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The Pentagon shooter and 'medical marijuana'

The death of John Patrick Bedell, the 36-year-old man shot and killed by Pentagon police officers after he opened fire on them March 4, is a tragedy. It might have been avoided if Bedell had received timely and effective treatment for his obviously serious mental illness. The fact that he did not is a cause for soul-searching by all of us. Advocates of “medical marijuana” should be especially chastened. As I have insisted previously on this blog, the legalization of physician-recommended pot in California is a prescription for disaster because it authorizes the “treatment” of a wide range of real maladies with a spurious “medicine” -- marijuana -- that might be ineffective or actually harmful. And Bedell’s case illustrates my point.

Back in December 2006, Bedell went to see a San Francisco physician, R. Stephen Ellis, complaining of chronic insomnia. As any doctor worth his salt will tell you, this symptom often reflects an underlying physical or mental condition, including depression, bipolar disorder or even schizophrenia. “Very often psychiatric disorders and insomnia are overlapping,” says Dr. Michael Peterson, an assistant professor of psychiatry who specializes in sleep disorders at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

So proper care for chronic insomnia requires careful screening for, and appropriate treatment of, these ailments. “It would be incomplete treatment to give someone a sleeping pill and send him on his way,” Peterson told me.

We do not know whether Ellis did such a work-up with Bedell. He did not return a call seeking comment. His Sacramento-based attorney, Robert Sullivan, said that Ellis usually does a complete exam and takes a full medical history, but the precise details of his encounter with Bedell are confidential.

What we do know, however, is that Ellis issued Bedell a “physician’s statement” recommending “medical cannabis” use for a month -- and sent him on his way.

That’s not surprising, since Ellis, a former emergency room doctor, is a “medical marijuana” booster, whose website,, explains that his practice is legally “bulletproof,” and that, after a recent unspecified inquiry by the California Medical Board, he has been declared “in full-compliance with the [board’s] guidelines.”

By the time of his appointment with Ellis, Bedell was already exhibiting troubling signs of mental illness, according to recent published interviews with his family and friends. He was also using marijuana excessively. Bedell’s loved ones’ anguish at his death may be compounded now by the knowledge that, at one important moment in his troubled life, a doctor gave him help obtaining more marijuana -- as opposed to real help.

He was not a person who should have been issued a medical clearance to use marijuana, but he was,” Reb Monaco, a family friend, told The Post.

Peterson told me he knows of no research to support the notion that marijuana is a safe and effective remedy for chronic insomnia. It can be a sedative, he notes, “but you could say the same thing for alcohol.”

Let’s debate legalizing marijuana as a recreational drug. If smoking pot makes terminally ill AIDS and cancer patients feel better, give it to them.

But, for the most part, “medical marijuana” is a pseudo-scientific myth, and a dangerous one at that.

By Charles Lane  | March 8, 2010; 2:51 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Classic clap-trap! I could care less as to whether states authorize physicians to prescribe marijuana or chooses to not allow the practice but anyone who points to a single case and uses that case to make broad generalizations is a flim-flam artist at best.

Posted by: blpeyton | March 8, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

So many things wrong with this column. Let's start with

1. The doctor gave him a one month prescription for MM. One month, so not a cause.

2. “Very often psychiatric disorders and insomnia are overlapping.” Yea, that and thousands of other problems.

#. Should have given him a full work-up. He would have if he had insurance.

Posted by: chucky-el | March 8, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Totally disagree - pot was not this man's problem, mental illness was. And pot did not aggravate his situation - indeed, it is well documented that marijuana users are LESS violent than the general population. Don't villify weed just because this one smoker was a certifiable loon.

Posted by: doctorm | March 8, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

This seems like an extremely ignorant and callous post, not to mention internally inconsistent.

"If smoking pot makes terminally ill AIDS and cancer patients feel better, give it to them." Well, of course, we know that it does. So, if Mr. Lane opposes the legalization of medical marijuana, how does he think we should simply give it to cancer patients? Illegally, and look the other way?

That's essentially what we have now in most states, and what we had 25 years ago when I was in school. One of my friends then had cancer, and was losing weight due to the uncontrollable vomiting brought on by the chemo. His doctor said, "There's one thing I know that would relieve your nausea, and I can't prescribe it for you here in Virginia, but you're a college student. I'm sure you can go find some."

My friend was far too sick to go find some, and his parents didn't know where to begin. But fortunately, his roommate knew exactly where to go get it, and did. (Note: When the problem is that you can't keep anything down, you actually need to smoke the marijuana. THC pills won't do it.)

And my friend? The marijuana did in fact help, the vomiting stopped, and he beat the cancer, too.

God forbid that anyone close to Mr. Lane should need medical marijuana like this, requiring him to learn this lesson the hard way.

Posted by: Itzajob | March 8, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

so if a psychotic goes to a quack doctor who prescribes him tylenol, and disaster follows, medicinal tylenol is now "a pseudo-scientific myth, and a dangerous one at that"!?!?!?

Posted by: mikenimzo | March 8, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I also heard Bedell ate toast the morning of his rampage, so perhaps we should rethink our policy on bread as it appears from this sole instance that the correlation between bread and violence is so clear.

Poor reasoning. Poor conclusion.

Posted by: dc13 | March 8, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

His problem with pot was that he didn't smoke enough of it or for a long enough period of time. It was not the cause of his actions.

Posted by: DrFish | March 8, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I think you would benefit from taking a couple more courses in college - mainly logic and statistics.

Correlation is not causation

n=1 means... absolutely nothing.

Undergrad students would put more thought into an article than you did. For shame.

Posted by: BaseballTrumpsPolitics | March 8, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Using cherry-picked 'experts,' pseudo-science, and a madman whose handguns were at greater fault than his doctor is a great way to back up your pre-determined opinions on cannabis, but it's undermining a legitimate discussion about medical marijuana. Please stop. That argument may work on a 12-year-old (though a discussion of personal responsibility would probably go much further), but don't insult your readers' intelligence with your ludicrous assertions and conclusions. You're embarassing yourself and the Post.
You want to talk about 'spurious medicine,' the federally-sanctioned legal psychiatric pharmaceuticals carry far more side-effects with far from a certainty of success. Your ignorance could very well be hurting patients who would benefit from cannabis.

Posted by: imherefortheezra | March 8, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Author should be 100% ashamed of himself.

A case of insomnia ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT WARRANT careful screening for ... blah blah blah...

This is a very very very common test question on medical boards... no "screening" recommended until it "affects" the person's ability to function in society... or is not relieved with a 1st line treatment.

Just lies an opinion.

To screen every patient with insomnia for a broad spectrum of psychiatric disorders... insane.

99% are working too hard, stressed about work, girlfriend.... You'll just lose those patients to follow-up... they'll be alienated, insulted... if you start a deep psych workup... and is NOT supported by overall accepted pathways for addressing insomnia.

1st line treatment... and this is almost UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED... start with moderate length acting benzo or ambien... 7 day course... and re-assess.

I cannot stress enough... it is almost universally accepted to treat this condition first and ask questions later.... Author is wrong wrong wrong... and is looking to demonize through triple false association a drug that is very likely safe (but with side effects for sure)

Posted by: docwhocuts | March 8, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Fear Monger. Fact Avoider. Or just an idiot?

Posted by: cam51y | March 8, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

This article is BS. Correlation does not equal causation. But I have come to expect BS from WAPO opionion writers.

Posted by: biffgrifftheoneandonly | March 8, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

What an idiotic waste of your mental capacity to INVENT such dribble. Just like most of the right these days you think of a subject, create from thin air a supporting character/insult/negative moral lesson, and paste on whatever label demeans in the harshest. Even worse it makes the very people you wrote about ACUTALLY DO these bad things.

Wake up fool!

Posted by: joe_dadi | March 8, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The author's attempt to show that medicinal marijuana has anything to do with this shooting is a joke. For all we know, Bedell would have shot 10 people 10 months ago if he hadn't smoked any pot. The author's viewpoint is obviously a standing bias, ever in search of facts to back it up.

Posted by: hangjbat | March 8, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

An ex-cop shot up a bar in Chisolm, Minnesota this weekend. By Charles Lane's logic, we should stop training cops in the use of firearms.

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 8, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Lane is an idiot who uses every opportunity, no matter how far-fetched and illogical, to attack medicinal cannabis. He is only a shill for the prohibitionists whose insane and counterproductive reign of terror is coming to an end in our time, at long last. Lane's opinions are ill-considered and one-sided propaganda and can be safely ignored.

Posted by: RichardHode | March 8, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Yep, this guy smoked weed. He also was raised on mother's milk, drank coffee, alcohol etc. No doubt they contributed to his mental illness. Let's make all of the above illegal.

For the author's sake. he needs to learn about drawing broad conclusions from anecdotal evidence. The truth is that a person getting drunk for the 1st time is capable of doing harm to another and it is more likely than a person getting high for the 1st time.

Posted by: chopin224 | March 8, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

People who DON'T know about the effects of POT should just SHUT the F UP and quit guessing all of the BAAAD things it MIGHT do.

They have no real idea, very much like the author of this dumb article.

You really ought not say things about things you know NOTHING about, save for your brainwashing in the past about the ills of anything the doctor doesn't give or prescribe.

Think: taking the medical and insurers completely out of the medical economy.

Sounds about right to me.

Posted by: pgibson1 | March 8, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Folks, it would be wise to send your comments to the ombudsman ( Mr. Lane is dangerously ill-informed and out of control. A paper this respectable with such intelligent readers deserves far better, lest even electronic the newspaper go the way of its paper analogues.

Posted by: imherefortheezra | March 8, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

The author didn't know anything about the exam Dr. Ellis did or didn't do. So everything he wrote and the conclusions he came to were simply based on his opinion and not on facts.

Maybe it was the wrong Rx to give the patient, maybe it wasn't and maybe it didn't matter.

Mr. Lane has no way of knowing one way or the other.

Posted by: cfeher | March 8, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Its better to have people think you a fool than to open you mouth (or write this article)and remove all doubt. The poor man doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

Posted by: kburnett1 | March 8, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

The connection worthy of inspection is not MM - it is his ties to the democrat party.

Smoking pot makes one pretty laid back.

Being a leftist makes one insane.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | March 8, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Just adding my voice to the chorus of commenters pointing out how ridiculous and fact-free this post by Lane is. Lane's posts tend to be quite poor. Apparently bad writing and lack of actual journalism are requirements for getting a gig at the Post now.

Posted by: jake14 | March 8, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Typical of Lane. Don't like pot myself, so put the blame on it.

Lane, do you drink? Alcohol is a lot more "dangerous" and "risky" of a drug than pot.

I would have addressed most people as "Mr.", but you don't deserve the courtesy.

Posted by: misterbumbles | March 8, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I can appreciate that there are people who want to legalize marijuana. However, as any doctor in the mental health field will tell you, marijuana is like poison for individuals with mental health issues. There are even some studies that indicate that if there is a genetic predisposition to mental illness, then smoking pot will be the trigger for the onset of a mental illness. I totally agree with the author of this blog, although I am surprised to see it in the Post. I did notice that there did not appear to be any psychiatrists or psychologists contradicting the blog.

I can tell you from experiences with family members and from many others that I know who have had family members with mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder, that marijauna is the absolute worst thing that they can do, and something that will put them in a mental hospital in no time. If you haven't been there, you don't know what you are talking about.

Posted by: eileeniciek | March 8, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Many problems here, but solutions...???

How does one "force" "appropriate care" on an adult? Families don't have the resources to go through lengthy court proceedings, guardianship, etc.

Medical marijuana ... has been proven helpful in a very narrow range of ailments and could be a useful treatment for some individuals. However, the approach in California has been to open the floodgates so anyone who fogs a mirror and can utter a complaint can get a prescription. Clearly, it is exacerbating situations for mentally challenged individuals. How do you keep the stuff away from those it will harm? Can't keep it away legally; can't stop the illegal traffick either.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | March 8, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

It is extremely common for mentally ill persons to abuse drugs. Bipolar persons are at very high risk for this, and most of them rarely stay on prescribed medications.
Those who do actually take their prescribed medications often fool around with dosage to induce manic states. Most bipolars must be very closely monitored if they are to successfully control their disorder.
I cannot condone using marijuana as a sedative, or prescribing it to a bipolar person, though there are legitimate medical uses for it.

Posted by: meand2 | March 8, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Ha! From the train of posts below, it looks like all the potheads woke up long enough to read the post, garble the interpretation, then go apoplectic in banging out an impassioned defense of weed.

A million stoned monkeys on typewriters would come up with something similar.

Posted by: carpiodiem | March 8, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, Mr. Lane the others have taken you to task for this illogical, foolish, hysterical piece. My question is, does anyone pay you to write this trash?

Posted by: rusty3 | March 8, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

What do you say of your boy Timmy McVeigh?

Posted by: GD1975 | March 8, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Since, the whole medical marijuana thing is just a cover for distribution of a controlled substance. There is no reason to believe he actually had insomnia. Pot could've caused, aided, or helped his underlying condition, but this column is based on some seriously shaky logic, and should never have been published. grade: F

Posted by: spam21 | March 8, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

7,000 people were murdered by the cartels last year because we kept marijuana illegal. This year they're on track to kill at least 9,000. Who supports keeping it illegal?

Posted by: jway86 | March 8, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

What strange, illogical and ultimately meaningless column. Who is this guy and why is the Post printing him? "Lane?" That's it? Not even a bio? This column is like receiving medical advice from Bigfoot1. I wouldn't recommend either.

Posted by: bigfoot1 | March 8, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I'd come to conclusions similar to Mr. Lane's prior to reading this post, and the post strikes me as quite restrained.

The bulk of Lanes's argument is that a doctor who advertises his pro-marijuana beliefs missed an opportunity to diagnose a case of serious mental illness, instead giving a prescription that was ineffective or possibly harmful with regard to that mental illness.

Lane does not attribute Mr. Bedell's illness or violent outburst to marijuana use, and doesn't even assert that marijuana was likely to worsen mental illness (which I believe would be a reasonable assertion). The closest he comes to that argument is saying that the doctor's prescription could possibly have made things worse.

For a short post I found this thoughtful, lucid and informative.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | March 8, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

here is my question to Mr. Lane...did Bedell sleep well the night before his rampage.....and if he did,Could THAT have caused the incident!....maybe a good night's sleep is Mr. Lane's could be...or can it be that while everyone in his college days was getting high,getting laid and having fun...he was a stiff shirt and had no fun.

Posted by: kiler616 | March 8, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

How many people have committed suicide from taking antidepressants that were not properly tested by drug companies, or were prescribed by quacks who got kickbacks from insurance companies? 1000s, maybe even tens of 1000s? Where's the outrage for those folks? Don't mask your political views behind mental health treatment. You're not clever enough.

Posted by: thadude33 | March 8, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Medical marijuana can be prescribed in California for insomnia or anything else, but most psychiatrists or mental health professionals would not prescribe it for mental health conditions because it tends to exacerbate them. Pot doctors can't give prescriptions, only recommendations. It seems that the person may have been using marijuana prior to seeing this doctor, so it may not have been helping him. People who are chemically dependent often believe the substance is helping them, when it may be causing the problem. From my experience if I had a relative with mental problems I would be very concerned if he was medicating himself with marijuana. I would at least try to get him to see another doctor for a second opinion.

Posted by: samantha5 | March 8, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

"Totally disagree - pot was not this man's problem, mental illness was. And pot did not aggravate his situation - indeed, it is well documented that marijuana users are LESS violent than the general population"

You're dodging the point. Prescribing pot to him as a solution to his insomnia was part of the problem. Even if pot users are less violent than the general population, that doesn't mean that all pot users are less violent than everyone else who doesn't smoke pot.

Case in point: here's a guy who smoked pot regularly who went to the Pentagon and shot two people.

Stop dodging the issue.

Posted by: dubya1938 | March 8, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

" It might have been avoided if Bedell had received timely and effective treatment for his obviously serious mental illness. The fact that he did not is a cause for soul-searching"

The author of this article should have done some research before bringing out the violins.

...while his relationship with his parents -- whom he lived with in a gated community...There's a history of mental health problems with him that the family's been dealing with for a number of years ...Bedell had been committed to mental institutions at least three or four times... went to Sacremento where on the 10th of January he had made a $600 purchase at a shooting range in the Sacramento area...Bedell "was very well dressed in a suit"

Bedell obviously was not living in poverty. He has access to healthcare. He was, sadly beyond help.Using this unfortunate situation for a plug for Obamacare is bad form.

Posted by: snowy2 | March 8, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane may be correct that marijuanna use may only exaserbate certain serious mental conditions. I saw this first hand with a good friend who had serious mental problems (paranoid schizophrenia, insomnia) that ultimately led to his suicide in an intensional head-on car collision (perhaps as condemnable as the actions of Mr. Bedell).

However, this friend also was constantly urged by friends and family to seek proper medical attention (he would not); this friend also used much more powerful psychadelic drugs (a habit oft correlated with excessive marijuanna use), and this friend had dietary habits that were harmful on his psyche. Psychiatrists advised us that, by far, the most harmful ingestions were drugs like psilocybin (mushrooms) and MDNA, which my friend also took.

It may be true that excessive marijuanna use and marijuanna prescriptions are correlated with violent tendencies (and it is correlated with use of other drugs), but one should not make the ridiculus logical jump to a conclusion that there is a causal relationship between marijuanna prescriptions and violence.

Posted by: Bdyh | March 8, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

The Pentagon shooter and 'medical marijuana'
The death of John Patrick Bedell, the 36-year-old man shot and killed by Pentagon police officers after he opened fire on them March 4, is a tragedy. It might have been avoided if Bedell had received timely and effective treatment for his obviously serious mental illness. The fact that he did not is a cause for soul-searching by all of us. Advocates of “medical marijuana” should be especially chastened
Millions of American prolly smoke dope. You might as well attack the NRA unless he attacked the cops with a hemp whip

Posted by: Emmetrope | March 8, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

This article is closer to Reefer Madness propaganda than one that makes a legitimate point. Bedell was mentally ill and needed psychotropic medication. He was also an ideologue who subscribed to a whacked 'libertarian'/ free-market/ Ron Paulism. I'm guessing the author does not want to blame free-market ideologies for this tragedy. Most people don't want to blame these ideologies for the destruction they really are responsible for. The article was a simplistic cheap shot against medical marijuana.

Posted by: revbookburn | March 8, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane-----Your inference that the use of marijuana either caused or contributed to this criminal act indicates your lack of knowledge on the subject.
Since the classification of marijuana as a Class I drug in the 1930s the charge that it's use leads to violent crime has been made over and over. Yet it has never proved to be the case. In point of fact, it is well-known and documented that the use of marijuana leads to the exact opposite result, namely calmness, quiet and tranquility.
How about focusing on some real causes of violence like alcohol, methamphetamines, etc? Or the enormous danger caused by the legal use of tobacco?

Posted by: bobbo97 | March 8, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

this is retarted, you are trying to scapegoat MM by saying this loon would have been better if he was never prescribed it? what a joke. I think there would be less crazy people in this world if congress did not suck balls and if George w. Bush was never president. Both two claims that realistically have nothing to do with someone opening fire on a government official. see what i did, the same thing you did mr lane. take one issue (crazy guy with a gun) and relate it to something completely irrelevant (medical marjuana ethics/president gwbush).

Posted by: BMACattack | March 8, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Was John Patrick Bedell using alcohol?

This latest attempt by the bluenoses to associate anything criminal with medical marijuana is so transparently void of substance it is ridiculous.

Lane - ever know anyone with a psychiatric condition that was exacerbated by ALCOHOL? or any other medication?

What is the difference?

Ever hear of a violent crime committed by someone under the influence of crystal meth??

Psychos and sickos will get their hands on their 'medication of choice,' legal or illegal, anytime they have the urge or get the chance.

Lame lame lame attempt to smear medical mj with the act of a sick man.

Go rent "Reefer Madness" ... - I suspect you'll really enjoy it.

Shame on you

Posted by: daveque | March 8, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what a nonsensicle and spurious argument Mr. Lane puts forth in this trash of a column. First, it is quite evident that Mr. Bedell suffered from bi polar disorder for quite a while. Second, it is quite clear that he was self medicating with pot and possibly other things for quite a while - not uncommon in sufferers of such a mental disorder. Mr. Lane implies in his column that the prescription for medical marijuana that he somehow obtained led directly to this shooting and going over the edge. While it is fairly accurate to say that self medicating with marijuana can exacerbate bi polar disorder, it is nonsense to link this one prescription to Bedell's behavior. Quite frankly, I am sure that Bedell had been buying and using outside the "legal" system for quite some time. It is also clear that Mr. Bedell refused to take meds that would more effectively treat his condition. Finally, to link this one incident with an unknown quantity of use, which may or may not have exacerbated the individual's condition and then extrapolating to the larger population is almost the definition of a spurious argument. I would suggest that Mr. Lane take a couple of courses in logic. The real shame in all of this is Mr. Bedell's untreated condition and his poor parents pleas for help (note their request to have him hopitalized when he was pulled over in Texas). What Lane should really be highlighting is the woeful state of any type of help for the mentally ill in this Country, the ridiculous stigmatization of treatable mental disease, and the limited legal recourse of parents or family members, such as the Bedells to somehow get their loved ones treated for such conditions once the individual has reached age 18. Rather, Lane rants, illogically at that, about medical marijuana - simply moronic.

Posted by: fwillyhess | March 8, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

It may have been William O'Shaughnessy (but quite possibly not), who introduced cannabis to the Western pharmacopoeia, who observed that "cannabis is worse than useless in cases of mania." This case is unfortunate, but alcohol is more widely implicated in crimes of violence than cannabis. The reason to legalize the use of cannabis is that its prohibition is incompatible with a free society.

Posted by: scientist1 | March 8, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Well done on crafting an inflammatory title to your column, Mr. Lane. What isn't so well done is your attempt to somehow straw man medicinal marijuana as the reason Bedell went ballistic and committed suicide by cop. One thing I would note is that your entire column is really just one big accusation. There is not a single citation to any credible source that the recent volumes of scientific evidence are wrong. A simple google search would have pulled up dozens of peer reviewed studies from credible institutions such as UC Berkeley, LSE and others showing that cannibinoids have a potential to alleviate a wide range of medical problems, including depression, anxiety, skin conditions, and numerous neuralgias. You get an F for credibility, and an F for effort.

Posted by: DPoniatowski | March 8, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Consider the source

Posted by: linda_521 | March 8, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I think it's reasonable to look into this doctor. If I gave someone benzos without taking an history to rule out ethanol abuse or penicillin without checking for allergies, I deserve to be investigated. For a doctor to prescribe mm to someone with substantial longstanding psychological problems is beyond irresponsible. The same goes for indescriminate handing out of opioids. In all cases, there are usually more efficacious, more specific, better tested agents. Are there other medical drugs we smoke? No, because it's a terribly inefficient delivery mechanism when you have oral antiemetic drugs that target the cannaboid receptors. and don't get me started on TESTED options for sleep aids. If you want to smoke up, go for it. But don't expect us doctors to provide it. The research is not there.

Posted by: denial1 | March 8, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Don't know who this Bedell feller was, but one blaze of glory he has discredited: 1) medical marijuana; 2)people still looking for more complete information as to the details of 9/11; 3)people who suggest oil and US ties to oil interests had something to do with wars in the gulf and man, one gun, wow...seriously efficient

Posted by: inono | March 8, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

While I agree that it's definitely unscientific to establish a causal relationship between medical marijuana and the shooter's actions, this blog brings up a good point. If we are to believe the true purpose of "medicinal" marijuana, then prescribing it for sleeping problems seems ridiculous and irresponsible. It originated as a way to help people with terminal cancer and AIDS cope with pain and gain weight, but sadly in most states it has become a way for recreational pot users to smoke pot. And you can't deny the link between marijuana use and mental health disorders-particularly in people who already may have underlying mental health issues. Check out a recent Austrailian study about this:

Posted by: nmartnz | March 8, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Following Mr. Lane's logic, he seems to be saying that the rampage was caused by the Doctor's failure to do a full work-up, so therefore medical marijuana is to blame.

As almost everyone has already pointed out below, this doesn't make any sense.

If Mr. Lane were dead set against people eating candy bars, would the logic run as follows?: The rampage was caused by the doctor's failure to do a full work-up, so therefore Snickers Bars are to blame and should be outlawed.

Posted by: Ms_Morgan | March 8, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Charlie, you are a consummate idiot or perhaps just a greedy shyster!

Let’s do a little experiment... Let’s lock you in a room with a highly agitated and mentally deranged individual who doesn’t like you at all (just like most of the people responding to your very stupid column).

You have a choice; we can give this mentally deranged individual a joint or gun!

What will it be Charlie?

I don’t know about you, but I’d give him the joint.

Pot doesn’t kill over 30,000 people in this country every year, but guns do!

And shame, shame on the Washington Post; articles like this are asinine; posted just to feed animosity and perpetuate conflict in this nation for profit.

As you abdicate your responsibility for $$, beware the seeds you sow!

Posted by: wordzworth_ink | March 8, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I find it hard to believe that this article and it's title aren't just an attempt at creating controversy for the sake of being noticed. If this isn't the case and you, Mr. Lane, actually think that Medical Marijuana has anything to do with the pentagon shooter then you're not all that bright.

I agree with you that marijuana has very little medical value but what I don't agree with is that it should be legalized as a recreational drug. Going that route, marijuana legalization is doomed. Many people fail to remember that despite any medical value marijuana may have, there is almost NO justifiable reason for it being illegal. People are making big dollars in this country selling legal drugs which are more dangerous than marijuana.

I am sure the shooter chose his doctor because of his reputation for being a "pot doc", rather than just going to this doctor and then being prescribed marijuana by chance. The fact that the shooter had to go to a doctor to get marijuana is not the doctor or shooters fault. Its people like you Mr Lane that create that scenario and perpetuate it.

Posted by: pistoria2001 | March 8, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Bedell had manic-depression. He was treated for it with care by his family and physicians. There is no evidence to suggest manic depression, with or without marijuana, predisposes to homicide. There is no evidence that marijuana predisposes to homicide. Whether or not marijuana should be legal is moot. Murderers will kill at the drop of a hat. A wonderful person who appears to have killed for a motorcycle:

Mr. Bedell was an evil man. Plain and simple. No better or worse than any other violent thug. When mental illness predisposes to homicide, there exists justification for intrusion by the State into the live of those it afflicts. People with manic depression do not deserve such treatment.

Posted by: Martial | March 8, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

It was only a matter of time before someone began blaming pot for this nutcase's actions. I am not surprised that it's Charles Lane who has stepped up to the authoritarian plate. To a small mind, it must make sense to blame the Devil Weed.

Posted by: consumer_dave | March 8, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

It will be good for us all if Mr. Lane and others who oppose medical marijuana continue to write following this same sense of reason and logic. Assuming they do, if any one of us in some distant future finds that our own medical condition can be helped by marijuana, we'll happily discover that the program has continued to maintain a solidly intact position in medicine.

Posted by: kcooper35 | March 8, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Your conclusions are not based on sound logic. If a doctor misdiagnosed a mental disorder, then he was never treated for his underlying disease. You have no idea what you are talking about man.

Posted by: johng1 | March 8, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Way to trot out century old marijuana myths. How many psychotic marijuana-crazed killers are there in Holland and other nations with legalized marijuana? Face it: Anti-government paranoia pumped out by the right is a stronger drug than a little weed.

Posted by: bwwww | March 8, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

As usual, Lane's sensible remarks on "medical marijuana" have drawn a hysterical response from pot-addled minds.

Posted by: pieguy | March 8, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

WaPo standards have REALLY dropped. They pay this guy for this rubbish? Drop in "Democratic party politics" for "weed/marijuana" and see how utterly ridiculous the piece becomes -- and given the fact is that (a) he was a Dem and (b) his attack seems to have been politically motivate, his political philosophy is probably at least as relevant as his weed use; which is to say, none, since being crazy trumps all.

Posted by: gbooksdc | March 8, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Stoners don't travel across the country to kill people.

For a good Ween show or a yummy slice of pizza?

Do doubt. :)

Posted by: beermelikey | March 8, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Lot of people with no ability to entertain rational thought here. Just about all of you are completely missing the point of this post.

The author is NOT saying:

1) that medical marijuana caused the shooter's psychological problems.

2) that medical marijuana made the shooter's psychological problems worse.

The author is saying that there is little evidence to support the idea that medical marijuana can help to treat serious psychological problems. The problems arise when a doctor prescribes marijuana as opposed to suggesting more effective treatment.

The proper analogy is this:

Imagine you had cancer and your doctor told you to drink lots of Coca-Cola as your primary treatment. Coca-Cola did not cause your cancer. Coca-Cola did not make it worse. However, it isn't going to help you either, and while you spend time drinking soda as opposed to undergoing legitimate treatment, you will only get sicker.

Overall, the problem is that if people waste time using medical marijuana in situations that can't help, it amounts to more time spent without the appropriate treatment. The writer obviously has no problems with legalizing marijuana in the right situations. He is only trying to demonstrate the loss of valuable time when medical marijuana is used in situations where it is of no help.

Posted by: esocci | March 8, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Edit: Meant to say:

No doubt ;)


Posted by: beermelikey | March 8, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Boy, this thoughtful column sure brought out the loonies! A touch sensitive, aren't we? You bet, dope is the answer to whatever ails you.

Posted by: J1789 | March 8, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Really esocci!

The actual issue here is that in most states it is much easier for a mentally deranged individual to legally get a gun than get some pot.

The free flow of guns in this country provides us with over 30,000 deaths per year!

Pot is not the problem here; guns are!
Which personal freedom mandates more control?

I’m confident that we’d have a much kinder-gentler nation, if all our guns were replaced with pot!

Charlie is just inciting the masses for sport and personal profit, just like Sarah Palin.

Posted by: wordzworth_ink | March 8, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Of course comments to your blog don't constitute a random sample, but I really have to wonder about the reading comprehension of the average American, which would seem to be lower than that of the average Post reader.

Posted by: buckdharma | March 8, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

you are an idiot! He also breathed oxygen ( I assume) Should we outlaw that too?

Posted by: treeves1 | March 8, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Common sense isn't always common. He went out in public. We can still go out in private.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 8, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Well, it is clear that you are a political reporter and not a medical reporter. What other meds was he on, other than marijuana? No mention of that right. Could it be that meds approved by the established medical community, Prozac and the like, might have been in his system too? Could it be that Eli Lilly is an advertiser in your paper and that is the reason that you do not question whether that might have been a contributor?

Posted by: jim4postnatl | March 8, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what a ridiculous fool. Would you have written an article blaming it on Prozac if that's what he had been on?

Posted by: dogsbestfriend | March 8, 2010 11:57 PM | Report abuse

This is completely right on! Here in California, the whole medical marijuana ruse is just that - a ruse! There's nothing medicinal about it at all. The pot they manufacture today either in cartel grows in our mountains or using hydroponics indoors is like 10 times stronger than the stuff you smoked as a teen back in the day. It's NOT harmless! A guy brought down a plane a month ago because he went nuts after eating TWO pot cookies. A medical marijuana patient - this is the kind of crap we're dealing with. The Pentagon shooter was a nut case, clearly, and had no business using MJ. But this is how it works - pot doctors charge $200 for a 5 minute consultation so you can go buy your pot 'legally'. There are gynecologists writing these things - for men! THIS is the true landscape of medical pot, not those poor sick cancer patients you hear about all the time.

Posted by: lsbyrne | March 9, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: eileeniciek | March 8, 2010 4:21 PM

I can appreciate that there are people who want to legalize marijuana. However, as any doctor in the mental health field will tell you, marijuana is like poison for individuals with mental health issues. There are even some studies that indicate that if there is a genetic predisposition to mental illness, then smoking pot will be the trigger for the onset of a mental illness. I totally agree with the author of this blog, although I am surprised to see it in the Post. I did notice that there did not appear to be any psychiatrists or psychologists contradicting the blog.

I can tell you from experiences with family members and from many others that I know who have had family members with mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder, that marijauna is the absolute worst thing that they can do, and something that will put them in a mental hospital in no time. If you haven't been there, you don't know what you are talking about.


Like the author Charles Lane your not very well informed eileeniciek.

First its not spelled medical marijauna. Second medical "marijuana" is currently used quite often to treat bipolar disorder in Europe, Canada, and drum-roll...America. A current study listed on states that the University of British Columbia is conducting an ongoing federally funded study for bipolar disorder using Cannabinoids as we speak. You should check it out.

eileeniciek according to a quick search @ Wikipedia under the title of "Treatment of Bipolar Disorder" and scrolling down to Cannabinoids - "Current studies show neurocognitive functioning improves in bipolar patients who used cannabis." As a matter of fact eileeniciek "THC has been shown to relieve depressive phases through its euphoriant action, while the tranquilizing effects of CBD can alleviate manic phases." "CBD, another active constituent of cannabis, has proven anti-psychotic effects."

Now eileeniciek, as any doctor in the mental health field will tell you there is intense controversy in the use of antidepressants in the maintenance of bipolar disorder. Yet antidepressants are still prescribed, new cutting edge studies specifically observed increased cycle frequency, increased mood episode severity, the emergence of mixed states and more treatment-resistant (difficult to treat) bipolar disorder using traditional antidepressants. Not so with Cannabinoids.

Those are the facts as they stand in medicine today. Considering that you have bipolar family members and considering the "many" others that you claim to know that have family members with mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder, you should really get better informed eileeniciek.

Posted by: Homunculus | March 9, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

I agree that this man probably should not have been prescribed marijuana but that is not a good argument against decriminalization. As with prohibition, the criminalization of marijuana is highly detrimental to our society. We put innocent people in prison for nothing more than a joint and spend billions on a failing drug war. People are going to use marijuana whether it is legal or not, why create a criminal industry around it? The drug war money would be better spent educating people, intelligently (not DARE), about the effects of drug use and if they still choose to do it so be it. One John Bedell is worth freeing thousands of people who never hurt anyone and the money saved would help educate people to avoid the problems altogether.

Posted by: EnlightenedThinker | March 9, 2010 2:59 AM | Report abuse

7,000 people were murdered by the Mexican drug cartels last year because we in the US kept marijuana illegal. This year they're on track to kill at least 9,000. Who supports keeping it illegal?

Posted by: jway86 | March 9, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Another perfectly good reason to legalize marijuana. If it were legal there would no need for Pot docs. Had he gone to a regular doctor , told him that he was not sleeping he may have gotten the help he needed.

As a matter of fact this also illustrates where our medical care is headed in general. Why should a guy beat his brains out in an ER and subject himself to malpractice suits when he can make more money dispensing pot prescriptions? Cut Medicare payments, expand Medicade workload,s and keep trial lawyers in business and none of will have a real doctor to see.

Posted by: steveroake | March 9, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Shhh, don't tell anyone, but the current and former 2 presidents had been known to smoke weed and snort coke. They also happened to be the commander and chiefs of the armed forces.

What we need is to declare war on drugs. only then will we rid the nation of this evil scourge.

Posted by: permagrin | March 9, 2010 7:11 AM | Report abuse

This is a ridiculous article. I think the author is smoking something.

Posted by: ce-kennedy | March 9, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Come on people, this is WaPo. You don't actually expect any decent reporting do you? It's garbage as usual.

Posted by: chirol | March 9, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Wow, this is unbelievably weak... even for WaPo.

Posted by: millionea7 | March 9, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Wow. So many passionate, knee-jerk, defensive posts makes me think that pot has a stronger hold on people than most here would admit. I'd like to see pot legalized, but I have real problems with doctors prescribing it. It's either a medicinal drug or it's a recreational drug, and whichever one it is, it shouldn't be used for the other.

Avoiding the issue of schizophrenia in this discussion is either ignorance or cowardice. Bedell was likely a paranoid schizophrenic, the most dangerous in the range of behaviors. If you only think "A Brilliant Mind" when you hear "schizophrenia", then you are fortunate enough to have escaped the hell of being a family member of a paranoid schizophrenic. A schizophrenics mind is too fragile, too vulnerable, too unpredictable for a doctor to prescribe an equally unpredictable mood-altering "drug" like pot. If pot is strong enough to benefit AIDS, cancer and glaucoma patients, then it's too strong for a schizophrenic.

Lane may have an agenda, for sure, but in this case, he brings up a legitimate concern.

Posted by: Marrigan | March 9, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad there are uneducated idiots out there like the author of this article, Charles Lane. When the anti-MMJ community uses a hack for their voice, it helps the MMJ cause for sure. Marijuana use itself is not that bad, it's the marijuana laws that are the problem. If someone chooses to consume marijuana, they should do it responsibly. The first step toward re-education on marijuana is getting people to realize what the current laws are. Depending on which state you are in, you can get jail time and hefty fines for just testing positive for marijuana or possessing a used pipe. Want to know what the marijuana laws are in your state? Go to to find out. There is lots of interesting stuff on that site.

Posted by: TheWeedBlog | March 9, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

You know, I'm a fun loving and non violent guy. I've smoked pot for over 18 years and have never been in any trouble. This guy obviously had issues with Uncle Sham as much as I do. Our govt. deserves anything they get as they are crooked SOBS. There is only one addictive green drug out there and it's not a PLANT, it's money!
I live in a state where I could get a MM license. I choose not to because despite Obama's promises, they still get raided and the narrow minds of the world are still ruling, sadly.
I wouldn't hurt a fly, but I have to say that I'm sorry this guy was killed. What he did was wrong, but I'm sure he was driven to it.
Weed is a wonderful plant as most of us know. You'll certainly live longer breathing in natural fumes than smoke stacks and all that crap.
Abolish money and the fricking govt. and we might actually stand a chance in this world. As much as I hate violence, I can't knock a guy for going after 2 legged pigs. Cops are scum just like politicians. Going to smoke a joint now, but I promise I won't hurt anyone. (-"

Posted by: adacia99 | March 9, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Well...Mr. Lane sure is consistent regarding his (and the Washington Post's historical) bias against cannabis.

Why is the Washington Post so anti-cannabis, and pro-prohibition?

If the Pentagon shooter had previously used tobacco, alcohol, caffeine or junk food, would Mr. Lane seriously try to attribute the shooting to these behaviors?

Why not attack his mother's milk?

With only the super right-wing, non-profit organization, the ironically named 'Accuracy in Media', trying to connect a mentally deranged criminal act to their bias against cannabis, Lane and the Washington Post appear in close company with Cliff 'Bring the Reefer Madness By The Ton' Kinkaid.

I cherish the day I canceled my subscriptions (home and business) to the Washington Post years ago. My money is not going to support the pro-booze, anti-cannabis Washington Post and flacks like Lane.

I'm filing Lane's latest rant in the 'bad journalism' file for future reference.

Posted by: Jan4Hemp | March 9, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

For the most part, this screed is pseudo-intellectual and complete nonsense. Cannabis is one of the most versatile medicines known to mankind, as well as least-toxic.

Look up "Granny Storm Crow's List" and get back to us with an apology for your ignorant rant, Lane.

To keep Cannabis illegal while tobacco and alcohol are dispensed freely would be *MURDEROUSLY STUPID*.

ANY questions?

Posted by: rsteeb | March 10, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

A new low for partisan bias, lol.

Of course, when Medical Marijuana has a higher approval rating than everybody but the president himself, it's not so easy to put misinformation like this across.

Your scanned document indicates Bedell received, as indicated, a one-month prescription for medical marijuana, in Dec 2006, after his arrest in June. That would have lapsed in Jan, 2007.

He was arrested in Reno for possession of marijuana, without a prescription, in February of 2010.

Medical Marijuana is not present in this case in any kind of meaningful way.

When potheads have to do your fact checking for you, it may be time to get you a scrip,
Mr. Lane.

Posted by: taojoannes | March 11, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

what a crappy biased "opinion" piece, does the WP have any real writers instead of this clown?

Maybe someone who isn't a corporate shill?

Posted by: Goethe66 | March 12, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

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