10:11:00 AM

The plural of anecdote is not data.

Posted by: NickS | Dec 22, 2013 12:14:32 PM


Posted by: Chong | Dec 22, 2013 12:57:12 PM


God I hate that phrase; it is categorically wrong. The plural of anecdote is data. It is not /scientific/ data because it has not gone through the scientific method. But every piece of scientific data starts out as anecdote. If you do not comprehend that you do not comprehend science.

BTW, I agree with Bill O's reaction. Some of the author's presumptions have merit. There is a great deal of hokum that gets passed around as "science". In general terms, research methodology is poorly done today and the FDA and other government agencies are not immune from that. But that truth does not tell us anything about this specific study (which I have not read). If the study is flawed the author would have been better off pointing where it is flawed rather than simply relying on personal experience to refute its conclusions.

Posted by: Daniel | Dec 22, 2013 2:02:26 PM

Another interesting perspective (and anecdote):

Posted by: Evan | Dec 22, 2013 2:22:15 PM

S.C. you wrote "The prohibition of marijuana is a federal price subsidy to the Drug Cartel and to the Taliban." It is very true. I want to thank Bill Otis and his holier-than-thou friends for continuing to support , my family and and my many friends in Mexico by insisting that the marijuana trade remain illegal. My good friend, Bill, thanks again and keep up the good work in promoting the terrible, terrible, effects of marijuana on the gringo youth of America!!! I'll drink to that when I finish my cigarette!!

Posted by: Pablo Escobar | Dec 22, 2013 3:50:34 PM

Pablo --

You've written the exact same comment, what, 20 times?

The New Year is coming up. Get some new material.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 22, 2013 4:30:21 PM

Data, data, bo bata
banana banna fo fata
fee fi mo mata...

Posted by: Liberty1st | Dec 22, 2013 4:52:08 PM

Bill: Say you are a very savvy, rich drug cartel leader. You buy an American small business, such as a grocery store. You would funnel campaign donations to whom, the prohibition candidate or the legalization candidate? I have called for the tracing of campaign funds of all prohibition candidates.

As someone concerned about victims, Mexico has half our population and twice our murder rate. These are just as human and loved by family as our victims. You are the only lawyer here, speaking on behalf of victims. You give me hope for the profession.

Prof. Berman says he supports victims, in the form of victims groups. One is a feminist front organization, with a relentless drumbeat of male bashing, and nothing else. The other is the victims' rights movement, namely impact statements at trials, a masking ideology for more lawyer representation to navigate the complicated legal system, not a genuine advocate for victims. He wants to feel better about his real advocacy, for the interests of the criminal cult enterprise. But he is just kidding himself. I hope he repents his wicked ways. You have nothing to repent for.

I would like to see prohibition of alcohol, tobacco, enforced by massive executions, and corporal punishment. However, no law will work without public support. And there is just no chance for prohibition. So acceptance remains, and intellectual consistency. You have demanded I support the legalization of heroin, cocaine, LSD. I am not ready for that, although that would be more consistent. I have to review historical experiments such as those of Switzerland and heroin. Preliminary results are not good. Needle park went from a few hundreds to a population of 20,000, with foreign drug addicts flocking. Addicts did not get cured. Their crimes did not decrease, so on. So consistency is more difficult in the case of heroin. Straight legalization and laissez faire are not good answers. I am not evading your challenge, just have not solved its puzzle yet.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 22, 2013 7:18:34 PM

/?/ “I hope he repents his wicked ways. You have nothing to repent for. ..
I have to review historical experiments …” \?\ - Supremacy Claus

Are we not, as you may prefer, engaged in a most dangerous, hedonistic experiment?

“Moreover, we shall find it no easy task to mold a natural ethic strong enough to maintain moral restraint and social order
without the support of supernatural consolations, hopes and fears.” “There is no significant example of history, before our time,
of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”
-- Will Durant, Humanist, 2/77; Will & Ariel Durant, p.26, The Lessons of History, 1965, p.51

"The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea.
Conduct, deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn of consoling faith, becomes a burden alike
to conscious poverty and to weary wealth."
-- Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, V.1., 1935

"The 16th century of our era saw the disruption of Western Christianity
and the rise of Modern Science
The Reformation and the scientific movement were two aspects of the historical revolt which was the dominant intellectual movement of the later Renaissance.
The appeal to the origins of Christianity, and Francis Bacon's appeal to efficient causes as against final causes, were two sides of one movement of thought.”
-- A. North Whitehead, 1925, Science and the Modern World

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 23, 2013 4:27:14 PM

Adamakis: I am an atheist to the extreme. I believe all this is dumb luck. If there is a God that produced this Universe, it is as beyond our ability to perceive or understand as an ant can understand Newtonian optics of a kid holding a magnifying glass between the ant hill and the sun.

Given that extreme belief, I am different from other atheist in my support for religion. It explains to the average person why they should go to work every day, and take of their families rather than go to the Roman Orgy every day.

It is a 1000 times more powerful as the criminal law in reducing crime, including helping super sociopaths in prison.

So I support all mainstream religions. I do not attack or bash religion as the lawyer hierarchy is seeking to eradicate it. Why the lawyer siege, and blithering hatred of religion? Religion competes and outperforms their trash product in every aspect of morality and controlling behavior in real life.

Ironic. The common law is plagiarized from Scholasticism, a church philosophy, even the church now admits is obsolete. Its stupid, worthless procedures, including the adversarial trial is from that philosophy. Its central word, reasonable, is taken from the church, yet no lawyer in America can tell you what every high school and college freshman who has taken Western Civ 101 can.

The idiocy of the lawyer knows no bounds. I do not bash stupidity. But this an intentional idiocy with bad faith as part of the business model for its Inquisition 2.0.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 25, 2013 7:21:06 PM

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