Reefer Madness

There are good arguments for and against legalizing various drugs. The libertarian claims in favor of drug legalization are mostly ridiculous, but there is a cost of prohibition that has to be respected. There’s a cost to legalization as well. Anyway, I stopped reading Peter Hitchens regularly because he seems to have been driven mad by cannabis.

Can you put two and two together? Have a try. The authorities, and most of the media, cannot.

Did you know that the Copenhagen killer, Omar El-Hussein, had twice been arrested (and twice let off) for cannabis possession? Probably not.

It was reported in Denmark but not prominently mentioned amid the usual swirling speculation about ‘links’ between El-Hussein and ‘Islamic State’, for which there is no evidence at all.

El-Hussein, a promising school student, mysteriously became so violent and ill- tempered that his own gang of petty criminals, The Brothers, actually expelled him.

Something similar happened in the lives of Lee Rigby’s killers, who underwent violent personality changes in their teens after becoming cannabis users.

The recent Paris killers were also known users of cannabis. So were the chaotic drifters who killed soldiers in Canada last year. So is the chief suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013.

I might add that though these are all Muslims, who for rather obvious reasons are to be found among the marginalised in Europe and North America, it is not confined to them.

Jared Loughner, who killed six people and severely injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona in 2011, was also a confirmed heavy cannabis user. When I searched newspaper archives for instances of violent crimes in this country in which culprits were said to be cannabis users, I found many.

One notable example was the pointless killing of Sheffield church organist Alan Greaves, randomly beaten to death by two laughing youths on Christmas Eve 2012. Both were cannabis smokers.

By itself, the link is interesting. I wonder how many other violent criminals would turn out to be heavy cannabis users, if only anyone ever asked.

I wonder how many violent criminals drank milk as a child? Ate cookies? Were heavy beer drinkers? I could probably run through a few hundred items that are common to all violent criminals that have nothing to with making them violent. It’s the same nonsense drug warriors used to employ back in the old days. They would claim that marijuana was a gateway drug, leading to harder drugs. They would point out that heroin users all started with pot, as if all potheads are going to be chasing the dragon.

There is some evidence that chronic cannabis use leads to mental health trouble. In my youth, I knew a few guys who became stoners. They clearly got dumber and slovenly. The term “fried” has been applied to chronic pot smokers for forty years. It’s not called “chronic” by accident. Still, there’s a big difference between daily use and occasional use. There’s a world of difference between being a burnout and being a violent criminal. The available science suggest the link between cannabis and violence is non-existent.

The more probably issue is that regular pot smoking triggers severe mental illness in certain populations. Given the ubiquity of pot use, that population is tiny. Alcohol makes some men frighteningly violent, but that’s not a reason to ban alcohol. As I said at the start, I’m skeptical about the benefits of legalization, but these claims by Hitchens suggest he has been drive mad  by the demon weed.

14 thoughts on “Reefer Madness

  1. I think the state should issue a license to smoke pot to anyone who requests it, no questions, no fees.

    The only cost is, the right to vote in any election or referendum at the federal, state, or local council levels. I’m always looking for ways to minimize the number of eligible voters and I think this might get a significant number of people to voluntarily forfeit the right.

  2. A person can be an everyday pot user and live a normal and productive life. For a few, a more useful and productive life. But what happens to the category of everyday users who are defined as all day users is that they remain frozen in time. Experience does not teach the stoned. You think you are talking to a forty year old man when he is really a disguised twenty year old.

    As has been said here already, that type of person is going to find something to put himself in a haze, always has always will.

  3. The real experiment is Washington state and Colorado. California to a certain extent with its all but in name legalized medical marijuana.
    Pot is dangerous in long term quantities. So is life. Once the rhetoric and the fears are stripped out we will see what works.
    This is part of why there are individual states instead of one big federal state.

  4. We did see, in Portugal, a 50% percent drop in drug use since the decriminalization back in 2000. It’s treated as a medical, not a criminal problem… heavy drug users will end up in some addiction clinic not prison.

    Read Everything We Know About the Drug War & Addiction is Wrong or watch the author recently on Bill Maher:

    Fun fact, in the USA alcohol consumption causes a million hospitalizations per year, A MILLION!

    So all that talk about danger is just raising dust.

    • The trouble with using Portugal as a test case for the US is Portugal is nothing like the US. It’s the same mistake gun grabbers make when using Japan as an example. Alcohol has a vastly different impact in American Indians, for example, than on the Irish. Different people gets different results.

      Let’s move the population of Detroit to Lisbon and see what happens.

  5. First off, I am reminded of PJ O’Rourke comment: “getting fucked up is for people who are already fucked up”. (And I am not throwing stones, btw….I smoked just about every day from 18-24 or so, (though rarely now….like once every five years rarely). I also drink a fair amount more than the Surgeon General thinks is proper, if weekly guidelines are to be believed.

    What I find perhaps more potentially damaging is all these folks going on about how weed is some sort of wonder of nature, like Peter Popoff’s Miracle Spring Water; that it is 140 times less deadly than alcohol (yes I saw that on the news over the past couple days, and though the number was very narrowly defined in the study, that hasn’t stopped the weed activists from abusing it to fit their narrative.

    The stuff obviously has medicinal properties, and getting high IS kinda fun now and then. But weed WILL mess up your head if you smoke too much of it for too long (cf. the Island of Jamaica).

  6. We’ll never know how many low life losers and sociopaths didn’t commit murder because they were high on cannibis. But what is very likely is that none of them were getting laid.

  7. I knew some young muslims that smoked pot because they were not allowed to drink alcohol. They looked at it as a loophole.
    And as a side note, as a Canadian looking in at Americans, you guys have a weird societal thing on drugs and alcohol. It is really one of the defining differences between you and other western countries. Not judging, just saying.

    • Jay, Americans do have a weird relationship with drugs and alcohol. It is a post Civil War phenomenon. The fear of newly liberated blacks getting drunk and going wild is part of it. The fear of newly imported immigrants getting drunk and going wild is another part.

  8. Vince, you are right. But how does a kid know how much to consume? How much is too much? Maybe an adult, in the privacy of his own home, can just smoke a joint on a Friday night to relax, fall asleep, and be okay in the long term. But a teenager can’t assess that. That’s why I can’t condone it.

  9. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a high school STEM teacher. I have been for 31 years. I have seen more than my share of stoners in those 31 years, and I’ll tell you this, they can’t perform. They cannot think clearly. They cannot work with others. Because of my observations in the classroom, I cannot, in my right mind, condone the smoking of marijuana.

    “Oh, but Mike, I smoked for years, and nothing happened to me!” You’re lucky, and you are the exception. I know the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but I’ve seen a lot of kids get started and screw up their futures.

    Those who have smoked and made it are lucky, for whatever reasons. But I don’t like it.

  10. One link that fails to get mentioned is that the psychopaths typically are on psychotropic drugs for any number of “illnesses” and the warnings always include among other side effects; mood changes, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. It is far more likely these powerful mind altering drugs are responsible for criminality than a few tokes.

  11. yeah, I’m skeptical of the whole ‘it’s bad for you argument’ . Even if it’s true, there are many thighs that are bad for you and perfectly legal, like cigarettes and alcohol. If cigarettes were invented today they would be banned by the fda, but they got a 400 year head-start, which helps a lot.

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