Louisianans for Responsible Reform
For Immediate Release
Friday, February 21, 2014
Former Judge and Prosecutor Cites Imaginary Institute on Bizarre Website to Support Claim That 95% of All Violent Crime Involves Marijuana
Sen. Bob Kostelka yesterday shocked attendees at the Louisiana Sentencing Commission meeting when he alleged that 95 percent of all violent crimes are committed by people under the influence of marijuana.
During discussion about Rep. Austin Badon's marijuana sentencing reduction bill, House Bill 14, Kostelka cited statistics that can - at best - be called imaginary and sources that border on science fiction.
During a heated exchange with New Orleans attorney Greg Thompson, who attended the Louisiana Sentencing Commission meeting to present an objective analysis of HB14, Kostelka lambasted Thompson over his conclusion that reducing sentences would not have a significant impact on public safety. Kostelka cited statistics showing that over 95 percent of violent crimes are committed while the assailant had been smoking marijuana.
"In any situation like this, when someone has made a claim so completely, ridiculously and patently pulled from thin air, it is always advisable to Google first and ask questions later," said Brian Welsh, executive director of Louisianans for Responsible Reform. "So that's what we did."
Kostelka's claim can be traced back to a single website, Marijuana Makes You Violent, specifically in the fourth paragraph on its publication on Marijuana and Violence:
"Marijuana use is a major factor in violent crimes. The National Institute on Marijuana Abuse and Marijuanaism estimates that 95-99 (percent) of violent crimes in the United States are linked to the use of marijuana. According to a report from the U.S. Dept. of Justice, that translates to about 100,000,000 marijuana-related violent crimes per year."
There is no National Institute on Marijuana Abuse and Marijuanaism (Note to reporters: Google 20 times if the word "marijuanaism" isn't a good enough clue.)
Of course, had Kostelka really wanted to blow some minds he could have cited this paragraph from the same site:
"Each and every violent death in the the (sic) history of human's (sic) existence can and has been directly linked to consumption of the cannabis sativa plant. The only way humans become violent and lust for blood is through smoking, snorting, injecting or eating marijuana."
Among other facts at Sen. Kostelka's disposal for future debate, courtesy of the MMYV site: 65.1 percent of the population of Vatican City is addicted to marijuana, while a whopping 78 percent of Saudi Arabians are hooked on pot.
"Senator Kostelka is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,'" Welsh said. "And when your facts come from something as bizarre as a website with an introductory video like this people will start to wonder what you are smoking. That's bad for everyone involved in this important conversation.
"We must have a rational conversation about this issue and the real harm excessive sentences are doing to taxpayers and families in our state," Welsh said. "We need to move in the same direction as Mississippi, which reduced possession to a misdemeanor 10 years ago. I mean, when you're 10 years behind Mississippi, something is terribly wrong."