Legal News

Finally, Proof Marijuana Causes Schizophrenia
By Robert A Bianchi, Esq.

Let me start by stating the title is a bit of a “tease,” as I have no clinical evidence whatsoever that marijuana actually causes schizophrenia. But schizophrenia came to mind (if you will) because that is what the discussion about legalizing marijuana in New Jersey feels like to me. It’s all over the place!

This writing is not scientific, not researched, and has no basis in truth beyond the mere musings of my mind, and from a person who has practiced criminal law for close to 30 years. I mention my law career only as legalization often is discussed in terms of “criminal justice reform.” But is it?

Currently, New Jersey’s new governor, Phil Murphy, has committed to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana within the first 100 days of his administration. For transparency, I am a Gov. Murphy supporter and have generally been supportive of his plans for legalization.

First, I feel strongly that some of our drug laws have been extremely draconian and that many useful and good lives have been forever affected by arrests and convictions for marijuana offenses. And, without question this has impacted the younger generations, and particularly minorities worst of all.

So, from a “criminal justice reform” side, I can see the value of legalizing marijuana.

Up until recently, my only real concern was the fact that we know that by legalizing the drug, we are in a sense encouraging its use. Some disagree with this statement, but on this point, I know they are wrong. The reason: Many people do not do things simply because they are illegal. Hence, with legalization, there is no doubt in my mind more people (those who follow the laws) will be using marijuana once it is legalized.

So, why is this a problem?

Well, we have a serious drug problem in this country, and I would think we would want to lessen drug use, not encourage it. But then again, there is that sticky problem with alcohol and tobacco (to name but a few things that are legal and harmful) that we allow, and to me, do as much (perhaps more damage) than marijuana would. The contradiction in saying alcohol and tobacco are legal, but for some reason marijuana cannot be, never made sense to me from an intellectually honest point of view. I mean what is it with all of this government regulation anyway? Why can’t we just make our own choices to act responsibly, as many have advocated. I admit I do like the sound of that, but I am not altogether sure it is sound policy. In the end, drug addiction affects all of society and we should hope not to encourage it.

Accordingly, I trust that if marijuana is legalized, a significant part of the tax revenue will go toward education about intoxicating substances in general, and that there is a renewal and commitment to funding programs like D.A.R.E in the schools.

I am also concerned about the viewpoint of many minority leaders who believe legalization is a bad idea. This gives me great pause to listen and take note of what they are saying. I mean, they are the very communities originally thought to benefit most by legalizing marijuana as being part of “criminal justice reform.” I think we are listening intently, as these leaders are becoming more vocal that this is actually harmful to their communities.

They argue, among many things, that in other states that have legalized marijuana, violence and crime in the minority communities have increased and job prospects have been adversely affected. This is alarming, if true. The only problem I have with the arguments they have made thus far is that I am not seeing any reliable data to back those claims up.

I am also concerned about increases in DUI and the difficulty of law enforcement to prove marijuana under the influence cases, as there is not court-approved instrument to measure it. I suspect the courts will be jammed with trial cases because of the “defendability” of these cases.

Okay, I guess after reading this jumble of sentiments you now know why I state that marijuana causes schizophrenia! I am all over the place on this subject. I can make arguments either way- -and that concerns me.

I say let’s slow this down a little, so that if it is a “done deal,” it can be rolled out to address the concerns I have poorly attempted to discuss above, and a host of others that space will not permit for this article.

Stay safe!

Robert A. Bianchi, Esq., served as the Morris County Prosecutor from June 22, 2007 through February 8, 2013. The New Jersey Supreme Court has awarded him the distinction of being a Certified Criminal Trial Attorney, with less than 1% of the attorneys (approximately 250 attorneys) in this State who are so qualified. Mr. Bianchi is a nationally recognized TV Legal Analyst on many networks and regularly appears weekly on Fox News Network.