The Reasonable Way to View Marijuana’s Risks

Cannabis has downsides, but speculation and fear should be replaced with the best evidence available.

Are we underestimating the harms of legalizing marijuana?

Those who hold this view have been in the news recently, saying that research shows we are moving too far too fast without understanding the damage.

America is in the midst of a sea change in policies on pot, and we should all be a bit nervous about unintended consequences.

Vigilance is required. But it should be reasoned and thoughtful. To tackle recent claims, we should use the best methods and evidence as a starting point.

Crime has gone up in Colorado and Washington since those states legalized marijuana. It’s reasonable to wonder about the connection, but it’s also reasonable to be skeptical about causation.

The best method to investigate this may be synthetic controls. Researchers can use a weighted combination of similar groups (states that are like Colorado and Washington in a number of ways) to create a model of how those states might have been expected to perform with respect to crime without any changes in marijuana laws. Benjamin Hansen, a professor of economics at the University of Oregon, used this methodology to create a comparison group that most closely resembled the homicide trends and levels from 2000-12.

“I picked those years because they were after the tremendous crime drop in the early ’90s and most predictive of crime today,” he said. “I ended in 2012 because that’s when Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana.”

This model showed that we might have predicted more of an increasein Colorado or Washington just based on trends seen in comparable states, even without legalization. When he compared the two states with the synthetic control, Colorado and Washington actually had lower rates after legalization than you’d expect given trends.

This is not evidence that legalization lowers crime rates. But it does suggest that we shouldn’t conclude that it increases them. A number of other studies agree.

A potential misperception involves automobile crashes. Drunken drivers are measurably impaired when their blood alcohol level is above a certain level. We can prove this in randomized controlled trials.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/upshot/the-reasonable-way-to-view-marijuanas-risks.html

Gladys Knight, Ahead of Super Bowl Anthem Date, Criticizes Colin Kaepernick

The soul singer Gladys Knight, who will be singing the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta, seemed to criticize Colin Kaepernick in a statement published by Variety on Friday.

Kaepernick is the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback whose refusal to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and decision to kneel instead — to protest police brutality has made him a divisive figure nationwide, earning him praise from civil rights groups, but scorn from many conservatives, including President Trump.

“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight wrote to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

The statement continued: “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3, to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life.”

This is the latest twist at the intersection of politics, sports and music that has surrounded this year’s Super Bowl. Kaepernick is still in the middle of an ongoing arbitration case regarding a grievance he filed against the N.F.L. He has accused the league’s owners of colluding to keep him out of the league after not being signed last season.

His protests during the anthems became a cultural flash point, even though he wasn’t in the league. Other N.F.L. players began kneeling to support Kaepernick, as did celebrities off the field. Last fall, Nike made Kaepernick the face of a prominent advertising campaign.

This year’s Super Bowl became particularly fraught because of the halftime show. Some high-profile artists, including the rapper Cardi B, said they would not be willing to perform, in a show of solidarity with Kaepernick. Last year, Jay-Z rapped in one of his songs: “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you.”

Earlier this week, the N.F.L. announced the halftime acts would be Maroon 5 and the rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. Scott’s decision to participate, in particular, received backlash, including from prominent African-Americans like Al Sharpton. Variety reported that Kaepernick and Scott spoke before the announcement and described the conversation as “cordial and respectful.” But on Wednesday, several posts critical of Scott appeared on Kaepernick’s Twitter account.

Perhaps anticipating the criticism, Scott announced on Sunday, in conjunction with the halftime billing, that he and the league were teaming up on a $500,000 donation to Dream Corps, a social justice group.

Quavo Blasts Trump’s Celebratory Dinner for the Clemson Tigers

Quavo believes he can show the president a thing or two.

On Monday night, Donald Trump hosted a celebratory dinner in honor of the Clemson Tigersnational championship win over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Many assumed POTUS—who is known for his extravagent tastes—would pull out all the stops and treat the Tigers to a top-tier dinning experience. Instead, Trump presented them with a large buffet of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s, and Burger King fare. Yup, the president welcomed these elite athletes to the State Dinning Room and served them cheap hamburgers, fries, and pizza.

Quavo wasn’t impressed.

On Tuesday, the Migos member sent out a tweet shading the president’s dinner choice. He also invited the Clemson football team to the Quality Control headquarters so he can show them, and the president, “how champs are supposed to be treated.”

We’ll see if the Tigers accept Quavo’s invitation.

Though Monday night’s dinner was far from traditional, Trump claimed it consisted of the team’s “favorite food.” The White House also suggested that the food choice was a result of the ongoing government shutdown, as White House staffers, like executive chef, are on furlough.

Journalist Touré Responds to Allegation of Workplace Sexual Harassment

This week well-known journalist Touré was accused of workplace sexual harassment by a makeup artist, following his contributions to the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly. He has since issued a response to the allegation.

As Essence reports, in a post advertising Touré’s appearance on the Clubhouse With Mouse Jones podcast, a makeup artist named Dani wrote:

“Every Monday I used to work with him on a show in 2017 and he couldn’t stop asking me to do anal, how I looked naked, if I had sex over the weekend, what it would be like to fuck me, what his cum would look like on my face…. I had to have the crew stay in the room [with] me while I got him ready…. And when I left I called HR…. He got fired instantly. He wrote me a huge apology for doing that in my DMs. Still have it. He did a “20/20” shoot in 2018, and I was there, and he walked out. Told the producer that he was “embarrassed [because] he was inappropriate with a staff member.” He really needs to take a seat.”

Dani told Essence Touré’s involvement with the R. Kelly documentary pushed her to speak out publicly. “When I saw him going around as R. Kelly’s docuseries spokesman to different radio stations, the lies had to stop. I’ve worked with Mouse Jones before and wanted him to know the truth,” she said.

Touré interviewed R. Kelly for BET in 2008, and pressed the singer about his relationship with underaged girls. The docuseries producer Dream Hampton has addressed her decision to include him in the project, and the accusation against him. “I didn’t know Toure sexually harassed someone he worked with,” she wrote. “He was included because he did the most famous interview with R. Kelly ever.”

Touré has since responded to the accusation through a statement sent to Essence. Read it below.

“On the show, our team, including myself, engaged in edgy, crass banter, that at the time I did not think was offensive for our tight-knit group. I am sorry for my language and for making her feel uncomfortable in any way. As a lead on the show, I should have refrained from this behavior. I have learned and grown from this experience.”

Touré was scheduled to interview Terry Crews on Thursday (Jan. 10), but the actor canceled his appearance following the report.

Thanks to Netflix, ‘YOU,’ a Show From 2018, Is 2019’s First Hit

In 2018, YOU was one of the most slept on—and most fun—shows of the year. It premiered in September, on a regular degular cable channel, Lifetime, and the season one finale aired a staggering nine weeks later in mid-November, a release and rollout straight out of 2011. One short week into 2019, though, anyone who wasn’t privy before would be forgiven to think YOU is a brand-new Netflix original that dropped over the holidays somewhere in between Bird Box and Bandersnatch. If a series airs anywhere outside of the Big Five (HBO, AMC, FX, Showtime and, um, NBC?) does it even truly exist until Netflix? Apparently not.

A series taking on a new and ultimately more fulfilling life after hitting home video is hardly a new concept. Newer shows drifting unnoticed at large until they hit a common denominator streaming service is how most of them gain legs in this post-apocalyptic TV dystopia we’re living in, and as for classic shows that a new generation is warming to, well, did you hear Netflix almost lost Friends?!

Still, it’s curious to watch a majority of my timeline react to YOU not as if they’re just discovering it, but like it didn’t exist until now, with the common descriptor being “that new Netflix show” (not unlike Black Mirror’s Channel 4 to Netflix path before it.) Granted, some of the confusion probably stems from the fact that You is a Netflix show now. A second season was initially renewed by Lifetime before being dropped and then picked up by Netflix, where it was already an original internationally to begin with. This is a good thing, mostly. For one, the show’s pulpy and propulsive narrative is built for binging, (this coming from a guy who sticks to a two-three episode per sitting restraint—anything more just becomes narrative soup and impossible to distinguish episodically in my opinion but that’s my idiosyncrasy to bear). Amidst the trappings of an airport potboiler, YOU cleverly weaponizes expectations, casting proto-internet boyfriend Dan Humphrey as Joe, a toxic lecherous creep who preys on a cast of narcissists so loathsome no one is really “good.” The show’s whole aesthetic is being self-awarely over-the-top and soapy, but it’s that self-awareness that also makes room for sharp dialog and moments so in on the joke that they’re hilarious to laugh both with and at (Joe’s tweets as a rich bro he’s kidnapped, for one). The commentary on contemporary social media and the way it has informed our personas is actually incisive; Peach Salinger is the MVP of course but everything about, say, Beck’s influencer friend Anikka, is remarkably dead-on. We all know a few Becks who curate a more fulfilled life on IG, as well as entitled, monied douches who harp about bullshit like artisanal soda. What’s more, in some fleeting moments, it’s actually deceptively sweet. On the surface, the turns Beck and Joe’s relationship take in episodes seven through nine would actually provide the spine for a very solid rom-com if those turns weren’t, you know, borne out of deception, manipulation and murder. Part of the genius of the show is the way it doesn’t shortchange building these two into an actual relationship (or at least, explaining how and why Beck could be so blinded) in service of all the murder, frame-jobs and ridiculous book cages.