The Florida Axe Murders – The Reason Marijuana is Illegal in the US

Warning: This post contains controversial material about drugs as well as my opinion…

Victor Licata was a loner.  He was considered nice, but a little strange by those who knew him.  In his twenties, he lived with his parents and siblings in Ybor City, Florida.  His parents owned a local business.  They were well known and well liked.

Therefore, in mid-October when the neighbors realized they hadn’t seen a single person from the Licata family in a couple of days, they reported it to the police.  The police decided to do a welfare check and there was no way they could have prepared for thee scene that greeted them.

Five members of the Licata family had been murdered.  Their hacked up bodies lay strewn about the house.  Poor Victor Licata was found alive, in the bathroom, covered in blood.  None of it his own.

Victor was just 21 when he murdered his family, including a younger brother who wasn’t even 12 years old yet.  He had a history of psychosis and had been institutionalized for bizarre and extreme behavior.  Chances are he was a paranoid schizophrenic who became violent for unknown reasons – he reported hearing voices, he also stated that he had to kill his family to keep them from suffering a worse fate, and he had developed his psychosis in his late teens – until then he was a normal, healthy child – schizophrenia often begins to manifest during mid-to-late teens.

In today’s world, Victor Licata would be pitied as one of the victims of his illness.  However, this happened in 1933.  Prohibition was just starting to fall out of favor.  The media latched onto the Licata murders though.  They were sensational news and to make sure it was even more sensational, they claimed Victor killed his family in a marijuana-fueled rampage.

Even though Prohibition was on it’s way out, marijuana, a substance that had not be illegal during Prohibition suddenly took center stage for those who were still clinging to the laws that had lead to the rise of organized crime and risky moonshine.

The movie Reefer Madness was a take on the Florida Axe Murders.  Several books were written about the dangers of marijuana.  Suddenly, it became the goal of the US government to make marijuana illegal.

Despite the sensationalism of the Licata murders, there was never any evidence that Victor Licata had ever smoked marijuana.  His strange behaviors that would now days get him a mental illness diagnosis were chalked up to marijuana induced psychosis (this isn’t a thing, just FYI).  Thankfully, he did get some justice, a very prominent psychiatrist testified that he was not fit to stand trial and instead of facing the death penalty, he spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum… Some might argue that death would have been more humane, because in the 1930s, we treated mental illness much different than we do now.

As more and more states legalize marijuana, the question has begun to arise about why it was ever illegal in the first place.  It really isn’t any more dangerous than alcohol and it can be beneficial in treating a number of side effects of certain illnesses (ironically, marijuana has been proven to help ease the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia).

This means the poster child for drug-fueled murderous rampages is a myth.  The Florida Axe Murders did manage to get marijuana made illegal, but the man that committed the crimes probably would have benefited from smoking marijuana.

There are serious benefits to legalizing marijuana.  Income for the states as they tax the shit out of it.  New jobs are created because it has to be grown in state, so every state that legalizes it requires growers, dispensaries, regulators, monitors, and a slew of other positions.  Regulations cut down on the problem of marijuana laced with other, much stronger drugs like LSD and cocaine.  States like California and Colorado have reported a decrease in drug related crimes as well as cartel and gang related crimes because these shady criminals are no longer the only available source for getting marijuana.

Much like Prohibition lead to the sudden overwhelming increase of organized crime, making marijuana illegal created another form of criminal and they are just as violent as any mob boss… sometimes more so.  Cartels are ruthless.  And yes, cartels still handle the majority of illegal marijuana in the US.

I am not a marijuana user myself, ironically, one of the conditions it does treat really well is chronic migraines, but the smell triggers migraines for me.  But I’m the exception, not the rule.  I have had a number of doctors over the years tell me that they can’t ethically tell me to smoke marijuana, but that is has been found useful for my condition.

I feel it is time to do away with the myth and deal with the facts.  Marijuana has more beneficial uses than bad side effects.  It is less addictive than narcotics and barbiturates, and has far fewer side effects than NSAIDS like ibuprofen and sodium naproxen.  It can be useful for both physical and mental illnesses.  It also eases chronic pain and counteracts the side effects of some medications (like chemotherapy).  It would even help the chronic pain I suffer from the nerve damage in my SI joints and the arthritis in my hips.  Hell, it would probably help the pain in my hands, which is nerve pain and not arthritis pain…. However, I would need a patch, because as I said, the smell triggers migraines.

Smoking cigarettes is more dangerous and damaging to the body than marijuana and yet, we have all been led to believe that marijuana is a dangerous gateway drug that will lead us to popping pills and snorting lines on toilets in public bathrooms.

There is even evidence that people stoned on marijuana are far less likely to drive a car than people who have been drinking excessively.  Yet, the majority of us, still cling to the myths we’ve been taught about the evils of marijuana… which all stem from a murder case in 1933 that didn’t even have evidence of marijuana use.

This is one of the few things I’m willing to go “all in on”…. We should decriminalize marijuana and make it legal at both a state and federal level.  The benefits to individuals who use it to treat illnesses and to the governments that profit from it and taking away of power from cartels and drug dealers that distribute it far outweigh any supposed dangers marijuana poses.

As a footnote, I will add that marijuana is a gateway drug only because it is taboo.  Outlawing it had the exact same effect as outlawing alcohol.  People still use it, but they have to get it from shady sources and there are plenty of dealers that lace their marijuana with other drugs in an effort to hook users on those drugs, because they are more profitable.  Removing shady dealers and their tainted marijuana would remove the issue of it being a gateway drug.

Conditions that can be helped by marijuana:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s
  • Lou Gehrig’s
  • Huntington’s
  • Chronic pain conditions such as Fibromyalgia, nerve damage, muscle necrosis/atrophy, arthritis, Reflex Sympathetic Disorder (which has been renamed, but I don’t remember to what), diabetes related nerve damage, and I know I’m missing several others
  • Organ illness/Damage – this includes, but is not limited to: kidney disease, pancreatitis, cirrhosis, Irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s Disease
  • Migraines – especially chronic migraines, cluster migraines, and non-medication responsive migraines (you want something that works for migraines?  Don’t bother with the Daith piercing, which helps less than 10% of migraine sufferers… marijuana is the better alternative) – pot even works better than Botox
  • Tourette’s Syndrome has been found to be more controllable when the sufferer uses marijuana
  • glaucoma
  • cataracts
  • MS
  • Side effects from medications like chemotherapy and anti-psychotics have been found to be milder in people who use marijuana
  • PTSD
  • Even severe PMS (including menorrhagia – anemia caused by excessive bleeding during menstruation) can be helped by marijuana use
  • Stress induced alopecia
  • Tension headaches
  • chronic back pain related to repetitive strain from manual labor
  • There are hundreds of others, but my brain is tired as are my eyes…

Dangers of Marijuana Usage:

  • Driving under the influence (just like alcohol or some legal medications)
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss (believe it or not, some people have the exact opposite reaction and instead of getting the munchies, they can’t eat after using it)
  • Non-Addiction Dependency – this is caused by the brain reacting to the fact that is has been relieved of whatever is troubling it. The brain then believes it must have the substance to ward off the problem.  However, this can happen with ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, vitamins, and anything else we use to make ourselves healthy.  Your friend who pops a couple of Advil every day, is suffering from non-addiction dependency.  They take it as a preventative measure, not to actually treat something they are suffering from right that moment.  My father had this problem for years with aspirin.

Ok, I am climbing off my soap box.

C Patt

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