What If Face-Eater Rudy Eugene Only Smoked Pot? Weed Can Trigger Psychotic Reactions, Studies Say

Categories: Crime
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Soon after Rudy Eugene gnawed off Ronald Poppo's face near the MacArthur Causeway in May, the media ran wild speculating he was high on "bath salts." Later, commentators suspected LSD, coke, Ecstasy, or PCP. Eugene's girlfriend even insisted a voodoo curse was to blame.

Yet when Eugene's autopsy came back last month, only one drug was found in his system: good old-fashioned marijuana. Most people shrugged off the result. But what if Eugene did only smoke pot? Weed advocates don't like to talk about it, but there's actually a strong library of medical research suggesting that -- among those already suffering from schizophrenia -- plain old Mary Jane can trigger strong reactions.

"If you have a history of psychotic illnesses, including schizophrenia, you're probably at greater risk if you smoke pot of suffering a new episode," says Dr. Roger Roffman, a professor emeritus of social work at the University of Washington who has spent decades studying marijuana dependence.

Roffman's research doesn't come from the back catalogues of Reefer Madness anti-pot hysterics. Rather, a number of controlled studies around the world -- from Canada to the UK to the Netherlands -- have shown a strong link between psychotic conditions and pot.

The research doesn't offer much evidence that weed causes psychotic conditions. But it does suggest that smoking pot while you already have such a condition, such as schizophrenia, can be a dangerous proposition.

Take this conclusion from the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which studied incidences of the mental illness after 1996: "[There's] unequivocal evidence that the use of cannabis by people with schizophrenia increases the likelihood of relapse."

Applying such research to Eugene's specific case is a dicey proposition, of course. Friends and family say they saw no evidence that he'd suffered psychotic episodes before his face-eating meltdown.

But the bulk of research also suggests keeping an open mind about the toxicology results.

Oh, and lest you suspect that Roffman is a scare-tactic DEA agent in disguise: He's actually one of ten cosponsors of Washington's new push to legalize pot. He hopes the effort will lead to a more honest discussion of the drug's effect on public health.

"We do an abysmally bad job of educating the public about pot," he says. "People get caught in the hyperbole, with one side describing it as toxic... and the other saying it's simply an herb and the safest plant on Earth. The truth, of course, is more complex."

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17 comments
Squee N Eat
Squee N Eat

WUT if people in FL were scared of CALI LEGISLATION?

Squee N Eat
Squee N Eat

WUT if people in FL were scared of CALI LEGISLATION?

Palangana
Palangana topcommenter

Tim Elfrink: pills were found in his stomach.  The thing I have seen no journalist ask is: What were those pills?

klumppmeister
klumppmeister

"The research doesn't offer much evidence that weed causes psychotic conditions" THAT'S ALL I NEEDED TO READ TO REALIZE THIS ARTICLE IS STUPID, JUST DUMB.

woawnellie
woawnellie

Your "experts" must be "HIGH" and or grabbing at straws, again. Why is this country so against  pot? Maybe because it is something that the government  and big business can't make any money off of unless they legalize it.  And we all know that won't be happening for a while because there are a few more generations kicking around that "STILL" have the mind set that if you smoke pot  you're apt to think you can fly and jump out a window or possibly eat someones face thinking you're enjoying a filet mignon while out on a date at a new dinner house. OMG , there is absolutely NO marijuana ever that could make you do that, with, or without mental illness!!  Where did your so called "experts" get their degree?  Out of a Cracker Jack box? 

grantstern
grantstern

@timelfrinkmia fat chance that kid was only smoking pot... #Miami #Zombie

Jorge Shicken
Jorge Shicken

its disgusting how its found to be medically beneficial to some [progressive] states of the union, while others continue to prosecute and criminalize their citizens for using the exact same plant.

Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez
Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez

Ohhhh u mean to tell me if your a paranoid fuck smoking weed is-gonna make you MORE paranoid?!?wow ok i so didnt know that.....fail

Danny Arango
Danny Arango

Great article. The part @ the end is true. Objectivity and research should dictate policy, not biased hippy potheads or uptight asshole religious conservatives.

tim.elfrink
tim.elfrink moderator editor

 @Palangana It's a good question. The medical examiner's final toxicology report doesn't mention the pills. I've not gotten a good answer about whether the initial report was wrong or whether the examiners were simply unable to trace their origin.  

timelfrinkmia
timelfrinkmia

@grantstern It's interesting no one wants to consider the link between psychosis and pot. You're probably right, but it is a possibility.

grantstern
grantstern

@timelfrinkmia any substance or drug, including alcohol, can induce people with mental illness to act out or lose control into psychosis...

grantstern
grantstern

@timelfrinkmia ever hear of Robert Platshorn and the Silver Tour?

timelfrinkmia
timelfrinkmia

@grantstern No mention of pills in final tox report, but def not arguing synth pot could be to blame. Just raising another possibility.

grantstern
grantstern

@timelfrinkmia original stories said he had undigested substances in his stomach. the "designer" weed imitations that are really dangerous

timelfrinkmia
timelfrinkmia

@grantstern Sure. But we're talking about the zombie. Only thing he had in his system was pot. Not alcohol. Not bath salts (that we know).

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