It’d typically really feel prefer it’s not price getting down within the mud with anti- cannabis prohibitionists, on condition that participating with their platform serves to carry it extra consideration. Nonetheless, within the face of dangerous exaggeration, typically it’s price exposing the sheer weird logic of an anti- cannabis declare.

Former New York Occasions reporter and present anti- cannabis campaigner Alex Berenson is the writer of “Inform Your Kids,” an anti-legalization ebook that particulars the supposed risks of widespread marijuana use, most disturbingly upticks in psychosis and subsequent violence. Although Berenson’s ebook has many detractors, within the cannabis trade and within the scientific neighborhood (together with a few of the researchers whose work he cites extensively), he’s nonetheless considered an authority on the matter of legalization and its potential pitfalls.

He’s additionally an lively Twitter consumer and a doable HBO subscriber. This final conjecture relies on the newest from his account, during which he in contrast the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl (topic of a preferred new HBO miniseries) to the supposed scourge of cannabis.

Right here’s the tweet:

In fact, there are apparent variations between the Chernobyl catastrophe and cannabis. One is a catastrophic accident that necessitated an notorious Soviet Union cover-up. The opposite one is a plant that almost all of Individuals imagine needs to be authorized to purchase, promote and eat. However the factors of similarity are price breaking down, if solely as a result of Berenson raised them.

First, there’s the assertion that the “harmful burned airborne particles” from a nuclear catastrophe and cannabis consumption are comparable. Whereas secondhand marijuana smoke isn’t one thing you’d essentially need to be inhaling, its impression appears to be an as an irritant at worst with negligible impact on the setting as a complete — not like the damaging burned particles from Chernobyl, which had been extremely carcinogenic and whose environmental impression is felt in Pripyat and the encircling space to this present day.

Then, there’s the assertion of fertility harm. Whereas some research have indicated that cannabis can harm sperm rely, others have proven an precise enhance in sperm manufacturing. When it comes to child-bearing itself, increasingly pregnant ladies are utilizing cannabis to battle nausea, regardless of robust physician suggestions to abstain. Hashish utilization throughout being pregnant has been linked to decrease toddler start weight — however not, notably, points with conception. One examine even linked authorized cannabis with increased start charges. Distinction this with the being pregnant and toddler mortality proven in HBO’s “Chernobyl,” as viewers watch a fictionalized model of Lyudmilla Ignatenko’s real-life expertise because the spouse of a firefighter among the many first on the scene of the Chernobyl explosion.

Subsequent, there’s the demise toll comparability. Berenson covers the supposed lives misplaced to cannabis extensively in his ebook, principally through visceral true crime anecdotes of males who snapped and dedicated homicide — as a result of, as is basically widespread data, no person has ever died from consuming or overdosing on cannabis. Chernobyl’s demise toll doesn’t require as a lot conjecture to piece collectively, though it’s nonetheless murky. Estimates vary from 1000’s to tens of 1000’s of lives misplaced, and the quantity retains growing, because of the insidious nature of radiation and the cancers it causes.

Then, there’s the slick jab on the “extremely engineered product” that’s trendy cannabis. It’s true that there are extra methods to eat cannabis than ever, and that the product peddled is stronger and extra concentrated than earlier incarnations of cannabis. However cannabis is way from the one generally consumed product that’s “extremely engineered” (just about each crop grown and eaten right now has been bred utilizing superior scientific methods, together with genetic modification). The comparability between the engineering required to construct and keep a nuclear reactor and the selective breeding course of required to supply loud bud is a tenuous one.

We do should concede the final level: Hashish doesn’t produce electrical energy, not like Chernobyl.

However cannabis, in fact, does have a number of different advantages — environmental, financial, leisure and in any other case — that make it price defending in opposition to Berenson’s news-plugged model of concern mongering.

TELL US, what’s the wildest declare about cannabis that you just’ve seen on-line?