The Bogus Reefer Madness Excuse

A teenager’s lawyer falsely claims he raped and killed his sister because he was high on marijuana. Amazingly enough, his gullible mother believes this and doesn’t want him punished for raping and killing her daughter, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which notes that this teenage thug also fractured the skull of his little 2-year-old niece.

The judge, fortunately, recognizes that the teenager is dangerous and has decided that he should remain in juvenile detention. Hopefully, this monster will receive the maximum sentence the law allows (because he is a minor, he is not eligible for the death penalty; the maximum sentence he can receive is thus a life sentence without parole).

The fact that this defense would even seem plausible to anyone is a negative side effect of the War on Drugs and its overheated rhetoric and exaggerated claims about drugs. Marijuana doesn’t make people kill. Marijuana smoke is unhealthy (it contains carcinogens), and is certainly not good for developing adolescent minds — but it does not foster violence. Yet over-the-top government propaganda has depicted marijuana as causing “Reefer Madness.”

This story also reflects wishful thinking about family violence. All too often, people who kill children, spouses, or their parents are let off easy based on the assumption that they must have been insane (or in the case of wives who kill, that they must have been abused, even if they were not acting in self-defense, or had other motives, like financial problems and life insurance on their husband).