Although nearly all the major studies on habitual marijuana use show a strong link between its consumption and mental illness, including schizophrenia, and violence, House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said it's perfectly fine if a president of the United States smokes dope because "you're not hurting anybody." The 29-year-old self-declared socialist added, "yeah, I don't care."
At the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 12, TMZ caught up with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and asked her about Democratic presidential candidates admitting to having smoked marijuana.
She said, “We just need to accept that there is nothing more inherently damaging about marijuana than, say, legal substances like alcohol or anything else."
"So, I’m glad that we’re moving towards a more just position as a party and that we’re moving to legalize marijuana," said the congresswoman, "but not just legalize marijuana but to really make up for the damages done by the war on drugs and the people that were unjustly incarcerated by the war on drugs.”
TMZ then asked, “Would it be okay to have a president that says they do smoke [marijuana]?”
Ocasio-Cortez said, “I don’t care. Yeah, I don’t care. It’s fine with me. You’re not hurting anybody."
"There are plenty of people who drink," she said. "They’ll go out to happy hour, they’ll go out, have one, two, three [drinks]. How is that different?”
It's very different, according to one of the leading experts on the topic, Alex Berenson, a former New York Times investigative reporter and the author of Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.
On Jan. 19, 2019, Berenson, who holds two degrees from Yale University and has written 10 novels in addition to his nonfiction work, gave a speech at Hillsdale College about his findings on teenage marijuana use and its link to mental illness and violence. Below are some bulleted highlights from that speech.
* "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."
* "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."
* "[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."
* "[T]he 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.'"
* "[T]he 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 12 million Americans who drank alcohol every day."
* "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 11 percent of all the psychosis cases in emergency rooms—90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2006."
* "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."
* "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."
* "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."
* "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."
* "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."
* "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."