By "Radical" Russ Belville
TIME Magazine printed an article entitled If You Think Someone is Mentally Ill: Loughner’s Six Warning Signs. Here are the six “signs”:
1. [H]e showed … disorganized thoughts and speech.
2. He showed … an inability to function in social situations.
3. He showed signs of paranoia….
4. He regularly smoked marijuana….
5. Several classmates said Loughner scared them.
6. Loughner had five contacts with campus police….
Let’s see, numbers 1, 2, and 3 are symptoms you might see in about 1 in 100 people. Numbers 5 and 6 would also apply to a small subset of all college students.
But “regularly smoking marijuana”, depending on how you define it, is a characteristic of 1-in-3 adults aged 18-25 who smoke at least once annually to 1-in-8 adults that age who smoke at least 100 or more days annually [National Survey on Drug Use & Health 2009].
This conclusion is more inexcusable considering TIME’s own article from July 2010, The Link Between Marijuana and Schizophrenia by the esteemed Maia Szalavitz (one of the most objective mainstream media reporters on drug issues) noting the “link” is hardly established.
Listing marijuana use as a warning sign that someone might be mentally ill is like listing alcohol use as a warning sign that a man might be a spousal abuser. The majority of domestic abusers also abuse alcohol, but that doesn’t mean we suspect every guy enjoying a beer as being a potential wife-beater.