The tip of the iceberg

I should think this catalogue more than sufficient evidence for the need to launch an inquiry into the link between cannabis and violence, but, nevertheless, one should bear in mind how rudimentary and incomplete it is.

Note first that it includes only the UK and Ireland. In Canada, where cannabis is now legal, and the USA, where cannabis is legal in a number of states, the trend is much the same, but on a larger scale, and often involves firearms (in nearly every school shooting, for example, from Columbine to Parkland, FL, the attacker smoked cannabis). Cannabis is a common factor in a similarly alarming amount of violent crime in many parts of Europe, notably France and Belgium, but also Portugal, where it was recently decriminalised. Two years ago in Japan, where the law against possession of drugs is actually enforced, a 26-year-old cannabis smoker stabbed 19 people to death in a disabled care home, despite three months earlier being hospitalised and diagnosed with ‘cannabis psychosis’. In September 2018, the constitutional court of South Africa made it legal to smoke cannabis in private homes, less than four years after the gruesome Van Breda murders in the town of Stellenbosch, in which the son of a wealthy white family inexplicably murdered his parents and younger brother with an axe, and grievously wounded his sister, before wounding himself in a failed attempt to pin the blame on a fictitious black intruder. Perhaps not coincidentally, in between his arrest and the start of his trial, he was arrested for possession of cannabis. In the Namibian city of Rundu this year, a 20-year-old man was charged with the murder of his mother, grandmother, two nephews and another relative’s child. The Namibian, a national newspaper, noted at the time, ‘The police said Tjunda [the accused] could be mentally challenged, and could have been high on cannabis when he allegedly committed the crimes.’

I have also not included any of the following crimes, significant and widespread though they are in the UK and, in some cases to a lesser extent, Ireland:

  • Repeated gang rapes (such as those in Rotherham) of underage girls plied with drink and drugs, including cannabis;
  • Large-scale cannabis possession with intent to supply;
  • Parents of young children dealing cannabis;
  • Cannabis growers employing illegal immigrants or using slave labour;
  • Cannabis growers stealing electricity (around £200m a year nationally, by one estimate);
  • Road accidents involving drivers high on cannabis;
  • Cannabis plantations causing fires;
  • Parents caught smoking cannabis while waiting for their children at the school gates.

Also not included are the cases below (a mere 62 out of countless thousands), in which a violent offender was convicted of possession of cannabis, alongside a violent offence, but smoking of the drug was not stated as a fact. If anyone would care to bet that the perpetrators never consumed the cannabis they possessed, I should be happy to offer generous odds.

  • ‘Man stripped off and paraded around naked in front of neighbours’ (Mansfield and Ashfield Chad, 14/06/16)
  • ‘Louth man who assaulted partner found to be growing cannabis plants’ (Louth Leader, 05/08/15)
  • ‘Coundon man wins assault and cannabis appeal’ (Coventry Telegraph, 14/08/12)
  • ‘Drugs supplier assaulted police officer in Melksham’ (Wiltshire Times, 11/02/14)
  • ‘Accused shared drugs as they waited for case’ (Motherwell Times, 31/03/16)
  • ‘Fork-stab boyfriend was carrying cannabis’ (Worcester News, 11/08/09)
  • ‘Violent pervert who attacked teen girls playing Pokémon Go in park beaten up by hero dog walker’ (Daily Mirror, 03/08/16)
  • ‘Man jailed after assaulting girlfriend twice in the middle of the night’ (Coventry Telegraph, 30/03/13)
  • ‘Cannabis producer allegedly murdered man ‘because he stole his crop’, court hears’ (Teesside Chronicle, 09/05/17)
  • ‘Cannabis accused preferred ‘clean slate’ to hard work’ (Scotsman, 21/12/12)
  • ‘The Chorlton crime gang found with an assassin’s kit, ammo and huge amounts of cocaine, cannabis and cash’ (Manchester Evening News, 16/02/18)
  • ‘Thug had cannabis’ (Portsmouth News, 25/09/15)
  • ‘Teen jailed after knife and hammer attack on elderly couple’s home’ (ITV, 21/06/17)
  • ‘Attackers beat up dad in his Rugby home until son handed over X-Box to stop the assault’ (Rugby Advertiser, 23/02/18)
  • ‘Jailed for assault – a Blantyre man has been jailed for repeatedly punching a woman’ (Daily Record, 21/08/08)
  • ‘Church street rapist sentenced to life’ (com)
  • ‘Fleadh market trader sexually assaulted’ (BBC, 27/08/13)
  • ‘Man jailed for attacking ex-partner’ (South Wales Argus, 18/02/10)
  • ‘Knifeman locked up for terrorising two women over £10 cannabis drug debt’ (Manchester Evening News, 26/08/15)
  • ‘Taxi driver stopped for broken light ‘assaulted officer’ after police found drugs’ (Liverpool Echo, 31/01/18)
  • ‘Louth man, 20, sentenced for assault and drug possession’ (Louth Leader, 18/04/16)
  • ‘Charlie Bowyer broke into house and sexually assaulted sleeping woman’ (Daily Gazette, 21/06/18)
  • ‘Eltham shop stabbing – burglars demand cannabis and leap over counter’ (News Shopper, 24/09/13)
  • ‘Man charged with assaulting seven-year-old girl at Edgware Tube station’ (News Shopper, 19/01/16)
  • ‘Ellesmere Port man who slashed victim’s face with knife jailed for six and a half years’ (Wirral Globe, 19/10/18)
  • ‘Suspected drug dealers drove at police and threw packages out of car window’ (Bristol Post, 23/09/17)
  • ‘Children removed from Withywood home after police raid finds cocaine hidden inside nappies’ (Bristol Post, 28/04/17)
  • ‘Teenager jailed over drug debt torture’ (Evening Standard, 21/05/10)
  • ‘Guilty: The ‘wannabe gangster’ who shot dead his pregnant neighbour after doorstep row’ (Evening Standard, 13/03/08)
  • ‘I found stabbed girl lying in the street and took full advantage’ (Evening Standard, 19/02/08)
  • ‘Teenagers jailed for park killing’ (Evening Standard, 07/06/02)
  • ‘Father of three jailed for stabbing incident’ (Irish Examiner, 19/07/07)
  • ‘Evil drug dealer father, 31, who beat his two-year-old son to death and then waited two hours before calling an ambulance is found guilty of murder’ (Daily Mail, 19/10/18)
  • ‘Man on bail for biting his ex-girlfriend’s finger while they were having sex waves an axe at her before hitting himself in the head with it’
  • ‘Ferne McCann’s acid attacker ex-lover WINKS as he is jailed for 20 YEARS as victims slam his lack of remorse and say he has left them with ‘permanent scars for the rest of our lives’’ (Daily Mail, 19/12/17)
  • ‘‘Monstrous’ murderer William McFall will never be freed after killing again’ (Belfast Telegraph, 26/04/18)
  • ‘Man jailed for injuring parents with knife after row over phone’ (Belfast Telegraph, 29/08/18)
  • ‘Man who plied girl with alcohol and cannabis before raping her is jailed for 16 years’ (Eastern Daily Press, 05/09/18)
  • ‘Prison sentences doubled for men who set fire to car with man in boot in crime like something committed by ‘ISIS and other crackpots’’ (Irish Independent, 08/10/18)

In one significant area also not listed, that of so-called Islamic terrorism, the correlation has already been documented, but then almost exclusively by just one journalist, Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday. On his blog and in his columns, he has pointed out that in nearly every ‘Islamic’ rampage killing of the past twenty years or so – Brussels, Paris (x2), Amsterdam-Paris Thalys, Woolwich, Westminster, London (7/7), Leytonstone, Manchester, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Berlin, Nice, Tunisia, Sydney, Quebec, Boston and others, including many that were foiled – the attacker, or attackers, smoked cannabis. Could it be, Mr Hitchens wonders, that it was this, rather than what in some cases was only a faint devotion to Islam, that pushed the young men into psychopathic violence? It could indeed, but the (apparent) presence of Islam, as in the aforementioned gang rapes, clouds many people’s judgement.

Furthermore, as I show in the ‘Media bias’ page, in the last ten years or so a number of prominent newspapers, and the BBC, have become much less inclined to mention cannabis as a feature in a story of violent crime, much less put it in the headline. It is fair to assume that there are many more stories of heavy cannabis smokers committing violence against themselves or others than are mentioned here.