Modern Reefer Madness

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Once again marijuana and violence are in the news as we listen to the heart-wrenching court proceedings of the Boston bomber, Johar Tsarnaev. We just finished hearing the details regarding the senseless murder in 2012 of “American Sniper,” Chris Kyle and another veteran sniper, Chad Littlefield, by a man they were trying to help. Eddie Ray Routh, prosecutors say, had a long history of “self-intoxication.”  He smoked marijuana the morning before he shot the other men. In his case, it was psychotic violence.

“Eddie Routh and the Boston bombers are part of a tragic group of marijuana users who have killed and maimed.  And, the list of violent criminals and victims will continue to grow until we, as a society, fully reject the idea of marijuana as harmless,” warns Scott Chipman, Co-chair of Californians Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM).

Using marijuana increases the  chances for psychotic episodes, anxiety, aggression, schizophrenia, among other problems.  From the esteemed Lancet Psychiatry Journal, we know that teens who use marijuana are 7x more likely to commit suicide.  Marijuana blunts certain empathetic feelings, and the lack of feeling is for both the self and for others.

Modern Reefer “Madness”

For every claim of a brilliant mind that used marijuana, without negative effect,  there’s another person who was harmed by using it.  The people described below indicate that marijuana has strong adverse reactions for some individuals, and for society.   Here are  cases of modern “Reefer Madness.”

1)Jaylen Fryberg, who shot himself and five others, was a 15-year old Homecoming Prince.  Four students died, plus the shooter.  The popular student lived in a state with legal marijuana. He was a user who admitted to smoking a lot to deal with a recent breakup, while his former girlfriend felt it made him dumb, according to what was found in his public Twitter feed.  Mass shootings seem more frequent in western states.  Another recent  shooter in Washington, Aaron Ybarra , had also “dabbled” in marijuana, although alcohol also played into his demons.

jaylen-fryburg-school-shooter
Jaylen Fryberg of Marysville, WA, was a popular teen who shot 5 of his relatives and classmates in October, 2014. Here he shown as Homecoming Prince.  Photo Source: AP/Jim McGauhey

2) On September 26, Brian Howard started a fire at the air traffic control station in Aurora, IL, holding up commercial planes for days. He was high, and admitted to having smoked marijuana right before the incident.

3)  Amanda Bynes’ mother said she hasn’t been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, as rumored, and blamed the weird behavior on heavy marijuana use.  Amanda alleged her father had committed child and sexual abuse, but recanted.

4) Kevin Ward, Jr., was tragically hit by race car driver Tony Stewart on August 8, 2014, after he got out of his car to confront an oncoming driver on the track.  He eventually died. It’s perplexing that he would get out of his car considering the situation, but autopsy results show he had marijuana intoxication.

5) Marijuana probably affected the mental states of Megan Huntsman and Erika Murray–two neglectful mothers who let their babies die in their homes.   Other drugs may be involved, too.

6) January 2014 Mall in Columbia (Maryland) shooter Darion Aguilar killed 2 and then himself. His writings indicated marijuana use and wanting to die.

7) According to the father of Jodi Arias, accused of the bizarre behavior and the murder of her boyfriend, she has never been the same since she started to grow marijuana at age 14.

jodiarias
Jodi Arias during her trial in Maricopa County Court in 2013, for the murder of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in 2008, Source: ABC News radio

8) Johar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston bombers, was just a kid who ‘smoked a lot of pot,” according to classmates.   Since the Boston Marathon bombing, in April 2013, his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been linked to a triple murder on Sept. 11, 2011.  The victims had their throats slashed and were covered in marijuana.

9) At the Clackamas Town Center shooting in Oregon in December 2012, Jacob Roberts killed 2, seriously injured 1 and then killed himself. He had started smoking marijuana with his mother at age 16. The Sheriff’s office reported he had been smoking marijuana just before the shooting.

10) In  2012, James Holmes shot and killed 12, and wounded 58, in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.   Though he probably had not been sane for a number of years, a neighbor reported that he was frequently seen outside by the apartment building smoking pot.

11) On May 26, 2012, Rudy Eugene was caught on tape eating another man in Miami for 18 minutes before police arrived.  When police couldn’t stop him, he was shot.  Eugene died while the disfigured man survived. Toxicology reports showed that marijuana was the only drug in Eugene’s body when he gnawed the man.

12) Casey Anthony was amazingly detached from her actions and from her daughter’s death.  According to a friend of Casey Anthony, she smoked a lot of marijuana, but he was unaware of other drugs.

13) Amanda Knox, when confronted by police the day after Meredith Kercher’s brutal murder admitted to smoking marijuana the night of the murder.  Her blunted emotional reaction to the bloody incident during police questioning was very strange.  (THC stays in the body up to a month, it doesn’t pass like alcohol.)  It’s understandable why Knox’s non-reaction to her roommate’s bloody death would lead Italian police to think she was guilty.  She was a regular marijuana smoker at the time.  Knox also is from Washington, a state that worships marijuana usage at a festival each year.  She was making a joke out of the brutal murder and making silly accusations, hardly appropriate for a 19-year old.

Phillip Garrido
L-Garrido in Nevada Police Dept photo, from arrest for kidnapping and rape, November. 23, 1979 and R-Associated Press photo of 2009

14) Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez shot at the White House in November 2011, not only had a semiautomatic rifle when he went to the White House, he also carried a document expressing “anger towards the government regarding the continued criminalization of marijuana.” He claimed marijuana ”made people smart.”

15) Tucson massacre Jared Loughner was known to smoke marijuana (it kept him from being able to join the Army). During the January, 2011 shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and 6 dead and 13 were injured during the melee.

16) Phillip Garrido who kidnapped Jaycee Dugard and kept her in captivity for 18 years was a marijuana and LSD user.  He appreciated that power he felt the drugs gave him over victims.   According to his father, he had been “normal” with a normal upbringing until he experimented with drugs and got involved in Haight-Ashbury.

The list could go on, but this page represents a warning against validating marijuana.  “Medical” marijuana legalization makes marijuana appealing to those under age 21.  Legalization makes it appealing to those under the age  of 14.  Neither program works to regulate underage usage.  Knox, Ward, Anthony, Johar Tsarnaev and Arias were well under age 21 during the incidents, or when they started using marijuana. It’s likely that every individual mentioned above began use while while in adolescence.

This “experiment” in legalization is an opportunity for us to step up the warnings and increase funding for drug education and prevention.  It’s time to stop saying that marijuana isn’t harmful, or and to refute the idea that that it’s safer than alcohol.   Legalizing pot normalizes it; states that have long-term medical marijuana programs have higher usage of  all drugs.

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20 thoughts on “Modern Reefer Madness”

  1. Suicide rates are down in Colorado. Something like 70% of American high school suspend or expel students for possession or use of marijuana currently and these students demonstrate a much higher chance of suicidal ideation. Known causal factors include child abuse and trauma. Let’s put responsibility where responsibility belongs.

    1. The Colorado study is from a very brief time period. It may have more to do with the improvement in the energy sector of the economy (very depressed in 2009). Since many American teens have a 25% depression rate and not all teens use marijuana because of child abuse and trauma, we are not sure what you are trying to show. When the Lancet Journal study determined that teens who use marijuana are 7x more likely to commit suicide, we don’t discount underlying depression before the marijuana use. Some people grow out of depression naturally. We believe substance abuse — particularly marijuana — will make them more likely to not overcome their mental health problems. We have posted to links

    2. Just yesterday in news from Colorado a young male shot and killed himself after eating 5 marijuana edible candies and acting bizarrely. He was not suicidal according to his parents, who are sure the marijuana was responsible.

      People magazine has recently done an investigation on Ashton Sacks who killed both parents and injured his brother in California and he had made previous suicide attempts, but blamed his parents for messing up his life. He was supposed to be attending community college in Seattle, but didn’t attend classes; rather he smoked marijuana and played video games. He drove to California with guns after not sleeping for 4 nights. He considered killing himself but instead shot his parents . Not sleeping for several nights can trigger a manic episode. The amount of marijuana he was using and whether he was using marijuana close to the time of the incident is not clear, or whether messing up his life had more to do with sitting in his room using marijuana than his parents. The question is all these cases of bizarre or violent behavior in which marijuana seems to have played a role, should be explored to see how this behavior is related to marijuana.

  2. Samantha- your thoughts are well-founded. Marijuana is tricky as the devil. No study ever seems to be conclusive, while further studies invariably seem contradictory. It goes on and on, so much so, few now wonder if there are any harms from marijuana. Yet regarding the root causes of mental derangement behind the madness, all the big red arrows seem to continually point right at marijuana.

    Some blame other drugs or SSRIs, but marijuana seems to be the single drug common in almost all the bizarre, violent crimes.

    But then again, millions do use marijuana with no apparent ill effects. I think one angle, a possibility to understand this puzzle is kind of mathematical. You know, probabilities, permutations, that sort of thing. But using a simplified approach. That is, marijuana has some 500 chemicals, some 100 cannabinoids of which about 80 are active, and I assume that means psychoactive,

    So anyone of those active chemicals, or combinations, may be striking brains cells adversely if the right circumstances arise. Frequency of use is a variable, so is potency. Age is another variable as younger minds are more vulnerable. So are environmental factors, such as harsh cultures, families, or situations among aggressive people. And nutrition and health can be factors. So can heredity. We know some groups and some individuals are more prone to alcoholism merely because of their genetic make up.

    That is all to say, if you work out all the permutations, mathematically speaking, you may see why myriads of pot users are hardly affected, whereas a select few, with all the right circumstances, are vulnerable to ill effects.

    We also know from brain studies, pot users have greater tendency to develop mental illness, such as schizophrenia. And guess what? So many of the murderers, such as Loughner, and many of the domestic terrorists, if not all, are schizophrenics with past marijuana abuse history.

    Plus MRI studies show there’s some connection with pot use and depleted gray matter of the brain. There’s a directional issue requiring further studies (that is, is pot shrinking brains, or are those with smaller brains simply attracted more to marijuana?). But interestingly, the very part of the brain that is shrunken, holds our inhibitions and empathy for life! (Think Ismael Brinzely who killed the two NYPD cops, then himself.)

    Get it? If that area of the brain is losing empathy for life, that means they can kill remorselessly for any reason, take the lives of others or themselves, and they have lost inhibition to do so.

    We have a lot to wonder and think about. Hopefully the science will give us the answers some day.

    1. Everything you posted has been debunked for years nothing you posted is even close to what I would consider a rational thought.

      heres a math test for you mindless simpletons

      As the rate of marijuan use has increased exponentially over the past decade where is your corresponding increase in all that drivel and lies you posted? you people are delusional liars living in the land of chicken little.

      its 2016 grow up an educate yourselves stop posting mindless fear mongering crap

    2. Chris is right, these claims have been thoroughly debunked, and were never even able to show causation, barely even correlation.

      Also, about your cannabinoid claims-

      There are over 100 cannabinoids in the plant. Only one is psychoactive- THC. When they say over 80 are active, that means they have some sort of impact. They include several beneficial properties, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, analgesic, the list goes on and on. A few of the less known cannabinoids, like CBG and CBN have even been shown to have nerogenerative properties (that means grow and repair brain cells), something that hasn’t even been achieved through pharmaceuticals.

      Cannabis can trigger some underlying psychosis issues if used irresponsibly, but it doesn’t cause these issues. If an undiagnosed schizophrenic uses cannabis heavily, there is a chance that it was cause their first psychotic episode to occur earlier than it may have otherwise, but by no means does it cause these issues.

      On the flip side, several of the compounds are actually anti-psychotics, primarily CBD. Time and time again, it’s been shown to help relieve symptoms of several psychological issues, such as schizophrenia, autism, and alzheimers.

      Yes, many deeply disturbed people use cannabis, and may do some terrible things. Disturbed people try to self-medicate, and I’d wager using cannabis helped most of the people listed in this article to stave off their issues more than it aggravated them.

      Just thought I’d share some basics of the actual science with you, so you will be able to stop using conjecture and guessing about the different effects, compounds, etc.

    3. “We have a lot to wonder and think about. Hopefully the science will give us the answers some day.”

      Yeah, maybe the Feds will allow researchers to study marijuana again someday. Until then, all we have is thousands of years of use, and untold numbers of anecdotes, to wonder and think about.
      The important thing is, that we keep other people from using it – because we know what’s best for them. It’s up to them to prove that drugs are 100% safe. Alcohol is different, so don’t even bring that up!
      I don’t know where people get the idea they have a right to put whatever they like into their bodies. We need to ban all drugs, all fatty and unhealthy foods, all sugary drinks, tobacco, and whatever else we deem unhealthy. Once these substances are banned, police can turn their attention to enforcing exercise.

  3. God Bless Cannabis. Cannabis has saved my life after ten years on opiates and a lifetime of pain to live with. Legally prescribed opiates tried to kill me three times. I praise the Lord for creating a plant that gives life and healing. Kill the devil and free the cannabis plant to heal and promote endocannabinoid health in all.

    God Bless Cannabis.

    God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.” And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Gen. 1:29-31)

  4. Chris, Kyler et al.
    Nothing has been debunked, These are not lies. For starters, try some real science:https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/marijuana-psychosis
    Excerpt: “Researchers have found that some marijuana users have an increased risk for psychosis, a serious mental disorder where people have false thoughts (delusions) or see or hear things that aren’t there (hallucinations). But there is still a lot to learn about whether marijuana use may lead to this loss of touch with reality, or if having a mental illness makes people more likely to use marijuana. And as with other drugs, things like the age of users, how early they started smoking pot, the amount of the drug they used, and their genetics all could make a difference in whether or not long-term problems develop.”
    ————————————————

    And the ABCD (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development” study project may eventually answer this question:
    https://addictionresearch.nih.gov/abcd-study

    Excerpt: “The ABCD study is the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. The ABCD Research Consortium consists of a Coordinating Center, a Data Informatics and Analysis Center, and 19 research sites across the country (see map), which will recruit approximately 10,000 children ages 9-10 and following them into early adulthood. Integrating structural and functional brain imaging with genetics, neuropsychological, behavioral, and other health assessments, the ABCD Study will increase our understanding of the many factors that can enhance or disrupt a young person’s life trajectory. ”
    —————————————————

    Regarding the question, with the increase in marijuana use, why is there not an increase in violent crime?
    Well, yes and no. But if you single out the senseless, crazed killing, ie “spree killing”, that are often associated with schizophrenia and marijuana abuse, they are correspondingly on the rise too. The distinction is way of measuring. Check out:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2012/12/17/graph-of-the-day-perhaps-mass-shootings-arent-becoming-more-common/

    _______________________________________________

    We are not making up lies, not trying to fearmonger, nor distort reality. We are indeed noticing an eerie correlation with senseless rampage killings and prior marijuana abuse. The correlation is there.

    Now whether the sociopaths are self-medicating, which might be an explanation why they are attracted to use marijuana, well that is a great question. And correct, we do not know the answer for sure, we are simply posting our suspicions. You know, better safe than sorry.

    Note too however, the converse must also be true. Neither you all, nor anyone in the vast pot lobby knows the answer either.

  5. I wanted to thank some of the new posters above for chiming in. And the information about only one psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, THC, among many other ‘active’ chemicals, is instructive.
    Regarding whether or not sociopaths are simply attracted to pot as a form of self-medication is STILL not answered by scientific inquiry. I don’t know, but neither do you.
    But just think for a moment. I assume you DO know the 911 terrorists are reported to have used marijuana, correct? Was that all some kind of “group self-medication”, perhaps just relaxing, or was psychoactive cannabis infusing and amplifying their hate and anger to a point of extreme mental that they needed to perform acts of suicide terror on the West to find solace for their deranged minds?

    We should be concerned and wary, and seek answers, instead of blindly plunging ahead just ASSUMING marijuana is harmless.

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