When The Baltimore Sun ran an editorial about the Maryland mall shooter, who killed two people and then himself, the newspaper said that mental health problems need to be identified sooner. But it failed to breathe a word about killer Darion Aguilar’s admitted marijuana use. Dr. Christine Miller, a semi-retired molecular neuroscientist living in Maryland, was not too surprised by the omission. She says the liberal media tend to ignore the relationship between marijuana and mental illness.
“I know that the editors are aware of the marijuana-psychosis connection because I have corresponded in the past with one of their journalists who was unable to get them interested in a story on the topic,” she told Accuracy in Media. “They did publish one letter I wrote to their local Towson Times affiliate.”
Miller has researched the cause of schizophrenia for many years, and is working to stave off marijuana legalization in Maryland. “Though none of my work involved the study of marijuana use, I became aware of the growing body of literature showing its association with the onset of schizophrenia, and I now regard those numerous reports as the most well-replicated finding in schizophrenia research,” she says.
In a case in Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized, the national news media recently aired a video of a man stealing an SUV with a 4-year-old boy inside, but did not emphasize his history of drug abuse, including marijuana. The Denver Post reported that a pickup truck he had stolen earlier was found with drug paraphernalia, including empty syringes, five pipes containing residues believed to be of methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as 2.1 grams of pot.
In another sensational case, in Tennessee, a woman who said she smoked marijuana all day and all night drove her car into a church and stabbed her husband. Church Hill Police Department Chief Mark Johnson told The Kingsport Times News that the woman stated that God had told her to stab her husband for “worshipping” NASCAR. The woman said, “I smoke a bunch of weed. I love to smoke it. Sometimes when I do, I start seeing things that others don’t. Isn’t God good? He told me that this would happen, and just look, I am okay.”
In the Washington, D.C. area, The Baltimore Sun isn’t the only paper reluctant to examine the marijuana link to mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and psychosis. After Dr. Miller testified to the Maryland House Judiciary Committee about the marijuana-psychosis connection, she was contacted by Frederick Krunkel of The Washington Post, asking for a phone interview. She said, “I replied, along with my phone number and a time to call, but they never called.”
“It turns out that 15 percent of marijuana users experience psychosis, half of whom will go on to become schizophrenic if they don’t stop using,” she told AIM. “Fortunately, many do stop if they aren’t addicted already, because paranoia is no fun.” She says some people are under the misimpression that if someone is psychotic due to marijuana, it comes from what the marijuana is laced with. “In fact,” she says, “the converse is true—a large study out of Finland last year shows that in acute substance-induced psychosis cases, the cannabis users convert to schizophrenia spectrum disorder at the highest rate.”
Incredibly, however, the Maryland House of Delegates passed Del. Cheryl Glenn and Del. Dan Morhaim’s medical marijuana bill in a 127-9 vote. The dope lobby, known as the Marijuana Policy Project, is saying, “Maryland may finally become the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana law!”
In attempting to explain the media’s failure to cover both sides of this debate, Miller said, “I think we are losing our journalistic standards.” She believes that papers like the Post no longer have the “depth of talent” from reporters who understand how to cover scientific evidence in controversies like this.
Another factor, she said, is that there’s a “giddy rush” by the media to jump on the “progressive bandwagon,” which views the marijuana movement as fashionable. In this regard, she singled out CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who has been promoting “medical marijuana” without taking into account the serious mental health problems associated with its use. She said liberal reporters are also influenced by the perception that too many members of minority groups are being punished for drug use.
Despite the rush to legalize marijuana for various purposes, Miller said the media will eventually be forced to cover the link between marijuana use and mental illness because of the growing number and severity of violent incidents involving schizophrenic individuals using the drug. Those whose schizophrenia manifests in the context of drug use are much more likely to be violent. She also says that in the wake of its legalization in Colorado, data is coming out of that state about impaired driving associated with the increasing use of marijuana.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at [email protected].