John Walters' Suicide Fraud

|

At a May 3 press conference calling attention to what he described as "growing and compelling evidence…that regular marijuana use can contribute to depression, suicidal thoughts, and schizophrenia," federal drug czar John Walters presented the parents of a Colorado Springs 15-year-old, Christopher Skaggs, who was caught smoking pot with friends behind his school in January 2004 and committed suicide that July. The press and public were encouraged to believe that marijuana made him do it. But as the Marijuana Policy Project notes (in a press release that's not online yet), it turns out the teenager tested negative for cannabis at the time of his death but positive for alcohol. What's more, at least four drug tests conducted in the months before his death did not find any traces of pot. In other words, there's no evidence he smoked marijuana even once after he was caught in the act. These details emerged in Denver radio host Peter Boyles' May 5 interview (free registration required) with the boys' parents. "We wish we would have found the underlying problem as to why he was using the drugs instead of getting him immediately stopped from it," his mother said.

NEXT: Employment Law Hijinks

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “We wish we would have found the underlying problem as to why he was using the drugs instead of getting him immediately stopped from it,” his mother said.

    Too bad she wasn’t able to figure that out before the poor kid offed himself. Not that in every instance of a teenager using drugs is it because he’s got some other, underlying problem ‘causing’ him to use drugs – I first used drugs to, well, get high and have fun. I guess what I’m really decrying is the knee-jerk reaction to finding out your kid does drugs.

    The best thing to do is to sit your kid down and, gasp, talk to them about what they’re doing.

  2. John Walters is a lying piece of shit? No way!

    Seriously, in a just world, this would be a scandal. A cabinet-ranked member of the administration flat-out lying to the public? Someone call Ken Starr.

  3. You can’t help but wonder if the attention he was getting after he got busted that pushed him over the edge.

  4. Too bad the drug czar is John Walters and not John Waters.

  5. there’d still be plenty of shit, but goddamnit, it’d be ART!

  6. What’s more, at least four drug tests conducted in the months before his death did not find any traces of pot.

    “We wish we would have found the underlying problem as to why he was using the drugs instead of getting him immediately stopped from it,” …

    Quiz for prospective parents: explain how the above two statements are related. You may use irony, if you know how.

  7. At some time before he killed himself he smoked pot. Ergo the pot made him kill himself.

    There’s first rate thinking for you. Might as well say his bicycle made him depressed.

  8. In the absence of any actual research, there are only anecdotes that some people find pot an effective anti-depressent. It would probably be useful as an anti-anxiety drug, except most potheads spend most of their time being anxious about getting busted.

  9. Wow. Kid suffers from depression and smokes some weed to relieve the symptoms.

    Parents find out and banish the kid to some remote location in New Mexico with family members. I’ll speculate that the motivation here is to put the kid in an environment where he can’t get weed.

    Kid thinks his world is ending (reasonable deduction for a 15 year old mind) and commits suicide.

    Drug Czar, a government employee, exploits kid’s death and parent’s grief to distort scientific findings regarding drug use.

    Excuse me if I vomit while making my deposit with the IRS this month. Sometimes I just can’t take it.

  10. “growing and compelling evidence…that regular marijuana use can contribute to depression, suicidal thoughts, and schizophrenia”

    Can’t the 50+% of the American population who have used pot see this for the bullshit it is, and call him out on it?!

  11. My local rag ran one of these marijuana causes depression and schizophrenia ads.

    It comes with a phone number. Turns out the person on the other line doesn’t know the difference between causation and correlation.

    In fact, that person said her organization did not know anything about the cited studies.

    In fact, that person said her organization did not even pay for the ads.

    They just send pamphlets to concerned parents.

  12. “Can’t the 50+% of the American population who have used pot see this for the bullshit it is, and call him out on it?!”

    they’re too busy having nervous breakdowns and talking to their pets, duuude.

  13. What did you expect from an administration who tells penentant baby-boomers that it’s OK to lie to kids about thier drug use?

  14. It comes to no surprise that John Walters would exploit a kids death in an attempt to make a point. The drug czar will grab at anything to keep his job.

    On a side note, Jacob was one minute away from posting this at the right time! He must have had something important he had to get to.

  15. Would it be cruel to suggest that the kid’s dipshit parents were among the his reasons for committing suicide?

  16. Number 6,
    I think it may even needed.

    The kid may have killed himself to avoid the fate of Winston. Crack or die. At the very least they overloaded his circuits.

    2+2=5

  17. “Can’t the 50+% of the American population who have used pot see this for the bullshit it is, and call him out on it?!”

    They’re too busy pretending to “just say no” so they can keep their jobs.

  18. The parents and the ONDCP have responded (Rocky Mountain News article) — in a nasty way.

    “You can tell those dumb b——- up there I buried my 15-year-old son because of marijuana, and that’s how I feel,” Ernest Skaggs said. “Ain’t no one using me at all.”

    … and

    ONDCP spokeswoman Jennifer de Vallance said she was outraged by the group’s attacks.

    “Mr. and Mrs. Skaggs have demonstrated tremendous courage and really are doing a public service to tell their very painful story in the hopes that other families and other parents won’t go through the same thing,” de Vallance said.

    “It truly is despicable to belittle their very courageous and important contribution to this public health effort,” de Vallance said.

    So the ONDCP and the parents are trying to shift the blame for their lies back onto the Marijuana Policy Project who called them on it?

  19. No, Ernest, they’re not using you.
    They’re using your dead son.

  20. I dunno, maybe the ONDCP is on to something. I’m a pot smoker, and I also have this paranoid feeling that the government wants to lock me up and destroy my life; I also worry that the government is lying to me about the long-term effects of my illicit hobby. So no suicidal or schizophrenic thoughts here, but a lot of anxiety and paranoia. Can’t be coincidence.

  21. And if there is any justice in this world, the parents’ own guilt will drive THEM to attempt suicide. Better yet, they’ll botch it and end up paralyzed, brain-dead (moreso than already) and blind. God damn their ignorance and bigotry for destroying their young son’s life.

  22. Jennifer- Very well said.

  23. “You can tell those dumb b——- up there I buried my 15-year-old son because of marijuana, and that’s how I feel,” Ernest Skaggs said. “Ain’t no one using me at all.”

    Well, there ya go. Victims are always right, after all. Suffering a tragedy bestows infallibility upon the victim — a kind of karmic reward for having lost something.

    Which is why it makes so much sense to base law and policy on the hysterical ravings of angry, freaked-out victims. They and they alone possess the clairty of thought and the kind of wise, sober, carefully crafted ideas that make for good policy.

  24. Reading the Skaggs’ attempt to blame marijuana for their son’s suicide brings back some ugly memories for this Nevada resident. I watched the Judas Priest “subliminal message” trial unfold in all of its sublime idiocy in 1990, triggered by the same phenomenon – parents unwilling to accept any respsonsibility for their children’s emotional disturbance and subsequent suicide. Skeptical Inquirer ran an excellent column on this in 1996:

    Scientific Consensus and Expert Testimony: Lessons from the Judas Priest Trial

  25. Jennifer,

    Better yet, hopefully these Skaggs folks will get cancer or some other illness which is alleviated by medical marijuana. That way they’ll not be allowed to use it due to this disgusting use of their dead son, and they will realize that there isn’t anything truly harmful about marijuana and so they needlessly drove their 15 year old to suicide.

  26. “You can tell those dumb b——- up there I buried my 15-year-old son because of marijuana, and that’s how I feel,” Ernest Skaggs said. “Ain’t no one using me at all.”

    And there are still posters here who think marijuana prohibition will be reversed in the near future? May as well wait for the Second Coming.

  27. “My local rag ran one of these marijuana causes depression and schizophrenia ads.

    It comes with a phone number. Turns out the person on the other line doesn’t know the difference between causation and correlation.”

    The people who made the ad probably didn’t either. But everyone knows drugs are bad, right?

  28. ISAAC B…A good MD friend of mine in California has viable data that supports the thesis of Teens Use Marijuana As a form of self-medication to deal with feelings of depression.

    You (or anyone reading) are welcome to email me for details

    heath@mapinc.org

  29. “You can tell those dumb b——- up there I buried my 15-year-old son because of marijuana, and that’s how I feel,” Ernest Skaggs said. “Ain’t no one using me at all.”

    God forbid this brain stem should assume a little responsibility for his child’s demise.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.