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Leading California Anti-Pot Activist Says Marijuana Causes 'Almost All' Mass Murders

Roger Morgan, who is spearheading the campaign against legalization, says cannabis really is a "killer weed."

Reason TVReason TVHarry Anslinger, who directed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1932 to 1962, famously described marijuana as a "killer weed" that inspired irrational acts of savage violence. Anslinger's method was simple: He would identify crimes committed by marijuana users and assert that the drug must have been the cause. It was not the most scientific approach, but it was good enough for government work. Roger Morgan, the anti-pot activist who is spearheading the campaign against legalization in California, has managed to out-Anslinger Anslinger by claiming, in a recent Reason TV interview, that in "almost all of the mass murders that we've had in recent years," the perpetrator "has been a heavy marijuana user, because it changes the brain."

For now let us overlook, as Anslinger did, the distinction between correlation and causation. It was news to me that almost all mass murders in recent years have been committed by potheads. Is that true? As far as I can tell, no.

Morgan mentions the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and "Paris recently," by which I assume he means the gun and bomb attacks that killed 130 people at various locations last November. The Tucson shooter, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, tried to enlist in the U.S. Army in 2008 but was rejected because he admitted he was a marijuana user. A neighbor of James Holmes, the 24-year-old Aurora shooter, told the New York Post, "I'd see him smoking weed behind the apartment." The former wife of 31-year-old Paris bomber Ibrahim Abdeslam told the London Daily Mail "his favorite activities were smoking weed and sleeping."

That's three homicidal cannabis consumers, including two Americans. Mother Jones counts 23 mass shootings in the U.S. since the beginning of 2011, when the earliest crime Morgan mentions (the Tucson massacre) occurred. In addition to Loughner and Holmes, these four perpetrators have been described as marijuana users:

1. MPR News reports that the mother of Andrew Engeldinger, a 36-year-old man who murdered six people at a Minneapolis sign company in 2012, said he "began using marijuana and alcohol as a young adult."

2. Jaylen Fryberg, a 15-year-old who killed four students and himself at a high school in Marysville, Washington, in 2014, tweeted about marijuana a few times in the months before the mass shooting.

3. The New York Times reported that 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, last year, started smoking pot as a teenager.

4. ABC News, citing a family representative, reported that 24-year-old Mohammod Abdulazeez, who killed five people in Chattanooga last year, "would abuse sleeping pills, opioids, painkillers and marijuana, along with alcohol."

That's six cannabis consumers out of 23 mass shootings, or 26 percent of the total—no one's idea of "almost all."

I may have missed a bunch of references to marijuana use by mass murderers, but I doubt it. The website for Morgan's anti-pot campaign has a list of crimes allegedly caused by marijuana—titled, apparently without irony, "Modern Reefer Madness." It mentions Holmes, Loughner, and Fryberg, but none of the other mass shooters on the Mother Jones list. Morgan and his colleagues at the Stop Pot 2016 campaign are highly motivated to find such examples, and you can be pretty sure that if they were aware of others, they would have noted them.

The "Modern Reefer Madness" page includes several murderers who did not make the Mother Jones list because they killed only one or two people, such as Darion Aguilar, who shot two employees of a skateboard store at a mall in Columbia, Maryland, in 2014. The anti-pot campaign says "his writings indicated marijuana use and wanting to die." The Stop Pot 2016 list also includes 19-year-old Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who reportedly was a pot seller as well as consumer while attending the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and Rudy Eugene, the notorious Miami face chewer, whose blood tested positive for marijuana (but not bath salts!) after he was killed by a police officer while attacking a homeless man in 2012.

It seems clear that Roger Morgan is just making shit up when he claims "almost all of the mass murders that we've had in recent years" were committed by "heavy marijuana user[s]." In fact, cannabis consumption may not even be especially common among mass murderers. The perpetrators of the 23 post-2010 mass shootings on the Mother Jones list ranged in age from 15 to 64, with most in their 20s or 30s. Almost all were men. Survey data indicate that 34 percent of male 19-to-30-year-olds have used marijuana in the last year.

Even if it's true that mass murderers are especially likely to consume cannabis (or to consume it frequently), of course, that does not mean the marijuana made them do it—the interpretation that Morgan favors. Mass murderers are more troubled and less law-abiding than the average American, and both of those factors are associated with heavy drug use. Morgan has little patience for such alternative explanations, insisting that marijuana "is a causal factor, not a correlated factor."

It's not clear how Morgan knows that, just as it's not clear how he knows "radical Islams [sic]" use marijuana to "change the motivation of younger people." But under persistent questioning by Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller, Morgan retreats a bit from his position that marijuana is responsible for nearly all mass murders. "You don't believe it," he says, "but I'm just telling you every scientific research project ends with 'we need to study this further.' I would tell you the same thing."

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  • ||

    Whut?

    Clearly this guy knows no potheads. I suppose you could make the case that the majority of people who massacre Doritoes are potheads. Yeah, thats probably true.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, if there is any connection there, it seems much more likely that it's mentally ill people trying to self-medicate. Hell, it seems more likely (though still just speculation) that smoking pot might have stopped potential mass murders from happening.

  • Mr Drew||

    Too right! Have you ever met a schizophrenic who didn't chain smoke? It's not surprising at all that injured, ill, depressed people try to self-medicate.

    In fact, how weird a term is "self-medicate"? It implies something about treatment only legitimately coming from another.

  • Zeb||

    It is a weird term. Invented by doctors who want to protect their racket by convincing people that they are better off ignorant.

  • ernieyeball||

    My mom was diagnosed schizophrenic in the mid 1950's when I was in grade school. There were no drugs available at the time to manage the disease. She went through prolonged institutionalization including electroshock therapy. She never smoked a cigarette in her life. She lived to be 88.

  • Adans smith||

    Most people who smoke are not 'potheads' any more that most who drink are violent drunks.I still rather be a around a heavy pot smoker that a heavy whiskey drinker..

  • Hank Phillips||

    Um... how much consideration have you given to beer drinkers?

  • ||

    In case anyone missed it: the flooding here, which is quite severe, has allowed alligators to wander around where they normally don't . A mile or so down the bayou a couple that had water up to their back door. They let their dog out tuesday evening and the poor critter promptly disappeared down an alligator's gullet.

    That is sensational but a bigger problem are the damned fire ants. When their beds go under water they are washed out and they all grab hold of each other. It is very common to see matts of ants, a few hundred thousand of them, floating along in a huge mass. I mention this because I just went to check on the water level and saw a matt of fire ants about 4 feet in diameter and a couple of inches thick. That is a much greater danger than alligators. It also inspired me to put ant poison out in the yard when I got back.

  • Zeb||

    This is one reason I like living in more northern climates. Many fewer creatures that want to kill you. If you can take the cold.

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah, what he is describing sounds like the 7th circle of hell to me.

  • Mr Drew||

    Hey Suthen,

    I'm glad you're still doing ok. Do you have enough whiskey and internets to ride it out? Pics?

  • ||

    Just got back with the wife. We drove around to see the water and take some pics. I will figure out how to post them somewhere and post links today sometime.

  • GILMORE™||

    hordes of fire ants? Shoot them in the antennae!

  • Sam Grove||

    If you spray some detergent solution onto the mat, they might sink with the disruption of the surface tension.

  • DEG||

    I mention this because I just went to check on the water level and saw a matt of fire ants about 4 feet in diameter and a couple of inches thick.

    Whoa.

    Good to hear you're still safe.

  • Mr Drew||

    I'm pretty sure that every single mass murderer also breathed air on a regular basis. This bears further investigation.

    My reaction to this is still kinda, yawn. I don't care for the marijuana, but think people should be able to smoke it if they want.

    I think the marijuana will become more and more legal but don't really see it as the "moment" that is so breathlessly described on these pages. I think many people just wanna get high, or fondly remember doing so in their youth. The idea that other have the right to do it doesn't even enter into most people's thinking.

    I'll go one step further: I'm guessing if you took a poll across America and asked "Do (or even should) people have the right to smoke weed" versus "should people be allowed to smoke weed", the results would be depressing.

  • Zeb||

    "the marijuana". I love it when people put definite articles in funny places.

    Sadly, I think you've got it. Marijuana will be legalized because people like it or perceive it as not too bad, not because of some principled idea about rights, and probably doesn't signal a broader end to drug prohibition.

  • Mr Drew||

    "I love it when people put definite articles in funny places."

    I think of it as my "alarmed old person" voice. :-)

    Now if the gubmint would only do something about the rock and roll and the neegras!

  • Hank Phillips||

    Weed is being legalized because that has been in the LP platform, and rightly so, since 1972. The economic collapse caused by the collision between asset-forfeiture looting and variable-interest mortgages brought too much attention to the connection. Better, as in 1932, to surrender one of the Force Amendments than to also give up the income tax, reason the robbers.

  • Akira||

    "I love it when people put definite articles in funny places."

    My friend has several co-workers from India, and she said they frequently do that. They'll say "Is the Jessica here today", "Can you give this to the Brad", "I'm going to the Pennsylvania next week".

  • Rhywun||

  • Robert||

    It's always this way. Few people give liberty absolute veto status, so everything's a balance between liberty & other consider'ns such as safety. Marijuana's been close for a long time & is finally tipping the scale. That's why for liberty's sake, we need to reduce the perceived (or actual) dangers of things; the more things are safe, the more they'll let us do, even if liberty carries the same weight in the balance.

  • Akira||

    "consider'ns"

    What the fuck?

  • rudehost||

    I think this is correct. Libertarians get excited when something coincidentally goes their way. There is a difference between something happening by accident and something happening for the right reason. Sure we will get an occasional win because people want what we want but its not because they have somehow developed a respect for the autonomy of their fellow citizens. They are still every bit the miserable meddling fucks who thinks "democracy" gives them the right to screw with other people's lives.

  • bunnyman||

    Every time the drive toward MJ legalization is cited as evidence of increasing libertarianism, I ask how cocaine, meth, and heroine legalization is going. They're no different from MJ from a libertarian perspective.

  • Akira||

    Heroine should be legalized. I'm so tired of having to buy Wonder Woman comics in a dark alley like some kind of criminal.

  • rudehost||

    I was trying to formulate a joke about wonder woman dark alley's and coat hangers and came up empty.

  • bunnyman||

    Oxygen changes the brain, man. It makes you do things you wouldn't do without it.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Mass murderers also reported to wear shoes, sleep on mattresses, eat with spoons, and frequently comb their hair.

    BE ON THE LOOKOUT.

  • Akira||

    "Mass murderers also reported to wear shoes, sleep on mattresses, eat with spoons, and frequently comb their hair."

    Wait a minute... So does that mean that Bernie Sanders might not be a mass murderer like his idols Pol Pot, Mao, and Stalin?

  • pan fried wylie||

    statistical frequency, not individual combing habits.

    so, inconclusive.

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    My favorite Anslinger quote:

    “By the tons it is coming into this country — the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms.... Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him....”

    Scary!

    Oh, and he was a racist piece of shit:

    Colored students at the Univ. of Minn. partying with (white) female students, smoking [marijuana] and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result: pregnancy"[17][18]
    "Two Negros took a girl fourteen years old and kept her for two days under the influence of hemp. Upon recovery she was found to be suffering from syphilis."

    And don't even get him started on the damn jazz musicians...

  • Adans smith||

    Youhoo oh boys Looky what I got here......Where are da white women?

  • Mr Drew||

    That does it. I rewatching Blazing Saddles right now. Goodbye.

  • meta||

    Why Reg you forgot to wash after that cross burning. See its coming out.

  • MSimon||

    Alcohol changes the brain. Something must be done. At once.

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    Ok.

    *cracks beer*

  • Adans smith||

    So does pussy.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Ok.

    *cracks quim*

  • Mr Drew||

    Good Lord. Crusty, you always seem to get an embarrassed laugh out of me. Way to class the place up.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Don't blame me for your love of bawdy humor.

  • Mr Drew||

    Well, alcohol does has some proven health benefits. I don't think the same can be said for the weed.

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    Careful. Even sarcastically, criticism of part of the Libertarian Holy Trinity can be dangerous!

  • Mr Drew||

    *scoffs aloud* That can't be so since libertarians are all calm, rational thinkers.

  • Zeb||

    OK, I'll be that guy. Not a lot is "proven" to the degree that many well accepted treatments are, because of the restrictions on doing research on marijuana. But there is a lot of evidence that it does have some very useful medical effects including the long known ones of relieving glaucoma symptoms and anti-nausea and some more newly discovered effects in treating some nasty forms of epilepsy. I don't think there is enough evidence to say much about purported anti-cancer effect or some other of the more extravagant claims, but from what I've seen it deserves some serious study.

  • MSimon||

    Donald Tashkin - at one time a noted Prohibitionist - found that cannabis is slightly prophylactic against lung cancer. In the 10 years since that study was done no follow up study has been done to check his result. I wonder why?

    The pharma companies spend quite a bit of money on "Drug Free America". Just a public service?

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    I believe there was a Swedish study done along the same lines - I'm having trouble finding it at the moment.

    Does it really matter, though? Even if the science is flawless, there will still be fuckos who want it prohibited.

  • Mr Drew||

    Zeb, who are you to doubt a medical break thru announced on Rikki!

  • MSimon||

    A biochemist explains how cannabinoids kill cancer cells

    It works in petri dishes. It works in mice. Does it work in humans? All we have is anecdotes. More of them every day. There is a vibrant cannabis/cancer underground. Some people can't wait.

  • GILMORE™||

    and how about tabletop fusion?

  • pan fried wylie||

    no, weed does not enable tabletop fusion. next question.

  • Adans smith||

    So does pussy.

  • MSimon||

    It is good for people with an endocannabinoid deficiency.

    Like this lady.

  • ||

    Paging Msimon.

  • MSimon||

    Ha.

  • Mr Drew||

    He beat you to it, flax

  • ||

    My summons was sent by Tachyon Pager!

  • bunnyman||

    If abused, alcohol has way more negative effects on health than MJ, at similar levels of abuse. It is a poison after all.

  • ||

    On the contrary Mr Drew, MJ does seem to be a pretty good treatment for a number of conditions, some very serious ones and others that are just nuisances. I am not sure if you meant by 'health benefits' medical treatment or just casual use by healthy people, but it certainly does have medical benefits.

  • Mr Drew||

    What the world really needs is a sarcasm font or at least a keyboard with a Sarcmark hotkey. (Real thing)

  • CZmacure||

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It's true. The high rate of murder within the Rastafarian community has been covered up by the liberal media.

  • Zeb||

    Don't forget the regular massacres at Grateful Dead shows. Jerry Garcia's death saved many lives.

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    Those were suicides.

  • Sevo||

    When they ran out of dope and actually listened to the music...

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    Jah say KILL!

  • Hank Phillips||

    Speaking of Herbert Hoover appointee Anslinger, his mandate was the GOP plank: PROHIBITION: We reaffirm the American Constitutional Doctrine as announced by George Washington in his "Farewell Address," to-wit: The Constitution which at any time exists until changed by the explicit and authentic act by the whole people is sacredly obligatory upon all. (...) The people through the method provided by the Constitution have written the Eighteenth Amendment into the Constitution. The Republican Party pledges itself and its nominees to the observance and vigorous enforcement of this provision of the Constitution.
    Nicholas Murray Butler offered a repeal plank, was hooted down, and helped form the nonsocialist Liberal Party 2 years later.

  • Adans smith||

    Then FDR supported the repeal for tax money and to get everyone drunk so they wouldn't mind his power plays.He was hell on you if you were growing to much to feed yourself and and others.Hoover was the TOP MAN of all TOP MEN of his time.

  • ||

    "but I'm just telling you every scientific research project ends with 'we need to study this further.'

    This is science-speak for "need more grant money."

  • Rich||

    Roger Morgan is just making shit up

    But it's *really great* shit!

  • ||

    +1 Mrs. Preski. "I'll take the bag!"

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    The prescription-medication-equals-violence link is well-established.

    Most perpetrators of school shootings and similar mass murders in our modern era were either on, or just recently coming off of, psychiatric medications:

    * Aaron Alexis, who shot 12 people to death at a Navy facility in Washington, D.C., September 16, 2013 was reportedly seeking treatment for insomnia and received a prescription for trazodone, which was originally marketed as an antidepressant.

    * Aurora shooter James Holmes, who murdered 12 people and injured 58 in a movie theatre on July 20, 2012., was on prescription meds —the names of these medications have been redacted from court documents.

    * Columbine (April 20, 1999) mass-killer Eric Harris was taking Luvox® (Fluvoxamine maleate)

    * Patrick Purdy, who murdered five children and wounded 30 at Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, on January 17, 1989, was using Amitriptyline (an antidepressant), as well as the antipsychotic drug Thorazine.

    * Kip Kinkel, 15, murdered his parents and then opened fire on his classmates at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, May, 1998, killing two and wounding 22 others. He had been prescribed both Prozac and Ritalin.

    * In 1988, 31-year-old Laurie Dann went on a shooting rampage in a second-grade classroom in Winnetka, Illinois, killing one child and wounding six. She had been taking the antidepressant Anafranil as well as Lithium.

  • AlmightyJB||

    And why were they on psychiatric medications?

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    And a few more:

    * In Paducah, Ky., in late 1997, 14-year-old Michael Carneal, traveled to Heath High School and started shooting students in a prayer meeting taking place in the school’s lobby, killing three and leaving another paralyzed. Carneal reportedly was on Ritalin.

    * Jeff Weise, living on Minnesota’s Red Lake Indian Reservation, shot and killed nine people and wounded five others before killing himself. Weise had been taking Prozac.

    * Joseph T. Wesbecker, just a month after he began taking Prozac in 1989, shot 20 workers at Standard Gravure Corp. in Louisville, Ky., killing nine. Prozac-maker Eli Lilly later settled a lawsuit brought by survivors.

  • 0x90||

    It's not clear how Morgan knows that...

    Because he's high. And I'm only half-joking; his whole routine, from the fact that his own kids were getting high at 12 and 14 (where did they get the money?), to his desire to just make things up out of thin air (every other word he says), reeks of being a protest-too-much act.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Right, because all those SS and Red Guard motherfuckers were taking bong hits all night to deal with the daily grind of murder, murder, murder.

    -jcr

  • AlmightyJB||

    That was an awful lot of words to say that Roger Morgan is an imbecile whose uninformed opinions should be ignored by everyone

  • bassjoe||

    People who mass-murder the innocent are most likely mentally ill individuals. It is not unusual for people with mental sicknesses to "self medicate"; the easiest self-medication to obtain is marijuana. Marijuana doesn't make these people more likely to kill; if anything, it probably mitigates their psychotic tendencies.

  • Robert||

    Don't you have anything better to do than give this guy the time of day, Jacob? It may have made sense long ago to argue about this sort of thing, but by now people are so familiar w cannabis use that it's silly to even publicize.

    Guess we need to feed the pros more story leads. How about some in-depth work to blow this dysgenderism out of the water? Maybe Jesse Walker or someone could do something about the restrictions in the USA on use of subcarriers for profit by non-commercially-licensed FM stations. I haven't seen anything here about the EU's pre-market clearance & registr'n requirement for toiletries & cosmetics (including soap) & their ingredients, or the threat to bring same to the USA, as Fla. already has?

  • MSimon||

    Sub carriers are for low fi stations.

  • Trigger Warning||

    I thought guns caused mass shootings, not weed. Which is it? I need to know what to fear!

  • MSimon||

    Weed guns. Be afraid of weed guns.

  • ||

    Weed Guns are awesome. Best Lucasarts game ever

  • CZmacure||

    I was going to go on a rampage... then I got high.

  • Glide||

    From the first line I was planning my Reefer Madness joke. I was quite surprised to discover that the target of my joke did the job for me already.

  • Irie||

    roger morgan is an older caucasian christian (coronado community church) who profits from drug testing students. his anti-cannabis non profit organization feeds off the reefer madness tactics.

  • lovingc||

    This man can have no idea how stupid he sounds. He has no knowledge of the subject and just makes things up. People like this are dangerous to themselves and others. He needs to go to a recovery facility, he would be comfortable there they make up lies all the time just like he does. They are out to relieve you of your mony, he wants to put you in jail.

  • M in Oregon||

    Only 26% used cannabis...

    I bet 100% drank milk!

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