I respond to Bob Montgomery’s (April 17) “recommended read for any parent or grandparent of a junior-high-school-college student Tell your children,’ by Alex Berenson.”
It’s curious the writer did not provide the full title of the book he recommends: “Tell Your Children: The Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence.” I recently read this book and I would not recommend it. Unless you are totally opposed to all things cannabis, are closed to any evidence of its medicinal value and are looking for a book to confirm your bias, this is it.
Lacking citations or even a bibliography, Berenson’s book is popular among marijuana opponents; yet, several researchers, including those he refers to have panned it.
Ziva Cooper, pharmacologist, cannabis researcher and co-author of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine 2016 report, said Berenson’s interpretation of the report that “cannabis causes schizophrenia … is a gross misinterpretation of our conclusions … and to make that claim is quite dangerous and … misinformed” (Martin, 2019).
In an interview with Points Roundtable (2019), Isaac Campos, from the University of Cincinnati, said, “He (Berenson) looks at an exceedingly complex issue, finds a lot of conflicting evidence, only uses the evidence that supports his thesis, then writes a really sensationalistic account that … rewards sensationalism and shock value.”
It’s unfortunate because there are important questions to be addressed regarding the relationship between cannabis and the developing brain, the potential risks for those predisposed to mental illness and the medicinal potential of cannabis. However, the book is an anti-marijuana manifesto, which cannot be taken seriously.
For a truly balanced analysis, I recommend Linda Parker’s “Cannabinoids and the Brain” (2017). Parker is a leading research scientist on cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system.
Her mentor and colleague, Israel’s Raphael Mechoulam, is the discoverer of THC, and a foremost scientific authority on cannabis. Parker’s book contains substantive research data, statistical analysis and scientific rigor — not what you’ll find in “Tell Your Children.”
Philip Lamy is a professor of sociology and a member the Cannabis Studies Group at Castleton University.