Former President Donald Trump recently took a break from his legal battles to blame America's unending wave of mass shootings on weed.
Trump addressed the ongoing increase in mass shootings at a meeting of the National Rifle Association (NRA) leadership forum last week. His speech stuck closely to standard NRA and GOP rhetoric, insisting that the increase in mass shootings is “not a gun problem,” Marijuana Moment reports.
So if America's lax gun laws aren't to blame, what is? According to Trump, “common psychiatric drugs, as well as genetically engineered cannabis and other narcotics” could be causing psychotic breaks that in turn lead to gun violence. And if that's not enough scapegoats in one sentence, he also suggested that “transgender hormone treatments and ideology” can also increase “the risk of extreme depression, aggression and even violence.”
Surprisingly, one small aspect of the former president's theory does have a tiny grain of merit. Illegal stimulants like cocaine and meth can induce psychosis, and common medications like steroids and non-cannabis epilepsy drugs can also induce psychotic symptoms, including delusions and hallucinations. The FDA still allows doctors to prescribe these medications, though, because the risks of medication-induced psychosis are pretty low.
Every other aspect of Trump's theory is completely lacking in evidence, as usual. Prohibitionists love to play up the myth that weed, especially high-potency bud, can cause psychosis, but scientific studies have thoroughly discredited this theory. And there is absolutely zero credible evidence that hormone treatments, trans “ideology,” or trans people in general have anything to do with the steady increase of gun violence.
Trump told the audience that he would ask the FDA to investigate his theories if he is elected again. Of course, the candidate is fully playing into his base here, but the extra anti-drug rhetoric is a new twist for his 2024 campaign. Trump upheld traditional War on Drugs strategies during his former stint in the Oval Office, but not more aggressively than any other president. And although his administration launched a few anti-pot policies, he largely ignored the growing wave of cannabis legalization and even pardoned some former pot prisoners.
These latest speeches suggest Trump is leaning into the age-old tactic of preying on voters' fears of drug-related violence in order to scare up a vote. During this year's campaign, the candidate is promising to wage war on drug cartels and to impose the death penalty for drug dealers. This rhetoric will surely connect with some of Trump's hardcore followers, but the former president has apparently failed to realize that a sizable proportion of Republican voters actually support federal cannabis legalization.