America is still struggling to understand the motives that led 18-year-old Salvador Ramos to shoot 19 children, two teachers, and his own grandmother in Uvalde, Texas last month. Most reasonable media outlets are questioning why a teenager with mental health issues was allowed to buy an automatic weapon and 400 rounds of ammunition, but Fox News host Laura Ingraham is wondering why more people aren't blaming the shooting on weed.
In a recent episode of The Ingraham Angle, the host claimed that cannabis is directly responsible for the increasing incidence of mass shootings. Ingraham cited some vague claims that Ramos smoked weed and that the shooter who killed 9 people in Dayton, Ohio in 2019 reportedly got high too. And to add some conservative conspiracy theory into the mix, Ingraham said other media outlets were ignoring this unlikely motivation because of “the pro-marijuana bias that we've become accustomed to that's so powerful because billions are on the line with it nationwide.”
“The American people are hearing a lot about AR-15's and background checks, but they also deserve to hear about this as well,” she said, according to Media Matters. “Respected medical studies for years now have demonstrated that pot use, especially among teens, can trigger psychosis and increase the chance that the young person will develop violent behaviors.”
Modern scientists do not respect the findings of this research, though. Researchers have pointed out deep flaws in some of these older studies, many of which failed to account for combined use of alcohol and other addictive drugs. New research has found no evidence that cannabis use causes psychosis, and some studies have suggested that people suffering from mental health issues may be more likely to smoke weed – not the other way around. Researchers have found a strong link between alcohol use and violent behavior in psychotic patients as well, an issue that conservative pundits are content to ignore.
David Hammond, professor and university research chair at the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health Sciences, agrees that there is no strong causal link between weed and violence. “People that experience mental health issues are likely to be at greater risk of substance use and violent situations, just as they are more likely to experience homelessness,” he told VICE. “That does not mean that cannabis is responsible for causing the violent behavior any more than it is responsible for causing homelessness.”
For a practical example of the connection between cannabis and gun violence, one only needs to look north. Adult-use cannabis is completely legal in Canada, yet the country’s rate of gun violence is 0.5 per 100,000 people, more than eight times lower than the US rate of 4.12. Canada's low rate of gun violence also illustrates the importance of robust gun control laws. In 2020, after the worst mass shooting in Canadian history, the government banned 1,500 types of firearms.
And immediately after the Uvalde shooting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed a new law that would make selling, buying, transferring, or importing handguns illegal. Predictably, Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized the “Botoxed dictator to the north” for trying to stop people from buying guns, VICE reports.
Carlson also inaccurately claimed that Trudeau “is legalizing fentanyl along with cocaine and methamphetamine in Canada's third-largest providence [sic], British Columbia.” The province is actually decriminalizing the possession of these drugs as part of a three-year pilot program that will use a harm reduction strategy to stem the growing tide of overdose deaths.