As his contribution to the epic blame-game following the Arizona massacre, conservative pundit David Frum has brilliantly pointed out what all of us were thinking, but just not saying: 22-year-old Jared Loughner went on a shooting rampage because he was stoned.
After horrific shootings, we hear calls for stricter regulation of guns. The Tucson shooting should remind us why we regulate marijuana.
Jared Lee Loughner, the man held as the Tucson shooter, has been described by those who know as a “pot smoking loner.”
He had two encounters with the law, one for possession of drug paraphanalia.
We are also learning that Loughner exhibited signs of severe mental illness, very likely schizophrenia.
The connection between marijuana and schizophrenia is both controversial and complicated. The raw association is strong:
- Schizophrenics are twice as likely to smoke marijuana as non-schizophrenics.
- People who smoke marijuana are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those who do not smoke.
But is correlation causation?
Increasingly experts seem to be saying: “Yes.”
Yes, Frum. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t come up with it first. Despite the fact that guns are currently legal in Arizona and marijuana is not, that Loughner reportedly gave up drugs entirely more than a year before the shootings, and that marijuana is an incredibly, profoundly demotivating drug, I find it extremely likely that Lougher’s past experiences with pot smoking played a larger role in causing him to mass murder people than the fact that he is an anti-semitic, mentally ill white supremacist with easy access to semiautomatic weapons.
In fact, the last time I smoked pot, I distinctly remember thinking to myself: You know what would be hilarious and awesome? If I went and bought a machine gun right now and sprayed bullets into the heads of all the asshole politicians out there.
Then I got up from the couch, walked over to the kitchen, found a half-empty bag of cheese puffs, returned to the couch, ate them, and listened to Dark Side of the Moon in my imagination.
But that’s just me. Jared Loughner, who is being portrayed as a “left-wing pothead” by the right-wing media (because that makes a ton of sense, considering that he violently assassinated one of the only moderately liberal politicians in his wildly conservative state), probably had a very different reaction to that spliff he smoked back in 1999 than anyone else on the planet has ever experienced, and it would be irresponsible of us to misdirect our attention toward the pr0blem of easy-access guns and violent rhetoric while all these belligerent stoner-assassins continue to be allowed to freely roam the Southwest, plucking their musty bounty of chronic from the bushes along the Mexican border.