As we noted in our coverage of the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood attack, the alleged shooter, Robert Dear, reportedly shared apocalyptic rants on the Cannabis.com website approximately a decade ago and also posted a sex ad that noted his interest in marijuana use.
But did pot use play a role in the horrific shootings, which killed three people and injured nine others?
That's the insinuation of Christine Tatum, a writer, anti-pot crusader and wife of Dr. ChristianThurstone, among the most prominent Colorado voices decrying the alleged dangers of marijuana, particularly for young people.
A former staff writer for the Chicago Tribune and the Denver Post, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists' president circa 2006-2007, Tatum writes for Thurstone's website, DrThurstone.com, with the vast majority of her posts portraying cannabis in overwhelmingly negative terms.
Earlier this year, she also co-wrote an anti-marijuana series for the Colorado Springs Gazette — and while the paper acknowledged her connection to Thurstone, who was interviewed for the series, it didn't identity for her as an opponent of progressive marijuana policies.
To put it mildly, she's not exactly objective on the subject.
Here's a 2013 Tatum post about surviving Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, courtesy of marijuana activist Russ Belville....
...as well as a response that makes marijuana-centric references to Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Aurora theater shooter James Holmes and more.
Given this track record, it's no surprise that Tatum has floated similar notions about Dear.
Here's a tweet that followed a statement about the shootings issued by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper:
Marijuana Deals Near You
As for the link Tatum tweeted, it connects to a February 2015 Thurstone blog post entitled "The Marijuana Psychosis Connection."
Here's an excerpt from the piece:
Today, in one of the world’s most prominent medical journals, Lancet Psychiatry, a team of 23 scientists published a large study showing that people who smoked high-grade marijuana — about 16 percent THC with no CBD, which is similar to average U.S. varieties of marijuana — were five times more likely than non-users to have a psychotic disorder. Weekend users were three times more likely than non-users to have a psychotic disorder.
Use of only this “typical” pot — a substance also consistent with what Colorado adults routinely divert to teens in this state — was responsible for 24 percent of those adults presenting with first-episode psychosis to the psychiatric services in south London.
“This paper suggests that we could prevent almost one quarter of cases of psychosis if no-one smoked high potency cannabis,” stated Sir Robin Murray, professor of Psychiatric Research at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College and senior researcher on the study. “This could save young patients a lot of suffering and the Health Services a lot of money.”
Thurstone acknowledges that not every marijuana user experiences psychosis. But in this concluding passage, he argues that the presumptive link remains a matter of concern:
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We see a similar dynamic with alcohol. The majority of people who use the substance do not cause harm to themselves or others and do not experience dependence and/or addiction — but surely no one would argue that the minority of users who abuse the drug or develop alcoholism don’t cause great harm to themselves and society at large. In fact, marijuana legalization proponents cite alcohol’s negative impact to justify their reasoning for making cannabis legal.
So while many people can use cannabis without experiencing psychosis or causing harm to themselves and others, we should not ignore or sweepingly dismiss that smaller percentage of marijuana users who cannot — a percentage of people that could grow as marijuana is legalized.
So, too, could the opportunities for marijuana haters to blame the substance for every terrible thing that happens, whether a causal relationship can be definitively established or not.