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Marijuana and Mass Murder

Roger Morgan blames weed for everything that's wrong with society today.

by Tom McKay

by Tom McKay

Every time a bunch of innocent people are massacred, most of us are revulsed. Some of us seek answers in public policy and history. Others look to psychology.

Roger Morgan blames pot.

It's pretty much all he does. Morgan, who runs California’s Stop Pot initiative, recently told libertarian site Reason, "what hasn't been publicized widely is that almost all of the mass murders that we've had in recent years, the person has been a heavy marijuana user, because it changes the brain. If you look at the Tucson shooting, Aurora, Paris recently, the guy was a complete stoner ... even the radical Islams are doing it, that's how they change the motivation of younger people is they give them marijuana."

"There's thousands of studies" with "brain scan technology" which prove marijuana use results in "psychotic breaks," he added.

As one of the state's chief public opponents of legal weed, Morgan has been quoted in publications like the LA Times, and one of the groups with which he is associated, the Coalition for a Drug Free California, is occasionally newsworthy.

According to Reason, he's probably one of the most important people in the state’s marijuana legalization resistance movement in 2016—a year in which the movement may capitulate.

I reached out for comment from Morgan several times, but he repeatedly dodged setting a concrete time to talk. Fortunately, it's not hard to suss out all the relevant details of his suspiciously poorly sourced ideology online.

In an article for the Times-Herald, Morgan laid out all the details of his crusade against pot. The term "medical marijuana," he claimed, is "fraudulent," with no scientific or medical backing.

Pot also ruins entire neighborhoods, because weed "addiction" is a "chronic, lifelong condition that ruins lives and elevates the level of crime" and creates a dangerous black market ripe for criminal profiteering. But there's also the "noxious odors" from fields of pot and local environmental destruction from grow operations, Morgan wrote, adding Californians "are buying guns to protect their families, property values are declining."

Finally, Morgan linked marijuana use with everything from "brain damage and I.Q. loss for anyone under 25" to "psychotic breaks ... suicide, traffic deaths, harms to a fetus" and "drugs that are killing 129 Americans every day just from overdose."

But when Morgan isn't crediting weed for everything from rotting brains to ISIS attacks in Europe, he's blowing the lid wide open on the president's plan to funnel weed money into the hands of the New World Order.

"Federal laws aren't enforced, thanks to President Obama," Morgan writes. "By doing nothing, he is actually fostering the proliferation of marijuana; no doubt a payback to George Soros, Kingpin of the illicit drug trade. It may be good for Soros, but it's bad for America."

For a guy who insists he does not smoke weed ... Morgan really seems like he came up with most of his ideas hunched over a bong at 2:00 a.m., muttering about black helicopters.

It'd be hard to debunk every paranoid idea to flow out of Morgan's mouth, but a few quick pointers.

Serious marijuana dependence is relatively rare, and tends to be not as serious as use of other drugs. There's no evidence it is a "chronic, lifelong condition." Scholarly research has concluded marijuana legalization has little to do with the crime rate. While there's some evidence of an impact on impaired driving arrests in Colorado, it's unclear how much of it actually reflects a rise in high driving. The gateway drug theory has been recognized as bullshit by actual scientists for years. Harvard scientists confirm weed does not cause schizophrenia, though it might trigger it earlier, which is not at all the same thing.

Overwhelming numbers of doctors believe in medical marijuana. I found Morgan's LinkedIn page. He has no medical background.

Okay, George Soros wants to legalize weed. (Obama’s been pretty tepid on it)

As for the link to mass shootings? Aside from a recent Ohio slaughter linked to black market pot sales (which probably wouldn't have happened if weed was legal), Morgan's theory is primarily notable because it provides a convenient narrative for conservatives looking to distract from the actually statistically supported link between the United States' high rates of gun violence and—gasp —guns. That might be why similar explanations were aggregated by several viral right-wing sites. Attempting to confirm Morgan’s theory, Reason found evidence of just six weed-smoking shooters in 23 mass shootings since 2011.

The one ISIS guy who may or may not have smoked weed? In Syria, cannabis farmers pay militant groups big money to protect them from jihadists who want to burn their crops. ISIS propaganda sometimes features ISIS fighters burning marijuana fields.

But lest you leave with the impression Morgan is some kind of joke — he's not. Evidence of the folding anti-weed movement though it may be, apparently the duties of upholding Californian weed prohibition have fallen on his shoulders. Meanwhile, the profoundly reactionary sentiments he offers differ in degree, not the kind from the drug law reform skepticism still rampant in much of the media, police unions and drug companies which fund the anti-legalization movement, or for that matter, many of the 44% of Americans who still oppose legal weed.

To put it another way, people like Morgan might not be winning the public debate over marijuana, but they are propping up a very real national status quo of police slamming people in jail for smoking a joint (In 2014, weed-related arrests actually increased significantly nationwide). Moreover, Morgan is not that much of an anomaly among the ignominious company of many historical prohibitionists.

In the heyday of early 20th-century alcohol prohibition, temperance movement leader Lyman Beecher warned drunk voters might "dig the grave of our liberties and entomb our glory."  The original proponent of marijuana prohibition, Federal Bureau of Narcotics commissioner Harry Anslinger, is on the record as believing "reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men" and "Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others." Former Nixon aide John Ehrlichman recently told Harper’s the modern war on drugs was invented to crack down on minorities and hippies.

These beliefs and policies all seem ridiculous now, but at the time reflected a great deal of consensus … as well as justified a lot of actual physical violence from state authorities. That’s not particularly funny, unfortunately, and neither is a guy like Roger Morgan.


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Tom McKay

Tom McKay is a NYC-based staff writer for Mic and a freelancer covering national politics, media, law enforcement and the war on drugs. Follow him on Twitter: @thetomzone or shoot him an email: [email protected]



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