Cannabis and Cannibalism: The Return Of Reefer Madness In The Media?

As I told staff this morning in an email, last night and this morning have been surreal being inundated with media requests for interviews on two totally disparate topics related to cannabis:

Chicago moving forward with cannabis decriminalization for possession

Media headlines (and some experts’ claims) that cannabis might have caused a guy to kill and chew his victim’s face off

Talk about one topic being ‘good’, the other one being ‘bad’ (if not totally bizarre)!

It is one thing for the media to report on the toxicological results from the autopsy of the guy who did this strange and gruesome maiming in Miami last month, but to read a professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami pop off to the Associated Press that maybe it was the strain of cannabis that might have caused this guy to become a cannibal strikes me that this professor is totally incorrect beyond belief and that her comments as an ‘expert’ are going to be repeated in any future news stories, radio and TV shows on the matter of cannabis’ safety.’s Maia Szalavitz has an excellent look at past media-hyped ‘drug scares’ here.

A NORML supporter contacted the organization this afternoon with his email to the U of Miami professor Patricia Junquera M.D. quoted in the AP piece, and my reply to both of them can be found below.

Hello Dr. Junquera and Mr. X,

Thanks for your email.

Self evidently cannabis does not cause people to become violent in general, and it specifically does not cause people to mutilate others.

Humans have been using cannabis en mass for at least 3,000 years. Federal data from the US indicate that 40 million consumers use cannabis annually; 7-8 million are regular consumers. Cannabis is consumed billions of times a day across the earth safely with little-to-no credible or verifiable ill effect on the individual, let alone to induce savage violence towards others.

To say such, or to insinuate in a media interview that a strain of whole-smoked cannabis (there are over 500 strains of cannabis commercially available in the US) could possibly cause violence in humans is not only unsupported in the medical, sociological and demographic literature, such ignorance surely smacks of a new and even more perverse version of ‘Reefer Madness’.

As DEA chief judge Francis Young ruled in NORML v DEA:

“In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.

Like most all drug compounds that are psychotropic, cannabis can be abused. But what cannabis has not shown historically throughout the entire scope of humanity is the capacity to encourage a human being violent towards anything more than a bag of Doritos or a container of ice cream that will not readily open.

Of all the hundreds of thousands of ‘drug’ compounds humans interface with annually—botanical and pharmaceutical—cannabis maybe one of the safest bar none.

Cannabem liberemus,

-Allen St. Pierre

Dear Dr. Junquera:

I think that the reason the scholarly world often gets criticized is because of the fantastic and unfortunate conclusions its members often draw.  There are a number of fields where no matter how well versed a person is that without practical, first hand knowledge it still only amounts to mere opinion.

I find it so hard to believe that as a representative of your profession that you would have the face to actually try to explain how marijuana may have affected Rudy Eugene in causing him to act so unbelievably violent.

I often try to stay away from making assumptions.  However, I can say, without any doubt whatsoever, that it is obvious that you have never used marijuana.  You have no idea how ignorant you sound to the rest of the world that have experienced the effects of sativa and indica.

You also have no idea what kind of impact your ignorant statements can make!  You are only adding fuel to the fire in a country where so many have already made up their minds that marijuana is dangerous.  This type of mentality is what continues to criminalize marijuana and perpetuates this comical idea of a lawless land if it were to become legal. Thousands are currently detained because they were apprehended using, buying, or selling marijuana and this is causing a terrible burden upon our penal system and economy.  A drug that is actually less dangerous than alcohol!  Yes, this is true, it is less dangerous than alcohol and if you ever tried marijuana you would realize this.

I cringed when I read this article (referenced below).  I know that so many people will take your assessment and conclude that marijuana can potentially turn you into a savage and even worse yet, maybe even a cannibal!

You have a responsibility to choose your words wisely, especially when speaking to the media, because many may think that because of your various degrees and position that you actually know what you are talking about!

Statements, such as the ones you made, takes away from the little progress we have made pursuing the legalization of marijuana.

I hope next time you find yourself in this position that you will think twice before you make another irresponsible comment.

Thank you for your time.
Another Pot Advocate

I almost attended University of Miami several years ago but I decided to go elsewhere.  I now feel better about my decision.  Thanks.

“It could have been the strain of marijuana that increases the dopamine in the brain, such as sativa,” said Dr. Patricia Junquera, assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
There are two strains of marijuana called sativa and indica. The sativa increases dopamine and gives you energy while decreasing pain threshold. Indica is a “sleepy high,” she explained.
“People don’t really know what the amount of either is in each little packet of marijuana,” she explained. “And we can’t differentiate between the two in the blood, much less in a dead person.”
She also suggested that if Eugene had a mental disorder, “the marijuana could have increased even further the dopamine levels and aggravated the situation. So that can’t be ruled out.”

95 thoughts

  1. “He got the munchies soo bad, he ate another man”- pretty much what the doctor is saying….

  2. I love how the “Anti-marijuana” people are grasping at straws in order to prolong the inevitable.

    Most intelligent people will laugh in the face of a story this idiotic.

  3. A local news station reported on this same issue, although they did not directly say it may have been caused by marijuana as this news story did they did try to put a negative spin on marijuana in a non direct way by focusing the news story on the fact that marijuana was supposedly the only thinking found in his system. I quickly commented on it saying it was not very good journalism to spin a story in such a way.

  4. What a foolish thing to say, cannabis doesn’t make you cannibalize a person, but it will enhance who and what you are. So if he was already effed in the head with something like bad genetics, than this is the cause.

  5. I first read it was blamed on LSD. I guess someone realized that this was another opportunity to lie about marijuana and secure more funds for the drug war.

    The drug warriors probably have a team of professionals lined up who are willing to say this kind crap.

  6. When I saw the news that all the cannibal had in him was weed I thought, “Oh great.” But pot is safe. I’ve been smoking since ’99 with a 6 and 9 month break around ’07-’08 and ’04 to ’05 and I’ve never eaten anyone…. hmmm in fact I’m BETTER now that I feel good and CAN enjoy life with Schizophrenia and Bipolar. Don’t worry, the cats out of the bag so to speak and the truth that weed is safer than most everything is going to continue to get out. God invented weed and you can’t keep a good thing down like God (2-300 years ago in England) and Pot! Don’t let this fluke cannabal case even change anything. Just another stepping stoned to leap over with feelings of joy and happiness. These slugs are not going to win. Together we WILL win.

  7. The lesson is that anything a person who used marijuana does is caused by the marijuana…unless it’s something good, like becoming president.

  8. The only thing a high person is going to maw the face off of are chocolate bunnies and animal crackers.

  9. I’ll bet they found diet soda in his system and that’s what caused it, no wait…they found traces of milk er no that’s not correct….what they found was a Mcdonald’s hamburger in his system .

  10. The mere idea that a drug can reliably produce a cannibalistic response is ridiculous. It’s like saying that cannabis routinely and regularly invokes users to do the hokey pokey, or play duck duck goose. Simply because some cannabis consumers may enjoy playing duck duck goose, or because an individual may have committed cannibalism while using cannabis does not indicate an intrinsic link behind the neurology of cannibalism, nor duck duck goose alike.

    When I read that Eugene was under the influence of marijuana, my first thought was that it’s all the more less likely that this incident is related with drugs, hardly not that cannabis must be the culprit.

  11. Well if this is what cannabis makes you do then there must be a lot of faceless people in the world. I mean look at how many use it everyday. Total B.S

  12. I thought this cannibalization thing was about bath salts and sometimes the synthetic cannabinoids which would be a proxy attack on Cannabis.

    In any case, fucked up people are fucked up before they get loaded. The drugs just nullify their inhibitions.

  13. Now you know what people who immunize their children feel like when “expert” Jenny M. says don’t do it and more people listen to her!

    Fact is: “An expert on toxicology testing said that marijuana alone wasn’t likely to cause behavior as strange as Eugene’s.”

    This is true. There are millions and millions of us who have used cannabis & never, ever has it been attributed to actions such as Rudy’s.

    Stick with the forensic results, everybody else is just blowing smoke out their rear.

  14. 1 stinkin weird act out of millions of people doesn’t prove jack about nothing
    Some loser Dr. Tryin to get their 15 min of
    Fame. And the media laps it up like milk.

  15. I posted a little video response to this reefer madness revival.. normally I don’t fish for thumbs but thumb it up please and make your own videos too. we have to fight the ignorance.

  16. I saw an article about the results of the toxicology tests, and cannabis was not part of it. The results showed that there was synthetic marijuana and LSD in his system. Even though it was synthetic marijuana, the media will portray it as a result of cannabis when synthetic marijuana has nothing to do with cannabis. This needs to be told.

  17. I can’t find any weed right now, and so I have had to resort to beer. I’m also in a bad mood, and for someone treated for anger and depression clinically, this is not a good situation for YOU, let alone me. I might chew someone’s face off tonight as a result of stress in my life and the fact that had pot been legal, I wouldn’t have to worry about my only connection going AWOL. If it were legal, thn my problems are a non issue. If you hear about my arrest in the next few weeks, you were warned………….

  18. Wow. What-the-hell-ever. Ive smoked pot heavily and frequntly since 96 and the only thing ive ever chewed the face off of is those chocolate easter bunnies. Complete stupidity.

  19. ummmm did any one read the third paragraph of the link to the video???? here let me quote it

    An expert on toxicology testing said marijuana alone wasn’t likely to cause behavior as strange as Eugene’s.

    So no i dont think this is another attack on marijuana smokers, they were just stating the facts that only marijuana has been detected, watch the fuckin video and it even says “chemicals like the ones in bath salts are not detectable yet because we dont know what they are exactly”

  20. The only thing related between cannabis and cannibalism is they both start with the letters cann. That is the only connection. Leave it up to the media and the police to discover this connection and exploit it. The word cannabis comes from a greek word Kanna or latin canna and cannibalism comes from a spanish word canabales. Sorry to ruin the only connection between these two words. What a bunch of morons we have to live with.

  21. Oh my god I can’t believe this I mean oh my goooooooooooooooood I can’t believe this. Im sure people have been quartered by people who have consumed alchohol. This is not even a subject

  22. M’kay. I’m wondering why the analysis of the “undigested pills” which were mentioned on the preliminary autopsy hasn’t been released. One of the random things I’ve accumulated in life is a masters in analytical chemistry. Biological systems are complex and the stuff that’s not supposed to be there often looks a lot like the stuff that is, that’s why it’s bioactive in the first place. If you don’t have some idea what you’re looking for you may very well not find it. But undigested pills? Analysis of that type of sample should be relatively straightforward. The fact that they haven’t determined whether they were aspirin or vitamins or some scary new quasi-legal amphetamine analog seems… odd.

  23. where is the study that says that 40 million people annually use marijuana? All other studies I’ve seen have the number lower. I’m not complaining. The more the merrier, I just would like the see the official info.

  24. After hearing the latest news cycle, I seriously call into question the credentials and expertise of that medical examiner. I am troubled that the examiner could not get to the bottom of the attack and could only find harmless substances like marijuana. We demand answers!!

  25. I don’t think they can come up with anything at all to say bad about marijuana anymore now that people know the facts so I thik this is theyre last attempt to scare the dumb people into thinking the pot was behind this. Doesn’t anyone find it strange they announce this right after Chicago decriminilizes it?

  26. As long as people stick to the plan and vote to legalize while ignoring anything from the government everything will turn out fine.

  27. I first heard about this while I was playing COD1 < PC game, someone popped it in the console and said, some man ate another mans face off, I replied into the console, I bet he was on bathsalts or meth, and damn straight, I was right, got a reply saying, Yup, dood was on bathsalts. This was week ago or so.

    I am not into hard drugs either, just weed, but if you ask me, if cocaine was legalized like alcohol and cigs and soon to be budz, I don't think people will be eating people anymore, bathsalts would fall off the shelves and never be seen again. But hey, who the fuck am I to know.

  28. What I am still not seeing being addressed is the pressure placed on society by the prohibition of some drugs.
    I read in huff post i think, that he was arrested on 4 occasions for having cannabis.
    He was doing the right thing, he was self medicating with an herb to help him keep his cool and the police jump him and steal his meds from him and put him through the procedure of charging and judges and that whole deal is traumatizing for anyone but if you have mental problems it’s simply soul destroying.
    The police totally failed this man and the community by abusing this man and denying the community the chance to manage community health competently.
    If you continually attack thousands of people every day including the mentally ill, of course some one is going to break and it will lead to tragic consequences like this.
    I have lived with the mentally ill and I was astonished by how often the police raided and how they treated people with disabilities. I assure you there’s a very good reason for calling them pigs.
    Heavy handed policing of the intellectually, mentally or emotionally disabled and deeply introverted can only result in giving these people very serious problems often resulting in self harm, suicide and in the worst cases murder.
    The drug war has placed an inordinate burden on society and yet police are able to point at these problems and announce that the drugs were the cause, we’ll just forget about the completely callous and incompetent interference of the police.
    Take the budget for this obscene behaviour away from the police and give it to community health organizations who really help people.
    When they see some one in the street who looks down on his luck, they stop and say “Hey do you need some help? Have you got enough buds to keep you going? We got some top buds here if you need”? But instead the most sensitive and needy people in the community only live in complete fear of the police.
    The problem is not in the drugs it’s in the way people are being treated by an abusive gang of old men who rule with an iron fist and have no idea of how violent and dangerous and feared they are and how the use of violence only spreads the use of violence for reasons of greed, control and broken down insanity.
    It’s way passed time to end the drug war.

  29. It is like reading a supermarket tabloid. The media really sucked on this one. I’ve heard the man was religious.

    Oh by the way, have anyone heard about the Heroin epidemic in Chicago?

  30. Just because one sounds like the other it does not mean that one causes the other! “Cannabis does not equal to Cannibalism!” That is a saying I would like to see on a t-shirt! Hint.. hint.. NORML.

  31. Sounds like the Doc needs her head Looked at. To make such remarks. You need to burn one and check it out. You would have a different view

  32. I seriously doubt they did a complete screen for all substances, to blame cannabis, when there are no controls on the black market, is short sighted. Black market producers happily spray all sorts of household chemicals on cannabis; so that it; sticks together, weighs more, and to “hype it up”. The black market doesn’t care about cannabis as medicine or the people that buy from them, their main interest is money period and they don’t want it legal.

    The black market has no quality control. Ending prohibition is a much healthier public alternative, than what is out there; do you really want children to get cannabis laced with Draino or god knows what else? No? Then by all means keep it illegal because that’s what is out there, on the streets right now, and any kid can get black market cannabis easier than they can get alcohol.

    The anxiety people have from cannabis; is directly related to it’s illegality, if a person is normally law abiding and they fear arrest; of course they are going to be anxious if they break the law. That is a direct cause and effect that’s not related to the substance itself, but the psychology of the individual and a substances legal status.

    Blaming cannabis is simply cause and effect by correlation only…”Well, this is what they were doing; so this is what must be at fault.” If the law was really handled like this; then guns and bullets would be in prison and not the people that used them…because the guns and bullets are at fault not the person…sure it’s sounds really stupid, but that’s what happens; cannabis gets blamed not the person. Not very rational to do that now is it? But that’s what is happening.

  33. Umm.. Allen, it wasn’t a “killing” as Mr. Poppo is still alive.

    The media focus in this case is extremely disturbing as it *completely ignores* the most important aspect about this case – the fact that Mr. Eugene was able to consume any cannabis at all!

    Cannabis is illegal in this country, and the fact that the toxicology report found that Mr. Eugene had been able to successfully obtain and consume some amount of it is a damning testament to the fact that **the prohibition doesn’t work**!

    THIS should be the big news here – whatever particular effect the cannabis may or may not have had should be very secondary. But the media is acting like it *expects* the prohibition to fail. In fact, it’s acting like it so expects the prohibition to fail that this isn’t even news!

    This is outrageous! We taxpayers fund the prohibition to the tune of $40 Billion a year and it’s now just taken for granted that it’ll never work?!! I want my money back! The prohibition causes 850,000 arrests and 10,000 brutal murders every year – if it doesn’t work then we HAVE TO END IT!

  34. Only a clueless idiot would believe that marijuana had anything to do with that terrible act of violence!

  35. All these people are doing is lying to profit the governement. They want marijuana illegal not for health reasons but for money. That professor was bribed prolly but a high level of government and even if not the damn professor is a retard with a pea pod for a brain and a shit worth of sense.

  36. Long live Reefer Madness. The American War on Drugs has all but brainwashed a generation into thinking that weed is evil. The interesting thing is that the prudeness towards weed decreases as you head from the East Coast to the West Coast. People will believe what they want to believe. Obviously we completely agree with NORML’s point of view:

  37. To all you people saying it was bath salts it was LSD. Could these not be some of the same bullshit stories just like this? Is it not possible that it wasn’t a particular drug and that the man had serious problems and had a mental breakdown? Don’t fall into the same trap as this person and blaming substances you have no knowledge about.

  38. It’s a straight-up smear job, or it’s a complete repudiation of the idea that American education is the best.

    Before a comment like hers is made publicly, she knows that the subject requires research. If her opinion differs from the published research, she is obligated, as a scientist, to prove her work after thorough peer review.

    She did none of that. She skipped straight to her own opinion, which doesn’t agree with published research.

    Therefore, a straight-up smear job, or a lazy, biased assistant professor.

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