Harvard psychiatrist on David Brooks' pot column: "His ignorance about this subject is vast."

"[David Brooks'] ignorance about this subject is vast. I hope he's on more solid ground with the other things he writes about in the New York Times," says Dr. Lester Grinspoon of NYT columnist David Brooks. Grinspoon is a Harvard psychiatrist and author of the 1971 book, Marihuana Reconsidered.

Joe Dolce interviewed the 85-year-old Harvard professor emeritus about David Brooks' widely-ridiculed NYT opinion piece in which Brooks wrote that he'd had fun smoking pot as a youth but believes other people should be punished for smoking pot.

Here's a snippet from the interview:

Dolce: He insists that young people who smoke "suffer IQ loss and perform worse on cognitive tests."

Grinspoon: Both of those statements are absolute nonsense. I'd like to see the data he finds convincing. I've been reading it for a long time now, and I find no data for either contention. A lot of those cognitive studies were compromised.

Let me give you a little anecdote. Years ago I got a call from the editor of a journal called Depression who asked me to give my feedback on an article on cannabis being useful in treating depression. I explored it and it seemed to be true. By the time the article was published, I noticed a new paragraph at the end that said we want the readers to know that while the studies say that marijuana is useful in treating depression, we in no way support its use for depression or any other purpose. And I said, "Why in the world did you add this last paragraph?" The editor almost started crying. She said, "Dr. Grinspoon, our lab is supported by NIDA [National Institute on Drug Abuse] and if we don't include that we jeopardize our funding." You've got to be careful with a lot of that literature. They won't publish anything positive about marijuana.

Another choice bit from this must-read interview:

Dolce: Tina Brown, former editor of The New Yorker and Vanity Fair tweeted this after Brooks' column appeared: "Legal weed contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation, even less able to compete with the Chinese." Will pot be our nation's downfall?

Grinspoon: I'll tell you, I was delighted when Tina Brown was no longer editor of The New Yorker. I think this is emblematic of her point of view and that helps me understand why I never fond of her magazine. Pot has been around for at least 10,000 years, and the Chinese used it as a medicine as long ago as 5,000 years, so it's likely that it grew somewhere near there and that wasn't a lazy society. Fortunately it now grows all over the world.

Dr. Lester Grinspoon on David Brooks' "Weed: Been There, Done That"