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Unreported: The gun-marijuana-mental health connection

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Cliff Kincaid

The liberals continue to pretend that “gun control” laws will stop “gun violence,” even while providing the fuel, in the form of potent marijuana, which can spark violence and murder. A case in point is a Florida teenage gunman, Benjamin Bishop, the subject of a Tampa Bay Times article about how he became a zombie killer through the use of pot that caused him to fear “ghosts” speaking foreign languages. The killings occurred in October.

The article, “Teen gunman Benjamin Bishop: Rage drove him to kill, gun laws were no obstacle,” describes how the killer “used a 12-gauge shotgun — a weapon he obtained in spite of a criminal record and history of mental illness — to kill his mother and her boyfriend as they lay in bed.” In a jailhouse interview, “He talked about how he liked to smoke pot.”

His mother, Imari Shibata, was a nurse, and her boyfriend, Kelly Allen, was a popular swim coach.

Bishop was reportedly on probation for a 2011 domestic battery incident in which he hit his mother and tried to strangle her. But he easily evaded the gun laws when he decided to kill her and her boyfriend by having a friend purchase the shotgun. The use of a “straw buyer” in a case like this is already illegal and can be prosecuted under federal law because the gun was used in a crime. Bishop bought the ammunition himself.

He fired eight rounds of gun shot in the killings, called 911 and admitted what he had done.

President Obama, a former pot smoker himself, proposes new “gun control” measures while ignoring the harm caused by marijuana. He recently told ABC News that he won’t authorize federal prosecution of marijuana offenders in Colorado and Washington, where the drug was legalized.

Obama was a member of what his biographer David Maraniss called the “Choom Gang,” a group of heavy marijuana users who practiced “total absorption” of the drug by inhaling the smoke fully into the lungs.

Although it’s long been known that marijuana adversely affects memory, intelligence, and learning, the connection of the drug to mental illness, violence and murder is not widely reported by the media. However, John Patrick Bedell, who shot and wounded two guards at the Pentagon in March 2010, was a psychotic pothead who actually had a “medical marijuana” card in California.

In other cases, admitted pot lover 16-year-old Jeff Weise murdered nine people and injured five others in Red Lake, Minnesota, in 2005, and Charles “Andy” Williams was a regular marijuana user who smoked the drug just before killing two schoolmates and wounding 13 others in a San Diego suburban school on March 5, 2001.

The story of Benjamin Bishop may be shocking to some, but to those familiar with the evidence of marijuana’s link to mental illness, it is not that surprising. “In 10th grade,” the paper said. “Bishop stopped regularly attending school and started puttering, stoned, around the house. He says his mom hated the way marijuana made him shrink from family and friends.” He was diagnosed with schizophrenia but wouldn’t take his medication and resented his mother telling him to do so. He got caught taking a knife to school.

“Strange things had begun happening to him, experiences he struggled to understand,” the paper reported.

“When I was in 9th grade I was attacked by a ghost. Well, I thought I was … There was something, like, pounding on my back when I had just woken up,” he told the paper. “It was screaming, and it had two voices, and it was speaking in Japanese. Or it could have been speaking in German.”

In July 2011, the paper said, his mother called the sheriff’s office “to report that her son was wandering the family’s home in Oldsmar, smashing holes through walls with a hammer and saying he was Osama bin Laden.”

In regard to the murders, he told the paper, “I regret it. Because I might get first-degree murder. Also I regret it because it was just a bad situation altogether and I shouldn’t have done it. Because of, uh, what happened to them. And me.”

These are signs, of course, of mental illness caused or exacerbated by pot smoking.

As we recently reported, a prominent Democrat, Patrick Kennedy, has shocked his liberal friends by talking openly about how marijuana destroys the brain and expedites psychosis. He opposes the liberal effort to legalize the drug. Left-wing British journalist Patrick Cockburn wrote a series of blockbuster articles in the British media on how his own son went insane smoking marijuana.

In the U.S., in addition to Colorado and Washington legalizing the drug, 18 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws legalizing so-called “medical marijuana.”

The Tampa Bay Times article by Peter Jamison about the Bishop case is unusual in that the marijuana link to the crimes was not censored. Other articles about the case ignore the facts about Bishop being a pothead. In its original article about the crimes, the Tampa paper didn’t even mention the possible role of marijuana in the murders.

But the killer’s subsequent willingness to talk in expressive terms about his use of the drug is another indication of its potent effects and addictive qualities.

Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and President-Elect of the Tennessee Psychiatric Association, says the increasing use of marijuana, including for alleged “medical” purposes, is a danger and a fraud that endangers the public health.

He writes, “Medical marijuana for the treatment of psychiatric problems is no better than prescribing cigarette smoke to treat lung disease.”

While he says it should be available in extreme circumstances for patients who are terminally ill and suffering from severe intractable pain and/or nausea with no other possible way to experience relief, “the use of marijuana to treat psychiatric illness is not only contrary to sound brain science, clinical research and common sense, it smacks of modern day quackery.”

For reasons having to do with his own sordid personal history of using and abusing the drug, it’s doubtful that President Obama will make a crackdown on marijuana part of his political agenda against “gun violence.” Such an approach would anger his political base.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the Accuracy In Media Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.

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