Whatever the law and pop culture say, warn your children about the psychological and physiological dangers of using marijuana.
That is the advice of author and former New York Times and Denver Post reporter Alex Berenson, who spoke this week in Colorado Springs and Denver to share findings of research for his book "Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence."
A Yale graduate and husband of a clinical psychiatrist at Columbia University, Berenson explained his motivation for the book. He was stumbling upon a growing body of unassailable facts about the negative consequences of marijuana, and watching the media mostly ignore it.
He cites, among other research, a new study in The Lancet Psychiatry journal. It determined daily cannabis users are three times more likely than non-users to have a psychotic episode. People who start getting high before age 15 have more risk. Adults and children who use high-potency pot — common on the legal retail market — are four times more likely to experience psychotic episodes.
Studies easily available to journalists and their audiences, he explained, reveal the elevated risks of using marijuana and developing lifelong incurable schizophrenia.
"I think this story of cannabis legalization is a story of deception, but it's also sort of self-deception," Berenson said.
At the talk in Colorado Springs, the owner of a local "medical" marijuana store told Berenson his customers use the drug for pain relief. The man stormed out of the building after Berenson explained how exhaustive medical research shows marijuana having no effect on pain relief.
During a question-and-answer session after Berenson's talk at Arapahoe High School, a father told the story of his son's addiction to marijuana. A psychiatrist warned the young man about his risk of developing schizophrenia if he continued. The man's son eventually stabbed himself in the heart after his mother refused to give him money for pot.
Wherever Berenson speaks, marijuana advocates excoriate him and call him names. So-called experts accuse him of cherry-picking data or "oversimplifying" study results. That is because they don't want to believe what so many others can see plain as day, as they watch loved ones destroy themselves with heavy use of the high-potency marijuana products sold on the open market in Colorado and other legalization states.
Significant numbers of politicians and journalists consider marijuana "cool." Conversely, skeptics of the drug are "uncool" dolts stuck in a 1950s loop of the old "Reefer Madness" film.
Candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are racing to out-cool each other by stressing their pro-legalization views, insisting the federal government legalize pot for everyone. Even some Republican politicians want to be "cool" on the topic, advocating a renaissance of legal pot.
Responsible parents do not care about "cool." They care about their children. They see nothing genuinely "cool" about children and young adults needlessly raising their risks of schizophrenia and dangerous psychotic breaks with reality.
Listen to Berenson, who seems pretty cool to us as a fearless defender of truth. Be super uncool in the eyes of shallow politicians and media types who fancy themselves hipsters, even though they are not.
Do what it takes to keep your kids off pot, regardless of the whimsical winds of public opinion and the policies that ensue. Delay, delay, delay this risk until your kids are well into their 20s, with better judgment and brains less susceptible to the long-term damages caused by pot.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Accept the research, and don't let young minds get wasted on pot.
REPRINTED FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE