Marijuana, with its supposed medical benefits, has surfaced in yet another case of mental illness and violence. But this time, the target was President Obama, who now wants to make marijuana more freely available. Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, who pleaded guilty to shooting at Obama and hitting the White House, was sentenced on Monday to 25 years in prison.
Like many reporters, Josh Gerstein of POLITICO covered his sentencing without noting his devotion to cannabis.
The mentally-deranged conspiracy theorist, who called himself “a modern-day Jesus,” opened fire on the night of November 11, 2011, hitting the south side of the White House with eight shots and doing nearly $100,000 worth of damage.
Despite hating Obama, he did not turn out to be a right-wing extremist. Rather, he was a pothead inspired by radio/TV host Alex Jones, the notorious 9/11 “truther” who sees global conspiracies only he can uncover lurking behind national and world events.
Jones and his writers have recently become favorites on the “Savage Nation” radio show of Michael Savage, carried in Washington, DC on WMAL.
Like Jones, Ortega favored gun rights and marijuana. But when he took his semiautomatic rifle to the White House, a document in the case says that he was determined to express “anger towards the government regarding the continued criminalization of marijuana.” He claimed marijuana “made people smart,” the document said, but was arrested five days after his shooting rampage.
Ortega explained, “Because if the whole world, or the whole United States, would have smoked cannabis freely like alcohol is consumed, I believe that we would all be so much more intelligent beings, and the government knows that. That’s why it’s illegal, because if we were all more intelligent as a whole it would be harder to deceive us. So they just keep marijuana illegal because they know there will always be a population that will follow the rules.”
Roll Call newspaper summarized several of his paranoid beliefs: “For months, he had been sharing theories about how the federal government used Global Positioning System chips, fluoride, and aspartame to control Americans. He also criticized the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, claiming that the United States was ‘bullying’ other countries to obtain oil, and compared Obama to ‘the anti-Christ.’”
Ortega also “made two short videos in which he praised Osama bin Laden for having the courage to stand up to the United States, and called for a revolution against the federal government,” the publication said.
A November 2011 New York Times story referred to Ortega as “the lazy kid who used to smoke too much dope,” and reported that he and his friends “watched an antigovernment film on the Internet called ‘The Obama Deception,’ which was written, directed and produced by Alex Jones, a Texas-based conservative talk show host who has espoused a number of conspiracy theories involving the federal government.”
In fact, Jones is not a conservative. He is a pro-marijuana commentator who has been a frequent guest on the Moscow-funded propaganda channel Russia Today (RT), where he defends Russian foreign policy, and his writers insist the U.S. has been provoking Vladimir Putin’s regime.
In our 2010 article, “The Media, Extremists and Conspiracies,” we noted that the Jones film, “The Obama Deception,” features a former member of the Lyndon LaRouche organization who believes that Karl Marx was a British agent. LaRouche began his career as a Marxist and, like Jones, has claimed that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an “inside job” carried out by U.S. operatives.
A combination of Alex Jones conspiracies and heavy marijuana use apparently took their toll on Ortega. The Times added, “Family members and others said that while Mr. Ortega was behaving increasingly strangely—he read a 45-minute speech at his 21st birthday party in October that veered from supporting marijuana legalization to detailing the threat of secret societies to expressing frustration with American foreign policy in oil-producing countries—he never seemed violent.”
However, marijuana has in fact been linked to a number of violent incidents, as we noted in a recent column, “Media Continue Cover-up of Marijuana-induced Mental Illness.”
Prosecutors said evidence showed that Ortega’s motive in shooting at the White House “was to punish and kill the president, who he believed was the head of a government that was oppressing its citizens in various ways, such as by continuing to criminalize the use of marijuana.” At the time, federal agents were cracking down on so-called “medical marijuana” businesses. Since then, Obama, a one-time heavy user, has called the drug safer than alcohol and has endorsed a policy of marijuana decriminalization and legalization, even announcing that his administration won’t enforce money-laundering laws against banks doing business with marijuana stores in states such as Colorado.
Dr. Christine Miller, who has written about the relationship between marijuana and mental illness, commented, “So, our President is willing to propose to this nation that marijuana is safer than alcohol, despite these examples of pot making people psychotic enough to threaten him and others. He can be protected, but the rest of us don’t walk around with body guards or Secret Service agents.”
On the same day that Ortega was sentenced to 25 years in prison, Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill to decriminalize marijuana.
Our media have shied away from covering the link between marijuana, mental illness, and such incidents as the Maryland mall shooting, in which two people were killed by a pothead who then took his own life.
But Dan Lucas, an independent researcher and policy advocate, came across heavy marijuana use related to a violent attack when he read through the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (Oregon) report on the December 2012 Clackamas Town Center shooting. Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, indiscriminately fired 16 shots at innocent shoppers, killing two and seriously injuring one. He was armed with a stolen semiautomatic weapon.
The dead were Steven Forsyth, 46, a father of two and a youth sports coach, who took one bullet to the head, and Cindy Yuille, a 54-year-old hospice nurse and mother of two who stopped by the mall to pick up Christmas presents. She was shot in the back of the head. Kristina Shevchenko, 15, was shot in the chest.
The Sheriff’s office reported that Roberts had been smoking marijuana just before the shooting. The killer smoked marijuana between 1:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., and again at 3:00 p.m.—immediately before heading to the Clackamas mall where he started shooting at around 3:30 p.m.
Lucas said the evidence in the case showed that the shooter’s aunt got him starting smoking marijuana daily when he was 16. The killer had written in a diary, “It sometimes made me wonder how my life would have turned out if [my aunt] didn’t smoke pot.” A toxicology report showed that he had used cocaine and marijuana prior to the shooting.
The shooter’s diary described marijuana parties: “I was sixteen when I started smoking with my mom [his aunt]. She packed the bowl and told me to take the first hit…I took a hit and went to pass it and she told me not to. She said ‘if [you’re] going to act like a stoner [you’re] going smoke like a stoner. [You’re] going to smoke that whole bowl to yourself.’ And to be honest with you, I did—I smoked the whole thing. Afterwards she tells me that I had to clean the bathroom for my punishment. But after that it was a daily thing. I would come home and smoke with my mom, go hang out with friends, come home and smoke with my mom.”
Lucas, the chief editor for the conservative blog Oregon Catalyst, says he has noticed how the media fail to report how marijuana is linked to cases of high profile violence. “The apparent media bias is very frustrating,” he tells Accuracy in Media. “Rather than an objective look at how to solve problems, there is a persistent selective and distorted presentation of information. For example, the use of an ‘assault rifle’ will be given huge focus and attention, but the role of marijuana will be marginalized, if reported on at all.”
He asks, “Can you imagine what the national dialog around marijuana legalization would be if the media applied the same standards to marijuana that they do to guns in high-profile violent tragedies?”
In Oregon, he says, a leading proponent of taking away gun rights is State Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene). He says that during the last two legislative sessions, Prozanski has attempted to pass new gun control laws using the Clackamas mall tragedy. At the same time, Prozanski has been pushing to legalize marijuana.
In fact, the Oregon Cannabis Industry Association participated in a fundraiser on his behalf. “Senator Prozanski has been a strong ally of the medical cannabis community,” the group says. “Join us as we build a brighter future for all Oregonians through responsible cannabis business practices.”