Tag Archives: James Holmes

Marijuana is the Common Web Between So Many Mass Killers

A toxicology report on Devin Patrick Kelley, who shot and killed 26 at a church in Texas on November 5, revealed marijuana.

As Senator Chuck Schumer moves to decriminalize marijuana, he should scrutinize why marijuana plays a role in  so many mass killings.  The toxicology screen of mass killer Devin Patrick Kelley revealed marijuana in his system when he killed 26 people at a Texas church last November.  A week after the killings in Texas,  California “pot farmer” Kevin Neal murdered five people and injured eleven others.  Marijuana, or heavy use of marijuana at a young age, is a common web between many mass killers.

Diagnosed with cannabis-induced psychosis, Satoshi Uematsu killed 19 handicapped people in Japan and injured many others.

Although Devin Kelley had an anti-church bias, other marijuana-using killers express different ideological bents. Satoshi Uematsu, hated handicapped people whom he considered a burden on society.  The Japanese man who stabbed and killed 19 disabled people in 2016 frequently advocated for marijuana legalization.  Just weeks before his attack, Uematsu had been diagnosed with cannabis-induced psychosis and paranoia.  

In 2013, President Obama’s director of drug policy, Gil Kerlikowske released a study which cited marijuana as the drug most commonly linked to crimes.  The links between marijuana and violent behavior transcend national, religious and racial divides.  (Read the two most recent cases of religious violence.)

Jared Loughner, killed six and injured many  in Tucson, AZ, 2011.

Heavy or very heavy use of marijuana at a young age links several gunmen and terrorists with or without ideologies:  Planned Parenthood shooter Robert DearAurora shooter James Holmes; Tucson shooter Jared Loughner, and the Chattanooga shooter Mohammed Abdulazeez.

Marijuana was intricately tied to the Boston bombers, the Oklahoma City bomber and the Bastille Day terrorist in Nice. Brahim and Salah Abdeslem, who planned killing 130 at a Paris night club, and Cherif Kouachi, of the Charlie Hebdo killings, also belonged to the complicated web of heavy, chronic marijuana users.  The perpetrators of bombings in London and Manchester were known to be heavy marijuana users.

When Marijuana Use Leads to Acute or Chronic Psychosis

Robert Dear, Planned Parenthood shooter, November 27, 2015

While around 50% of American adults have tried marijuana, only 10-13 % of adults smoke pot on any regular basis.  Pot-using mass killers often stand out because of the chronic and obsessive nature  of their marijuana habit.   Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear appears to have moved from North Carolina to Colorado, fixated on his desire to be high.

A significant chunk of marijuana users experience psychotic symptoms.  Psychotic killers with mental illness may appear different from political and religious killers, but they often share the trait of persistent, early marijuana use.

Noah Harpham, was in mania when he shot three people in Colorado Springs  in 2015.

Noah Harpham, who shot three people in Colorado Springs weeks before the Planned Parenthood shootings,  experienced early pot addiction and tried to recover.    When he used marijuana again after Colorado legalized it, he immediately went into psychosis.   Shortly before he went on a shooting rampage, he had been trying to get mental health treatment.

Aurora, Colorado theater shooter, James Holmes, was a heavy marijuana user.  A neighbor reported regularly seeing him smoking weed behind his apartment, but never talked to him.

James Holmes, Aurora shooter used to smoke weed behind the apartment.

The Chattanooga shooter suffered mainly from depression and/or bipolar disorder, and may not have been driven as much by  ideology as the other mass shooters.  Heavy marijuana use was an essential part of his life, and it had prevented him from getting a job.

The Teen Brain

The Boston bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,  had been heavy, persistent teenage marijuana users.  A study from the University of Pittsburgh shows strong changes may affect the adolescent user years later, even after stopping the use of marijuana.

Nice terrorist Mohammed Bouhlel smoked very strong weed in high school, and had his first psychotic break at 19.

The Nice terrorist, Mohammed Bouhlel, plowed into the crowd with a truck on Bastille Day two years ago, killing 86 people.  Bouhlel had a history of smoking strong cannabis as a teen.  He had an early psychotic break at age 19, a few years before the move to France.  His psychosis predated his interest in jihad, which had begun only a few months before the Bastille Day attack. Bouhlel also took steroids and pharmaceutical drugs years later, but started his drug use with weed.

In 2014, Washington State high school student Jaylen Fryberg shot five friends whom he had invited to eat lunch with him.  On Twitter he revealed the need to smoke a ton of pot because of a breakup.  The girl who had broken up with him said on Twitter that smoking pot made him stupid.   He was only 15 at the time, but Washington State started selling commercialized pot about four months earlier.

Marijuana strongly alters the teen brain, and  a recent study from Montreal pinpointed that any user under age 25 can become of victim of psychotic symptoms.

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh killed 168 in 1996

Another pair of high school shooters, the Columbine shooters, chose to do their rampage on 4/20, a symbolic date for junkies.  Timothy McVeigh also chose this day for the Oklahoma City bombing.

Were the DC Snipers, John Allen Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo,   pot users?  They fit into a pattern of an older man using marijuana to control a teenager.  Before ending up in the DC area, they moved between places  known for marijuana: Jamaica, Antigua, Bellingham,  Tacoma.

When Marijuana Psychosis Leads to Violence: Aurora, Arizona

Some the most notorious recent murderers who were marijuana users fell victim to psychosis and delusion: Aurora shooter Holmes, Tucson shooter Loughner, Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear and Eddie Routh.  Routh shot “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield because of his paranoia.  He smoked marijuana the day of the murders.  Suffering from PTSD, he thought the other men would hurt him.

Eddie Routh, veteran with PTSD, smoked pot the morning before he killed Chris Kyle Chad Littlefield.
The Planned Parenthood shooter in Colorado Springs, Robert Dear,  appears to have been both ideologically fanatic and psychotic.  Eric Rudolph, another infamous anti-abortion terrorist, also had a marijuana history –the reason for his discharge from the Army.
The 15% or so of marijuana users who experience psychotic symptoms from marijuana or go into permanent psychosis (schizophrenia) are 9x more likely to become violent than schizophrenics whose illness has nothing to do with drugs. *

Marijuana often creates a cat-and-mouse chase with depression, bipolar, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia, and it makes these conditions worse. 

Educating about the connection between drug use and violence with an eye on drug prevention could alleviate much violent crime.

Solution to Cutting Down Mass Violence

Americans argue over the most effective means to stop mass killers.

Discussions often leave out one of the most important components of violence……compulsive drug use, especially marijuana.  Let’s consider that the root of violence goes much deeper than a person’s religion, gun laws or innate mental illness.  Let’s stop legalizing drugs.
A Secret Service report on mass attacks in public places, 2017, connected 54% of attackers to illicit drugs or substance abuse.
Manchester terrorist Salmon Abedi

We acknowledge that not everyone who uses marijuana becomes mentally ill or psychotic.  However, cannabis use, especially in young users can cause extraordinary changes to the brain.   Read how Salman Abedi changed from a cannabis smoking teen to an Isis terrorist. 

Robert Durst, who allegedly murdered several people throughout the United States depended upon his “beloved marijuana.”
Readers should check out the many excellent sources describing links between marijuana, mental illness and violence, including:

*Fazel S, Långström N, Hjern A, Grann M, Lichtenstein P. Schizophrenia, substance abuse, and violent crime. JAMA. 2009 May 20;301(19):2016-23.

Miller, Norman S Miller and Thersilla Oberbarnscheidt.  Marijuana Violence and Law. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, January 17,  2017

Harris AW, Large MM, Redoblado-Hodge A, Nielssen O, Anderson J, Brennan J. Clinical and cognitive associations with aggression in the first episode of psychosis. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010 Jan;44(1):85-93..……

Two Most Recent Incidences of Religious Violence

The Common Web in Ideological Killings

Two cases of religious violence are dominating the news, and marijuana allegedly played a strong role in the lives of both attackers.  Jeremy Christian’s rants on Muslim women in Portland, Oregon resulted in the stabbing death of two men who defended the women. The Daily Mail reports about Jeremy Joseph Christian:

“Christian’s Facebook site paints disturbing a picture of the suspect, and he describes himself by saying: ‘I’m an Ex-Con. I Like Comix, Cannabis and Metal-In Any Combination. If you are an Employer, F*** Off.’ ”  The suspect has been in jail previously for a string of charges including robbery, kidnapping and unlawful use of a weapon, and he brags about being an ex-con on his Facebook page.  Whenever there are erratic rants with psychotic overtones, we should suspect marijuana use.

Salman Abedi, Manchester terrorist

Salman Abedi, the perpetrator of the Manchester bombing last week was also an early marijuana smoker and drinker.  Friends remember him as a good footballer, a keen supporter of Manchester United and a user of cannabis.  An article The Independent, questions how he turned from a cannabis-smoking dropout to a Isis bomber.   The paper concludes that his path to radicalization echoes those of Islamist terrorists throughout Europe.  However, his victims were disproportionately young, and overwhelmingly female–another fact that can’t be ignored.

British journalists have been publishing a good deal about the connection between heavy pot use and jihadist terrorism.  It seems  cannabis obsession turns up frequently with ideological or religious violence when the killers have no relationship with their victims.

Rising Pot Use, Rising Violence

Scholars from Michigan recently published a summary of incidences of the past few years linking violence and aggression with marijuana use. They reveal little-known facts, including information about how marijuana affected Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Osama bin Laden.

As pot use rises, we can expect a corresponding increase in violence.   (In Chicago, known for a high murder rate,  58% of violent criminals tested + for recent marijuana use.  Humboldt County, marijuana capital of California, has higher rates for suicide and homicide than most counties in the state. )

Frequent pot use eventually causes major brain changes that affect a chunk of marijuana users.  (Studies show that even a small amount of pot use changes the brain.)  Critical parts of the brain that influence emotion, happiness, empathy and conscience are involved, even if not entirely understood.  Pot users are vulnerable to paranoia, unusual or rigid thought patterns, anxiety and/or depression.

Dylann Roof killed 9 African-American at a church in SC. His parents sought outside help to stop his marijuana use when he was 14.

When continued marijuana leads to ideological or religious violence, the usual pattern is that heavy marijuana comes first, the ideology follows and drug use continues.  Dylann Roof killed 9 African-American at a church in South Carolina.  Recent documents revealed that his parents struggled to get him to stop using marijuana at age 14.   Other ideological killers and pot users included Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear, Eric Rudolph, an abortion clinic bomber, and Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber.

Is Marijuana Always a Factor?

It  also is not necessary to blame marijuana for each and every person who becomes radicalized and fanatic.  Orlando shooter Omar Mateen carried danger and rage that dated back years and would appear to be far more complex.  In 3rd grade, instead of singing a school song “mariposa, mariposa,” he sang “marijuana, marijuana.”

The drugs found at the home of San Bernardino terrorists, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook,  included benzodiazapines and amphetamines, according to British journalist Peter Hitchens.  However, Enrique Marquez, Syed Farook’s friend who bought the guns, posted on Facebook, November 5, 2015:  ‘No one really knows me. I lead multiple lives and I’m wondering when its all going to collapse on M[e].’  He referred to being ‘Involved in terrorist plots, drugs, antisocial behavior, marriage, might go to prison for fraud etc.

Radicalization comes easier to a brain that has been primed by marijuana or other drugs.  It’s not just for religious violence, but all kinds of ideological killers.  Mind control from  political groups comes more easily to the drugged brain.  Marijuana lobbying groups use terms like “Marijuana Majority,”  “inevitable,” “racism,” expecting people to be good sheep who follow.

Robert Dear, shooter at Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.  A heavy marijuana user, he moved to Colorado for the pot.

We Can’t Ignore Correlation

Cutting out all marijuana use would not eliminate all murder and mass violence by any means.   However, as a society, we cannot ignore when these correlations occur:

  1. a shooter’s psychosis and or mental illness is triggered or made worse by marijuana use – (James Holmes, Jared Loughner, Eddie Routh and possibly Robert Dear are clear examples)
  2.  marijuana use numbs feelings so that shooters feel no empathy  (Robert Durst, Dylann Roof)  As marijuana manipulates the brain, it appears aid in the formation of psychopathology.
  3. Victims of PTSD turn to marijuana and it turns deadly for them and others.  Cascade Mall shooter Arcan Cetin was an early marijuana user who suffered from PTSD.  He killed five people at a Macy’s in Washington.  Stephen Bourgoin who recently killed five teens in a wrong way crash also suffered from PTSD.  If we offered better ways to identify and treat early PTSD, we’d have a less violent society.

A chorus of marijuana activists will say: “Correlation doesn’t equal causation.”  That’s what their leaders say, too.  For further study, please read Part 2, as well as these studies:

Miller, Norman S Miller and Thersilla Oberbarnscheidt.  Marijuana Violence and Law. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, January 17,  2017

Fazel S, Långström N, Hjern A, Grann M, Lichtenstein P. Schizophrenia, substance abuse, and violent crime. JAMA. 2009 May 20;301(19):2016-23.

Harris AW, Large MM, Redoblado-Hodge A, Nielssen O, Anderson J, Brennan J. Clinical and cognitive associations with aggression in the first episode of psychosis. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010 Jan;44(1):85-93..……

Get Real — Marijuana Use Fuels Crime and Domestic Violence

A man who brutally chased a woman with fire tongs and broke her jaw in Prescott, AZ, was a medical marijuana cardholder.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that marijuana legalization will increase domestic violence and violence against women and children.  We have written on this subject previously.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  While we acknowledge the problem, let’s also acknowledge that  substance abuse is connected to nearly all domestic violence.*  Heavy marijuana users were the perpetrators in three domestic violence stories in the news over the past two weeks.

Near Portland, Oregon, a mother shot her 17-year-old son on Sept. 24.  Diane Davidoff’s paranoia and other mental illness, certainly made worse by frequent marijuana usage, probably led to the killing of her son.  She worried that others were out to get her. Continue reading

Does Accepting Teen Pot Use Increase Violence?

The shootings last week in Marysville, Washington, forces into question: What triggers school violence?  Jaylen Fryberg, who shot himself and five others, was a popular, 15-year old Homecoming Prince.  Last December at Arapahoe High School in Colorado, an 18-year old with few signs of mental illness, shot a fellow student and tried to shoot a teacher.  One died at Arapahoe HS, while three died this past week, plus the shooters.

Teachers and mental health professionals are supposed to be able to spot a troubled youth.  These teen boys defied that category.  Jaylen Fryberg, was upset over a break-up and invited friends to eat lunch with him, knowing he would shoot them.  Karl Pierson was upset with a teacher who kicked him off the debate team, and so decided to shoot people. To seek revenge and kill oneself after a disappointment is not normal.   These youth came from the states that had legalized marijuana.  Marijuana needs to be added to our discussion of what causes mass violence, along with violence in the media, access to guns, violent video games, etc.  (Since this article was written, the Twitter feed of Jaylen Fryberg showed him to be quite a marijuana user.  His ex-girlfriend said it made his stupid.)

From the esteemed Lancet Psychiatry Journal, we know that teens who use marijuana are 7x more likely to attempt suicide.  Marijuana blunts feelings.  Both Jaylen and Karl lacked empathy for themselves and others.   Did these boys use marijuana? How much? How long?  Legalizing pot normalizes it; states that have long-term medical marijuana programs have higher usage of  all drugs.   Those who support legalization proposals are promoting a system that legitimizes it.  When pot is normal (or tobacco or booze) for adults, teen usage rises.

Mass shooters James Holmes and Jared Loughner  were known to be marijuana users — and not moderate in their use.  Marijuana averages 13% THC today, opposed to 1-3% in the 1970s and 80s.   Did marijuana feed their psychosis and the psychopathology of Fryberg, Pierson, Columbine killers and others?  Using marijuana increases the  chances for psychotic episodes, anxiety, aggression, schizophrenia, among other problems.

Karl Pierson, an 18-year old shot his classmates at Arapahoe High School in Colorado on Dec. 13, 2013
Karl Pierson, an 18-year old killed a classmate at Arapahoe HS in Colorado on Dec. 13, 2013. Does his diary, now under discussion, reveal marijuana usage?

In all fairness, two of the worst mass shooters in the US, the perpetrators of the Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech massacres, appear to have never used marijuana.  They were more logical in their planning and succeeded in killing more people, unfortunately.

Modern Reefer “Madness”

For every claim of a brilliant mind that used marijuana, without negative effect,  there’s another person who was harmed by using it.  The people described below indicate that marijuana has strong adverse reactions for some individuals, and for society.

1) On September 26, Brian Howard started a fire at the air traffic controllers station in Aurora, IL, holding up commercial planes for days. He was high, and admitted to having smoked marijuana right before the incident.

2)  Amanda Bynes’ mother said she hasn’t been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, as rumored, and blamed the weird behavior on heavy marijuana use.  Amanda alleged her father had committed child and sexual abuse, but recanted.

3) Kevin Ward, Jr., was tragically hit by race car driver Tony Stewart on August 8, 2014, after he got out of his car to confront an oncoming driver on the track.  He eventually died. It’s perplexing that he would get out of his car considering the situation, but autopsy results show he had marijuana intoxication.

4) Marijuana probably affected the mental states of Megan Huntsman and Erika Murray–two neglectful mothers who let their babies die in their homes.   Other drugs may be involved, too.

5) According to the father of Jodi Arias, accused of the bizarre behavior and the murder of her boyfriend, she has never been the same since she started to grow marijuana at age 14.

6) Johar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston bombers, was supposedly easy- going and smoked a lot of pot.   Since the Boston Marathon bombing, his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev has since been linked to a triple murder on Sept. 11, 2011.  The victims had their throats slashed and were covered in marijuana.

7) In  2012, James Holmes shot and killed 12, and wounded 58, in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.   Though he probably had not been sane for a number of years, a neighbor reported that he was frequently seen outside by the apartment building smoking pot.

8) On May 26, 2012, Rudy Eugene was caught on tape eating another man in Miami for 18 minutes before police arrived.  When police couldn’t stop him, he was shot.  Eugene died while the disfigured man survived. Toxicology reports showed that marijuana was the only drug in Eugene’s body when he gnawed the man.

9) Casey Anthony was amazingly detached from her actions and from her daughter’s death.  According to a friend of Casey Anthony, she smoked a lot of marijuana, but he was unaware if she used other drugs.

Amanda Knox is far more emotional today.  Did marijuana blunt her emotions in Perugia back in 2007?   Photo: The Guardian
Amanda Knox is far more emotional today. Did marijuana blunt her emotions in Perugia back in 2007? Photo: The Guardian

10) Amanda Knox, when confronted by police the day after Meredith Kercher’s brutal murder.  A regular pot smoker at the time, she admitted to smoking marijuana the night of the murder.  Her blunted emotional reaction to the bloody incident during police questioning was very strange.  (THC stays in the body up to a month, it doesn’t pass like alcohol.)  Without judging Knox to be guilty, we can certainly understand why Knox’s non-reaction to her roommates’ bloody death would lead Italian police to think she was guilty.  She is also from Washington, a state that worships marijuana usage at a festival each year.  One may conclude that Knox was excessively immature and out of touch, but then what was she doing in a foreign country?

A recent  shooter in Washington, Aaron Ybarra , had also “dabbled” in marijuana, although alcohol also played into his demons.  These shooting seem frequent in western states.  We need to see the correlation between the most unexpected school shootings and having medical marijuana in a state.   Why do states without medical marijuana come up in the news less frequently?

The list could go on, but this page represents a warning against validating marijuana.   It’s ungrounded to think legalization would make marijuana less appealing to those under age 21, or regulate underage usage.  Knox, Ward, Anthony,Johar Tsarnaev or Arias were under age 21 during the incidents, or when they started using marijuana. It’s likely that every individual mentioned above began use while while in adolescence.

This “experiment” in legalization is an opportunity for us to step up the warnings and increase funding for drug education and prevention.  It’s time to stop saying that marijuana isn’t harmful, or that it’s safer than alcohol.  Most of these examples are Caucasians, but there’s also a Native American, one black and one Hispanic.  Crazy, pot-influenced behaviors and psychosis don’t discriminate.  They affect male and female, though the males are more likely to be shooters.