‘Reefer Madness’ Comparisons Rise Out of Wall Street Journal Op-Ed That Blames Shootings on Marijuana

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A Wall Street Journal op-ed suggesting marijuana use is connected to a rise in violent crime was raked over the coals on social media Sunday, with many comparing it to the infamous 1936 propaganda film “Reefer Madness.”

The article, written by WSJ editorial board member Allysia Finley, cited studies claiming that schizophrenia and other mental disorders among underage pot smokers have increased. Backing that claim, an addiction specialist based at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego said cannabis-related emergency room cases increased 53% in the three years after California legalized recreational use.

Finley also connected multiple mass shootings to marijuana use, citing reports that the shooters behind the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, the Parkland high school shooting and the Aurora movie theater shooting, among others, were marijuana users.

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“Maybe it’s time that lawmakers and voters rethink their pot-legalization experiment before more
young lives are damaged,” the op-ed concluded.

But users on Twitter slammed the article for using marijuana as a scapegoat for ongoing gun violence in the United States, comparing it to other attempts by conservatives to deflect attempts for stricter gun control in the wake of mass shootings.

“The Netherlands decriminalized marijuana decades ago, yet Dutch children do not have to worry about active shooters opening up on them with military grade weapons. Why is that? Spoiler alert: strict gun laws,” freelance writer Jelle Simons tweeted.

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“So Bill Maher blames ‘violent movies‘ and now WSJ says “What about WEED?” tweeted movie critic Bob Chipman. “Can we at least TRY ‘less guns?’ Just run it up the flagpole, see if it works.”

But most of the responses to the article invoked “Reefer Madness,” an infamous 1936 film in which multiple high schoolers fall into violent behavior, attempted rape and psychosis as a result of trying marijuana. The movie became a cult hit for its fearmongering tone about pot and its wild inaccuracies about cannabis use.

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