Cannabis and Cannibalism: The Return Of Reefer Madness In The Media?

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director June 28, 2012

    As I told staff this morning in an email, last night and this morning have been surreal being inundated with media requests for interviews on two totally disparate topics related to cannabis:

    Chicago moving forward with cannabis decriminalization for possession

    Media headlines (and some experts’ claims) that cannabis might have caused a guy to kill and chew his victim’s face off

    Talk about one topic being ‘good’, the other one being ‘bad’ (if not totally bizarre)!

    It is one thing for the media to report on the toxicological results from the autopsy of the guy who did this strange and gruesome maiming in Miami last month, but to read a professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami pop off to the Associated Press that maybe it was the strain of cannabis that might have caused this guy to become a cannibal strikes me that this professor is totally incorrect beyond belief and that her comments as an ‘expert’ are going to be repeated in any future news stories, radio and TV shows on the matter of cannabis’ safety.

    Time.com’s Maia Szalavitz has an excellent look at past media-hyped ‘drug scares’ here.

    A NORML supporter contacted the organization this afternoon with his email to the U of Miami professor Patricia Junquera M.D. quoted in the AP piece, and my reply to both of them can be found below.

    Hello Dr. Junquera and Mr. X,

    Thanks for your email.

    Self evidently cannabis does not cause people to become violent in general, and it specifically does not cause people to mutilate others.

    Humans have been using cannabis en mass for at least 3,000 years. Federal data from the US indicate that 40 million consumers use cannabis annually; 7-8 million are regular consumers. Cannabis is consumed billions of times a day across the earth safely with little-to-no credible or verifiable ill effect on the individual, let alone to induce savage violence towards others.

    To say such, or to insinuate in a media interview that a strain of whole-smoked cannabis (there are over 500 strains of cannabis commercially available in the US) could possibly cause violence in humans is not only unsupported in the medical, sociological and demographic literature, such ignorance surely smacks of a new and even more perverse version of ‘Reefer Madness’.

    As DEA chief judge Francis Young ruled in NORML v DEA:

    “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.

    Like most all drug compounds that are psychotropic, cannabis can be abused. But what cannabis has not shown historically throughout the entire scope of humanity is the capacity to encourage a human being violent towards anything more than a bag of Doritos or a container of ice cream that will not readily open.

    Of all the hundreds of thousands of ‘drug’ compounds humans interface with annually—botanical and pharmaceutical—cannabis maybe one of the safest bar none.

    Cannabem liberemus,

    -Allen St. Pierre

    Dear Dr. Junquera:

    I think that the reason the scholarly world often gets criticized is because of the fantastic and unfortunate conclusions its members often draw.  There are a number of fields where no matter how well versed a person is that without practical, first hand knowledge it still only amounts to mere opinion.

    I find it so hard to believe that as a representative of your profession that you would have the face to actually try to explain how marijuana may have affected Rudy Eugene in causing him to act so unbelievably violent.

    I often try to stay away from making assumptions.  However, I can say, without any doubt whatsoever, that it is obvious that you have never used marijuana.  You have no idea how ignorant you sound to the rest of the world that have experienced the effects of sativa and indica.

    You also have no idea what kind of impact your ignorant statements can make!  You are only adding fuel to the fire in a country where so many have already made up their minds that marijuana is dangerous.  This type of mentality is what continues to criminalize marijuana and perpetuates this comical idea of a lawless land if it were to become legal. Thousands are currently detained because they were apprehended using, buying, or selling marijuana and this is causing a terrible burden upon our penal system and economy.  A drug that is actually less dangerous than alcohol!  Yes, this is true, it is less dangerous than alcohol and if you ever tried marijuana you would realize this.

    I cringed when I read this article (referenced below).  I know that so many people will take your assessment and conclude that marijuana can potentially turn you into a savage and even worse yet, maybe even a cannibal!

    You have a responsibility to choose your words wisely, especially when speaking to the media, because many may think that because of your various degrees and position that you actually know what you are talking about!

    Statements, such as the ones you made, takes away from the little progress we have made pursuing the legalization of marijuana.

    I hope next time you find yourself in this position that you will think twice before you make another irresponsible comment.

    Thank you for your time.
    Another Pot Advocate

    I almost attended University of Miami several years ago but I decided to go elsewhere.  I now feel better about my decision.  Thanks.

    “It could have been the strain of marijuana that increases the dopamine in the brain, such as sativa,” said Dr. Patricia Junquera, assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
    There are two strains of marijuana called sativa and indica. The sativa increases dopamine and gives you energy while decreasing pain threshold. Indica is a “sleepy high,” she explained.
    “People don’t really know what the amount of either is in each little packet of marijuana,” she explained. “And we can’t differentiate between the two in the blood, much less in a dead person.”
    She also suggested that if Eugene had a mental disorder, “the marijuana could have increased even further the dopamine levels and aggravated the situation. So that can’t be ruled out.”

    95 responses to “Cannabis and Cannibalism: The Return Of Reefer Madness In The Media?”

    1. brandon says:

      lol bullshit

    2. BinaryRecoil says:

      Is this the real reason it’s illegal? http://www.drugwarrant.com/articles/why-is-marijuana-illegal/
      If so..

    3. Me says:

      What a dumbass

    4. mario says:

      “He got the munchies soo bad, he ate another man”- pretty much what the doctor is saying….

    5. bob says:

      lol! The “doctor” needs more “practice”..

    6. Collin says:

      I love how the “Anti-marijuana” people are grasping at straws in order to prolong the inevitable.

      Most intelligent people will laugh in the face of a story this idiotic.

    7. Brian says:

      A local news station reported on this same issue, although they did not directly say it may have been caused by marijuana as this news story did they did try to put a negative spin on marijuana in a non direct way by focusing the news story on the fact that marijuana was supposedly the only thinking found in his system. I quickly commented on it saying it was not very good journalism to spin a story in such a way.

    8. crock of shite says:

      What a foolish thing to say, cannabis doesn’t make you cannibalize a person, but it will enhance who and what you are. So if he was already effed in the head with something like bad genetics, than this is the cause.

    9. Galileo Galilei says:

      I first read it was blamed on LSD. I guess someone realized that this was another opportunity to lie about marijuana and secure more funds for the drug war.

      The drug warriors probably have a team of professionals lined up who are willing to say this kind crap.

    10. St. Nick says:

      When I saw the news that all the cannibal had in him was weed I thought, “Oh great.” But pot is safe. I’ve been smoking since ’99 with a 6 and 9 month break around ’07-’08 and ’04 to ’05 and I’ve never eaten anyone…. hmmm in fact I’m BETTER now that I feel good and CAN enjoy life with Schizophrenia and Bipolar. Don’t worry, the cats out of the bag so to speak and the truth that weed is safer than most everything is going to continue to get out. God invented weed and you can’t keep a good thing down like God (2-300 years ago in England) and Pot! Don’t let this fluke cannabal case even change anything. Just another stepping stoned to leap over with feelings of joy and happiness. These slugs are not going to win. Together we WILL win.