Anti-Pot Advocates Link Planned Parenthood Shooting To Suspect's Pot Use

By McCarton Ackerman 12/02/15

Anti-marijuana advocates are once again pushing the boundaries of credulity.

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Several anti-pot advocates have gone online to spin the marijuana use of Planned Parenthood shooting suspect Robert Dear as a basis for their anti-legalization push.

The New York Times reported last weekend that Dear may have used marijuana when he used to live in North Carolina, citing his posts on online message boards looking for smoking partners in the Asheville area. Anti-marijuana groups have now correlated the shooting at the Planned Parenthood site in Colorado with his alleged cannabis use, citing a study published this year in Lancet Psychiatry that linked using high-potency cannabis with an increased risk of having a psychotic episode.

“Robert Dear may have been one of the many discontents who relocated to Colorado because the marijuana available there,” read a post on the Parents Opposed to Pot Facebook page. The link between Robert Dear, Dylann Roof, some Paris attackers, the Chattanooga shooter, Tim McVeigh—long persistent marijuana use and then finding an ideology to give them meaning.” They later wrote in a Facebook comment that “more than 50% of those who kill have chosen to smoke marijuana.”

Anti-pot activist Christine Tatum, who co-wrote Clearing the Haze: Helping Families Face Teen Addiction with husband Christian Thurstone, said that Dear’s “hatred and zealotry” can be linked to his marijuana use.

“I’m sure it’s just another coincidence that a man using marijuana and displaying increasingly intense agitation and signs of psychosis has erupted in murderous violence in a state that gave him easy access to very high-potency forms of the drug and the weapons he used,” she wrote on Facebook. "[How about] we check into this man’s drug-use history and his toxicology very carefully and start asking ourselves some hard questions about the world body of reputable medical research that has found strong links between marijuana use and psychosis in a percentage of users?”

But while many of these posts rely on speculation rather than facts, sometimes the rhetoric is meant with intense backlash. When Thurstone penned a blog last year that linked the death of Ferguson shooting victim Michael Brown with his marijuana use, pro-cannabis activists slammed him and he eventually pulled the posting.

“To oversimplify the issue to that degree is really problematic, and I think the majority of people see through that oversimplification,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “To try and claim a causal role of someone’s use of cannabis at some point in time to an act of aggression later on ... is not only specious but also highly misleading.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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