Dr. Phil has given a lot of advice during his 17 years on daytime TV, but his recent comments on marijuana drew outrage from some viewers.
The talk show host, whose real name is Phil McGraw, made the controversial comments during an interview with JJ, an 11-year-old who appeared on the "Dr. Phil" program last week.
JJ, who joined the show with his mother, Bree, was described as a violent and out-of-control child. When the mom began discussing her son's alleged marijuana use, Dr. Phil shared how he believes the drug can affect young people.
"Your brain grows until you're 25 at least, and it's constantly changing," Dr. Phil said tells JJ. "When you get to be 18, 19, 20, it's actually pruning itself back."
He then goes on to compare the risks to a short-circuiting computer.
"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," Dr. Phil adds.
Dr. Phil also expressed his belief that smoking marijuana can cause a "multi-point drop" in a person's IQ, in addition to implying that the drug's use can be associated with violent behavior.
"Even occasional marijuana smokers will look at a multi-point drop in IQ," he tells JJ. "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."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that marijuana can absolutely affect a person's brain health — causing changes in memory, attention, learning ability and even mood —and the agency also notes that young people are especially susceptible to the drug's effects.
However, there is currently no proven correlation between marijuana use and IQ loss, a claim that left some medical professionals frustrated.
"It's ludicrous to equate smoking cannabis with pouring water on a computer," David Juurlink, the head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, told Vice.
Juurlink added that it's unfair to claim that cannabis can have serious permanent effects on a person's brain, especially when there are other drugs that he said are notably more dangerous.
"Maybe Dr. Phil should redirect hyperbole to alcohol, tobacco, opioids and benzos, all of which are considerably more harmful, as is exploiting your troubled preteen on national television," Dr. Juurlink said.
"I've treated 5,000 patients," Michael Verbora, a doctor with Aleafia Total Health Network, told Vice. "And 5,000 out of my 5,000 say cannabis makes them feel relaxed and calm."
The "Dr. Phil" show responded to the criticism in a statement to Vice, citing a 2012 study on marijuana use and added that the controversial clip was meant to focus on JJ's violence, not his drug use.
Despite the interview's stated intention, plenty of social media users also chimed in with criticism.
"Dr Phil is not a Doctor. How does he get away with representing himself as one????" one Twitter user wrote.
Dr Phil is not a Doctor. How does he get away with representing himself as one????— STANLEY GILROY (@gilroy_stanley) November 5, 2019