Trump falsely claims that weed makes people “lose IQ points” in secret hour-long recording

"Alcohol does much more damage," Don Jr. says. "You don't see people beating their wives on marijuana"

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published January 28, 2020 6:55PM (EST)

Donald Trump (Getty Images/Salon)
Donald Trump (Getty Images/Salon)

President Donald Trump falsely claimed that marijuana makes people "lose IQ points" in a secret recording released by indicted former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.

Parnas released the recording, which captured more than one hour of conversation at a private donor dinner with Trump in 2018, to show that the president told him that he would fire then-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. But the recording, which was apparently captured by Parnas' indicted associate Igor Fruman, also featured Trump discussing Kim Jong Un's golf game, the European Union trying to "screw the United States," the 2016 election . . . and his views on marijuana.

Parnas, who has business interests in the marijuana industry, pressed Trump during the dinner about allowing legal marijuana businesses to have access to banks.

"Mr. President, have you thought about allowing banking in some of these states that allow cannabis?" Parnas asked.

"Cannabis? Well, look. You're talking about marijuana, right?" Trump replied. "Why? You can't do banking there?"

"That's the biggest problem … It's so important," Parnas said.

"I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing," Trump responded. "Do you think the whole marijuana thing is a good thing?"

Parnas said marijuana legalization was a "tremendous movement," which could help Trump in the midterms.

"In Colorado, they have more accidents," Trump said. "It does cause an IQ problem. You lose IQ points."

Parnas pointed out how marijuana can help opioid addicts.

"It's actually good for opioids?" Trump asked.

"I'll say this," Donald Trump Jr. interjected. "Between that and alcohol, as far as I'm concerned, alcohol does much more damage. You don't see people beating their wives on marijuana."

Trump's comments came under fire from marijuana advocates, who noted that the National Institute on Drug Abuse has concluded that there is not "a causal relationship between marijuana use and IQ loss."

"Trump's remarks simply reveal that he is out of touch, given that the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization for both medical and adult use," the Drug Policy Alliance's Sheila Vakharia told Marijuana Moment. "The evidence is clear from the dozens of states that have legalized medical and adult use — the sky isn't falling and the kids are alright."

"What truly causes a decline in an individual's intelligence is adhering to false Reefer Madness rhetoric that flies in the face of available science," Erik Altieri, the executive director of NORML, added. "If President Trump truly believes that responsible marijuana use by adults leads to a loss of IQ points, we suggest he immediately consults his physician to see if he is suffering from this affliction or at the very least consults the wide body of available research that debunks this old talking point."

Parnas, who was a major supporter of Trump, donated to his campaign and hung out at his parties, was indicted alongside Fruman for allegedly funneling foreign money to Republicans, including a $325,000 contribution to a pro-Trump super PAC. Parnas claimed that he was so upset by Trump's claim that he did not know him that he fired his lawyer, former Trump attorney John Dowd, and agreed to cooperate with impeachment investigators. Parnas released the recording along with thousands of documents, photos, videos and text messages to the House Intelligence Committee.

Trump again claimed last week that he did not know Parnas before the former Giuliani associate released the audio of their extensive conversation.

"I don't know him, other than he's sort of like a groupie. He shows up at fundraisers. I don't know anything about him," Trump said, despite appearing at numerous events with Parnas. "Parnas, I don't know, other than he probably contributed to the campaign along with tens of thousands of other people."

Parnas, who played a key role in Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine that sparked Trump's impeachment, told CNN that he "went from being a top donor being at all the events," to "becoming a close friend of Rudy Giuliani, to eventually becoming his ally and his asset on the ground in Ukraine."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

MORE FROM Igor Derysh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Clip Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Igor Fruman Lev Parnas Marijuana Politics Rudy Giuliani Ukraine