“Those whose minds are steeped in cannabis are capable of quite extraordinary criminality.”
Judge Anthony Niblett, 2005
The purpose of this site is to support the urgent call for an independent inquiry into the possible link between cannabis and violence, an investigation that surely must take place before legalisation of this powerful drug can occur. If you support such an inquiry, please sign our parliamentary petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/231109
Why is it that an enormous number of violent criminals have a history of smoking cannabis? Is it possible there is a connection between consumption of this mind-altering drug and psychopathic violence? Pharmaceutical drugs intended for general sale must first pass rigorous safety tests, yet when it comes to cannabis, a drug that could scarcely be more strongly correlated with mental illness, many people want to authorise general sale without checking first whether it might be a significant factor in violent crime. I regard this as a grave mistake.
The title of this catalogue is the crude formulation with which I began my online search, ‘attacker smoked cannabis’. At the time of writing, this phrase returns about 294,000 results, a global mass of violent criminality. Narrowing the investigation to just the UK and Ireland, I discovered many stories that would recently have caused national horror, and others that briefly did, but have evidently slipped from collective memory. I include myself in this dangerous amnesia. One of the last stories I added, after remembering it while reading a similarly gruesome crime, was that of the murder of Becky Watts, which occurred just three years ago in Bristol, where I live. Incredibly, this story did not appear in any of my initial searches, even though the killer’s long-term use of the drug is undoubted.
One of the most horrifying trends in this crime wave is the frenzied nature of the attacks: Becky Watts, for example, murdered in a brainless panic, was stabbed 15 times in the chest after she had died; one day in June 2006, a 50-year-old man named Rafiq Kashmiri stabbed a 61-year-old neighbour over 100 times with scissors and a knife after he had come to the aid of an elderly woman Kashmiri was inexplicably attacking in her flat; and in Ireland one morning in December 2007, a young man armed with garden shears inflicted over 140 stab wounds on a sleeping man he took to be the devil. Who else but people whose minds are ‘steeped in cannabis’ could commit such crimes?
Perhaps the most appalling commonality of all is cruelty to children. To gouge a baby boy’s eyes and then throw him, and his mother, out a window requires unfathomable mental imbalance. This act alone, which the infant miraculously survived, ought to prompt a response. In 1998, the government launched an inquiry after 35 babies died in the early 1990s following heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary. Must we reach that many acts of savage infanticide before we investigate whether cannabis makes fathers more likely to harm their children? Do we even know what the current total is?
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, as his tyrannical reign becomes ever more sanguinary, the eponymous thane wearily says, ‘I am in blood, / Stepped in so far that should I wade no more / Returning were as tedious as go o’er.’ We, too, are in blood, but for us there is a clear difference between returning and going on. We can halt the slide towards legalisation and investigate what role cannabis plays in the bloodshed described here. If we then find, as I am sure we will, that cannabis and violence are linked, we can begin punishing possession, as we used to, and, in so doing, reduce the likelihood of further tragedy. Or we can ‘go o’er’, ignorant of the blood we step in because the major newspapers have decided not to point the finger at a drug they once correctly, if disingenuously, considered dangerous.