Dr. Phil McGraw has created a bit of a stir with some new remarks on the effects of smoking weed. According to Vice, McGraw — who has a doctorate in clinical psychology but is currently unlicensed — offered some personal advice to an 11-year-old child and his mother, after the mom claimed that her son smokes marijuana and also has violent outbursts. McGraw implied, though didn't outright state, that it is the pot causing the child to lash out.
However, Vice spoke with Michael Verbora, a doctor with Aleafia Total Health Network, to get some clarity on McGraw's other comments. Verbora, who helps Canadians access medical cannabis, replied to McGraw's assessment by saying that there is no evidence to support a connection between marijuana use and violent behavior. "I've treated 5,000 patients and 5,000 out of my 5,000 say cannabis makes them feel relaxed and calm," he said. Verbora did note, however, that if someone was using marijuana with another substance, such as alcohol, it could potentially lead to more aggressive behavior.
McGraw also made other claims that Verbora had rebuttals for, such as saying that the human "brain grows until you're 25 at least and it's constantly changing. When you get to be 18, 19, 20, it's actually pruning itself back." He added, "When you smoke marijuana it's like opening your computer up and pouring water inside, a lot of things short out and it connects where it's not supposed to and really creates problems."
"Pouring water into a computer would destroy the computer and kill all the connections," Verbora replied. He added that marijuana is known to relax anxiety and pain portions of the brain. "There is no evidence that any type of rewiring is taking place," the doctor explained.
McGraw also stated, "Even occasional marijuana smokers will look at a multi-point drop in IQ, even with just occasional use like once a week or two or three times a month. You'll see IQ drop and motivation will drop across time." This is something else that Verbora retorts, citing three separate studies that "debunked" this myth.
The TV doctor went on to say that the child was "self-medicating his anxiety" by smoking "dope," and telling the mother that he will be forced to "report" her "within 24 hours" if she refuses to send him to treatment. "No intelligent physician or doctor would ever use the word 'dope' to describe cannabis," Verbora replied, adding that he does believe a child using marijuana to self-medicate would probably be best suited for some other form of therapy.