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?