Reefer Madness Spreads to the U.K.

Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens agrees with Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid that one need only look at the post-arrest photograph of Jared Lee Loughner to see that marijuana made him do it:

The link between this drug and serious mental illness grows clearer every day. Wickedly, the dope lobby still tries to deny this and seeks to legalise it.

Loughner has been, for much of his short life, a habitual smoker of this so-called 'soft' organic drug. This is not in doubt. Police records, the testimony of U.S. army recruiters who rejected him partly on these grounds, and the accounts of several friends confirm that Loughner is a marijuana victim.

Yes, I know. Not all cannabis-smokers lose their minds. And not all cigarette-smokers get cancer. But in both cases the risk is enough to cause concern.

Let's take a closer look at Hitchens' analogy. As Maia Szalavitz notes in Time, "data suggest that those who smoke cannabis are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as nonsmokers."  Leaving aside the question of whether this association signifies a causal relationship, it pales beside the link between smoking and lung cancer, which is 10 to 20 times as common among cigarette smokers as it is among nonsmokers. Likewise, the lifetime risk of lung cancer for cigarette smokers is about 10 percent, whereas the lifetime  risk for schizophrenia among pot smokers is somewhere between 1 percent and 2 percent, based on a general incidence of around 1 percent. That general rate, by the way, does not seem to have changed despite large increases in marijuana use since the 1950s, which is inconsistent with the hypothesis that smoking pot causes schizophrenia. In short, less than 2 percent of pot smokers are schizophrenics, and it's not clear whether or to what extent marijuana is responsible. Here is how Hitchens sums up the situation: "Not all cannabis-smokers lose their minds."

But Hitchens' statistical analysis is rigorous compared to his criminological theories:

Cannabis is now effectively legal in Britain and in several parts of the USA, where this dangerous and unpredictable poison is ironically permitted for 'medical use'.

Arizona voters, fooled by years of cynical and shameful 'cannabis is harmless' propaganda, approved just such a stupid law in November.

The town council of liberal Pima (scene of the murders) last week took the first step towards licensing 'dispensaries' for dope.

Arizona has always had plenty of guns. America has always had heated political rhetoric. What is new is that it now has legal dope as well.

Those who are seriously interested in public safety should worry less about guns and radio shock jocks, and more about the little packets of madness on sale in every school.

Arizonans voted to legalize medical marijuana in November, and two months later, before the first dispensary had opened, Loughner shot 19 people. The connection is clear, no? Even if we read Hitchens less literally, he is arguing that relatively lenient marijuana policies—in particular, laws that allow medical use of the drug—contribute to homicides. If so, why has the adoption of such policies coincided with a steady decline in violent crime?

[via The Other McCain, by way of Instapundit]

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  • AlmightyJB||

    "Not all cannabis-smokers lose their minds. And not all cigarette-smokers get cancer. But in both cases the risk is enough to cause concern."

    Concern for who. If you don't smoke it's not a problem you need to be concerned about. If someone else wants to take those "risks" then it's none of your business and you should STFU. If your "concern" is that pot smokers who "lose their minds" are all going to go on a shooting rampage then you're an idiot, which I guess you've already proved.

  • ||

    Gosh, its been a while since I read such a festival of intellectually dishonest non-sequiturs.

    What a scum. I can't decide which is worse, hopping from med pot to pot in schools, or claiming a link to med pot when the first single gram of med pot has yet to be sold in AZ.

  • Lucy Firr||

    Give Hitchens a break, R C. He's a marijuana victim.

  • Warty||

    If you put the Hitchenses into a blender and poured the slurry into some human-shaped molds, you'd get one guy who was often right, and one guy who constantly said embarrassingly wrong things. Fucking limeys.

  • cynical||

    Wouldn't such a process simply average them out entirely? I mean, maybe if you used a centrifuge on the slurry, assuming that the idiot parts are denser than the intelligent ones.

  • Warty||

    I thought my implicit postulation of such an idiocy-separating device was obvious. Duh.

  • marlok||

    The thing that strike me is not their different positions (both take some extremely asinine positions), but their different writing styles. C Hitchens is a true master of prose, able to make you laugh at times and experience suffering at other times. P Hitchens writes like some tabloid scribe on a safari; he communicates in single sentences, throwing out quick ideas before moving onto the next one, and does not seem to realize that the paragraph can be used to develop an idea.

  • Lucy Firr||

    Loughner is a marijuana victim

    and so, in a sense, aren't we all?

  • mr simple||

    It is one thing to be wrong, but it's the angry stupidity that exacerbates Hitchens wrongness and makes him a douche.

  • Pip||

    "Wickedly, the dope lobby still tries to deny this and seeks to legalise it."

    If anybody is looking for me, I'll be out in the dope lobby.

  • ||

    I'll be there in a sec, wait up for me.

  • Tman||

    Where is this lobby of which you speak? I need directions.

  • ||

    Sounds like something a "Scavenger"* would say.

    *See: Half Baked

  • Ska||

    Pretty sure the context clues are there, even for potheads.

  • ||

    marijuana victim

    Is this a British thing too? When I lived in Canada, the phrase "crack victim" was pretty common. I didn't think of how dumb it is to call drug users "victims" until I said it around Americans.

  • ||

    If they are a victim, like, say, someone hit by lightening or pitched off a boat in rough seas to drown, then they don't have any responsibility for what happened to them. No responsibility means no agency. No one having agency is the essence of the nanny state.

  • ||

    Or if they could spell "lightning" for example.

  • Joel||

    Is it your addiction to marijuana that makes you such a poor speller?

  • ||

    Ye-yes. [runs sobbing from room]

  • ||

    I didn't realize you had misspelled. I thought you were using the word to refer to an unattractive change in complexion, as in Michael Jackson.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    In collectivist socialist progressive paradises like Canada and England, everyone is some kind of victim.

  • Invisible Finger||

    This is a good time to link another UK Reefer Madness article.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-e.....e-12169711

  • waffles||

    "I think the police do a really good job and I do understand why they did it," she said. "It's just unfortunate it was me."

    The Canadian/British love for authority baffles me.

  • ||

    Dope ? How old is Hitchens ? He sounds like my 86 year old father, to whom all illegal drugs are dope, as in "that kid was hopped up on dope".

  • celtigirl||

    Agreed, Hitchens sounds like he's channeling Red from "That 70's Show"

  • ola||

    I had an old farmer in a dive bar I used to frequent in college ask me if I had "ever taken any of them pot pills?". I laughed my ass off at him. Then twenty years later I found out there really were pot pills.

  • BakedPenguin||

    "Whacked out, folks. Hepped up on goofballs."

  • Billy Shakespeare||

    ... "that kid was hopped up on dope".

    ... that kid was doped up on hop.

    It makes sense in either direction!

  • SIV||

    You've never smoked dope? What kind of doper are you?

  • Robert Stacy McCain||

    Yeah, dopeheads are giving me hell in the comments on that blog post. This suggests to me that long-term marijuana usage makes people hypersensitive to criticism. I'm thinking about reporting their ISP addresses to the DEA and the FBI just to see the headlines: "ONLINE DRUG RING BUSTED." Then the SWAT squad will kick in their doors, and Radley Balko will have another one of his cops-run-amok stories.

    Crazy? Yeah. But wouldn't it be fun?

  • Zeb||

    No. That would not be fun. Unless you are a sadistic asshole with no regard for personal autonomy or rights. Ass.

  • Xeones||

    That scenario is way too plausible to joke about.

  • ||

    This suggests to me that long-term marijuana usage makes people hypersensitive to criticism.

    Yeah, decades of persecution will do that to you.

  • Zeb||

    Paranoia is quite rational when people actually are out to get you.

  • ||

    And The Other Jackass, or mcCain, whichever, also said this:

    It’s important to play on the paranoid fears of these drug-crazed hippies. Make ‘em sweat, see? Every time they see a clean-cut, thick-necked guy in a dark sedan, they need to be thinking it’s a plainclothes narc doing surveillance, ready to serve an arrest warrant. And, hey, stoner – you see that van parked across the street? How do you know it’s not full of M-16-wielding SWAT cops getting ready to raid your house because they noticed your electric bill’s gone up since you put all those grow-lamps in your basement?

    Be so proud, you houlier-than-thou statist, facist fuck. Seriously, fuck you.

  • Kristen||

    That cracks me the hell up. If he only knew some of the drug-crazed, suit-wearing, high-and-tight hairstyled hippie potheads that work for the U.S. government (and not just since Obama took the reigns, either)....

  • Tman||

    I'm one of the commenters at your thread RSM. Welcome to the heathen pit of drug crazed monocle wearing libertarians.

    I didn't post this in my comment at your site, but did you know that Arizonans voted to legalize medical marijuana in November, and two months later, before the first dispensary had opened, Loughner shot 19 people?

    Since you were jumping to conclusions like the NYT in your article, I was wondering if you knew that.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yeah, dopeheads are giving me hell in the comments on that blog post.

    I wasn't one of them, but I did notice this on your blog just now: "One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

    Apparently you favor the government enforcing the latter for those who disagree with you.

  • waffles||

    Richard Stacy, you're a freedom-hating monster. I hope you're just a passive aggressive troll and not the bootlicking statist fuckehead that you play on the internet.

    It's funny how left or right, mainstream politics still allows reefer madness to be taken seriously. Evil mendacity or thickheaded dumbassery? I don't even.

  • ||

    For an ex-pothead and drug dealer you seem to have little sympathy for those who make the same exact mistakes you have. Actually lesser mistakes because 1) You are attacking presumed users. 2) You are likely wrong and commenters like me who gave you hell don't smoke weed.

    Go ahead. Report my IP and you'll be wasting valuable police time, you idiot.

  • ||

    yea ive read tons of headlines like "potheads beat hitchens" or "potheads rob bank" or "potheads steal potatoe chips"...wait

  • guy in the back row||

    Good post. Was it submitted to the rag which published Hitchen's article? At least as a letter to the editor?

  • ||

    "Fuck it all
    Fuck this world
    Fuck everything that you stand for."

    Thanks, Mr. Hitchens. You just made me quote Slipknot. Thanks a lot, asshole.

    I still refer back to my post months ago as to why marijuana should be legal: because FUCK YOU, that's why.

  • ||

    That's my favorite reason too.

  • Spur||

    Speaking of Slipknot - the article referenced is from a tabloid that among other oddities wages campaigns against EMO/A Chem Romance as a suicide cult:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....-band.html

    They are basically the British version of the 700 Club

  • affenkopf||

    The wrong Hitchens got cancer.

  • ||

    +1. Wrong, but awesome.

  • ||

    "If so, why has the adoption of such policies coincided with a steady decline in violent crime?"

    Don't you know the media doesn't do statistics. If there is only one murder a year, and it gets captured on video, or otherwise high profile, it will be presented as an epidemic.

    Its all about the ratings!

  • ||

    I shouldn't say media doesn't do statistics. They do them poorly all the time. What that don't do is context.

  • ||

    And, I always thought potheads were lazy-do-nothings. Now they are motivated killers?

  • NeonCat||

    Yes, and we've always been at war with Eastasia.

  • ||

    as if they are actually allowed to print bull like this.

  • jperon||

    Mr. Hitchen's sloppiness with facts is already noted but the most obvious, glaring error was not mentioned yet. He writes that the "town council of Pima" passed a medical marijuana ordinance True they did. He also describes the town of Pima as the site of the shootings. That is most obviously NOT true.

    The shootings were in Tucson, the town of Pima, where the ordinance was passed, is two hours away in a completely different county.

    And the town council is not "liberal" as Hitchens claimed. They didn't like the idea but since voters approved medical marijuana are required by law to implement an ordinance.

    Mr. Hitchen's branded the town as liberal for doing what it had to do according to the law. That is a factual error. Then he said the shootings took place in the town which is a bigger error.

    Surely he ought to check his facts before publishing his articles.

    Of course, drug warriors kill more people every year does someone like Loughner.

  • The Dope Lobby||

    People were finally starting to believe our wicked lies about our unpredictable poison. We would have legalized if it hadn't been for that meddling Hitchens.

  • ||

    What do you expect? Its the Mail on Sunday for God's sake. Its a comic for the splenetic narrow-minded authoritarian Right with a capital R - people who like a good old scare story to get angry about with their kippers for breakfast - and who don't care two hoots what mad theories get cobbled together to give them their fix. Its an addiction, of course.

  • djones||

    I see enough of a correlation between Hitchens opening his mouth and the level of dumb radiating in the world to be a cause of concern for me.

  • GHArtsa||

    you know, those kind of shady statistics have been used for public health nannying of alcohol, cigarettes and other behavior. By attributing accuracy to the BS cigarette numbers produced as grant applications, you're participating in your own Hitchen's nonsense. What does this mean, anyway: the lifetime risk of lung cancer for cigarette smokers is about 10 percent ?

    I knocked around your links and they got some scary sounding numbers that are just shoddy and hide the ball.

  • BrokeBroker||

    Altought I respect mister Hitchens greatly... oh no wait we're talking about Peter! Seriously, I always thought that he was kind of a closed minded idiot but this makes me think that he is on a quest to prove it.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    I read a fair amount of Hitchens (not anywhere near as much as I read of Hitchens the Elder - who is actually, you know, a good writer - but still a fair amount), and he's not so bad. He is pretty much the only journalist I know of in this country who stands up for gun rights when it's common wisdom that all handguns should be banned and anyone who questions this is crazy. He also, like myself, sought to persuade people not to vote in the last general election. He does have a serious hang up about drugs, though. So, yeah, I guess he's wrong about pretty much everything most of the time, but man, he's so much better than anyone at the guardian.

  • Marshall Keith||

    Is there no end to government funded propaganda and Lobby groups?
    http://veritasvincitproliberta.....ve-agenda/

  • ||

    According to one of his longtime friends, Loughner actually quit using cannabis (as well as alcohol and tobacco) in late 2008, two years before both the shooting and the medical cannabis legalization in Arizona. OOPS--perhaps Hitchens should read up on the issue a bit more before spouting junk science.

  • ||

    Haha this is so sad, everyone just uses the same card all the time ''think about the kids'' I'm sure if it were legal the circumstances would be the same as with cigarettes and alcohol, if I had a kid I'd rather, if anything find out that they have been taking something that has 0 related deaths a year to it than something that has 400,000.

  • ||

    This is unbelievably biased, can't believe people buy crap like this it's all media lies, another government coverup scheme

  • ||

    It's funny how they write these things and nearly no one actually agrees with these lies Drinking = Aggression, Smoking = Addiction, If the government wants to talk about ''poisons'' why don't they talk about the two legal ones

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