We can yuck it up all we like laughing at that ridiculous old propaganda film, but the inconvenient scientific truth is that there really is a connection between reefers and madness. Dr. Samuel T. Wilkinson of the Yale School of Medicine has this article in the WSJ.
Though they receive little attention in the legalization debate, the scientific studies showing an association between marijuana use and schizophrenia and other disorders are alarming. A 2004 article in the highly respected British Journal of Psychiatry reviewed four large studies, all of which showed a significant and consistent association between consumption of marijuana (mostly during teenage years or early 20s) and the later development of schizophrenia. The review concluded that marijuana is a "causal component," among others, in the development of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
A 2007 study in the Lancet, a British medical journal, concludes that using marijuana increases the risk of young people developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia. This risk is greatest--up to a 200% increase--among those who use marijuana heavily and who start using at a younger age.
* * *The association between schizophrenia and marijuana is not the only issue at play in the debate over marijuana legalization. If legalization is certain to decrease the power of drug lords in Mexico and other countries, then this is certainly a favorable outcome. However, if the trade-off is that more people suffer from schizophrenia--and thus more Americans are homeless and debilitated--then this must be recognized and discussed by the general public. This association between marijuana and serious and devastating psychotic disorders has been absent or under-recognized in the public debate.
Speaking personally, and not on behalf of CJLF, I think that legalization or at least decriminalization is inevitable. To minimize the increase in usage and resulting increase in mental disorders that Dr. Wilkinson warns of, we need to take steps to avoid the creation of a legal marijuana industry with a First Amendment right to market marijuana the way the tobacco industry has promoted its harmful product. I have previously suggested government monopolization, as we did with the numbers racket, as one possibility.