Who is to blame for addicting kids to nicotine and causing the vaping illnesses that sickened and even killed so many people? Juul and its backers piggybacked onto marijuana legalization and used similar marketing schemes. Read Part 1.
With fits and starts, Adam Bowen and James Monsees worked diligently over several years to come up with a product that would replace traditional cigarettes. They enlisted the help of venture capitalists from Silicon Valley, including some of the Pritzkers who fund marijuana companies, too. They never imagined getting involved with Big Tobacco.
As the Surgeon General warned In 2016, vaping by teens had begun to rise dramatically that year. This rise in vaping e-cigarettes played a role in reversing a long-term decline of teen smoking. In the coming weeks, the FDA will be making a decision whether or not to ban flavored vapes. Flavors like mango and mint enticed so many teens who got hooked on nicotine through vaping.
This letter was sent by a local activist to her neighbors regarding the proliferation of illegal marijuana grows in San Bernardino, a California county.
She wrote to PopPot: “The illegal marijuana grows in San Bernardino County are trashing our environment, overusing our limited water supplies, leaching dangerous chemicals into the soil, terrorizing residents with guard dogs, and bringing in a criminal element to our once peaceful desert community that is seriously impacting quality of life and the safety of residents.”
Subject: Speak up and Demand Action against the Illegal Marijuana Grows Destroying our Community
Please help us continue our important work by making a donation to Parents Opposed to Pot.
With many stories in the news recently, it’s an opportune time to get out the truth about marijuana in America, We must tell the public, especially parents, what legal pot is doing to our kids. Parents Opposed to Pot will be starting a podcast soon, and your donations will help our cause.
On Sunday night, NBC Nightly News reported about the teens hospitalized in Colorado for psychosis and vomiting illnesses.
A marijuana regulatory bill, HB 1317 passed in the Colorado House and then passed in the Senate by 37-0. The provisions of the bill, which go into effect next year, include the creation of a registry system and closing loopholes for teens buying medical marijuana. We hope it can put a dent in Colorado’s pot problems, although cannabis proves to be a regulation-resistant drug.
Your donation will help us continue our important work, such as distributing information about testimony in the Colorado State legislature in May. At that time, some of the legislators’ children and relatives spoke about how pot legalization in 2014 affected their families. Their speeches were powerful and very moving.
Parents Opposed to Pot and our three sub-groups travel to drug prevention conferences. We need donations to continue our work.
The normalization and continued promotion of drug use kills people, harms individuals and harms society. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) turned people against the “War on Drugs,” a term the government stop using in 2009. The DPA aims for legalizing all drugs, but now uses the term “decriminalization,” disguising their true goals.
For parents, whose children died after buying pills through dealers, friends or acquaintances, it’s a bitter pill to swallow: the DPA claims their children were already drug users, and no one should be held responsible for death.
Three Heritage Ranch residents were recently charged by San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow with the tragic death of a 7-month old infant due to methamphetamine and fentanyl poisoning. On June 4th in Indianapolis, Crystal Martin admitted before a court to giving her three-year-old son Johnathan Johnson two 100mg pills of Zoloft, an antidepressant drug, before leaving him unsupervised to play near a creek, where he was found face down in four feet of water. Continue reading Opinion: Is Drug Use a Victimless Crime?→
My son started using his junior year in high school when he was 15. He was young for his grade. By the time he went off to a UC campus, he was smoking daily. This highly academic student began to lose the ability to focus, and his anxiety got out of control. We had our first indication of psychosis on Mother’s Day 2020 when he was home during the lockdown. We took him to the ER and he was diagnosed with “cannabis use disorder.” I did not understand at the time that this meant ‘your son is addicted.’ He got into an outpatient program through his UC campus and after a brief stint at sobriety, he relapsed. Continue reading Bipolar Disorder or Cannabis-induced Psychosis? Many Cannot Afford the Answer→
Think on these things before getting too deep into smoking Weed* * Or what the science of marijuana is telling us about the harmful effects of marijuana for you, your friends, or your kids.
A book by Kevin G. Becker Ph.D. reviewed by Sally Schindel
It is a long title for a 222 page VERY readable book.
I have read dozens of books about marijuana – the drug and the industry, mental health harms caused by marijuana, substance use disorders and treatment and recovery. Additionally, I’ve read books about the reasons so many feel commercializing and normalizing marijuana is acceptable public policy.
Many of the books left me feeling buried and over my head.
I’m not a scientist or medical professional. I’m a retired accountant/financial advisor and a Mom forever grieving the loss of my son Andy to marijuana-induced suicide.
Colorado State Representative Judy Amabile of Boulder gave riveting personal testimony of her son on May 26. Along with many others, she spoke in favor House Bill 21-1317, “Regulating Marijuana Concentrates.”
She described how her son began using Colorado marijuana in 8th grade. He had his first psychotic break at 18. He now has schizoaffective disorder. “Let’s not talk about him today. It’s too late for him. Let’s talk instead about your children and thousands of other children who are negatively being impacted by the use of marijuana,” she said.
Speaking for all families affected by today’s high potency pot, she continued, “We are done being shamed and blamed into silence.”
Finally, a parent in a position to make a difference gave a story comparable to those told on Parents Opposed to Pot, Moms Strong and Johnny’s Ambassadors. Many parents testified in favor of the House bill. Some of their children survived marijuana, but others, such as Johnny Stack, did not.
The bill passed in the committee and then the Colorado House last week. Rep. Yadera Caraveo of Thornton, Rep. Tim Geitner of Falcon and House Speaker Alec Garnett of Denver co-sponsored the legislation.
The Denver Gazette wrote an article about the bill’s content and Rep. Judy Amabile’s remarkable speech. The bill passed the entire Colorado House of Representatives and a version is currently being debated in the Senate.
In the Senate testimony, Kirk Quitter, principal of a Boulder Valley High Schoo, said that he’s witnessed several psychotic breaks in school. “We’re gambling away our kids for money,” he exclaimed. Let’s hope the Senate uses its conscience and rubberstamps this bill.
A summary of the bill.
“The bill requires the Colorado School of Public Health to do a systematic review of the scientific research related to the physical and mental health effects of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates. The bill creates a scientific review council to review the report and make recommendations to the general assembly. Based on the research and findings, the Colorado School of Public Health shall produce a public education campaign for the general public, to be approved by the council, regarding the effect of high-potency THC marijuana on the developing brain and mental health.”
The cannabis industry follows the devil’s playbook on a daily basis in states that have legalized it. After much trial and error, Colorado may put caps on its pot industry.
Two New Exposés of Big Weed
On April 20, Kevin Sabet’s new book, Smokescreen, went on sale across the country. The publisher picked a symbolic date, 420. In 2018, Sabet began to hear from whistleblowers, including Colorado regulators forced by higher-ups to look away. (Disclaimer: Sabet would not endorse the title of this blog, as we tend to be harder-edged than he is.)
My family moved to Pueblo in 2005 to be closer to family. We loved the people, weather, beauty and close access to hiking and the mountains.
Many families were moving to what I thought was Colorado’s best-kept secret.
We raised our kids in Pueblo, got involved with community organizations and I worked as a licensed physical therapist assistant at several well known local clinics. I got to know the people and heart of Pueblo through my jobs.
In 2014, the commercialization of THC, the mood-altering chemical in marijuana, changed Pueblo.
Press Release – A horrific family tragedy could be the result of marijuana use by a depressed mom. The bodies of two toddlers and an infant were found.
MERRIFIELD, VA, US, April 15, 2021 — The discovery of a triple murder of three young children (ages 3, 2 and 6 months) on April 10 in Reseda, California, points to the dangers of using marijuana to self-medicate. The only suspect, the children’s mom Liliana Carrillo, struggled with post-partum depression in the past. Under the influence of her frequent marijuana use, a fact confirmed by the father, she showed symptoms of psychosis. When psychosis is coupled with drug use, the risk for extreme violence goes up significantly. Liliana is alleged to have killed her children by bludgeoning and drowning.
From what can be gleaned from the Los Angeles Times article on the murders, Liliana was experiencing some of the worst side effects of marijuana. She was reported to exhibit delusional thinking, paranoia, agitation, suicidal thoughts, and had recently lost touch with reality. Teri Miller, an ER doctor who is also a cousin of the children’s father, described to authorities that Liliana was a danger to the children and declared that when the murders occurred it was a clear psychiatric emergency.
The Koch Brothers’ group, Americans for Prosperity, recently joined efforts with other cannabis activist groups. This new coalition includes the libertarian Reason Foundation and the Weldon Project, named for a drug dealer pardoned by President Trump.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the most dangerous of marijuana legalization models possible last week. Meanwhile, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia signaled his support to push up marijuana legalization to July 1. Both governors allow themselves to be pushed around and manipulated by activist groups like the Drug Policy Alliance, NORML, and the ACLU.
Parents Opposed to Pot asks Virginia and New York to amend their bills to ban homegrown marijuana.
Parents Opposed to Pot asks the states of New York and Virginia to amend their marijuana legalization bills to exclude home grows. Although both states are poised to legalize marijuana, there are two possible changes that could lessen the harms of marijuana legalization: potency caps and eliminating home grows. Home grows are a major reason the black market does not go away but in fact grows stronger after legalization.
The New York bill, as it stands, allows six plants to be grown at home, and the Virginia bill allows for four. In Denver, a man tried to stop two teens from stealing the marijuana plants in his yard, killing one 14-year-old and paralyzing the other.
Just last Saturday, March 27, six thieves broke into a home grow in Long Beach, California and two of them were shot by a man who lived at the home. When police executed a searched on the home, they seized “large quantities” of marijuana, firearms and cash. Thieves consistently target home grows.
However, law enforcement is generally restrained from doing a home search until after crimes are committed. As people living in “legal marijuana” states have found, the appearance of drug sales in a home, a neighbor’s complaint of the stench of marijuana or careless overflow into the yards of others is not enough to mandate a search. Police ignore such complaints.
“After legalization, A home grower in my Pueblo, Colorado neighborhood was murdered by two men from out-of-state. They came to purchase marijuana and decided they would rather kill and steal the drugs. We also heard gunfire on our street after legalization,” says Aubree Adams, Assistant Director for Parents Opposed to Pot.
Eliminating home grows can lessen the crime associated with marijuana legalization states.
New Yorkers should be especially concerned about the harms that will come in high-density living situations. In the Bronx in 2015, Fire Captain Michael J. Fahy perished at a marijuana home grow. The fire appears to have started in a marijuana lab, a frequent occurrence in the first states to legalize. In Washington state and California, apartment residents lost their homes when their neighbors’ butane hash oil laboratories exploded, and in a few instances lost their lives. A Rancho Cordova explosion displaced 146 residents at once because of a butane hash oil explosion. Usually, the amateurs who make highly concentrated THC at home are trying to undercut the regulated marijuana market.
Home grows lead to more crime and there is no way to get around it.
Summary of Home Grow Dangers:
–Child access increases and it is impossible to keep away from children under age 21.
–Child & dog poisonings are occurring in the home, or at school when youth take the drug or edibles to school.
–Property crimes such as breaking and entering and personal injury/homicide crimes increase.
–Nuisance to neighbors is a problem (odor, people coming and going at all nights, drive by shootings).
–Squatter grows in rented units may make it harder to sell home after the growers leave.
–Landlords will be stuck with huge utility bills and drywall damage due to odor permeating drywall, requires expensive remediation.
–Hash oil manufacturing can cause explosions. At least two children died in hash oil explosions, one in Colorado and one in California.
–Every home grower is a potential drug dealer as they can turn into an illegal black market home-based seller.
— –Energy use is many times the normal household electricity consumption when growing indoors because of the extra lighting required.
Changing this aspect of the laws represents a chance to learn from other states. Colorado and Washington are now trying to put in THC potency caps on what is sold in cannabis shops.
Parents Opposed to Pot is a 501c3 educational nonprofit based in northern Virginia. Contact at 773-322-7523 or visit the website, poppot.org, Facebook @poppotorg.
The good news comes from a study finding that the inequality in sentencing between blacks and white drug offenders has gone down to zero. That conclusion was published March 15, 2021, by Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study covers the years between 2009 and 2018, and it studied the federal court, rather than state court, system.
September marked the 10th anniversary of my son Justin’s death at age 17 from an accidental drug overdose. The medical examiner’s report months later said it was heroin that killed him. But I have to say for Justin it all began with marijuana, and I’m angrier at marijuana than I am at heroin. Here’s why.
Justin was a good student, an extremely talented musician and songwriter on the verge of completing the recording of his first original music album. On Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008, Justin spent the afternoon with people we didn’t know and came home later than expected as he readied for his first full week as a senior at Yorktown High School. He never woke up that Monday morning. Somewhere along the way that Sunday he had snorted heroin. Continue reading New York Dad says marijuana complicit in son’s heroin overdose death→
One of the wealthiest families in America was struck a blow in 2015 by the tragic overdose death of their eldest daughter, Victoria.
After Victoria’s funeral, the discovery of her diary opened up her inner life to them. For the first time, they realized how much their daughter was fighting against suicidal urges, in addition to suffering from self-esteem issues. They also saw in graphic drawings and raw, emotional words the grip drugs had on their cherished girl.
A version of this letter ran in the Richmond Times Dispatch
In Kathy Glazer of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation’s recent column, she mentions that the Virginia General Assembly is going to devote 40% of tax revenues from marijuana sales to fund pre-school services for “at risk” toddlers.
Parental drug use is one of the lifestyle choices that puts children at risk to begin with. Marijuana triggers mood disorders which impair parenting ability and often leads to child abuse. The drug is widely known for causing Amotivational syndrome which can lead to unemployability or job loss.
Marijuana is an addictive drug which is totally incompatible with child rearing responsibilities.
What if the parents of the children are buying the marijuana and not properly caring for the children because of it? Parents Opposed to Pot is tracking news reports of marijuana-related cases of child abuse and neglect leading to death of a child. Just since Colorado legalized recreational pot we have found 250 such tragedies, around the nation.
Emergency rooms in pot legal states are reporting dramatic increases of child poisoning cases due to parents leaving marijuana edibles out and accessible to their young.
Marijuana in the home is encouraging more youth use. Kids are falling prey to early addiction both because of their adult role models and easy access. We need to stop trying to justify legalization for the tax revenues, especially in the case where the funds are directed toward at-risk youth. Instead, Virginia citizens and our political leaders need to closely examine the unintended consequences in the states that have already made the mistake of commercializing a mind-altering drug.
Marijuana legalization is a sure way to fracture more families and put more children at risk.
When Coloradans in 2000 voted to legalize marijuana for medical use, the highest concentration of THC, marijuana’s high-inducing chemical, was 5%, and concentrated products didn’t exist.
Over the last 20 years, the industry has dramatically increased the concentration of THC. The average in the plant is now 18.8%. The industry also created concentrates, including vape oil and resins known as wax and shatter, with average THC potency of 69.4% and up to 95% THC. Continue reading A Dangerous Gap in our medical marijuana laws→
In 2012, Washington voters approved Initiative 502, legalizing cannabis. Back then, the black market was dominated by dried cannabis flower, with a potency of approximately 10%.
Dried cannabis flower is biologically limited to about 30% potency, and I-502 capped the potency of edibles at 10%.
But in an oversight of extraordinary proportions, there was no potency limit established for cannabis concentrates like THC-infused vape oils, shatter, and dab wax. Enter science, industry, business investors, and profit motivation and, today, concentrates with 99 percent potency are readily available at cannabis retailers.
According to researchers, these concentrates are “as close to the cannabis plant as strawberries are to Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts.” Cannabis concentrate sales have soared from 14% of the market share in 2015 to 37% in 2019.
I have devoted my professional and legislative career to mental health and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Spurred by reports of youth with cannabis-induced psychosis filling emergency departments and psychiatric wards and high school students having psychotic episodes after dabbing (inhaling), I began to delve into the research on cannabis and psychosis.
The literature is both definitive and damning. Washington’s leading cannabis experts at the University of Washington and Washington State University recently released a consensus statement summarizing the science:
“High potency cannabis use can have lifelong mental health consequences, which often manifest in adolescence or early adulthood. Daily cannabis use, particularly of high potency products, increases the risk of developing a psychotic disorder, like schizophrenia, and is related to an earlier onset of symptoms compared to people who do not use cannabis.”
During the 2020 legislative session, I introduced a bill to cap the potency of cannabis concentrates at 10%. This figure matched the limit for edibles and was a starting point for negotiation. The bill included an exemption for patients using high potency concentrates for medical purposes.
I had numerous meetings with cannabis industry representatives, and no one was aware of the psychosis link. Though they disagreed with my proposed solution, industry leaders were emphatic in their commitment to coming to the table as thoughtful partners to address this issue.
So, you can imagine my surprise when, instead of proposing more palatable policy solutions as promised, cannabis industry representatives testified before the House Commerce & Gaming committee that the research implicating cannabis in psychotic disorders is unfounded.
Borrowing from the well-worn playbooks of their forefathers, big tobacco and opioid manufacturers, cannabis business leaders attempted to poke holes in the science and offer alternative explanations.
In 1957, tobacco industry director Clarence Cook Little wrote: “No one has established that cigarette smoke, or any one of its known constituents, is cancer-causing to man.”
Sixty-three years later, cannabis industry leaders testified to our legislature that “cannabis use [is] not independently associated with psychosis.”
Modeling after Purdue Pharma, the opioid maker that wrote that addiction “is not caused by drugs … it is triggered in a susceptible individual by exposure to drugs,” the cannabis industry tried to offer a counter theory – that it is people who have a genetic predisposition for psychotic disorders who are developing them and then using cannabis to self-medicate.
That theory has been debunked by studies that account for family history and still show a significant increase in psychotic disorders from cannabis use.
I never anticipated the cannabis industry would enthusiastically agree to a low potency limit. I only expected them to make good on their word – to show up as earnest partners in addressing their product’s role in one of the largest emerging health crises of our time.
When the industry’s opening move is to spit on the consensus of the scientific community in the spirit of climate deniers, it’s difficult not to question the sincerity of their espoused commitment to public health.
I’ve introduced House Bill 1463, which caps the potency of cannabis concentrates at 30% and raises the age of purchase for concentrates from 21 to 25. Washington’s cannabis industry now has a second chance to act with integrity and come to the table as problem solvers.
It is only the fate of our children with which we are gambling.
Rep. Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline) serves northern King County and a portion of Edmonds in the 32nd Legislative District. She was the founding executive director of the Washington Recovery Alliance and taught UW’s graduate mental health policy course.
Warns Virginia Legislators Not to Ignore the True Costs and Harms
Merrifield, VA—February 8, 2021–Opponents to the Virginia bills which will permit 400 retail marijuana shops and home grows in neighborhoods around the state, are hearing some alarming arguments in favor of the idea. Parents Opposed to Pot (PopPot), a drug prevention campaign, responds to the erroneous information currently being accepted by some legislators.
The reasons constituents are being given for supporting the legislation (SB 1406 and HB 2312) are in bold. What follows are the PopPot rebuttals:
There has not been an increase in the use of marijuana in states with legalization.
The recently released SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH 2018-2019) shows that drug use doubles when a state legalizes. MomsStrong.org recently published a helpful chart of this data. In the state of Colorado about 20% of teens use marijuana regularly, and half of those teens have progressed to the more dangerous high THC concentrates. These psychoactive drug products manufactured and sold by the marijuana industry include vapes and edibles. In jurisdictions where there is a high density of marijuana shops the rate is even higher. In Pueblo, Colorado, known as the Napa Valley of marijuana, the youth rate is 35%, and in Denver the rate is 25% for teens. Teens were not using these products before legalization.
Virginia Legislators Need to Evaluate Public Health Outcomes in Pot Legal States says PopPot
Merrifield, VA– February 4, 2021—[EIN Press Wire]—Virginia’s state legislature is fast-tracking a bill to legalize marijuana. Parents Opposed to Pot (PopPot), a Virginia-based educational nonprofit, calls on the legislature to slow down and consider the fact that this is an addictive drug that can cause severe mental illness.
“The governor claims his top priority is public health, and yet the only legislative committee not to review the pending marijuana commercialization law is the Health committee,” explains Aubree Adams, Assistant Director of PopPot. “Our website, poppot.org, contains dozens of stories of marijuana addiction, psychosis, and death, written by parents, former and current users of marijuana.”
Black market growers of marijuana destroyed my Colorado retreat
Whenever you listen to or read dialog from the pro-marijuana crowd, they say that legalizing marijuana will make the black market go away. This statement is a blatant lie. Rather, legalizing marijuana invites criminal organizations into your state and allows them to grow pot illegally under the guise of running a legal operation.
I am the owner of a summer home in rural Colorado with beautiful mountain views. In the midst of this beauty, a Chinese group purchased a ten-acre parcel with a house near my home. Within a year, they had cleared a section of the indigenous vegetation, which is so important to the survival of the local wildlife, and illegally grew thousands of marijuana plants. Continue reading Legalization invites black market, lawlessness into state→
Note: CBI data from Jul 2019 to Jun 2020 when all DUI blood samples were tested for both alcohol and a full drug panel.
DUI charges– percent caused by alcohol, THC and polydrug use – 3 year trend 
Traffic deaths per Billion Vehicle Miles Traveled (BVMT):
Increased from 9.91 in the five years before marijuana commercialization to 11.26 in the five years after marijuana commercialization.
Increase of 1.46 deaths/BVMT per year adjusted after marijuana commercialization, compared with a synthetic control.
Increase of 1.9 deaths/BVMT per year adjusted after marijuana commercialization, compared with states with stable legalization policies.
Increase of 1.7 deaths/BVMT per year non-adjusted after marijuana commercialization compared with states without legal recreational or medical marijuana.
Note: the above reports measured the effect of marijuana commercialization in 2014, not marijuana legalization in 2012.
Traffic fatalities implicating THC:
There were 632 traffic fatalities in 2018. 87% of the drivers in those fatal crashes were tested for drugs. 83 tested positive for THC including 36 at or above 5 ng/ml.
Vehicular homicide convictions by drug group in 2016:
Single other drug only
Alcohol + THC
Alcohol + other drug
Alcohol + THC + other drug
So what is Colorado doing about the problem?
Deny the problem exists
In 2020 the Department of Motor Vehicles revised the Driver Handbook to say, “…it is unclear whether cannabis use increases the risk of car crashes.”
Encourage marijuana use
During the COVID pandemic shutdown, marijuana dealers were classified as an “essential business” by the Governor, permitting them to sell their product while non-essential businesses were required to close.
At the December 14, 2020 meeting of the Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee, the Colorado Department of Public Health an Environment announced that henceforth, “marijuana users” were to be referred to as “cannabis consumers” since the former label is pejorative. You just can’t make this stuff up.
 Santaella-Tenorio J, Wheeler-Martin K, DiMaggio CJ et al. Association of Recreational Cannabis Laws in Colorado and Washington State With Changes in Traffic Fatalities, 2005-2017. JAMA Intern Med. Published Online June 22 (2020)
 Aydelotte JD, Mardock AL, Mancheski CA et al. Fatal crashes in the 5 years after recreational marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. Accident Analysis and Prevention 132 (2019) 105284
 Kamer RS, Warshafsky S, Kamaer GC. Change in Traffic Fatality Rates in the First 4 States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana. JAMA Intern Med. Published Online June 22 (2020)
 Gorman T. The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact. Vol 6 Sept 2019. Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
 Bui B, Reed J. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs. A Report Pursuant to HB 17-1315. July 2018. Colorado Division of Criminal Justice
Belief in drug use seems to be common in those arrested
The FBI arrested Tim Gionet, also called “Baked Alaska,” for his involvement in the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6. Gionet is a far-right media personality. Gionet said he was given his nickname “because he is from Alaska and that he smoked marijuana at the time.”
Libertarian urges describe extremists on both sides, as they don’t care how drug use affects others. Looking into the background of some of the recent arrestees reveals the frequent involvement of marijuana or prior marijuana arrests. In fact, anecdotal stories of lighting joints in the Capitol appeared in the news.
One man flashed a big smile and posed for cameras while holding Nancy Pelosi’s lectern. Could that smile reflect a marijuana high? It turns out that he’s from Florida and his name is Adam Johnson. He had a prior criminal history which includes “possession of marijuana and violation of probation charges.”
Another bold insurrectionist, Cleveland Meredith, came from Colorado to Washington, armed with weapons and high potency edibles. “By his own admission, the defendant is a habitual user of marijuana and has a history of mental illness.” This statement comes from the government’s case for a pretrial hearing.
Aymann Ismail, a reporter who covered the incident for Slate said, “When I was there in the riot, I saw aggressive instigators but also young people who were getting high, celebrating, and seemed to have no idea of what they’d done.”
What common policies do protesters on the left and right have in common?
Clearly protesters on both sides have diverse reasons behind their activities. Those on the far left want to get rid of police, while those involved in the Capitol insurrection included paramilitary groups and police.
The left and right have some points in common, despite their differences. Superficially, they’re very different, but delving into the issue more deeply shows deep alienation, something relieved by drug use, only to come back with a vengeance.
opposite end of the political spectrum, they stand for: police and prison reform, concern about the housing problem, end sex trafficking, stop the endless wars abroad, challenge the two party system and end the drug war.
Another misunderstanding of these activists and their views is that we cannot have solve housing, homelessness problems or address police and prison reform until drug use in America goes down. Drug use is going up, not down, which will lead to worse public health, and more rioting and restlessness.
Whatever initial spiritual connection comes from common drug use, it rapidly breaks down and disintegrates, as happened during the Summer of Love in 1967.
New Jersey’s state government routinely ignores its complaining citizens. But can it ignore itself?
Published in The Trentonian, December 27, 2020. A lawsuit challenging the legality of the recent state ballot question legalizing marijuana may answer that question.
The lawsuit declares that the state misled the public with the wording of the ballot question and ignored scientific evidence on the harmfulness of marijuana. It seeks to have the legalization declared “null and void.”
The MORE Act, which may be voted on by the full House this week, would legalize marijuana nationally. But it also could lead to upwards of 6,800 more traffic deaths a year, as well as other problems. Please write Congress to say NO to the MORE Act, and no to MORE deaths. (The MORE Act would go far beyond decriminalization and lead to national legalization.)
Recent events show how marijuana worms its way out of regulation. Yesterday San Francisco City Council voted to ban smoking in apartment buildings, but excluded marijuana. According to AP: “The original proposal sought to ban residents from smoking marijuana in their apartments, but supervisors voted to exclude marijuana after cannabis activists said the law would take away their only legal place to smoke. It’s illegal under state law to smoke cannabis in public places.”
Colorado allows billboard advertising for marijuana, but the city of Denver does not. State regulatory bodies give extraordinary privilege to the sellers of this dangerous drug, even though tobacco advertising on billboards is not allowed and even though selling the drug goes against federal law.
Yesterday a marijuana delivery driver was robbed and beaten in Maine. Despite Maine’s small, carefully designed marijuana program, assaults on marijuana deliveries occurred three times. A drug that makes users violent and promises the industry huge profits cannot be “regulated.”
I can say that marijuana can make you very suicidal and sad!
My first time and only time I’ve smoked dabs and marijuana was the time I was pure pressured by my mother and brother.
Back story — I’m really against marijuana due to the fact of this product making people very lazy and not being able to hold a conversation with someone who is high. My mother and brother thought it would’ve been a good thing for me to do so I’m not so judging on someone getting high.
When I smoked marijuana for the first time I did it from a pipe and my mom was like you have to do it a couple times….. hmm?…. how can something be so “healthy” if it burns? Then my brother made me do a dab pen. I could not breathe, I kept coughing, it burned my lungs so bad and they thought it was funny.
My husband was extremely mad at my family once this stuff kicked in. I was so suicidal if someone told me to jump off the roof I would’ve done it in minutes. I could not hear people talking to me due to things zooming up on me.
First I don’t understand how someone can drive or do this every single day.
Second my mom told me that I didn’t feel that way because weed makes you happy.
My brother did the same thing to my 15-year-old sister locked her into the room with him when my parents were sleeping and made her smoke weed. She got really sick and couldn’t go to work the next day and got fired my mother gave her guilt trip saying it wasn’t my brothers fault but hers because she didn’t scream.
State officials allowed hundreds of billboards advertising marijuana along California highways, in contrast to voters’ expectations. A 2016 ballot initiative that legalized the sale of pot for recreational use was supposed to ban this type of advertising. Proponents of the ballot gave voters the impression that children wouldn’t see such ads. The Bureau of Cannabis Control, a regulatory agency, violated terms of Proposition 64.
We quote from the Los Angeles Times : “The lawsuit was filed by Matthew Farmer, a San Luis Obispo construction contractor who is father to a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.
Johnny was thirteen, almost fourteen, when Colorado legalized marijuana. He, like many other adolescents, thought the state’s normalization and promotion of this drug meant it was safe.
Unfortunately, Johnny took to “dabbing,” using the most potent form of marijuana. He experienced psychosis, mental health issue and ultimately took his life, despite being a brilliant student. His mother, Laura, and other family members started, Johnny’s Ambassadors.
Laura explains dabbing with great clarity, finding it amazing how much parents do not know. We warned about dabbing six years ago, but the country hasn’t learned yet.
We’ve been sounding the alarm for almost six years, and it’s unfortunate that too many casualties occurred in the meantime. Laura’s testimony was published here.
A New York Times article by Jonah Engel Bromwich last weekend reveled in 21st century American escapism, the notion that we can magically will away the vicissitudes of life by using drugs.
A few days later, the New York Times did it again, suggesting people simply can’t live without a crutch. The election’s over but not the stress. Any edibles left? Drug enthusiasts in the media hype anxiety, as if all of us must be neurotics. It’s not only COVID anxiety they’re pushing. The pot industry and its proponents want local politicians to see marijuana as the solution to lost revenue revenue from restaurant closings, no matter what the medical costs. The clever public relations approach covers many bases, creating a mystique, but forgets to mention that the tax revenues from marijuana fall far below expectations.
The new generation of opposition thinks differently from “Just Say No” or the DARE approach of the nineties. We believe children or teens deserve an explanation why it’s preferable not to use or need drugs to get through life. We emphasize that there are healthy ways to embrace life, and find joy, without anxiety or the need for drugs. Continue reading Response to New York Times Article→
Recently the medical societies of Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania joined together to express mutually shared concerns about efforts to legalize marijuana by state governments. Also in late October, the family of a California woman brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the maker of an edible product bought at a San Diego pot shop.
In response to the four states that passed ballots to legalize marijuana, we send our condolences to residents of those states. It’s not a good, science-based policy, or a good economic one. We won’t stop doing what we do, supporting families who lost or are losing loved ones to this drug. Marijuana is the starter drug for our addiction crisis, a foundation drug and often the first relapse drug for those who struggle with addiction.
We’re sad because the public have lost special protective factors for public health and safety. Keeping drugs illegal is a vital harm reduction policy. With more marijuana use comes more loss of life from addiction, mental illness and car crashes. It also brings work place incidents, psychotic behaviors, violence related to drug dealing and deaths from child abuse or neglect. Continue reading Response to legalization in four states→
Political funds from Washington, DC give extraordinary amounts of money to push agendas, especially for marijuana. Marijuana industry activists and lobbyists are pushing once again for legalization in four states — Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and North Dakota. It’s an anti-science policy. How funny that socialist politicians like Bernie Sanders and AOC support the most capitalistic of policies, without understanding the irony.
If seven Americans had been shot in a similar fashion, it would be the main topic of nightly news. But the victims were middle-aged men and women from Laos. It happened on a marijuana farm in Riverside County in California, on September 7, 2020.
*Reader discretion is advised, content describes details of violent crimes.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Despite the public perception of pot users being laid back and too lazy for anger, the evidence suggests otherwise. Most people perceive alcohol as the substance most often connected to domestic violence. But other drugs, like marijuana, contribute handily to the mix.
We’ve failed to stem domestic violence in the US, despite strong efforts to provide services and numerous shelters for women. Many advocates against domestic violence assert that unequal power and control are the only driving forces involved in violence. Actually, substance abusers perpetrate more than 80 percent of domestic violence, according to estimates. Some studies put the rate at 94% of domestic violence.
Born-to-Run Jersey boy Bruce Springsteen still performs vigorously, after more than 50 years in music. A few weeks ago he turned 71, and he remains trim and fit.
There’s a secret to Springsteen’s continual renewal and energy, the constant ability to write, to create, to evolve and to correct. Springsteen never used drugs, including marijuana. When we look for reasons why some artists survive, thrive and are universally respected, Springsteen, “The Boss,” shows the advantages of staying sober.
According to long-time friend from E Street band days, Steve Van Zandt, “He’s a living example of what happens when you never do drugs your whole life. I mean, I’m sure he’s taken a drink or two a few times in his life, but he was never a drinker either.”Springsteen also didn’t follow the expected routines of school. For him, life was never easy, not at home, not in school, nor in music. Success was won with slow and steady, lots of trial and error, band changes and rearrangements.
Springsteen’s non- conformity included not taking drugs and not drinking at the bars where his bands played. He bailed out band mates who were busted for marijuana and even joked about the drug. But in interviews and in his autobiography, Born to Run, he claims that he didn’t partake.
“I had the goods and nope, I didn’t fuck around, no drugs, no booze, girls………yeah but not if they got in the way of “the music.” Born to Run, p. 115
“I was living the life of an aspiring musician. A circumstantial bohemian — and as I’ve mentioned, I didn’t do any drugs or drink.” Born to Run, p. 117.
Sins of the father and family inheritance
The son of a bus driver, Springsteen gives voice to the working class. He speaks the language of Jersey, and liberal politics define his roots and struggles.
“Losing My Religion,” a chapter in his autobiography, refers to the time Bruce took his first drink of alcohol at age 22. He held off on drinking until age 22, a good idea considering that his father drank too much and had violent outrages. However, it’s not only people with alcoholism in the family who can suffer from addiction. Mental illness runs in his family, at least through his father’s side. But its also not only those with mentally ill relatives whose minds derail from drug use.
Springsteen admits to depression for which he takes medication. Yet, he forgives the sins of his father and lets pain fuel his writing, singing and expression. “The Boss” gives all of us an example how to pursue life with incredible passion. He also shows us that it’s possible to be endlessly creative and poetic without the drug use.
A creed to live by
“I’d seen people mentally ruined, gone and not coming back. I was barely holding on to myself as it was. I couldn’t imagine introducing unknown agents into my system. I needed control and those ever-elusive boundaries. I was afraid of myself, what I might do or what might happen to me. I’d already experienced enough personal chaos to not go in search of the unknown. Over all my years in bars an out-of-line drunk in my face was the only thing that could get me fighting mad. I’d seen my dad and that was enough. I wasn’t looking for outside stimulants to help me lose or find anything. Music was going to get me as high as I needed to go.”
How ironic if the state of New Jersey votes would vote to legalize pot this year, when the state’s most famous icon eschewed pot and all drugs. Springsteen probably won’t take stand on the ballot, but voters should take inspiration from his history.
Three years ago when Mark Zuckerberg traveled around the country, his biggest surprise was learning the extent of the addiction crisis. He was genuinely concerned about the problem, realizing that he comes from a position of privilege, and that he didn’t face economic loss like so many other Americans. Perhaps his awakened awareness had something to do with why he and his wife donated $500,000 to pass Measure 100 in Oregon this year, the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative
The choice of the donation reflects a naiveté similar to the naiveté he had in 2017. It doesn’t appear that Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan consulted treatment and addiction specialists before donating the money. People who work in recovery are concerned the measure would largely eliminate the court system’s ability to mandate treatment for people. The couple’s intentions Continue reading Zuckerberg still doesn’t understand addiction→
Cannabis has been legalized, by vote, to be a “medication” in many states across the United States. No other medication in the US has been voted on and elected as a treatment option for illness. Because marijuana remains federally illegal, the FDA technically doesn’t have oversight over the production of the final marijuana products – including CBD, THC and combination THC/CBD products. Each state makes their own regulations and establishes their own regulatory system.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana released its latest report in September 2020. From the various graphs, data and statistics, it is clear that the harmful consequences of marijuana use are more extreme in states that have legalized marijuana. State regulation fails in a number of ways highlighted in the report:
In legal pot states, youth use at higher rates and they “dab” at higher rates than the states without a marijuana industry. There’s a 25% increase in youths with Cannabis Use Disorder in states that legalized pot. The increase follows the increase in marijuana potency, as pot shops sell the most addictive products that create the highest demand. Between 30-40% of teen pot users in Oregon and Colorado report dabbing; dabs have upwards of 50% THC content.
At least 18% of traffic fatalities in Colorado and Washington involve drivers impaired by THC. Driving under the influence of THC remains a huge problem, as pot users believe they aren’t impaired.
One man has been arrested for starting six fires around Portland, and another for the Sweet Creek fire near Eugene. Officials have also arrested two men in Washington and one woman in California. In southern Oregon, Michael Jarrod Bakkela started a fire which merged with the Almeda fire. The Jackson County sheriff’s office alleges significant damage from the fire Bakkela started in the town of Phoenix. Since he also violated probation on an original charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, it’s important that we look into his drug history and test for drugs in those arrested for starting fires.
For thousands of miles along the west coast, skies are red, orange, or gray with the dust of ash. It’s apocalyptic. People are losing their homes and more than a few people have died in the three states which bookend our west coast. Watching these catastrophic flames begs the answer to a new question. How much global warming and climate change could have been avoided if California, Washington and Oregon hadn’t legalized pot?
The track of west coast fires follows the trail of growth in the massive marijuana industry over 25 years. It began north of San Francisco, moved further south along the central coast of California and up into Oregon and Washington. Washington, which made pot legal in 2012, hit a historical moment with more than 330,000 acres burning in 24 hours, more than in the entire fire seasons of 12 out of the last 18 years. Not until the last few years has Oregon, which legalized marijuana in 2015, been a large part of the fire problem. Oregon has a huge surplus of marijuana.
A distinguished group of doctors, scientists and academics present the latest research in Cannabis in Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach. Dr. Kenneth Finn, a professional advisor to Parents Opposed to Pot, edited the book and Springer, a prominent medical textbook company, published the book in July, 2020.
In recent years, marijuana has grown exponentially stronger and the science on its effects has grown more robust. Between 2011 and 2019, 15,269 marijuana-related manuscripts were published in biomedical literature. The notions that the Schedule I designation of marijuana prevents research, and that we need a MORE Act to allow research, are false. As the drug grows more potent, its damaging effects become more obvious, too. Continue reading New book has up-to-date facts about cannabis as Medicine→
The city of Portland has been plagued with nightly violence, arson and attacks on police for three months. Last month Portland experienced the highest homicide rate in one month in the last 30 years. In fact, in each month except March, the number of shootings exceeded the previous year’s rate for that month.
How does one explain extreme changes in the city over 5 years? How much does the explosion of new marijuana stores fuel the current violence in Portland? Oregon opened commercial “recreational” marijuana stores in July 2015, and now Portland boasts 304 licensed marijuana shops.
Obviously there’s much going on that does not concern Black Lives Matter in this city that is 6 % African American and 77 % white. While COVID-19 frustrations and concern over the treatment of African Americans may have started the protests, a different force fuels nightly crimes. Anti-police sentiment runs strong, but the current violence has nothing to do with the right to protest and free speech.
Could the anti-police protests be associated with cannabis use among young adults in that city? Negative effects of marijuana include irrational fears (paranoia), impaired judgement, delusional thinking, and aggressive or violent behavior. Remember how San Francisco’s Summer of Love came to a very bad end back in 1967? History often repeats itself.
The first unit to go was the gun violence reduction unit. Portland’s fiscal year began July 1, so it’s easy to measure the outcome of disbanding the gun violence reduction unit. There were 99 shootings in July, resulting in 15 deaths. August looks to be much the same, now that people 8 people were shot in the last week.
The mayor and city council decided to reduce the police budget specifically by defunding three specific units. As schools begin, Portland’s high schools will no longer use the police department’s school resource officers. Then in January, the police department will no longer patrol the transit system. As city officials give into demands of the rioters, the more the rioters mock and take advantage of them.
Portland residents Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein explain their views of what’s happening in a series of podcasts, the Dark Horse Podcast. Only a tiny proportion of Portlanders agree with the defunding policy, but the rioters win. Seattle, another city full of pot shops, is also defunding its police, but a petition to refund the police gathered over 200,000 signatures
Marijuana stores busier and pot shop thefts explode
Cannabis sales have gone up 20% since March. Furthermore, 60 weed store thefts have occurred since May. Really? Weed was supposed to make people mellow, or so they claim.
From this article, Weed Robbery Spree Strikes Portland: Joe Russo, who co-owns a cannabis distribution company, says the sales increase makes sense. People are working less [coronavirus related job loss] and many are getting generous unemployment benefits.
“It makes sense that recreational vices are picking up,” Russo says.
Police officers speak up
Is it possible that Portland’s violent protestors deliberately loot the purveyors of their favorite drug? Are these nightly rages against the federal courthouse drug-fueled rampages? We submit the following evidence to the court of public opinion.
This below video is a press conference with some of the front lines police officers giving their perspective. The first to speak is Sargent Brent Maxey, who described a nightmarish attack on his Central Police Precinct building, and the civilian workers inside. Maxey says:
“It got to the point where they were throwing burning material into the lobby through the gaps in the windows, and blowing marijuana smoke, it was almost like a scene out of a horror movie. It was really unnerving…they had removed all the plywood, they had disabled all the exterior cameras, they started coming at the windows with hammers, they had removed some 2×4 lumber and were smashing at the windows of the precinct at what I believe was a sincere effort to get inside… by words and actions their intent was to harm us and essentially burn down the building…”.
–from Police on Portland Protests video, below
Officer Rehanna Kerriage describes many of the calls received by the downtown Portland precinct:
“consist of livability issues: camping issues, mental health, drug issues, some shootings, stabbings, protest related issues and defending police property.”
–from Police on Portland Protests video, above
We know that many drug users end up homeless and living on the street (camping issues) with deteriorating mental health issues.
Homelessness is up, too.
The homelessness population has completely changed since 2014. Back then, it wasn’t even noticeable. Are people moving to the city because of the weed and then becoming homeless?
A drug legalization lobby, spearheaded by Drug Policy Alliance, aggressively demonizes law enforcement with oft-used phrases such as, “war on drugs,” “mass incarceration,” “militarized police force,” “low level drug crimes.” Their game is to make the public believe that possession of drugs, rather than crimes committed while on drugs, lands people in jail. This year, the Drug Policy Alliance donated nearly $ 2.5 million for a ballot to decriminalize all drugs in Oregon. Drug Policy Alliance, a Soros-funded group, gave most of the $ 9.2 million used for Measure 91, the ballot to legalize pot, back in 2014.
Marijuana use is a frequent element of these mass protests the “Chaz/Chop zone” in Seattle, the Ferguson protests and the attack on the Central Portland Precinct. While it may be scientifically difficult to associate marijuana use to the mob violence breaking out in several cities, it is still important to observe and pinpoint what role marijuana use plays as a root cause of the violence.
Cannabis’ negative effects can promote some of the behaviors we witness in the triggering incidents and the follow-on protests and riots. Among those are, resisting arrest, confusing fact with fiction, attractions to violent ideologies, mood disorders, paranoia and psychosis, violent outbursts. Jeremy Christian, who committed the violent knife attack on a Portland train three years ago, was a cannabis fanatic.
The marijuana activists get very upset at any suggestion of marijuana being called a gateway drug. Of course not everyone who starts using marijuana uses other drugs; some just go on to stronger versions of marijuana, such as “wax,” “dabs” or vapes. Others may not use anything stronger than the old-fashioned weed of the last century.
Yet the scientific evidence suggests it is a gateway drug which can open the doors to other addictions, including alcohol. Studies show that marijuana affects dopamine receptors and our brain’s reward system which may lead to the use of many other drugs. In one study done by the University of Michigan Medical School, researchers found a negative correlation between the amount of marijuana consumed over time and the amount of dopamine that was released in the brain in response. Smokers will then seek other drugs in order to achieve the high they used to experience with pot.
I learned a lot about marijuana and mental illness at a recent National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Conference. I want to share some of it with you while it’s still fresh on my mind, because it scared me. I don’t want you to get schizophrenia like your Uncle Jim.
When I was young, I pooh-poohed scare tactics about marijuana. I only used it once, however, because I didn’t want to get in legal trouble. The information we have now is much more based in science and much more dire than what we were told as kids. Marijuana is three times stronger than it was then, according to University of Minnesota and hospital doctors who presented at the conference. Apparently it’s not as harmless as I thought either, especially for young people. They said that marijuana use hijacks normal brain development Continue reading Fix What You Can: A Letter to My Granddaughter→
Six years after adult-use marijuana commercialization began in Colorado, teens report an alarming increase in their use of ultra-potent pot products in the form of dabs and vapes, according to official state data released today. A statewide Healthy Kids Survey from last year questioned 53,520 students chosen randomly from 195 middle and high schools.
More than half of high school students who use marijuana reported that they dab marijuana to get high. Among students who reported using marijuana in the past 30 days, 52% said they dabbed it, up from 34.4% just two years ago— a 50% increase.
Parents Opposed to Pot does not support the legalization of marijuana. Six years of marijuana commercialization in Colorado and Washington gives us informed perspective, and the policy of legalization failed at all levels.
We believe that states that have legalized adult use of marijuana need to repeal it. The tax money does not make the social costs worth it. States with legalization break federal law, even if the federal government does not enforce the law. Legalizing and commercializing marijuana should not be a states’ rights issue.
We do not take a position on decriminalization, but ask our supporters to explore the position statements of SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and AALM (Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana) for education on this matter.
Is it ok to use pot?
We believe the message to youth must be that no amount of pot use is ok. This message will save lives, preserve young brains, and lead to better short-term and long-term mental health.
We strongly believe that use of marijuana is more dangerous than an arrest for marijuana. We acknowledge that damages from marijuana use on individuals are uneven and unpredictable. Though the strength of the marijuana, the amount of use and starting age affect outcomes, no one can predict who will have a psychotic reaction from using it. You do not need mental illness or addiction in the family to suffer extreme consequences from using marijuana.
We object to claims that marijuana is a “harmless herb,” “safer than alcohol,” or that it can be “regulated like alcohol.” The industry targets youth through its advocacy in social media and advertising for marijuana. The press fails at its duty to investigate false claims by the industry. Drug education fails because it emphasizes harm reduction over primary prevention.
We don’t call people who use cannabis “criminals,” nor do we claim that people should go to jail if they use it. There are all kinds of other variables that go into incarceration: plea bargaining down from other crimes; selling to youth; intent to sell, or if another person dies from drugs given or sold to them.
Parents and children
We object strongly to any marijuana use by pregnant and lactating women. The medical evidence against its use, and potential for future damage to the children, are strong.
We strongly object to use of marijuana by parents who have children in the home, or by people in charge of minors. Any marijuana use impairs judgement a great deal more than a glass of wine or beer, and the number of child abuse deaths related to marijuana use is staggering.
No age group is safe from the risks of this drug, which is not safer than alcohol or tobacco. In fact, studies show that: 1)the percentage of marijuana users who develop a cannabis use disorder is higher than the percentage of alcohol only users develop an alcohol use disorder. 2) Long-time heavy marijuana have more downward social mobility, job and relationship problems than long-time, heavy alcohol users.
Social Justice Issues
Sometimes police have enforced laws against marijuana sporadically or arbitrarily, which leads to public confusion.
Legalizing drugs is the wrong way to address social justice problems. We acknowledge that arrests for this drug disproportionately affect black and brown youth. In other words, blacks and Hispanics are arrested more frequently, relative to their rates of usage than whites.
Inequities in our social justice system are not caused by drug laws and are not unique to drug laws.
Problems of unequal justice should lead to criminal justice reform, not legalization of drugs. Legalization enables more drugs, more drugs will cause more criminal behavior. Other means of criminal justice reform are possible.
We don’t take a stand on expungement of records for marijuana, due to the great variation in states’ laws.
We need to rely on drug courts. Until a different system is in place, drug courts can provide effective treatment for people with problematic drug use and no resources. We concede that arresting people for possession of marijuana is not the best way to alert and educate the public about the true dangers of this drug.
Schedule I Designation
We believe marijuana must remain in a Schedule I classification, the same designation for heroin. Schedule I is for drugs that have high potential for abuse. Several agencies of government reviewed the designation multiple times. Scientists in these agencies keep coming to the same conclusion: Marijuana is a Schedule I drug.
Whole plant marijuana is not medicinal. If components of the plant, or synthetic cannabinoids, are “medicinal,” the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) should make the determination. It must be regulated for purity, dosage and efficacy, and monitored by licensed medical doctors. For example, Epidiolex, a drug for seizures, went through FDA approval process and was approved to treat two types of childhood epilepsy.
Because the industry avoids FDA approval, it’s harder to hold them accountable. For example, many people who became sick or died from EVALI were using marijuana vapes for “medical” reasons. We accuse many medical marijuana dispensaries of failing to warn their “patients” of the risks, such as driving under the influence of medical marijuana and causing traffic fatalities.
Contrary to popular belief, there are extensive studies on the medicinal properties of marijuana.
Normalization and promotion of drug use
Marijuana legalization contributes to the epidemic of addiction, because it normalizes the use of drugs. Addiction today is mainly poly substance abuse. We believe — in contrast to the Drug Policy Alliance — that it’s possible to have a rich and fulfilling life without drug use. Whether we’re children or adults, we’re better off if we negotiate the challenges of life without substance use. Using the term “War on Drugs” is passe, since the government stopped using that term over a dozen years ago.
Johnny Stack was born on February 7, 2000 and died by suicide on November 20, 2019 at the age of 19. He was an incredibly intelligent, funny, charming, handsome young man, which you can see in his tribute video. We are a normal suburban family and did normal family things. He had a happy life, a 4.0 GPA with a scholarship to college, and a family who loved him very much. Unfortunately, we live in Colorado, which was the first state to legalize marijuana in 2014, when Johnny was 14 years old.
Three days before he passed, he came over for dinner. He lived in our condo a couple miles down the street and would often pop in for a home-cooked meal. “I need to tell you that you were right,” he says me. “Right about what?” I ask. “Right about the marijuana. You told me weed would hurt my brain, and it’s ruined my mind and my life. You were right all along. I’m sorry, and I love you.” He died by suicide three days later. Continue reading Johnny’s Story→
It is popular to say that marijuana was made illegal because of racism. The truth is marijuana was first banned in a military hospital in Mexico City in 1882, where it was used to treat pain, in an effort to prevent violence and disorder. Mexico then banned all production, sales and recreational use in 1920, and export in 1927. This was a result of Egyptian officials asking the international community to join in a treaty to make it illegal around the globe in 1925. It wasn’t until 1985, some 60 years later, that a book by a U.S. author referred to marijuana laws as racist.
Any claims that marijuana is illegal in America because of racism are in conflict with history.
Will more pot shops in our neighborhoods and marijuana in our homes really reduce incarceration rates and improve the quality of life for minorities? We don’t think so. Marijuana is an equal opportunity destroyer. And we know every brain matters.
Thought Provoking Facts
The facts show that even under legalized marijuana, the poor and minority communities suffer the worst outcomes. For instance, after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, minority teens were arrested in greater numbers for marijuanaviolations. Pot shops are disproportionately situated in impoverished communities, in Colorado, also. Clearly, making the residents more susceptible to high use rates and addiction. In Denver, as an example, pot shops are heavily concentrated in Hispanic communities. This sends the message to the youth that drugs are harmless, which we know is not the case. Combine struggling schools with drug abuse and student grades are sure to plummet. We know that amotivational syndrome, a harmful side effect of pot, will cause poor educational outcomes and lead to more school dropouts. More access to this psychoactive drug will increase violence, addiction and theft, all of which have high arrest rates.
The link between marijuana use and crime is also downplayed by those who promote legalization. Industry lobbyists also tell us the the black market will disappear when marijuana is legally available. However, in legalized states, we are seeing an increase in gang activity, crime and black market sales.
What Does the Evidence Show?
Contrary to the social justice claims of the legalization activists, prison populations are rising in states where marijuana is legal and sanctioned for recreational use. Project SAM depicts these trends very clearly in these illustrated graphs for Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.
William Jones III fought against legalization in his hometown of Washington, D.C. He writes a compelling opinion piece to the Philadelphia Inquirer about why marijuana legalization will harm our inner city communities. Calling marijuana toxic and addictive, he makes a strong case that pot shops will destablize communities already suffering from education and health disparities.
Other Voices on Marijuana and Social Justice
Abu Edwards, Director of State Affairs for Project SAM says state legalization will be a disaster for black communities. He clearly lays out how minorities are being used to further profit motives of big business rather than social justice. Of particular concern is how the children in his community are going to be led into a drug lifestyle by the aggressive advertising of this industry.
So, is it as the marijuana activists say, a choice between legal weed and social injustice? Dr. Kevin Sabet discusses the false dichotomy of legalization and criminalization in his TEDx PrincetonU talk. It is not a black and white issue, he advises there are many dimensions to consider, as this is an important social and public health discussion.
You can equip yourself to debate the finer points of marijuana and social justice. We recommend taking the time to downloand and read these excellent materials.
Once again, we rely on the great work of Project SAM on this issue. Kevin Sabet and Will Jones, III co-authored this excellent article on Marijuana Legalization, The Social Injustice which debunks many of the racially based arguments for legalization.
Now that you know, take some time and help educate 5 people you think need to know.
Today, a broad, diverse group of renowned scientists, led by the first Black United States Magistrate Judge and researchers from Johns Hopkins and Harvard Medical School, sent a letter to former Vice President and current presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, commending him for his unwavering commitment to a well-reasoned approach to marijuana policy. The former vice-president respects the science on this issue.
Phil Vischer, founder of Veggie Tales, has a powerful new video on race. After discussing racism, he calls out the “war on drugs” and policing, as potential reasons for continued wealth disparity between blacks and whites. His video doesn’t explain how drug use ravages individuals and communities.
Given the data, can we strongly suggest that marijuana, especially in the high-potency forms and fast delivery systems available, is now a serious risk factor in violent acts?
All the facts and increasing potency of THC in marijuana is a RED ALERT to parents. We inform parents of the warning signs of marijuana use, so they have every opportunity to steer youth away from irreversible harm.
My daughter is in her thirties. A friend who was a recovering drug addict introduced her to marijuana. She started experimenting with pot after high school. I didn’t know about it at the time, only found out years later. She said it brought up memories and was sort of traumatic for her.
She started seeing a therapist. And, eventually, she was recommended a medical marijuana card. I still don’t know the diagnosis. She was smoking marijuana occasionally before that, but once she got the card she started smoking large amounts of pot. She was telling me strange things, things that didn’t make sense. I thought ‘this is really odd.’ The next time we visited she was very secretive. She was dressed nicely and seemed to be taking care of herself, as normal. But it was our conversation that was unnerving. She took me outside to the woods nearby to speak, because she suspected there were hidden cameras all over her home. Continue reading My Daughter Suffered Paranoia and Psychosis from “Medical” Marijuana→
Promoters of marijuana claim pot is not addictive. We beg to differ! What follows are videos and links with evidence proving that claim is simply untrue. Cannabis with THC, in every form, is a dangerous, mind-altering substance that often creates a need for more and higher dosages. Daily use is a significant risk for addiction. And, for those who brag about “waking and baking,” we know that they exhibit signs of extreme dependency.
Today’s turbo-charged pot is much more addictive and addiction comes on much faster than it did in the ’70s when the THC content was just a fraction of what it is today.
BRAIN: Messages are passed from cell to cell (neurons) in the brain by chemicals called neurotransmitters which fit by shape into their own receptor sites on specific cells.
The neurotransmitter, anandamide, an endo-cannabinoid (made in body) whose job is to control by suppression the levels of other neurotransmitters is mimicked and so replaced by a cannabinoid (not made in body) in cannabis called THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). THCis very much stronger and damps down more forcefully the release of other neurotransmitters. Consequently the total activity of the brain decreases. Chaos ensues. Continue reading Cannabis and THC: How it damages the brain and body→
Is marijuana really safer than alcohol? Today, we tackle this common misconception with the following thought provoking facts. Check out our new video (please share!), and the below links to some relevant research, parent testimonials, and PopPot’s excellent blog posts on this important topic.
Behavioral Health Services, a contractor for Los Angeles County Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, will present a free Zoom event during National Prevention Week on Thursday, May 14, at 5 PCT, 8 pm on the East Coast. Please join in with us. Continue reading Free Zoom Event to watch A Night in Jail→
Today, PopPot is launching our new Think Ya Know? campaign with the question, is your child using marijuana? Below and on our blog, are videos, testimonies and a helpful list of ‘warning signs’ to look for if you suspect your child, teen or loved one may be using pot.
Parents Opposed to Pot enjoys a victory over the marijuana hype now that both major party candidates for the presidency oppose the legalization of marijuana. Neither former Vice-President Joe Biden nor President Trump support nationwide legalization.
Regulation of alcohol does not keep alcohol out of the hands of children and teens. So when pro-pot people came up the idea “Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol,” they should have known that part of the plan would not be successful either. Just ask any teacher in Colorado. As propagandists push marijuana to achieve equality with alcohol in American life, here’s a look at how they compare:
Suddenly Homeschooling? Why not add a little drug prevention?
Many parents are facing the daunting task of teaching their children while they are home for an extended time. This week is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week so the Drug Free America Foundation came up with a fun way to add drug prevention into your child’s curriculum.
They are suggesting that you add these games which are a fun way of conveying and testing your child’s knowledge.
Have fun on social media by printing these fun “Not everyone’s doing it” cards and uploading a picture with your child holding these cards to brag how they are not engaging in drugs or alcohol! Make sure to include #NDAFW in your posts.
Hundreds of businesses in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, “medical” marijuana stores remain open as officials revise public health orders to include cannabis as an essential medicine.
Who is Vulnerable to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Is keeping marijuana stores open a good policy? The science shows that it is not.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic, and the recent vaping crisis, parents are uniting in Parent Movement 2.0 via the “I’m in” pledge, an instrument designed to create an online community intent on reducing the use of marijuana, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs among kids. These drugs can hurt and kill. “Because it attacks the lungs, COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke or vape tobacco and/or marijuana,” warns Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Published on Parents Movement 2.0. Most parents of teens today don’t realize there was a massive parent movement (1979-1992) that influenced Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign of their youth. Prior to the slogan in the early 1980s, those parents were taking very practical steps to change the local environments in which their kids grew up – reducing access and visibility of pot and drug paraphernalia and offering other parents at the time a way to think about teen drug and alcohol use and team up against it. Continue reading The parents succeeded before; we can do it again→
They say you can’t overdose on marijuana. When Brant Clark was seventeen years old, he had a devastating experience from smoking an enormous amount of marijuana at one time. It led to a sudden, major psychotic break, emergency room care, hospitalization for nearly a week, and ultimately his suicide two weeks later. This book documents some of the most important, yet widely under-reported research about the risks of marijuana and THC to youth.
“…To further enhance your knowledge, personal development and ability to assist in marijuana prevention efforts.”
Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. is an Educator, Writer, Strategist, Online Publisher (including http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com ), and Instructor of three online courses offered by Auburn University Outreach. The courses include the following:
“The Effects and Impacts of Marijuana Use ~ Policies and Approaches Addressing the Challenges”
“A National Public Health Disaster: Drug Abuse, Addiction, and the Opioid Crisis~ The Role that Marijuana Use and Legalization are Playing” and
“Transforming and Leading Organizations and Organized Efforts”
Toddler’s death highlights how marijuana use becomes abuse
Jesse James Bullard’s sweet smile lit the world of all those with whom he came in contact, but he lost his life abruptly on January 22. His father, Isaac, smoked a marijuana “dab” that morning, backed his car out and ran over the baby boy. Jesse was was about a month shy of his second birthday. But this was Colorado, and health officials don’t find parents’ marijuana habits unusual.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exposed the fact that marijuana legalization fails as a social justice issue. https://youtu.be/kW7fWM04Uyc The Congresswoman spoke to the House Committee on Financial Services on February 13, 2019. She pointed out that 81% of dispensaries in Colorado are owned by whites, and that only 3% of dispensaries in Massachusetts are minority owned. Representative Ocasio-Cortez spoke at a House committee meeting discussing access to banking services for the marijuana industry.
A bipartisan group of 22 Washington state legislators introduced a bill to curb the potency of marijuana concentrates.
Citing concerns about the connection between cannabis and psychosis, the lawmakers want to slash the potency of cannabis products, limiting THC levels to no more than 10%. The ban would be limited, because it doesn’t cover products sold as “medical.”
House Bill 2546, would outlaw the vast majority of state-licensed vape cartridges, dabs, wax, extracts and other concentrates. These products account for nearly 40% of state-regulated marijuana sales in 2019.
In Washington, as in Colorado, typical strains of raw cannabis flower average around 20% THC. However, this bill only applies to extracts, and it would still allow the high-potency raw marijuana.
Hamza Warsame, a Seattle teen, jumped 6 stories to his death after smoking pot for the first time. An older friend purchased the high-potency marijuana at a legal pot shop. Investigators on the case called the 16-year-old’s death an accident, not a crime.
The following article comes from the “Your Views” section of The Daily Herald, a Chicagoland newspaper, on January 7, 2020.
What was Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton thinking when she purchased recreational marijuana in Chicago on the first day of its legal sales in Illinois? Does she not understand that as a public official, she is setting a reckless and foolish example, especially for children and teens?
Illinois policymakers are sending a dangerous message to our young people. First, we called it “medicinal.” Now, we call it “recreational.” Gone are the days of “this is your brain on drugs.” Instead, elected officials like Stratton are celebrating drug use by welcoming the marijuana industry to communities throughout the state.
Their feckless example will mislead citizens into a diminished understanding of the dangers of drug use until it affects them personally. As the perception of risk plummets, drug use (and addictions) will climb.
Not only have lawmakers failed to do their due diligence before passing this marijuana law, but they have also failed to heed the compelling research that indicates how regular use of marijuana affects young people, including an increased risk of psychiatric illnesses and loss of IQ points.
Parents, grandparents, teachers, and religious leaders would do well to counter Stratton’s irresponsible example by returning to the sensible message, “just say no to drugs.”
David Smith, Executive Director, Illinois Family Institute
These claims aren’t based on fact, but they’re propaganda points commonly used to get public support for legalization.
Marijuana needs to be rescheduled in order to explore its medical properties. (The National Academy of Medicine Report of 2017 considered at 10,000 scientific abstracts to reach 100 conclusions. There’s no shortage of research studies on marijuana.)
Marijuana is safer than alcohol. (The risks of marijuana use are somewhat different from those of alcohol. Seth Leibsohn’s article, When a Lie Travels, demonstrates why it’s inappropriate to compare these two substances. Both are dangerous, but marijuana is far more toxic to the brain than alcohol. Keeping marijuana illegal keeps usage down which is a form of “harm reduction.”)
Strangely, pot advocates often talk about the dangers of alcohol as a reason to legalize marijuana.
Millions of people are in jail for possessing small amounts of marijuana. (The number of people in federal and state prisons for minor marijuana infractions is less than 1%. There is truth to the claim that blacks and Hispanics are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system. True before and after legalization, this issue cannot be resolved by legalization and it isn’t limited to drug policy.)
Legalizing marijuana frees police to concentrate on more serious crimes. (FBI data from the first four states to legalize, Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon, shows that crime increases significantly after legalization. Those four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. In 2018, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults—an increase of 37 percent for murders and 25 percent for aggravated assaults, far greater than the national increase.
Regulation works. (Despite the fact that states have costly regulatory bodies, much dispensary marijuana is tainted with mold, fungus and pesticides. Some of the vaping illnesses and deaths can be traced to legal, regulated marijuana stores. In other words, it’s not only bootleg marijuana vapes that are causing deaths.)
Not a tax windfall
Legalized marijuana brings billions of tax dollars into the states that have legalized. (In all the states that have legalized, marijuana tax money represents less than 1% of state revenue. We don’t have detailed analysis of the social costs: crashes, traffic deaths, butane hash oil explosions, mental health and emergency room costs related to cannabis.) States that have legalized faced a huge increase in homelessness.
People do not drive better under the influence of marijuana, as pot advocates claim. (Traffic deaths rose in the first states to legalize marijuana. Although data is preliminary, insurance company statistics suggest this outcome, too. Mixing marijuana and alcohol, and multi-drug impairment is a rising problem that coincides with marijuana legalization. Drugged driving surpassed drunk driving as a cause of traffic deaths a few years ago. Marijuana is the number one drug associated with drugged driving.)
Marijuana isn’t addictive. (Roughly 30% of regular marijuana users in the US are classified as having a cannabis use disorder, versus 10-20% of alcohol users. A study from UC Davis found that adults dependent on cannabis had more financial and social problems than those dependent on alcohol. Addiction studies show that 9% of adult users and 17% of those who begin pot use as adolescents become addicted. These statistics come from the last century and don’t account for today’s high potency cannabis.)
The most devious lie
Marijuana never killed anyone. The most pernicious lie is that marijuana never killed anyone, which advocates repeat because marijuana doesn’t cause overdose deaths by crossing the blood-brain barrier. (In addition to those killed by marijuana-impaired drivers, we have a long list of those whose marijuana use caused mental illness and led to other drugs or suicide. Young people have also died from cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, heart arrhythmia and from vaping marijuana. Not to mention when people do foolish and stupid things when under the influence, causing accidental death.)
Amid a renewed push to legalize marijuana federally, California has suspended 407 marijuana business licenses, affecting about five percent of legal cannabis supply chains, ranging from manufacturers to retailers.
My name is Tiffany Barnard Davidson. I moved to Washington DC six weeks ago. Prior to that, I was a resident of the state of Connecticut for 19 years. I sit before you today to speak about the impact that vaping high-nicotine content JUUL pods and high-potency THC oil has had on my family. I would like to begin by expressing my condolences to those families who have been much less fortunate than mine as a result of this escalating vaping crisis. True to what I have learned this past year, stories endlessly more tragic than mine often go untold because families are often too traumatized.
Inexplicable to me – public opinion has been supporting normalization and promotion of drug use, legalizing and commercializing recreational use. It is very politically unpopular to stand up against it. I know firsthand.
A CDC report issued October 28, 2019, tells of staggering numbers of lung illnesses (1604) and deaths (36) caused by vaping. It also reveals that the majority of victims (63%) were vaping THC with cannabis vaporizers . Vaping is widely perceived as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco. However, teens and adults are increasingly using it as a means of delivering the THC high. By November 1, there were 1,888 confirmed and probable cases of the respiratory illness and 39 deaths.
Now that deaths are being reported, we must take a pause while trying to discover the exact cause of the danger.
Editors Note: The Opt Out groups in Illinois have educated themselves to see through the smokescreen of marijuana legalization. We thought this article in The Daily Herald touched on every major reason why states shouldn’t legalize marijuana. Heather Steans is the state senator who introduced the bill. It passed in a shell bill, avoiding much discussion.
Sen. Heather Steans couldn’t be more wrong, answering the question (re: cannabis legalization HB1438) “Is democracy a bad thing?” by stating the bill’s co-authors “don’t think so.” It wasn’t democracy. It was representation gone awry with 104 Illinois legislators speaking on behalf of 12.8 million Illinoisans.
On October 23, a 21-year-old woman drove through a California neighborhood and rear ended a cyclist riding in front of her. The cyclist died at the scene, but the driver survived. Police detected the strong smell of marijuana in her car.
Police charged the driver, Korina Machuca, with DUI and vehicular homicide. Detectives in Fresno County say they’ve seen a rise in drug-related crashes. Last year they had 54 drug-related crashes, but this year 141 crashes involved drugs.
Tracing bicycle deaths of 3 children and 5 adults killed by marijuana-impaired drivers shows how justice for victims is reduced after marijuana decriminalization and legalization.
Many recent crashes in Illinois suggest that pot users think it’s safe to drive after toking, or they simply don’t care. Prior to the decriminalization of marijuana, Illinois experienced less than 1000 vehicle deaths each year. In 2016, the year of marijuana decriminalization, traffic deaths rose to 1078. In 2017, 1091 people died from fatal crashes on Illinois roads, and 1038 died in 2018.
With decriminalization, Illinois raised the marijuana limit from zero THC to 5 ng of THC. When politicians talk of decriminalization or legalization, they signal to the public a belief that pot is harmless.
The marijuana industry proves that “tax and regulate marijuana” cannot work. One year ago, October 3, 2018, the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), announced new regulations that would ban marijuana edibles. The LCB responded to 382 cases of toxic overdose of marijuana products in 2017, 82 of them involving children ages five and under.
The Philadelphia Inquirer asked advocates for and against legalization/commercialization of marijuana to weigh in on the topic. Here’s what Will Jones, of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) wrote:
Calls to legalize marijuana often lead with the cry of social justice. Many advocates argue that legalization will right the wrongs of our racist past in the criminal justice system.
In reality, legalization would make our society much less just than it is now. Legalization would lead to increased commercialization of marijuana, playing into the hands of an intoxicating, addictive, for-profit industry that is appropriating problems of systemic injustice to the tune of billions of dollars in profits. Pennsylvania should instead focus on decriminalization. Continue reading Legalizing marijuana isn’t about social justice→
“Prohibitionists” against marijuana are alive and well in Massachusetts. They’re a growing army. Hundreds of people participated in a Peace March from Lowell Auditorium to Lowell City Hall on September 28 to demonstrate concerns about marijuana in the city.
Many people held signs, proclaiming “We have a Dream,” and “Keep Kids Safe.” One sign proclaimed a “War on Addiction.” Organizers planned the march to express problems associated with the marijuana stores in the City of Lowell.
Many in the immigrant community joined the group. How can anyone live the American dream, if a community promotes drug use?
After the march, several people gave speeches in front of city hall, explaining their opposition to marijuana. They talked about psychosis and suicide, and the deaths of young people.
Lowell, the fourth largest in Massachusetts, lies 30 miles north of Boston.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker took a courageous step last week, banning all vaping products, for four months. The CDC warned that 77% of the lung illnesses from vaping were from marijuana vapes, some of which were mixed with nicotine.
Vaping of High-Potency THC Products Carries Significant Health Risks for Users
The human social experiment with pot has been a social and health failure. It is time for the federal government to be the adult in the room and ban all marijuana and cannabinoid products immediately.
In response to a growing national crisis over the tragic deaths and hospitalizations of hundreds of people from lung infections associated with e-cigarette products, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) President called for a moratorium on the sale of all THC vape products.
Parents from every part of the country tell us that their teens claim “marijuana is safer than alcohol.” That’s because many teens take messages from social media and fake news.
The Surgeon General and Secretary of Health and Human Services issued a blunt warning today, clarifying why cannabis is not safe. Together with the heads of SAMHSA and NIDA, Dr. Jerome Adams and HHS Secretary Alex Azar spoke at a Press Conference today, detailing the risks of pot.
On August 20, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2018 Annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the most comprehensive survey on drug use. According to the survey, 45,000 more teenagers are regularly using the drug, marijuana users are more likely to abuse opioids than non-users, and levels of marijuana use disorder continue to rise.
According to the study, approximately 4.4 million people aged 12 and older had a marijuana use disorder in the last year. Breaking this out further, 2.1 percent of youths aged 12-17, 5.9 percent of young adults aged 18-25, and 0.9 percent of adults 26 and older suffered from a marijuana use disorder. The percentage of young adults with a marijuana use disorder is significantly higher than last year and is the highest it has been since 2004.
At the same time, the mental health problems in young adults ages 18-25 are growing. This age group that suffers the most from cannabis use disorder. It’s hard not to see the mental crisis is related to the increasing use of marijuana and the increased potency of the marijuana that has come with legalization. Mental health care is the weakest link in our health care system and the increase in drug use exacerbates the issue. Last year it was found that
The latest statistics
The data on use in American youth aged 12-17 show an upward trend in use rates over the last few years, with use among this population at 12.5 percent. According to the report, about 1 in 8 (or 3.1 million) adolescents were past year users of marijuana. Almost 12 million young Americans 18-25 (34.8 percent) reported past year use. This percentage is on par with 2017 levels and continues to represent the highest level of use in the past 25 years.
Additionally, the study found 15.4 percent of past year daily marijuana users reported past year opioid misuse, 19.1 percent reported past month heavy alcohol use, 17.1 percent reported past year cocaine use, 4.1 percent reported past year methamphetamine use, 17.9 percent reported a major depressive episode, and 14 percent reported a serious mental illness. Continue reading Latest survey raises concern about pot→
The following is the bulk of a letter from Janie Hamilton to Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Great Britain. We thank Mary Brett informing us, and Janie Hamilton for allowing us to share this letter.
Dear Mr. Johnson:
Our beloved son, James, died on 31st July 2015 after a cannabis-induced psychotic refusal to accept life-saving treatment for testicular cancer. He was 36 and did not have to die. The cannabis stole his life three times over – first it stole his young life from under our very eyes, then it possibly caused the testicular cancer, and then it stole his capacity to make a right-minded decision to have treatment at the first sign of the lump. Continue reading Cannabis is to blame for my son’s death – please don’t legalise→
I’ve been broke my whole adult life because of marijuana. I married the wrong woman and had a horrible 12-year relationship because of marijuana. I settled for a less than part-time, back- breaking job because of pot. I can’t have real relationship because of pot.
Since becoming a single dad in 2010, my teenage son has watched me fail time and time again in relationships. Without my parents, we would be on the streets with nothing. They’re enabling me, not sure they realize it. They help for my son’s sake, I believe.
This week we got some bad news. A friend’s son ended his battle with drugs by committing suicide. He was 28 and had battled hard drugs for several years. But, it all began with marijuana. He may have still been smoking it, but I’m not sure.
He lost his dad 7 years ago and his brother last winter (to drugs as well). The only job he ever knew was working with his dad at their pizza shop. After his dad died, and the pizza shop was sold, he just couldn’t cope. Drugs are the only way he knew to cope with life.
By legalizing marijuana, we are giving our kids a crutch, an excuse, a way to “cope” with life. Only, it’s not a way to cope, it’s a way to escape….until they can’t escape anymore. They’re backed into a corner, and don’t know what to do. So sad. So, so sad.
By an anonymous supporter of Parents Opposed to Pot. If you have a testimony to share, please write email@example.com.
Drug legalization advocates claim that prisons are overflowing with people convicted for only simple possession of marijuana. This claim is aggressively pushed by groups seeking to relax or abolish marijuana laws. A more accurate view is that the vast majority of inmates in prison for marijuana have been found guilty of more than simple possession. They were convicted for drug trafficking, or for marijuana possession along with other offenses. Many of those in prison for marijuana entered a guilty plea to a marijuana charge to avoid a more serious charge. In the US, just 1.6 percent of the state inmate population were held for offenses involving only marijuana, and less than one percent of all state prisoners (0.7 percent) were incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge. An even smaller fraction of state prisoners were first time offenders (0.3 percent). The numbers on the US federal prisons are similar. In 2001, the overwhelming majority of offenders sentenced for marijuana crimes were convicted for trafficking and only 63 served time for simple possession. [FN1]
Parents Opposed to Pot urges Congress to reject the STATES Act, which would allow states to break federal law in order to become drug dealers. Senators Gardner and Warren and Representatives Blumenauer and Joyce introduced bills into their respective houses of Congress. Some states like California and Colorado feed illicit drug markets throughout the country. We should not sanction this rampant lawlessness, because it leads to terrible public health and safety consequences. Continue reading We urge congress to vote against States Act→
This was supposed to be the year full cannabis legalization in the U.S. moved much closer to being a reality. Instead it has been a disaster for advocates. Although Illinois legalized recreational use on the final day of its legislative schedule, a half-dozen other deep-blue states that were expected to legalize failed to follow — including New York.
Advocates want to believe legalization on their terms, with few restrictions on marketing and limits potentially as low as 18, remains inevitable. Polls show that between 62% and 66%of Americans support legalization. But cannabis supporters are wrong, and the pushback against marijuana has only begun.
Why? Because teen use is on the rise. And the experience of the 1970s — the last time cannabis advocates believed they might win full national acceptance — shows that the strongest voices against cannabis use aren’t police officers or even physicians. They’re parents. …As teenage use of cannabis exploded during the 1970s, many parents became deeply concerned. The drug seemed to damage their children’s motivation, memory and grades. …
Not coincidentally, in states where legalization failed this year, wealthier suburban lawmakers proved a crucial political stumbling block. Because of the cost of vaping, the habit seems to be more attractive to upper-middle class kids, and their parents are nw seeing marijuana’s real risks up close. As that knowledge spreads, the media is likely to take a more skeptical stance, and national support for legalization will shrink.
On May 31, Illinois became the first and only state to commercialize marijuana through state legislature. Governor Pritzker hopes the state can raise money this way. The legalization bill passed on the very last day of the legislative session. The law goes into effect January 1.
Efforts by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and SAM’s allies defeated marijuana legalization and commercialization in 9 state legislatures: New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Hawaii. When legislators listen to experts, as well as doctors, they reject marijuana legalization, a failure in every other state.
Many people tell us that the solution to the problems of marijuana legalization is “regulating,” so that the stronger stuff will no longer be sold. Let’s go back to the marijuana of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, they say. (THC levels had skyrocketed from 3.6% in the 1990s to around 20% in Colorado and more than 20% in Washington.) Can states regulate marijuana?
Since states are the “laboratories of democracy,” and several states have had legalization for years, we can evaluate whether or not regulation works.
The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) designated Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) special consultative status to the United Nations. It happened on June 26, the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
This status allows SAM to designate official representatives to the UN headquarters in New York, Geneva, and Vienna, and submit written and oral statements to the Council. SAM representatives have already been discussing marijuana policy at UN meetings since its founding in 2013, Continue reading SAM’s Work Brings International Recognition→
Yesterday Rick Steves was on C-SPAN and he misrepresented marijuana legalization. For a more truthful representation of legalization, we advise our followers to listen to Luke Niforatos of Smart Approaches to Marijuana who was also on C-SPAN recently. In Steves’s home state of Washington, there’s a terrible track record of legalization violations.
When I was 17 my BFF Lisa was in a single car accident. She was prone to smoking bong hits and driving with her knees. She was in a coma for a year and died. I first smoked pot with her and her mom. Lisa was her only child.
I blamed a faulty car for her death, not pot.
In my 30s, I partied with a young 20s co-worker from UMass. She had smoked strong pot, AK-47 for years. I stopped hanging out once she became paranoid, delusional and agoraphobic. She later was in a mental hospital for schizophrenia and has been on disability ever since.
I blamed her genes for her debilitating mental illness, not pot.
I dated a patient, also named Lisa, at the dispensary who had extreme psychotic episodes whenever she smoked high potency Sativa. She would almost collapse, regress into a two-year-old state of mind, scream at the top of her lungs and then go into loud, joyous religious rapture singing.
The scariest experience was when in psychosis she uttered in a guttural deep voice so unlike her’s, “Choke her!” It was an alarming Sybil Stephen King moment that sent chills down my spine. I didn’t know if her split personality was talking about choking herself or me.
Needless to say, it was very hard being with her, we were not a good match whatsoever and broke up. I later learned that she committed suicide at 52.
I blamed her diagnosis of bipolar for her suicide, not pot.
Rip the Pot Van Winkle
One time in college my friends had too much water in a bong – really dirty, unchanged, high potency bong water. The too high water level caused me to unintentionally swallow a huge mouthful of bong water when I released the carburetor.
I immediately started to hallucinate, almost passed out. Was lucky to stay conscious long enough to make it to the bathroom and vomit profusely. Took a heck of a long time for my mind to clear and body to recover. But I saw no problem with continuing to use pot.
For years I discounted all of those signposts showing that marijuana is dangerous because I was so enmeshed in my pot denial.
When, finally, I experienced such terrible physical and mental effects myself, this Rip the Pot Van Winkle woke up out of a pot slumber. The truth could no longer be denied. Horrible psychosis woke me up. I am SO lucky I survived.
I had the epiphany that pot caused my BFF’s death via DUI; pot caused my friend to become schizophrenic, and pot caused psychosis and suicide with my ex-girlfriend. Pot caused me to think violent thoughts like shooting people, and brought me to the brink of suicide.
Pot almost took me out. I couldn’t perceive the damage because I was high on pot.
By Anne Hassel, a new friend of Parents Opposed to Pot.
Physicians and medical professionals routinely warn women not to use marijuana while they are pregnant or nursing. Why? The best available scientific evidence has established that exposure to marijuana’s psychoactive constituent, THC, in utero causes neuroadaptive changes in their baby’s brain, especially in the regions where their cognitive capacity and emotional regulation is formed. As a result, the life trajectories for prenatally exposed children may be permanently altered. These facts, like so many others germane to marijuana’s toxic effects have been well established in the scientific literature for years—and largely ignored. But why? Continue reading STONED BABIES AND UNDERACHIEVING ADULTS→
My brother had good grades, friends and played sports. He came from a loving home and got his graduate degree at USC. He also liked to get high. After graduate school, he became homeless, mentally ill and went to jail many times.
After doing some research, I told K he should get psychologically evaluated for social security disability because– if he was mentally ill –he could get benefits and could afford a place to live. I reasoned he would cost the government a lot less by not being in jail or prison.
Marijuana legalization hit stone walls in New York and New Jersey this week and another effort died in New Hampshire. In Vermont, legislation to establish a commercial marijuana market faltered, too. Four states failed. Tiny windows of opportunity may still be open, but passing bills doesn’t appear possible before the end of this year’s legislative session.
Part 1 of a 3 Part Series. This article first appeared on MomsStrong.org
K started getting high at a young age. He smoked just a little bit, almost every day, through junior high, high school, college and graduate school. To him, it seemed like harmless fun. But within a few years after completing his higher education, he became a homeless drug addict and dealer with schizophrenia. He went to jail eighteen times. Relative to so many others, K’s story ends well. He is alive, out of jail, off the streets, and is sober. He is receiving psychiatric care. He lives in a group home where his meals and transportation are provided, and his psychiatric medications are dispensed. He is alive to tell his harrowing story. To warn teenagers that what seems like harmless fun can actually ruin their lives, K and I wrote a book which is inspired by his experiences.
Our son was happy and healthy before he started using marijuana at age 14. A friend introduced him to marijuana during a time when our family was supporting my wife in her fight against breast cancer. We noticed David changing rapidly, but attributed the change to puberty.
After being kicked out of the private school he had attended for many years, he became a heavy user and seemed to lose motivation for school and for life. He graduated from high school at the bottom of his class and started work as a plumber’s assistant. With his paychecks, he would buy more weed.
As his use became even heavier, he became increasingly removed from our family. He spoke of seeing aliens. By last Thanksgiving he appeared catatonic. The next day he stabbed his right palm with his pocket knife. He was hospitalized in a local mental health facility and diagnosed with depression and psychosis, and only tested positive for marijuana.
After a 6-day inpatient stay, David was discharged with no discharge planning. Notes from the facility reveal that David filled out a questionnaire on the day of discharge expressing that he “often” felt panic or terror and that he had made plans to end his life. This was not made known to the family, and he was discharged anyway.
After discharge he started an outpatient program. On the fourth day he smoked cannabis in the woods behind our house. Then he came inside, got a gun from the safe and shot himself.
Marijuana kills! It killed my son. We will never escape David’s loss, but we hope that by telling his story we can help other parents and children understand that marijuana is far from harmless. (We published a testimony by David’s sibling who described the effects of his death on the family.)
We have other articles that explain how the mental health system often fails in treatments for marijuana addiction, part 1. Mental health care fails at addiction treatment, part 2.
By BC, University of Texas If you told me five years ago that my brother would end his life in such a degrading state following marijuana-induced psychosis, I would have called you crazy. Unfortunately, I have lived with this reality every day for the past 5 months.
Addiction weighs you down, so marijuana can’t solve the opioid problem
By Cassidy Webb
Many marijuana enthusiasts share a popular belief that marijuana is the solution to the opioid crisis. As a former opioid addict and as a person who has tried to substitute marijuana for opioids, I beg to differ. My personal experience demonstrates that marijuana is not an effective way to get people off of other drugs. If anything, it only prolongs the suffering of addicts who have the potential to get well.
A new website records murders, suicides and violence connected to cannabis use in Great Britain and Ireland. Ross Grainger, writer, administers the website, attackersmokedcannabis.com.
‘Cannabis is a common factor in an alarming number of violent crimes, including murder, rape and child abuse, as well as suicide. As calls for the legalisation of cannabis grow ever louder, we demand the government first investigate the possible link between cannabis and violence.’
Grainger asks readers in Great Britain are asked to sign a petition to the British parliament. With more than 12,000 signatures, this petition passed the mark requiring a response. Government responds to all petitions that get more than 10,000 signatures. At 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament.
The website links to a 287-page catalogue of over 150 tragedies which occurred between 1998 to 2018. For example, “Beloved mentally ill teenage cannabis smoker found dead in woodland” is one sad story similar to stories in the USA. Another incident dates back to 2003. Charles King, 23, a student at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design hung himself from a tree. He left a note saying, “Cannabis has ruined my life.” (In Arizona, Andy Zorn left a similar message, “My soul is dead. Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain.” His mother wrote some blogs for us, and his story is found on MomsStrong.org.)
The website divides incidences into following categories: Murder, manslaughter and infanticide (53)
Frenzied stabbings and savage assaults (48)
Rape and sexual violence (21)
Suicide and self harm (28)
In addition, there are sections on media bias, the tip of the iceberg and objections anticipated. After Great Britain downgraded cannabis from a Class B drug to Class C in 2002, mental health problems increased. New cases bipolar and schizophrenia rose to record numbers. Great Britain went back to the earlier classification, after six years.
He also reported of the hideous rape and murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail in Scotland, brought to justice last week. Of this crime, Peter Hitchens said: “As soon as I heard the appalling details of this case, which took place on the peaceful Isle of Bute, I searched for the word ‘cannabis’ in the trial records. And immediately, as usual, I found that the accused was known to be a regular user of this drug.”
Hitchens continued, “It really is time to blast aside the PR spin which claims that marijuana is a ‘soft’, safe drug or even an actual medicine. It is nothing of the kind. Users all too often become mentally ill. And they are all too often found – as in the Alesha MacPhail case – to be the perpetrators of terrible, violent crime.” (Peter Hitchens frequently writes of the connection between marijuana and crime)
Leaders of the Parents Movement of the late 1970s and 1980s feared their children’s pot use led to apathy, lower grades and other drugs. The old concerns remain, but the new anti-pot Parents Movement warns more about the fact that marijuana may lead to severe forms of mental illness. A new study confirms that teen marijuana use increases depression and the risk for suicide in young adulthood.
According to the study, the odds of developing depression are 37% higher in young adults up to age 32 who used marijuana as teens, compared to those who did not. The odds of a young adult thinking about suicide were 50% higher in those who smoked pot as teens. The odds of a suicide attempt were almost 3.5 times higher in the pot smokers versus those who didn’t use marijuana. Continue reading Large new study shows teen cannabis use risk for later depression→
Like everyone else, the Marijuana Emperor duped me into becoming a participant in the “medical” marijuana industry sham. When I woke up, people ignored or discounted my revelations. My name for this last section is a play on Jack Herer’s book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which had convinced me the US government is wrong.
How the industry duped me and others
I am not popular. What I have to say threatens the appealing, mesmerizing façade of the “medical” marijuana industry.
Last week another violent horror story made national news, and once again, there’s a marijuana connection. Dakota Theriot, a 21-year-old from Louisiana, allegedly killed his parents, his girlfriend and her father and brother. A sheriff called the Dakota Theriot case an “extremely horrific example of failed mental health system.” Five people died, but the violent outbreak follows a pattern of family murders linked to pot use and mental illness.
Did Massachusetts residents understand the difficulty of preventing Big Marijuana in their neighborhoods when they voted to legalize in 2016? If marijuana industry gets its way in the Bay State, the biggest cannabis cultivation and processing plant in the United States will be built in Charlton, a small town in Worcester County.
Valley Green Grow wishes to build a 1 million square foot facility to grow cannabis and manufacture cannabis products. The North Andover company seeks approval from the Charlton Planning Board for its site plan and definitive subdivision plan. Its eyes are on converting Charlton Orchards, 44 Old Worcester Road, into this project.
Amanda Bynes made headlines last week, sharing her story for the cover of Paper Magazine. Her optimistic tale of recovery repeats in People Magazine, which published portions of the interview. Amanda admitted that she began drug abuse starting with marijuana, age 16. She continued pot use and also used Molly, Ecstasy and Adderall.
By Erin My neighbor’s marijuana almost killed my dog…..and that could’ve been my child. The guy continually smokes on his porch, in front of me and my four year-old child, then throws his half-smoked smoked marijuana cigarettes on my porch. He’s my upstairs neighbor. My dog ate one of his butts and almost died.
It was an adult who made me smoke my first hashish joint, a man of about forty years who loved little children. I was 15 years old and I didn’t feel anything the first time. It is a funny phenomenon, the first joint that does not do anything. This often happens. By the second joint, I was addicted.
By Dr. Robert DuPont in StatNews In the American mind, drug addiction happens only to people “born under a bad sign.” That’s just not true. Worse, it implies that success in life protects individuals from addiction. Throughout my 50-year career working on drug abuse prevention and treatment, I’ve often seen drug addiction befall every kind of person.
Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country and Illinois is a pay-to-play state. Billionaire JB Pritzker hopes to become the next governor of Illinois. When he talked to young voters at Northwestern University, he highlighted a plan to legalize marijuana. But do these students know the true dangers of the drug? Do they know that the marijuana industry is Big Tobacco 2?
Drug Prevention Speaker Touching Hearts and Changing Lives
New York father, Jeffrey Veatch is taking the pain of loss from his son’s tragic drug overdose death, and turning it into a positive force for good. His son Justin was a talented musician with big dreams. Dreams that his father refuses to let die. Continue reading Father Spearheads Drug Awareness Campaign→
A former New York Times reporter and now a best-selling author, Alex Berenson has an important new book, Tell Your Children: The truth about marijuana, violence and mental health. Simon & Schuster will publish and release it on January 8, 2019.
(Alexandria, Va) – There are now twice as many daily or near daily marijuana users in the US than just a decade ago, according to the most comprehensive survey on drug use released today by the federal government. There are also now 8,300 new marijuana users each day, and 22% of 18 to 25 year olds are currently using the drug–the highest number for all three stats in recent memory. Continue reading Heavy Marijuana Use Skyrockets According to Government Survey→
Drug Free Idaho produced a one hour documentary which details the negative outcomes of the marijuana “experiment” in states like California, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. Before we hastily usher in a new commercial marijuana market in other states, it is imperative that parents, pundits and politicians check out the unintended result in these wild, wild, West states.
Aubree Adams of Moms Strong and Dr. Libby Stuyt, medical advisor to PopPot were among those interviewed for the film. The film describes the impacts in the schools, the workplace, on healthcare industry. Companies and doctors are leaving the communities. Leaving them wanting for jobs and adequate health care. Taxes raised on marijuana are not really adding enough revenue into the state to cover the new problems. Lynn Riemer, anti-drug educator, describes marijuana as the biggest problem in elementary, middle and high schools in Colorado.
The impact on families and neighborhoods is also discussed. Hypodermic needles littering public parks where children play is a never before seen problem. Grow houses are being set up in residential neighborhoods attracting unsavory outsiders who pose a risk to safety. A sheriff from the Emerald Triangle explains the difficulty of keeping up with crime and illegal grows.
Please take the time to watch this important film. This film is being freely shared on the internet for you to use in educating your friends, neighbors and elected officials about the problems stemming from taking an illicit drug and trying to legitimize its use.
Part 3, of a series about two friends who used cannabis in the ’70s. (Read part 1, Why I hate cannabis and part 2, another direction) Now I’m looking back at when I decided to quit, more than 40 years ago. Note that I retired at age 60, well in advance of my original plan and also before reaching social security age. I retired comfortably, with zero debt, having no mortgage, no car payment, and no credit card debt. Amazing what a clear mind can do for a fella.
My name is Tom. I was born in 1957 and am 60 years old, living in Ohio. I am living happily, having recently retired from a prominent local manufacturer and retailer. Here is why I hate cannabis.
One of my closest friends during my junior high and high school years was a buddy named “Don.” He was two years older and two grades ahead of me in school. Don was also a brilliant math student who tutored many neighborhood kids, helping them get through high school math. Everybody who came in contact with him really liked him. He was a member of the wrestling team. We lived on the same street, so when he got a car, a cool “hot rod,” I was impressed. He paid for with the wages he’d earned from his part-time jobs in high school. He knew his way around the engine of a car, and did all his own repairs. Continue reading My story why I hate cannabis, that vile drug→
All the independent, peer-reviewed research confirms what I and other experts have observed for years. Cannabis users significantly underachieve in education, their careers, and have significant problems with their most significant relationships. Two recent and eye-opening studies published in the medical journals Addiction, and Neuropharmacology respectively reveal gross deficits in cognitive ability (IQ) executive functioning, attentiveness, inhibition of impulsiveness and motivation. Continue reading Marijuana Users Grossly Underachieve→
By Dr. Christine Miller, Ph.D, originally published by Poppot on October 29, 2014Myth #1. It is rare for marijuana users to experience psychotic symptoms like paranoia.
In fact, about 15% of all users and a much higher percentage of heavy users will experience psychotic symptoms.1 Half of those individuals will become chronically schizophrenic if they don’t stop using.2 Fortunately, some do stop using because psychosis is not pleasant and they wisely recognize that pot caused their problems.
A significant chunk of marijuana users experience psychotic symptoms. Psychotic killers with mental illness may appear different from political and religious killers, but they often share the trait of persistent, early marijuana use.
In 2014, Washington State high school student Jaylen Fryberg shot five friends whom he had invited to eat lunch with him. On Twitter he revealed the need to smoke a ton of pot because of a breakup. The girl who had broken up with him said on Twitter that smoking pot made him stupid. He was only 15 at the time, but Washington State started selling commercialized pot about four months earlier.
Another pair of high school shooters, the Columbine shooters, chose to do their rampage on 4/20, a symbolic date for junkies. Timothy McVeigh also chose this day for the Oklahoma City bombing.
Were the DC Snipers, John Allen Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, pot users? They fit into a pattern of an older man using marijuana to control a teenager. Before ending up in the DC area, they moved between places known for marijuana: Jamaica, Antigua, Bellingham, Tacoma.
When Marijuana Psychosis Leads to Violence: Aurora, Arizona
Some the most notorious recent murderers who were marijuana users fell victim to psychosis and delusion: Aurora shooter Holmes, Tucson shooter Loughner, Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear and Eddie Routh. Routh shot “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield because of his paranoia. He smoked marijuana the day of the murders. Suffering from PTSD, he thought the other men would hurt him.
The 15% or so of marijuana users who experience psychotic symptoms from marijuana or go into permanent psychosis (schizophrenia) are 9x more likely to become violent than schizophrenics whose illness has nothing to do with drugs. *
Educating about the connection between drug use and violence with an eye on drug prevention could alleviate much violent crime.
Solution to Cutting Down Mass Violence
Americans argue over the most effective means to stop mass killers.
Discussions often leave out one of the most important components of violence……compulsive drug use, especially marijuana. Let’s consider that the root of violence goes much deeper than a person’s religion, gun laws or innate mental illness. Let’s stop legalizing drugs.
We acknowledge that not everyone who uses marijuana becomes mentally ill or psychotic. However, cannabis use, especially in young users can cause extraordinary changes to the brain. Read how Salman Abedi changed from a cannabis smoking teen to an Isis terrorist.
Marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of prescription opioid use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse analyzed data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and found respondents who reported past-year marijuana use in their initial interview had 2.2 times higher odds than nonusers for having a prescription opioid use disorder and 2.6 times greater odds of abusing prescription opioids.[i]
Marijuana use seems to strengthen the relationship between pain and depression and anxiety, not ease it. A recent study that surveyed 150 adults receiving MAT examined whether marijuana use diminishes the relationships between pain, depression, and anxiety and whether self-efficacy influences these interactions. The study concluded that marijuana use strengthens the connection between feelings of pain and emotional distress. Marijuana use was also associated with a low sense of self-efficacy, making it harder for them to manage their symptoms.[ii]Continue reading Big Marijuana moves to exploit the Opioid Epidemic→
At least two more child abuse deaths related to marijuana use occurred in May. In Florida, Charles Lee left a baby, aged one, alone. He went into the front yard to smoke pot with a 15-year-old and the baby drowned in a backyard pool. It is not clear what Charles Lee’s relationship is to the parents, but they had entrusted him with the child at the time.
In Salt Lake City, a father smoked pot and fell asleep on the floor. He left out a loaded gun and his two year-old shot himself. Both these incidents reflect the irresponsibility, forgetfulness and selfishness that surround using pot. Unfortunately, the victims are so young.
Twins who use cannabis by age 17 are 2.1 to 5.2 times more likely to develop addiction issues. An Australian twins study determined this likelihood by comparing twins who used pot to the co-twins who hadn’t used marijuana.
Although not a gateway for everyone, cannabis often is a gateway for those who become addicted and die. Study after study has shown a relationship between the use of marijuana and other psychoactive and addictive substances. Yet marijuana lobbyists twist the issue and say it’s not a gateway drug.
Marijuana is a major cause of drug-related medical and psychiatric emergency room episodes. Liberalizing marijuana laws escalates this problem. Some go to the hospital for marijuana-induced psychosis while others seek medical help for vomiting.
The Australian Twins Study
The January 22/29, 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the outcome of a well-controlled study designed to determine whether genetic predisposition or environmental factors determine if an underage cannabis user will progress to other drugs. The findings from this research led to “Escalation of Drug Use in Early-Onset Cannabis Users vs. Co-Twin Control,” by LynskyM, HeathA and BucholzK.
The study found that a twin who had used cannabis by age 17 was significantly more likely to use other drugs. The same twins were more likely to become drug and alcohol dependent, compared with their co-twin who had not used marijuana. And there was very little difference whether the twins were fraternal or identical.
In other words, environmental influences can trump genetic predisposition for those who progress from cannabis use to the use of other psychoactive and addictive substances. For the sake of this study, “environmental factors” were “associations and circumstances” leading to this progression.
According to the authors, “In particular, early access to and use of cannabis may reduce perceived barriers against the use of other illegal drugs and provide access to these drugs.”
The study predicted what has happened in the USA and Canada. For example, a large group of young people who died of overdoses in Massachusetts began their drug use with marijuana. Politicians continue to consider the overdose problem only an issue with opioids rather than a poly-drug addiction. People continue to suggest that marijuana will substitute for opioid pain medications, despite the fact that most youth who overdose begin with pot.
Exposure to One Class of Drugs increases consumption of other drugs
The same issue of JAMA carried an editorial entitled “Does Marijuana Use Cause the Use of Other Drugs?” The author referenced research which found cross-sensitization between repeated exposure to THC (The main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) and opiates. “With cross-sensitization, exposure to one class of drug increases consumption of other drug classes, consistent with the existence of a gateway effect.”
The editorial stated, “Prevention efforts will presumably affect the underlying risk and protective factors related to the onset of marijuana use, whether or not these factors are shared with the onset of the use of other illicit drugs. For youths who have already used marijuana, the issue is: can and should intervention programs be developed to target this group at very high risk for progressing to other substances? It appears so.”
Parents, please don’t take early teen marijuana use lightly. It frequently leads to significant poly-drug abuse problems. Sometimes the problem stops at marijuana addiction. Addiction to pot occurs in 1 in 6 users who begin between ages 12 and 17. Until we stop minimizing the harm of early pot use, we won’t get the drug epidemic under control.
Lakewood, CO — On Friday, May 4th at 2:00 pm, the Centennial Institute, Smart Colorado, and The Marijuana Accountability Coalition delivered a letter to Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock at Denver City Hall calling on the city to ban individuals under the age of 21 from attending marijuana rallies where they are exposed to hazardous secondhand smoke. Continue reading Denver Community Leaders Ask Mayor to Keep Kids Out of Pot Rallies→
A Life Half Lived is wonderful biography and memoir by a father who lost his son in a tragic car accident. Darryl Rodgers’s love for his son Chase shines through on every page of this book. Chase made some bad choices about substance abuse, the company he kept and the final decision about getting into the car with an impaired driver.
Average flower is 17.1% in one state with legal sales of recreational marijuana, Colorado, much higher than the national average (HIDTA, 2017), and as high as 30% THC in some samples (NBC News report). It should be noted that variation in testing results is quite high between laboratories (Jikomes and Zoroob, 2018).
Jikomes N, Zoorob M. The Cannabinoid Content of Legal Cannabis in Washington State Varies Systematically Across Testing Facilities and Popular Consumer Products. Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 14;8(1):4519. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22755-2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22755-2.pdf
Processed cannabis reaches up to 90% THC
Jikomes N, Zoorob M. The Cannabinoid Content of Legal Cannabis in Washington State Varies Systematically Across Testing Facilities and Popular Consumer Products. Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 14;8(1):4519. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22755-2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22755-2.pdf
Marijuana is the Number 1 substance now found in Colorado suicides, 10-19 years old, 2014-2016
Causes mental illness, and is associated with onset of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders such as bipolar disorder with psychosis
Association with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders such as bipolar and schizophrenia. (Miller, 2017; Cougle et al., 2015), completed suicides and suicide attempts (Arendt et al., 2013; Silins et al., 2014; Clarke et al., 2014) and violence towards others (Arseneault et al., 2000; Dugre et al., 2017; Harford et al., 2018) particularly in those who develop marijuana-induced psychosis.
Arseneault L, Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Taylor PJ, Silva PA. Mental disorders and violence in a total birth cohort: results from the Dunedin Study. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2000;57(10):979-86.
Arendt M, Munk-Jørgensen P, Sher L, Jensen SO. Mortality following treatment for cannabis use disorders: predictors and causes. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2013;44(4):400-6.
Clarke MC, Coughlan H, Harley M, Connor D, Power E, Lynch F, Fitzpatrick C, Cannon M. The impact of adolescent cannabis use, mood disorder and lack of education on attempted suicide in young adulthood. World Psychiatry. 2014;13(3):322-3.
Cougle JR et al. (2015). Quality of life and risk of psychiatric disorders among regular users of alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis: An analysis of the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). J Psychiatr Res., 66-67, 135-141
Di Forti M, et al. Proportion of patients in South London with first-episode psychosis attributable to use of high potency cannabis: a case-control study. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015;2(3):233-8.
Harford TC, Chen CM, Kerridge BT, Grant BF. Self- and other-directed forms of violence and their relationship with lifetime DSM-5 psychiatric disorders: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III). Psychiatry Res. 2018;262:384-392.
Silins E, Horwood LJ, Patton GC, Fergusson DM, Olsson CA, Hutchinson DM, Spry E, Toumbourou JW, Degenhardt L, Swift W, Coffey C, Tait RJ, Letcher P, Copeland J, Mattick RP, for the Cannabis Cohorts Research Consortium. Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis. Lancet Psychiatry 2014; 1(4): 245-318.
Starzer MSK, Nordentoft M, Hjorthøj C. (2018) Rates and Predictors of Conversion to Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder Following Substance-Induced Psychosis. Am J Psychiatry,175(4), 343-350
Harm to unborn, nursing babies
Marijuana harms unborn children (Jenkins et al., 2007; Trezza et al., 2012; Tortoriello et al., 2014; Grewen et al., 2015; Zumbrun et al., 2015; Leemaqz et al., 2016; Benevenuto et al., 2017), and may concentrate in breast milk if used repeatedly (Perez-Reyes and Wall, 1982; Grotenhermen, 2003), with consequences for the developing neonate (Astley and Little, 1990).
Astley SJ, Little RE. Maternal marijuana use during lactation and infant development at one year. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1990 Mar-Apr;12(2):161-8.
Benevenuto SG et al., Recreational use of marijuana during pregnancy and negative gestational and fetal outcomes: An experimental study in mice. Toxicology. 2017 Feb 1;376:94-101
Grewen K, Salzwedel AP, Gao W. Functional Connectivity Disruption in Neonates with Prenatal Marijuana Exposure. Front Hum Neurosci. 2015;9:601.
Grotenhermen F. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2003;42(4):327-60. Review.
Jenkins KJ, Correa A, Feinstein JA, Botto L, Britt AE, Daniels SR, Elixson M, Warnes CA, Webb CL; American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young. Non-inherited risk factors and congenital cardiovascular defects: current knowledge: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young: endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Circulation. 2007 Jun 12;115(23):2995-3014.
Leemaqz SY et al. Maternal marijuana use has independent effects on risk for spontaneous preterm birth but not other common late pregnancy complications. Reprod Toxicol. 2016;62:77-86.
Perez-Reyes M, Wall ME. Presence of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in human milk. N Engl J Med. 1982;307(13):819-20.
Tortoriello G, et al. Miswiring the brain: Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol disrupts cortical development by inducing an SCG10/stathmin-2 degradation pathway. EMBO J. 2014;33(7):668-85.
Zumbrun EE et al. Epigenetic Regulation of Immunological Alterations Following Prenatal Exposure to Marijuana Cannabinoids and its Long Term Consequences in Offspring. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2015; 10(2):245-54.
Alaniz VI, Liss J, Metz TD, Stickrath E. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome: a cause of refractory nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Jun;125(6):1484-6.
Marijuana can trigger violence in those with PTSD and make PTSD worse
Wilkinson ST, Stefanovics E, Rosenheck RA. Marijuana use is associated with worse outcomes in symptom severity and violent behavior in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2015 Sep;76(9):1174-80.
Friedman A, Glassman K, Terras A Violent Behavior as Related to Marijuana and Other Drugs, by Albert Journal of Addictive Diseases, Vol 20(1), 2001,pp. 49-72. Marijuana users nearly as likely to engage in violent behaviors as crack users.
Marijuana is linked to increased driving fatalities
Bosker WM, Kuypers KP, Theunissen EL, et al. Medicinal Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (dronabinol) impairs on-the-road driving performance of occasional and heavy cannabis users but is not detected in standard field sobriety tests. Addiction. 2012;107(10):1837-1844.
Compton WN, Volkow Nd, Lopez MF. Medical marijuana laws and cannabis use: intersections of health and policy, JAMA Psychiatry. 2017: 74 (6): 559-560
Del Balzo G, Gottardo R, Mengozzi S, Dorizzi RM, Bortolotti F, Appolonova S, Tagliaro F, “Positive” urine testing for Cannabis is associated with increased risk of traffic crashes, Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpba.2017.12.059
Ramaekers JG, Kauert G, van Ruitenbeek P, Theunissen EL, Schneider E and Manfred R Moeller, High-Potency Marijuana Impairs Executive Function and Inhibitory Motor Control. Amer Col of Neuropsychopharmacology (2006) 31, 2296–2303.
Raemakers, JG Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis: An Increasing Public Health Concern. JAMA published online March 26, 2018 Regular cannabis users wrongfully believe that cannabis does not affect their driving performance or that they can compensate for cannabis-associated impairment. Raemakers_2018 JAMA driving editorial.pdf
World Health Organization. Drug Use and Road Safety: A Policy Brief. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2016.
Marijuana associated with lung disease, cancer
Marijuana smoke is associated with lung disease (Tan et al., 2009; Tashkin, 2015) and the development of some cancers (Efird et al., 2004; Lackson et al., 2012). High levels of the cannabinoid receptor that is preferentially activated by THC (CB1) correspond to shorter survival in many cancers (Michalski et al., 2008; Carpi et al., 2015; Suk et al., 2016)
Carpi S, Fogli S, Polini B, Montagnani V, Podestà A, Breschi MC, Romanini A, Stecca B, Nieri P. Tumor-promoting effects of cannabinoid receptor type 1 in human melanoma cells. Toxicol In Vitro. 2017 Apr;40:272-279. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2017.01.018. Epub 2017 Jan 26
Efird JT, Friedman GD, Sidney S, Klatsky A, Habel LA, Udaltsova NV, Van den Eeden S, Nelson LM. The risk for malignant primary adult-onset glioma in a large, multiethnic, managed-care cohort: cigarette smoking and other lifestyle behaviors. J Neurooncol. 2004 May;68(1):57-69.
Lackson et al., 2012, Population-based case-control study of recreational drug use and testis cancer risk confirms an association between marijuana use and nonseminoma risk. Cancer 188:5374-83
The percentage of youth on probation testing positive for marijuana has increased steadily since 2012 (DPS, 2017)
Borodovsky JT, Lee DC, Crosier BS, Gabrielli JL, Sargent JD, Budney AJ. U.S. cannabis legalization and use of vaping and edible products among youth. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017; 177:299-306. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28662974
Cerdá M, Wall M, Feng T, Keyes KM, Sarvet A, Schulenberg J, O’Malley PM, Pacula RL, Galea S, Hasin DS. Association of State Recreational Marijuana Laws With Adolescent Marijuana Use. JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(2):142-149. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5365078/
Marijuana decreases IQ in those who begin their use young
Meier MH, Caspi A, Ambler A, Harrington H, Houts R, Keefe RS, McDonald K, Ward A, Poulton R, Moffitt TE. Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 2;109(40):E2657-64. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1206820109
Olfson M, Wall M Cannabis Use and Risk of Prescription Opioid Use Disorder in the United States American J Psychiatry. Cannabis use, even among adults with moderate to severe pain, was associated with a substantially increased risk of nonmedical prescription opioid use at 3-year follow-up. https://doi-org.proxy.hsi.ucdenver.edu/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17040413
Olfson M, Wall M Cannabis Use and Risk of Prescription Opioid Use Disorder in the United States, American J Psychiatry. Cannabis use, even among adults with moderate to severe pain, was associated with a substantially increased risk of nonmedical prescription opioid use at 3-year follow-up. https://doi-org.proxy.hsi.ucdenver.edu/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17040413
Under the court’s ruling, pot growers can now be investigated by DEA and prosecuted by United States Attorneys if their pot operations occurred on federal lands managed by the Forest Service and other federal agencies, even in states where “medical” marijuana is allowed.
I know that has lost a child tells me they first used cannabis. The numbers of young people I know that have died that were friends of my children between 15 and 30, including my daughter, all began with smoking marijuana. And their numbers are greater than the number of my friends that have died and I graduated in 1962. My daughter died at 28. Continue reading How Did I Miss Those Signs?→
The turbo-charged, high-THC marijuana of today brings out lots of marijuana mania. Jimmy Kimmel’s pot jokes at the Oscars fell flat, but Kimmel could try using these stories on his nightly comedy show. Or maybe they aren’t so funny, just a reflection of how marijuana does a number on the human brain.
Two Butane Hash Oil (BHO) explosions ignited in Michigan last weekend, when amateurs were attempting to extract THC from marijuana to make “dabs.” Michigan’s BHO problem will grow into a bigger problem, because legalizers succeeded in getting marijuana on the ballot in November. (Read this article to understand the difference between decriminalization and legalization.)
Defenders of marijuana such as Governor John Hickenlooper say youth use of pot did not go up after legalization. When surveys don’t track the state’s largest schools, the information gets distorted. Many counties in the eastern plains and western slopes do not allow marijuana shops. Interviews with teachers and administrators in Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and the central part of the state tell another story.
We believe the evidence of teachers, counselors, parents and school administrators reveal more than any survey of students. Please listen to this video:
Men killed wives after using marijuana “medically”
Shane Kirk, veteran from Oklahoma, served three tours of duty. Suffering from PTSD, he was trying to replace his anti-depressant with marijuana, On November 29, 2017, Shane Kirk shot his wife and stepfather, according to his mother.
For those who follow the marijuana issue, this story strikes a familiar chord. Another man named Kirk, Richard Kirk, shot his wife after eating marijuana candy. The tragic situation unfolded in 2014, a few months after Colorado’s dispensaries opened.
Monitoring the Future,* the nation’s annual survey of students, reported today marijuana use in 8th, 10th and 12th grades was higher than last year. The survey also found that students in medical marijuana law states vaped marijuana at higher rates than students in other states, and consumed pot edibles (that can come in candies, sodas, or ice-creams) at double the rate than in non-medical marijuana law states. The survey does not include youth who drop out of school.
A new peer-reviewed study about to be published in the January 2018 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that marijuana use at exit from a 3-year case management intervention program for pregnant and parenting women increased significantly after marijuana legalization in Washington state.
“This study adds to the data we have about legalization driving up use and negatively impacting society,” said SAM President Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D. “States should slow down and realize that their actions have real consequences, especially among populations highlighted in this study — parents and children.”
The researchers divided the study sample into two cohorts based on whether participants had completed the program before or after legalization.
Researchers reported the following results:
“Most study participants reported complete abstinence from alcohol and nonprescription drugs at program exit. Among those who were still using substances, women who completed the intervention after marijuana legalization were significantly more likely to report marijuana use at program exit compared with women who completed the intervention before marijuana legalization. Across both cohorts (pre- and post-legalization), we found a positive association of exit marijuana use with alcohol, illegal methadone, other opioids, amphetamines, and cocaine use; even when we controlled for historical period, the association with some of these substances with marijuana use remained evident. Independent of marijuana use, we saw increased use during the post-legalization period of alcohol, illicit methadone, and other opioids.”
The study concluded that “Women who were not abstinent from marijuana at program exit were likely to report use of other substances as well. Our study design demonstrates an association but does not allow us to conclude that marijuana use leads to other substance use among this sample of women with a history of polysubstance use.”
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states.
The growth of the Drug Policy Alliance’s influence and emphasis contributes to the staggering increase in overdose deaths. * DPA gets political mileage from using the term “war on drugs,” and turning it into a negative term. However, the USA officially abandoned the term eight years ago, and then the death rate began to rise.
Read Part 1 and Part 2. Many teens have heard “stoned is safer than drunk.” In the social media, the pot advocates claim to drive more carefully when high on pot. Long-time pot users say ridiculous things which make young people think they’re immune to tragedy. Smoking pot and driving is not safe, and it’s foolish to guess which risky behavior is more dangerous than another.
Alison Holcomb designed I-502 and the state changed the terms
Alison Holcomb of the ACLU used her genius to write I-502, the 2012 ballot which legalized pot in Washington. She addressed the public’s biggest concerns about accepting the legalization of marijuana, and wrote the ballot to appeal to non-users. It was a brilliant tactic. Soon after legalization, the state disregarded many of those terms.
Californians approved pot legalization last November, but the impaired driver didn’t realize that driving after smoking is dangerous. The public shares much of this ignorance and technology has not caught up with policy. Law enforcement is scrambling to find good ways to test for and control stoned Continue reading Time to Get Mad against Stoned Driving→
Marijuana-induced psychosis leads to domestic violence
Domestic Violence Awareness month comes around each year in October. Violence prevention groups would gain ground by targeting drug use and alcohol abuse, which trigger most cases of domestic violence.
Too many people are still deceived by the image of the laid back pot smoker. A significant subset of stoners become psychotic and violent from using marijuana. Davie Dauzat, who beheaded his wife on August 25, 2016, told the police it was a “battle between good and evil.” He and his wife had smoked pot together before he killed her. Dauzat was having the type of psychotic break that overwhelms certain pot users, leading them to commit acts of violence. A similar event happened to Tyler Denning on March 25, when he jumped from a 4th floor window clutching his son. He had smoked marijuana that day and claimed that God had made him do it.
Marijuana use among students rose after the District of Columbia decriminalized pot in 2014 and legalized it for ages 21 and over in 2015. Now we have some statistics about middle schools and high schools. After troubling information came out about increased usage, The Blunt Truth campaign launched as an underage prevention initiative.
In Ward 7, for example, there was a three-fold increase in 30-day use of marijuana among surveyed middle school students from 2013 to 2015, from 2.5% to 7.8%. For high school students surveyed, there was a 28% increase from 2013 to 2015, from 24% to 30.7%. Parental acceptance of the drug use was 15% in 2013, but grew to 32% in 2015. Continue reading Student pot use rises at DC middle, high schools→
There’s no doubt that parents are the most powerful force in protecting and preparing children for the future. But these days, that job has become exponentially more confusing with the legalization of marijuana in many states and the subsequent arrival of a much more allusive, potent and dangerous variety that’s already flooding across state boarders. One thing has become clear: there’s no such thing as a harmless habit.
Marijuana is no stranger to most parents, but many are unaware of the way it’s being ingested these days and that it has 5x more THC than it did in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Recent studies have concluded that it can even cause a permanent lowering of I.Q. for adolescents, along with a host of other problems which decrease the chances of having and enjoying a prosperous future. Continue reading New Discrete Cannabis Test Kit Helps Parents→
I am a mother with a hole in her heart, one who mourns the loss of her beloved child every day. My son, Carlos Castellanos, died at age 23 from a drug overdose, just three weeks after walking me down the aisle at my wedding and two days before Christmas. He had been clean from an opioid addiction for ten months and was happy, healthy and loving life. My son had a job and was expected to get a promotion the following month, loved his girlfriend dearly and was planning to resume taking college courses. Carlos’ dream was to become an aerospace engineer and to work for a company that would enable him to be part of the Engineers Without Borders program so that he could help others. He was sensitive, humble, kind, love and precious to all who knew him.
Smart and witty with a great sense of humor, Carlos was very musically gifted; he played drums and guitar since the age of seven. But he was also a perfectionist and constantly doubted himself and his abilities. Despite having much success academically and in his musical pursuits, my son never felt worthy of the honors and accolades he received. He also craved the love of support of his “absentee” father and often expressed anxiety about what he could do to make his dad want to spend time with him. Those feelings of inadequacy are what caused him to start smoking marijuana at age 15. Very quickly, though, he moved on to cocaine, heroin and other drugs. At age 18, just months before his high school graduation, Carlos suffered a grand mal seizure. He had attended a “pharm party” the night before (where teens mix prescription drugs into a bowl and take turns ingesting them), and then took crystal meth the next morning. I remember getting that heart-stopping call from the friend who dropped off my son at the entrance to the hospital ER and hearing the doctor tell me to contact our family so they could say goodbye to Carlos. By the grace of God, Carlos miraculously recovered from that trauma, but he did sustain some short-term memory loss. He vowed to stay clean and thought that he could do it on his own, without any program or support. Within weeks however, he was quickly drawn back into the drug world.
Just before high school graduation, Carlos was arrested outside our home for carrying a quantity of marijuana that was just over the limit for a misdemeanor charge. Since he was an adult, he received a felony conviction, which made him ineligible for a college scholarship at a prestigious university. In Carlos’ mind, his dream to become an engineer died with the loss of that opportunity; he had been selected as one of a small group of freshman to enter the engineering program usually just open to college juniors. So, Carlos went to his place of escape once again – drugs – this time, with a vengeance.
Hidden Dangers That I didn’t Know
My son was in and out of rehab facilities and intensive outpatient programs multiple times from age 16. His most successful clean period was for 20 months, during which time he participated actively in AA/NA meetings and surrounded himself with those who were dedicated to addiction recovery. He volunteered at a local rehab and facilitated recovery sessions for other young people who were fighting to stay clean like he was. During this time, Carlos and I talked openly about his drug use. It seems I had only known the tip of the iceberg. I listened in horror as he told me about the types and quantities of drugs he had ingested and cried when he said that a dealer had held a gun to his chest when he didn’t have enough money to pay for the drugs he wanted to use. He sold off almost everything that was dear to him during his periods of heavy use – his beloved guitars, computers, suitcases full of his clothes. He lost friends who didn’t know how to deal with the significant changes in him. He pulled away from family because he was ashamed about who he felt he had become.
When Carlos was clean and clear-headed, he would talk regretfully about the experiences that he had missed out on during his years of drug use. For example, although he graduated from high school, he did not attend the actual ceremony and didn’t want a graduation party. He also missed family events, such as birthday parties (he was often too high to attend or to care), an entire Christmas season spent in jail due to drug use, etc. Carlos explained that these “voids” in his life made him very sad and depressed because he would never get that precious time back. Although he didn’t acknowledge it for years while he was using, Carlos eventually started talking about what a major part marijuana had played in his teenage years and on the road to opioids and other mind and body-altering drugs. He acknowledged that pot was indeed a gateway drug for him; after several months of initial use as a high school sophomore, he quickly moved to other drugs, searching for the “ultimate high.”
After relapsing again in winter 2015, my son got and stayed clean for the last 10 months of his life. He seemed to be on a path to what he hoped to achieve and was working on his self-esteem and self-worth. We will never know what caused him to use on December 23, 2016. I will forever have the image of the police detective and officer who rang our doorbell that night, to inform us that Carlos had found dead in my car, from a drug overdose. (We later learned that his drug of choice that afternoon was laced with fentanyl.) No parent should ever have to endure the agony and heartbreak of losing a child. Such a devastating loss crushes your soul and leaves you frozen in your tracks. You don’t know whether you can go on without your precious loved one and it becomes an effort to do the most mundane of everyday tasks. You spend hours and days casting your memory back to the day he was born, the day he learned how to play “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar, the last time he hugged you and you pray that you will be able to remember his voice.
The Gaping Hole in Those of us Left Behind
What about those of us whom Carlos left behind? My husband Mike (his stepfather) and I, Carlos’ sisters and brothers, friends and co-workers? How are we learning to cope when a piece of our lives is missing? The photo albums that we will create as a family going forward will not be filled with pictures of our beautiful son and brother as our wedding album is now. We will never again hear his laughter, see him drumming, singing and playing the guitar or just goofing around with his cat, Simon. My husband, Mike and I will miss having Carlos outlive us – nothing any parent should ever have to endure. His friends have told me that they will miss his quirky sense of humor and his willingness to go out of their way to help him; in one instance, buying a Christmas tree for a family in need. His siblings won’t be able to make new memories with a younger brother whom they adored.
How do we go on? How do we survive without the son, brother, friend who we lost to this terrible disease? For my husband and me, we have chosen to do what Carlos would have done had he lived. We tell his journey – one of an amazing human who thought about others before he thought about himself. Who dreamed of a future without drugs, a future with hope and life and success and love. We share the story of who Carlos was and we preserve his memories by fighting against the disease of drug abuse when he cannot. We want everyone to know that drug addiction is most definitely a primary, chronic disease that alters who you are. It’s a disease that is often progressive and fatal. No one chooses to be addicted to drugs. Carlos recounted that he often asked people “Do you think I choose this life (of addiction), with all of its pain and loss? I want to be healthy and happy just like anyone else and to help others.”
We share Carlos’ story and urge other parents to educate themselves about the signs and symptoms of addiction. We encourage them to get help for their loved one and for themselves. We fight to get laws enacted to help those who struggle with this disease so that they have full access to treatment and care. Most of all, we rest in God’s embrace, knowing that Carlos is our angel and that we will be reunited with him one day when we climb the stairway to heaven.
Pam made a video on Mother’s Day and she asks others to take action:
CHS symptoms lead me right into rehab. Morphine was the only thing that helped when they cut me off morphine I started getting pills off the street. I found cocaine helped so I was doing it everyday just to make it stop. Finally, I graduated to heroin and fetanyl and let me tell you the dope sickness plus CHS is a real treat.
I was in denial for 6 years I was actually told I had Cannabis Hyper………whatever Syndrome, CHS, but was so confused cause pot actually seemed to help.
I’m a little more than a month into rehab and I’ll tell you I already notice the difference. The problem is you’re sick for so long you forget what it’s like to live, so you keep on going back to the old ways and smoking pot. You lose all of your friends and jobs. You begin to isolate and you bond with the only thing that will bond with you and it turns out to be the drugs.
I remember screaming and crying in the shower. Begging strangers to rub my back in an emergency. Going to the psych ward because I would freak out and try and kill myself.
I know it sounds like a huge drastic thing but if you can’t quit put yourself in rehab. Or some kind of detox place. There will be doctors there to help you, and they will show you a new way of life and you won’t want to go back. Even though it has been over a month, I still get sick after I eat but the difference is undeniable. I know people don’t think they need NA and AA for pot but when it really comes down to it, marijuana is a drug and it’s ruining your life. You will lose everything with CHS. It’s only a matter of time if you haven’t yet. I know it will be a rough few months without it but I promise you it’s worth it…
I’ve even asked to be a case study so other people can get information. If it doesn’t get better after a few months maybe it’s something else. But try and rule this out and then the doctors can take a better look at you. But if you find yourself taking frequent showers, that is a pretty much dead give away. I hope you all luck and I wish I could take this pain away from you but sadly I can’t. Only you can help yourself by taking 3 months out of your life and quitting pot.
“…doctors find that even when cannabis use is consistent, the bouts of hyperemesis come and go, which further serves to keep the patient in denial about the connection to their drug use.”
“The most prominent cases are among long-term users that started using the drug at a very early age and have used daily for over 10 years…”
“Symptoms reported in a Current Psychiatry article include cyclic vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, gastric pain and compulsive hot bathing or showers to ease pain. Frequent bathing and vomiting can also lead to dehydration and excessive thirst. Mild fever, weight loss, and a drop in blood pressure upon standing are other symptoms.”.”
“Complete cessation of marijuana use is the only known cure for Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome.”
In San Diego, Dr. Ronnet Lev’s explained the vomiting during a press conference against Proposition 64.
Impaired babysitters are a new problem, as the laws across the country continue to advance the cause of marijuana legalization. About half the Americans now want to legalize the drug, because the marijuana lobbyists have invented the idea it is safer than alcohol. Their propaganda comes with a cost in terms of driving deaths and child deaths from abuse or neglect.
One such instance happened in Palm Bay, Florida when babysitter Jacqueline Bjorndal used marijuana, alcohol, and meth at a party the night before she was supposed to watch a little girl. The following day she showed up to work and was instructed to not let the child go near the pool because she could not swim.
During the course of the day the child asked if she could go outside near the pool to pet the family pig to which Bjorndal said she could.
Minutes went by and there was no sign of the child anywhere so Jacqueline called her roommate over and they continued searching for another 20 minutes or so. Eventually, the roommate looked in the bottom of the dirty pool and saw the outline of the child.
Police reports say that there was a bunch of debris and hoses loosely scattered around the pool. The babysitter has been charged with Aggravated Manslaughter by Neglect of a Child. In the state of Florida if you are convicted of that charge you are likely to expect a: Minimum-mandatory 16 ¾ years in prison, you can receive up to Life in prison, Up to Life on probation & Up to $10,000 in fines.
Another babysitter Went Out to Smoke Pot
There was a case in San Diego where a teen-aged girl was hired to babysit a 16-month-old old toddler. While at the house, the baby was playing inside with his slightly over sister. The girl got a call from her aunt, stepped outside, and the two females smoked pot out in the car. The baby come out of the house and walked into the behind the car as the visitor’s car pulled away. The baby was killed. However, two California juries acquitted the babysitter. The sitter’s first error in judgement was thinking that she could leave the toddler out of her sight. We don’t know how much time she spent in the car, but smoking marijuana distorts time.
Both these horrendous deaths occurred because young people have been told marijuana is harmless.
Babysitter Ate Pot Cookies by Mistake
In another case in Palm Beach, Florida, the roles got reversed. The mother of the house had gone out and hired a babysitter for the evening and at some point she went into the refrigerator and ate one of the homemade cookies that were in there.
The cookies, unfortunately, had been laced with marijuana which caused the victim to start hallucinating.
The police report stated she felt like she was going to die and kept thinking that she had a brain tumor. The babysitter was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Police spoke to the mother and she said, of course, “that she had never seen the cookies before.” But, when police talked to the children they were aware to not eat the homemade ones but to only eat the store brand ones.
This is not just negligent because the babysitter got sick, it is also because the container was within the children’s reach. This was noted in the police report and relayed to the Department of Children and Families. Hopefully somebody will follow up with the case.
Trusted Sitter Believed in “Harmless Herb” Message in Missouri
Another instance occurred in St. Louis Missouri after a 10-month child was found with a fractured skull after the child care provider had left for the day. Katie Hartwig, 31, was arrested after the girl’s mother found her, “sleeping face down on a couch.”
Hartwig was no stranger to the family as she had been taking care of the baby for most of the past year. The family thought this was completely out of character for her.
“Our sweet baby Quinn was abused by her babysitter who was also our family friend. We are all so devastated and still in shock. Her skull was shattered by a person we cared for and trusted. She has a long recovery and between medical bill and time off work we would be so grateful for any help.”
Katie was arrested and charged with first-degree felony child abuse and misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The “reason” Katie gives for injuring the child is because she wouldn’t stop crying.
These are just a few examples of completely irresponsible behavior that cannot go on while raising or taking care of a child. Marijuana should not be around at all in a household especially when others can mistakenly gain access to it.
Child Abuse Deaths Have Been Caused by Babysitters who Toked
As of January 1, 2017 Parents Opposed to Pot traced 80 deaths to child abuse and neglect by parents or caregivers under the influence of marijuana. In three cases, the babysitters stopped paying attention when the children who died. In Florida, babysitters were the responsible party in two of the deaths by drowning. In California, a sitter left the toddler and went outside to smoke pot in the car of a visitor. But the 16-month-old boy wandered outside and was hit by the car when the visitor back out and left.
Many of the marijuana-related deaths, about 15% of them, occurred because of the mothers’ irresponsible or abusive boyfriends. It’s not clear how many of these were boyfriends who had been babysitters. However, we are creating a sad society in which a mother puts her precious baby in the care of irresponsible drug users. These deaths point to another reason we should caution people not to date marijuana users.
Children testing positive for THC
Recently in Nebraska a babysitter has been investigated after a child in her care tested positive for THC. The girl was taken to the emergency room where doctors determined that the 2-year-old was suffering from exposure to the psychoactive ingredient.
After the police investigated more into the matter it was discovered that the day care provider had baked marijuana brownies and used the same pan to make some cookies for the kids to eat throughout the day.
The babysitter was ticketed for suspicion of child abuse and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order to close the daycare.
Children’s minds are molded by what they experience in the household and if this type of behavior is displayed in front of them at an early age, they will begin to accept its normality.
While it is considered the norm to hire a neighbor or good friend you have known for awhile it is always important to really know a good amount about the person before letting them take care of somebody you love.
Today’s teens do not realize the consequences of smoking and then being around small children or infants. Many parents also don’t realize the problem.
The notion that marijuana is considered harmless has caused a number of tragedies and it leads babysitters (and other professionals) to believe that they are not impaired.
All around the U.S. there are horror stories of passengers being seriously injured or killed by other drivers who are under the influence of marijuana.
Stoners will argue that, “I drive better when I’m high, ” but unfortunately for them science tells us that this is not the case. The National institute on Drug Abuse conducted a study with 19 participants in “the most sophisticated driving simulator of its kind to mirror real-life situations.” Read about the study on marijuana impact on driving.
Although marijuana had a less dramatic effect than alcohol on drivers the study found it still impairs driving performance. Researchers found the drug reduced the drivers’ peripheral vision giving them tunnel vision. Drivers with blood concentrations of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, showed increased weaving within the lane, similar to those with 0.08 breath alcohol, the threshold for impaired driving in many states.
Currently there is no federal regulation on the amount of marijuana allowed to be in one’s system while driving. Since legalization, both Colorado and Washington have agreed that the base level would be five nanograms.
No standardized marijuana tests exist
How do police officers go about testing for marijuana in a drivers system? Currently there is no standardized test for officers to use in order to determine the marijuana intoxication level of a driver.
THC rapidly leaves the bloodstream so any time delay before testing gives false readings.Marijuana can still impair judgement once it leaves the bloodstream, because the THC can remain in fatty brain tissue, for days or weeks.
States that have decriminalize laws are much tougher to prove marijuana intoxication since the person in question might legally be allowed to possess the drug.
Something needs to change
Within the past few years there have been multiple instances where “professional” drivers have been cited for being stoned on the job. Recently on March 28th, 2017 a school bus driver in Massachusetts was called out by students for smelling like marijuana.
He was arrested on scene but will most likely not face charges since there is no proven way to accurately test for the marijuana in his system. Laws vary from state to state regarding what kind of background check different drivers have to go through.
For instance, in Pennsylvania school bus drivers are required to submit finger prints to the FBI, provide a urine sample, and complete a background check before being appointed the position.
However in Kansas, it is not required by the state to have a background check performed on a school bus driver, although the option is still available.
In 2013, the first full year after Washington state legalized pot, nearly 25 percent more drivers tested positive for marijuana than before legalization.
Also in Washington State, fatal driving accidents had risen 122% between 2010 & 2014. Since dispensaries have opened, the number of drivers testing positive for pot jumped by one third.
The first marijuana related death in Washington occurred when a young man went to pass another car on the highway. He crossed over the center line and struck another car head on and then managed to hit another two cars.
The passenger in the car was also killed on scene but the driver he hit head on managed to survive the impact. Later on it was discovered that the deceased driver tested positive for marijuana.
On October 4, 2013 a young adult male riding his motorcycle died after being struck by a stoned driver. The driver, Caleb Floyd, made an illegal left-hand turn into the cyclist killing him at the scene. Blake Gaston had just left dinner that night with his family and was headed home when he was struck.
At Floyd’s sentencing there was not one dry eye in the room when Mary Gaston, Blake’s mother, was speaking. She had this to say, “I heard the thud, and I knew — I knew immediately that he had been hit, the force of the impact resulted in a horrific death. I know because I was there. I watched my son die.”
Floyd received a 34 month prison sentence with an additional 365 days hanging over his head if he somehow violates his plea agreement with the court or his probation once he is released.
Unfortunately the California Highway Patrol doesn’t keep statistics on traffic accidents attributed to marijuana use. But, according to Prop 64 backer Nate Bradley; who just happens to be a former police officer, the new marijuana initiative will actually help to put protocol into place to test for impairment.
Better testing protocols need to come before legalizing marijuana
California is legalizing first and asking questions later. “The initiative would direct $15 million over five years to the Highway Patrol to determine protocols and best practices for detecting people driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana.” Since Colorado and Washington haven’t found ways to cut out the stoned driving, why would California do any better?
More states across the country are seeming to adopt this relaxed marijuana policy and before you know it, a good majority of drivers on the road will have marijuana in their system.
I am not a long-time user. I used casually for about six months, but then suddenly had a terrible experience with marijuana-induced psychosis. I had moved from a state where is was illegal, to Washington. A dispensary sold me something incredibly strong just recently, in March. It was a joint mixed with a marijuana wax- I didn’t even know what that was. I was SO naive, but there is literally NOTHING out there that lets consumers know that ANYthing even remotely bad can happen.
As long as I didn’t drive under the influence, what could go wrong? I thought all pot was “safe.” The irony is that I am nearly 40, a stay-at-home mom with honor roll kids, no history, ZERO history with drug usage, or ANY depression, mental illness etc etc.. NONE. I never used marijuana before I moved to Washington. I literally just set out to listen to music and unwind while I got the house clean….awaiting the arrival of my husband who was gone on a business trip. My kids were on Spring break, at a friend’s house.
About halfway through I felt very dizzy and unbalanced… So I thought I just needed to sit down, or maybe eat.. I looked at the glass of wine I had poured… and dumped it in the drain…. Then I had a sudden disturbing image of myself biting THROUGH the wine glass… It came over and over. Bite the glass….. the words wouldn’t leave my head…. I’m biting glass. My heart began to race, my hands began to shake. I felt freezing cold, yet was sweating. Then I was feeling a sudden surge of Adrenalin and was panic stricken. I began having suicidal ideations, in MINUTES…
Shooting Myself and Biting Glass
Over and over and over… shoot yourself… bite through the glass… shoot yourself…and much worse.. it was as if a tape of my worst nightmares were playing over and over and over again in my head…and it was just as physical as it was psychological….. With absolute sincerity, I tell you that I barely made it through that night alive, and even the subsequent days and weeks… I still suffered terrible suicidal ideation……….
NEVER, ever did I have suicidal thoughts or feelings in my life. I am happy, well-adjusted, and a warm, outgoing person with lots of friends and a solid marriage.
Within days I began researching, because I KNEW what I had experienced was from smoking…again, I reiterate, I had nothing else in my system or history to indicate otherwise….and there it was.. All the research indicating that it WAS the pot.. Marijuana-induced psychosis is a proven thing and all too common. There is ZERO safety put in place in these recreational pot stores. They don’t warn a consumer about strength, concentration or side effects. It as if you are buying a glass of milk to them!! I later found out that marijuana wax is known as a “dab” and I am still unsure of what they really are…
No Warnings Against Psychosis!
The ER in Olympia Washington sees on average TWO cases of marijuana-induced psychosis a DAY!! Yet we don’t hear of this!? Why not? I would have NEVER tried any medicine or drink that could even remotely do this to me, but thought I was using something as harmless as a glass of wine because they say it is. I can’t even fully describe the horror of that night as it’s very, very hard to revisit. Thank you for warning people. I am glad I was able to use some of the resources and information you have shared to help recover…….People need to know. Marijuana can be deadly. I almost lost everything to very casual use.
I am lucky to have health insurance and lucky that my husband could be with me. My husband had to take an entire week off to stay home with me! Again how fortunate I am and I’m in the position to have someone that could do that.
I am lucky in that I am NOT an addict or addicted to it. So not using isn’t an issue….. I would never smoke pot again, but the suicidal ideation was so intense and such a terrible and traumatic experience…. It is hard to describe how horrific it is was and I’d rather be tortured than ever experience that again…. I just never thought that was even possible…. From BK, Washington
Massachusetts Moms Warn Legislators
Opioid Use Often Starts with Marijuana
After recreational marijuana legalization and commercialization passed in Massachusetts last November 2016, Cheryl was despondent. The Governor, Lt. Governor, and Mayor of Boston all were against it. Yet, the pro-industry spin held sway with the voters.
Cheryl’s son’s drug use began with marijuana. She couldn’t believe the voters wanted to legalize the drug that took her son down the path to addiction to heroin. At the time of his death, at the age of 23, he was in recovery yet struggling with depression. He left behind the mother of his child and a 4-1/2 month old daughter. Cheryl doesn’t want more teens to get caught in the downward spiral leading to early death.
Some moms from her grief support group were out in force trying to educate the public prior to the election. In Eastern Massachusetts, the ballot initiative was defeated by voters in 90 towns, due in large part to these moms and their grassroots campaigning. But, voters in Western Massachusetts didn’t have the benefit of such education due to lack of funding. And, the drug legalization effort had big money to advertise and convince the public to their side.
Recently, Cheryl met Jody Hensley, a lead activist and supporter of the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts which opposed Marijuana legalization and commercialization under Ballot Question 4, who also led a successful effort for her town of Westborough to opt out of hosting commercial marijuana businesses. Cheryl showed Jody her list of parents, and their child’s birth and death dates. Jody was shocked and in disbelief. The portraits of those lost children, held in their mother’s arms at an addiction prevention event in New Hampshire the previous week, resonated powerfully. The two women wondered how lawmakers and the public could be reached through the pictures and stories of these many families. Cheryl’s group of over 300 families included members who could collect the photographs and produce a video to send the members of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy before the first public hearing on the subject. The video showcases photos of 79 children and young adults who started their drug journey with marijuana and died either by suicide or drug overdose.
The video was shared by many in Facebook and Cheryl is now getting calls from drug prevention groups all over the country. You can help it go viral!
Watch Parents Sharing our Childs Loss from Substance Passing video
This video only represents a fraction of the annual drug related deaths in Massachusetts. Here are the sobering statistics: in 2014—1379 deaths, 2015- 1751 deaths, and 2016, 1979 died. Decriminalization of marijuana in the state of Massachusetts occurred in 2008, and medical marijuana became legal in 2012. To give some perspective, Massachusetts opioid related deaths in 2000 were only 318 for the entire state.
Recreational marijuana legalization in Massachusetts doesn’t become official until 2018. There is time for voters to get politically active to make sure that your community is educated and can arrange to opt out. Cities and towns will have that ability, but the critical effort now is to make it easy for jurisdictions to do so, as the marijuana industry lobbyists want to make it nigh on to impossible.
For parents who have lost a child to drug-related overdose or suicide, Cheryl recommends joining a grief support or recovery group. The risks for parents struggling with the loss of a child from substance use are isolation, depression and even suicide. Cheryl started a closed Facebook Group that gives comfort to hundreds of such parents in Massachusetts. She would like to see such groups all over the U.S. She has already helped one parent in New Hampshire start one.
Allowing marijuana use will just give addiction a foot in the door
(It’s not ‘just’ marijuana originally posted in Central Maine Press on March 4, 2017) Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel (Maine)
BY ROBERT CHARLES
He came into my office with his hair on fire. A father, middle-aged. I made a habit of leaving my door on Capitol Hill open.
Most committee staff directors and counsels don’t do that; they have “gatekeepers.” Nominally, I did too, but I felt I worked for every taxpayer, every single one, and he was one.
My criminal justice committee, plus the speaker’s task force and bipartisan working group on narcotics and addiction that I ran, all focused on oversight. Part of the job was oversight of the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other federal agencies struggling with the spike of drug abuse that was happening then, in the 1990s.
I asked this upset father to come in. He had something obviously important on his mind. In that moment, I appeared to be “the federal government.” I pointed to the big stuffed chair, sat down myself and listened.
He was mid-sentence. “And he was a typical, strong, independent 18-year-old,” he was saying. I nodded. “And he was a good kid … I had been law enforcement, see? I found the pot in his room.” I nodded. “And he was a skier, loved to ski.”
When Teaching Moderation Didn’t Work
“I confronted him, knew what it was …” He seemed to be reliving that inflection point. “But I said, look, ’cause he was a good kid, I said, “OK, OK, look, everything in moderation.”
I did not say anything.
“It seemed OK, you know? That’s what they always said about other things. I wanted to keep the relationship with my son, you know? A good kid.”
The conversation poured out of him.
“Then things changed, he got distant. Other drugs, heroin. He tried to stop.” The father started to ramble. The law’s fault. The criminal justice system. His son had been stealing. Treatment. Friends who weren’t friends. More treatment. Profanity. Exasperation.
I listened. Sometimes that was all I could do. He had come to tell someone. He was looking for something, and I sensed I could not give it to him.
“So, you see, that was three years ago. I was a good dad, said everything in moderation … it was just marijuana.”
He looked up at me sharply. I knew there was more. Finally, it came.
“Last month, I went up there, top of the mountain, where he always skied. I took the ashes of my son, in a shoe box. I held him in a shoe box. The same son I had held 21 years ago as a baby. And I sprinkled his ashes there…”
We were both quiet. He cried. And I cried. I told him he was not alone. I told him many things about this terrible crisis that gripped us, gripped the nation. And he got, I think, some small, insignificant consolation.
That father wanted something I could not give him, beyond a hug and shared tears, and consideration for his agony. He wanted the moment back. The earlier moment. He wanted his son back.
Why No Caring and Empathy for Others’ Pain?
That was almost 20 years ago. The nation had lost 14,000 kids to overdoses that year. Congress wrote and passed the Drug Free Communities Act of 1997, Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, and federal anti-drug trafficking laws, including against trafficking marijuana. And drug abuse went down — markedly.
People cared. They knew intuitively that narcotics — including marijuana — were not cigarettes, not beer. Attitudes changed, as they had back in the 1980s during the Ronald and Nancy Reagan years.
And then the great forgetting began again. Drug addiction — so often starting with marijuana, as it is readily available — began to climb again. Then the availability of opiates and heroin. No one paid attention.
And here we are, again, today. Only last year, more than 52,000 people died of drug overdoses, taken from loving, devastated parents, as well as siblings and friends. They want the status quo ante, those precious moments back, decisions back, sons and daughters back.
They want to be able to say, “No, marijuana is not harmless, not a good choice, not the right thing — no matter what voters or governments say.”
This week, I talked to another parent who lost her son to heroin, and began with marijuana.
I teared up again, a good kid, led in the wrong direction by a government that did not care enough to tell the truth, explain the trap door, the treachery of addiction that comes so often with marijuana. “We thought, you know … it was just marijuana.”
The truth? There is no “just” about it.
Robert Charles grew up in Maine who served as assistant secretary of state under Colin Powell.
There, a night of partying — Bacardi rum, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and half of a marijuana cookie — left her feeling so intoxicated she says could not get out of a car on her own that night when she went with Masina and a group of his friends to get fast food, and she said she cannot recall how she got back inside the house.
She said the next thing she remembered after passing out was waking up with Masina raping her.
“It hurt. It was very painful,” she said, and though she said she felt “scared and helpless,” she tried to move her legs to stop him.
“Did you consent in any way to the sexual contact you’ve been describing?” the prosecutor asked.
“No,” the woman said.
The woman testified she passed out and awoke several more times throughout the night, each time to a different horror: She awoke to Masina forcing her to engage in oral sex so rough she could not breathe; she awoke unable to move from a couch and unable to reach someone to come help her; she awoke, wearing only a bra and a blanket, on the lawn of a neighboring home where she saw Masina’s car still parked outside and “that fear came over me again because I knew he was still in the house.”
Calling Out the Role of Marijuana is not “Victim Shaming”
The description of the rape is horrible. The evidence suggests that the football player and the woman were abusing substances before the sexual activity occurred. The law should not excuse this behavior towards a woman who has passed out.
Nine days earlier, Masina, her high school friend, had invited the victim to Los Angeles for a long weekend. At that time, Masina, the woman and another football player, Max Hill, partied hard. The victim took marijuana, two Xanax pills along with alcohol The woman alleges that both Masina and Don Hill raped her. Masina and Hill were suspended from the team, but a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles has been dismissed.
Alcohol can produce some pretty outrageous behaviors, but when alcohol mixes with marijuana or other drugs, extremes happen. This case, the Stanford swimmer’s case and many others exemplify why we need to educate against intoxication. It is not “victim shaming” to explain that the 19-year-old would not have passed out if she had did not eat half a marijuana cookie. The effects of marijuana cookies happen about two hours after ingestion.
There is no mention of how and when Masina or the woman obtained the cookies. Who bought or provided the cookie? Was interstate drug trafficking involved? Calling out substance abuse as a factor doesn’t excuse rape, but it warns of the conditions in which rape is most likely to occur.
No on 2 Predicted Correctly
In 2014, the Florida Vote No on 2 Campaign forecast that marijuana would become the new date-rape drug. Journalists, respectable blogs and the marijuana industry laughed at the idea. No on 2’s prediction was correct. Let’s hope the prosecutor explores the role of the pot-laced cookie during the trial. It should serve as a warning against this type of impairment.
States should pass laws to clarify consent for sexual activity in order to guard against rape and unwanted sex. Equally important, educators need to inform about the role of substance abuse in domestic violence and rape. Pedophiles often give marijuana to their victims.
Even groups concerned with violence against women remain in the dark. Colleges don’t do enough to warn against drugs to avoid unwanted sex. In fact, the United States is quite backwards compared to other countries in failing to see the connection. Those who blame alcohol only, and not other drugs, are complicit in the denial.
Marijuana-related suicide is a controversial topic because other websites include commenters who claim marijuana saved their lives. Pot interferes with the reward center of the brain, just like cocaine, alcohol and heroin. So when someone dependent on the drug doesn’t have it, their depression or anxiety becomes stronger than previously. After prolonged use, the brain eventually doesn’t function as well.
For this reason, it’s much wiser to rely on yoga, counseling, walking, and other exercise for depression and anxiety. (Others will say that anti-depressants are safer, although we won’t actually endorse them, and don’t think they’re always necessary.)
Marijuana increases the risk for psychosis more than any other drug. Marijuana is not the panacea the pot industry wants you to believe.
In today’s world, students have huge problems and challenges even if they don’t abuse substances. Marijuana is the most likely drug of abuse for teens. Any substance abuse –marijuana, alcohol, opiates, other drugs or a combination – generally makes the depression more difficult to overcome.
The town of Pueblo, Colorado has had an alarming trend of suicides among its teens, at least five this year. Although local officials link these deaths to bullying, Pueblo is infiltrated with marijuana and other drugs. Dr. Steven Simerville, head of pediatrics at a Pueblo hospital, has spoken about the connection between marijuana and teen suicide. In October, 2016, he said that all but one of teens who attempted suicide had THC in their toxicology reports.
A few years ago studies showed that 28% of all high school students are depressed. There are plenty of reasons for teens to be depressed in this society: hormonal change, social pressure, relationships and academics. The social media adds a layer of complication to the problem with cyber bullying. When a teen becomes an adult, additional challenges emerge, and for some, entry into adulthood is jolting.
Suicide is Increasing Above National Rate in Colorado
The opposite is occurring in Colorado. Suicide rates in Colorado have reached all-time highs, according to a recent report by the Colorado Health Institute. Each one of Colorado’s 21 health regions had a suicide rate higher than the national average.
Those old enough to go into dispensaries can see how the pot industry advertises marijuana to treat depression or anxiety. Dispensaries prey on the vulnerable. For veterans and those without a job, it’s hard to resist.
When the pot industry tells us that “no one ever died from marijuana,” they’re being dishonest. There’s a popular strain of marijuana called Purple Suicide. There’s also a line of vape pens called Suicide Girls, specifically marketed for using honey/hash oil. Makers of the vape pens and marketers of Purple Suicide are onto something: marijuana use increases the suicide risk.
When they assert the numbers of those who die from alcohol each year, please ask who is tracking deaths from marijuana. Maybe it is time for the CDC to start tracking marijuana-related deaths. Please read Part 3, The Common Element.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana has the Answer for Senator Warren
Last year Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked the CDC if marijuana can be used to fight the opioid epidemic. There’s an answer in Smart Approaches to Marijuana’s recent publication, its educational toolkit for 2017. The publication refers to academic studies which suggest that marijuana primes the brain for other types of drug usage, alcohol and heroin. Here’s the summary on that subject from page 4, Marijuana and Other Drugs: A Link We Can’t Ignore :
MORE THAN FOUR in 10 people who ever use marijuana will go on to use other illicit drugs, per a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults.(1) The CDC also says that marijuana users are three times more likely to become addicted to heroin.(2)
And according to the seminal 2017 National Academy of Sciences report, “There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or a substance abuse disorder for substances including alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs.”(3)
RECENT STUDIES WITH animals also indicate that marijuana use is connected to use and abuse of other drugs. A 2007 Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology study found that rats given THC later self administered heroin as adults, and increased their heroin usage, while those rats that had not been treated with THC maintained a steady level of heroin intake.(4) Another 2014 study found that adolescent THC exposure in rats seemed to change the rodents’ brains, as they subsequently displayed “heroin-seeking” behavior. Youth marijuana use could thus lead to “increased vulnerability to drug relapse in adulthood.”(5)
The National Institutes of Health says that research in this area is “consistent with animal experiments showing THC’s ability to ‘prime’ the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs. For example, rats previously administered THC show heightened behavioral response not only when further exposed to THC, but also when exposed to other drugs such as morphine—a phenomenon called cross-sensitization.”(6)
ADDITIONALLY, THE MAJORITY of studies find that marijuana users are often polysubstance users, despite a few studies finding limited evidence that some people substitute marijuana for opiate medication. That is, people generally do not substitute marijuana for other drugs. Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences report found that “with regard to opioids, cannabis use predicted continued opioid prescriptions 1 year after injury. Finally, cannabis use was associated with reduced odds of achieving abstinence from alcohol, cocaine, or polysubstance use after inpatient hospitalization and treatment for substance use disorders” [emphasis added].(7)
Moreover, a three-year 2016 study of adults also found that marijuana compounds problems with alcohol. Those who reported marijuana use during the first wave of the survey were more likely than adults who did not use marijuana to develop an alcohol use disorder within three years.(8) Similarly, alcohol consumption in Colorado has increased slightly since legalization. (9)
Senator Warren, you’re deeply respected by youth. You could be a powerful spokesperson by advocating for them not to use drugs. The problem is that — for some young people — that critical first choice to use a drug turns into a game of Russian Roulette.
Parents who lost children to drugs overwhelmingly insist their children initiated drug use with marijuana and alcohol. Marijuana advocates insist marijuana is “not a gateway” drug, but studies show otherwise. Marijuana is a gateway to other drugs for 40+ percent of those who start using pot. It is never wise to substitute one drug of addiction for another drug of addiction. Please consider that not everyone who becomes addicted to opiates started because of pain. Many started for fun. According to a Jon Daily of Recovery Happens, most begin pain pill abuse because their relationship with intoxication began as a relationship with marijuana and/or alcohol.
There are many other ways to treat the opiate epidemic: better prevention programs, mandating education in the schools and clamping down on internet sellers of these drugs. Studies claiming fewer overdose deaths occur in marijuana states need to consider the availability of suboxone, other drugs to counter the overdose.
Senator Warren, please check out Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which advocates an alternative to legalization which does not include incarceration. In our next article, Senator Warren, we will discuss the marijuana-mental illness links………… once again.
Secades-Villa R, Garcia-Rodríguez O, Jin CJ, Wang S, Blanco C Probability and predictors of the cannabis gateway effect: a national study. Int J Drug Policy. 2015;26(2):135-142
2. Centers for Disease Control. Today’s heroin epidemic Infographics more people at risk, multiple drugs abused. CDC, 7 July 2015.
3. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health andPublic Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda (“2017 NAS Report”).
4. Ellgren, Maria et al. “Adolescent Cannabis Exposure Alters Opiate Intake and Opioid Limbic Neuronal Populations in Adult Rats.”Neuropsychopharmacology 32.3 (2006): 607–615.
5. Stropponi, Serena et al. Chronic THC during adolescence increases the vulnerability to stress-induced relapse to heroin seeking in adult rats. European Neuropsychopharmacology Volume 24 , Issue 7 (2014), 1037 – 1045.
6. “Is marijuana a gateway drug?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Jan. 2017. See also Panlilio LV, Zanettini C, Barnes C, Solinas M, Goldberg SR. Prior exposure to THC increases the addictive effects of nicotine in rats. Neuropsychopharmacol Off Publ Am Coll Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013;38(7):1198-1208; Cadoni C, Pisanu A, Solinas M, Acquas E, Di Chiara G. Behavioural sensitization after repeated exposure to Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cross-sensitization with morphine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;158(3):259-266.
7. 2017 NAS report.
8. Weinberger AH, Platt J, Goodwin RD. Is cannabis use associated with an increased risk of onset and persistence of alcohol use disorders? A three-year prospective study among adults in the United States. Drug Alcohol Depend. February 2016.
9. Rocky Mountain HIDTA Investigative Support Center Strategic Intelligence Unit. The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volum
Legalization means commercialization (don’t deny it–that is what has happened in every state that voted to legalize.) Please join us in stopping the commercialization of marijuana. Decriminalization is already in place. NORML is raising money and trying to normalize pot use in every state. Hit the “LIKE” and “SHARE” buttons in order to raise the profile of all groups that fight this in their states. (Just Say No to Marijuana went online after we published this article.)
Please start a group for your state to go against legalization if it doesn’t have one. There are many other community, county and groups affiliated with CADCA. This list emphasizes groups that concentrate on marijuana prevention. Drug Free America Foundation is national and it opposes all drugs. Smart Approaches to Marijuana and Parents Opposed to Pot focus on marijuana. National Families in Action writes the latest studies of marijuana in The Marijuana Report (see above). We must support each other, as well as other state groups.
See T-Mobile ad here. Sign the petition here. (Originally published in The Marijuana Report, February 15 edition)
In December, a grandmother protested the marketing of leggings printed with marijuana leaves to young toddlers. Now a group of angry parents is taking aim at T-Mobile, a larger target they say is trying to normalize drug use by targeting the message to children.
During the broadcast of Super Bowl LI on February 5, T-Mobile aired an ad with lifestyle guru Martha Stewart and rap artist Snoop Dogg (real name Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr.) during which the two bantered, making several not-so-veiled humorous references to marijuana.
The ad is meant to play off Stewart and Broadus’ VH1 reality show, “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party,” a show geared to millennials that some reviewers concede is nothing more than an effort to normalize the use of marijuana.
Parents are not having it
During the Super Bowl, a T-Mobile ad ran with such references as ‘pot,’ ‘can o bisque,’ ‘greenery,’ and ‘purple cushions’ [Purple Kush is a popular strain of marijuana]. How much more of an attempt to normalize this to youngsters can you get? The Super Bowl is something whole families watch. This was the worst place to air a commercial like this UNLESS the goal was to make drug use a joke and get kids to think marijuana is ‘no big deal,’ “explained a Missouri mom who has had several friends lose children to drug abuse, including marijuana addiction.
She has organized a petition to boycott T-Mobile, understanding that she faces an uphill battle against a society that increasingly believes marijuana is not harmful.
However, she has the support of drug policy experts who have been warning of the same for years. Drug policy expert Kevin Sabet, co-founder and President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), explained, “Ads like this show exactly what the marijuana legalization movement is about—addiction for profit. Last year, tens of millions of pot lobby dollars bankrolled an initiative in California that would allow pot smoking ads to run on television. Three months later, the same lobby promotes this ad during an event when millions of kids were watching. It’s Big Tobacco all over again.” (Originally published in The Marijuana Report, February 15 edition.)
Tracking Deaths from Hash Oil Labs Exposes the Growing Danger
People use marijuana to make butane hash oil , also called honey oil. Hash oil labs using marijuana have replaced meth labs as the most dangerous drug labs of our time. They are blowing up people and homes, particularly in California and in the West.
By April, 2015, the California Alliance of Drug-Endangered Children had tracked 41 marijuana lab deaths in that state between 2011 and April, 2015. Three children had died by that time and several more were injured. More recent information on the deaths in California aren’t available at this time.
In California, they call it “honey oil” to disguise its connection to marijuana. When fires are reported on the news, reporters often don’t mention the connection to marijuana.
2 allegedly died after the Rio Dell fire on November 9, 2016. The burns covered 90% of their bodies. At least 22 hash oil explosions have occurred in California since the vote to legalize marijuana on November 8, 2016.
Legal, legitimate Labs also Explode, Resulting Lawsuits
Advocates will say these deaths will stop if it’s regulated and allowed only in state-licensed dispensaries. However, fires have occurred in licensed dispensaries in California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan and New Mexico. The lab that exploded in New Mexico was one the state’s largest marijuana companies. One of the workers who suffered from extensive burns in the fire sued the dispensary.
We believe the regulation of butane will be very difficult, just like all other regulation programs that try to regulate these labs: https://www.facebook.com/lostcoastoutpost/videos. In short, regulating marijuana dispensaries is a terrible task. It doesn’t work.
Calaveras County made national news this week because its famed, 2,000 year old tree, which had been a tourist attraction since 1880, fell down. Fortunately, Calaveras County also took action this week to keep out an invasive tree, the giant cannabis plants that grow like weeds. Tourists won’t be going there for marijuana, and fortunately, many giant sequoias are still standing. (Photos from the Calaveras Big Trees Association webpage)
Citizens Qualify an Initiative to Ban Marijuana Cultivation
Calaveras County will see California’s first ever citizen-initiated ordinance banning commercial marijuana activities decided soon by its Board of Supervisors or in a spring special election. It’s one of the first big push-backs against Big Marijuana since the November 8 election in which the state legalized pot.
County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Rebecca Turner today certified the petition sections filed by proponents of the initiative to ban commercial marijuana cultivation included more than enough valid signatures to qualify it for a special election. Sampling 500 of the more than 5,200 signatures submitted, the Elections Department found a validity rate of 87% which, applied to the total, would produce approximately 4,532 valid signatures, where the number needed for certification was only 3,143.
“We’re delighted with the results, but not surprised,” said Bill McManus, Chairman of The Committee to Ban Commercial Cultivation. “The high percentage of invalid signatures from the Measure D signature drive was not surprising due to their use of paid professional signature gatherers. By contrast, our all-volunteer team was much more careful and deliberate in their efforts.” “Nevertheless, we overshot the target by a wide margin,” he went on, “to send a strong message to our Board of Supervisors as to the will of the people in Calaveras County.” Committee member David Tunno added, “We only took about half the amount of time available to gather signatures, or the number would have been much greater.”
“Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM) congratulates The Committee to Ban Commercial Marijuana in Calaveras County for their successful initiative drive, and especially for being the first such success citizens’ campaign in the state of California. As far as we know, they are also the first in the U.S. We encourage the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors to enact their ordinance at the earliest possible date.” Said Carla Lowe, Founder, Co-chair, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, a statewide organization.
The Elections Department also notified the proponents that it will request a hearing on the matter before the Board of Supervisors at its regularly scheduled January 24 meeting. At this writing, it is unknown whether it will be placed on the agenda for that meeting, but when it is, the Board will have the options of adopting the ordinance, directing the Elections Department to schedule it for a special election, or doing nothing, triggering a requirement for the Department to schedule the ordinance for a special election in the spring.
Proponents of the initiative and authors of the proposed ordinance were Bill McManus of the Calaveras Project and David Tunno, former County Planning Commissioner. The ordinance bans all commercial marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, processing and delivery within unincorporated Calaveras County, as well as dispensaries, while providing an exception for qualified medical patients under specified conditions. The complete ordinance and additional information is available on their website, ban commercial cultivation.
Three months ago in Washington, a Arcan Cetin, shot and killed five people at Cascades Mall. He suffered from PTSD, other conditions and used marijuana among other things. He had complied with court-ordered treatment, but the protocol was not working.
Documentation shows that he blamed marijuana for his problems. Records warned of “strong likelihood of similar future violations,” unless he was properly treated for mental health and substance abuse. An addictions counselor gave that warning. (Cetin is in the photo above – Brandy Shreve, AP)
Another victim of poor mental health delivery, Keaton Ferris, died over a year ago. A funny and loving young man, Ferris died of dehydration in the Whidby Island jail. Sad as the story goes, it seems as if his bipolar disorder was triggered by marijuana use.
Washington Police Shootings
Was the Tacoma shooter who shot and killed a police officer on November 30 a marijuana user? A SWAT team responded to a domestic violence call. The suspect used his 6-year-old and 8-year-old as human shields. Life is tough and setbacks occur, but people become so much more unhinged if they’re marijuana abusers.
In another incident only two weeks later, a man know for violent out breaks shot a policeman in Mt. Vernon, Washington. The suspect is now in custody after several hours of standoff.
Washington is more enlightened than many states when it comes to the treatment of mental illness, but foolish about pot. Legalizationcreates a problem and uses the revenue to solve problems it might not have otherwise (These problems also expand when widespread pot use expands with decriminalization and medical marijuana.)
The Governor of Washington also wants to overhaul the state’s mental health system. Gov. Inslee doesn’t say pot is an issue, but he probably knows pot is the issue. His efforts are honest and sincere. Other states considering change in marijuana laws also need a plan for the mental health care explosion.
Wake Up, America, to the Looming Mental Health Crisis
by Lori Robinson, co-founder of Moms Strong After losing my own kid, I caution parents not to live in denial of marijuana, as I did. Your child will be exposed to marijuana and is likely to experiment with it. It is my mission to prevent other young people from going down the same path my son did.
Just because something originates in nature doesn’t mean it’s safe. Like some people die from a bee sting, a part of mother nature, some people die from the consequences of using marijuana, or they spiral out of control.
If a person who uses today’s highly potent marijuana goes into psychosis (or depression, panic attack, other psychiatric presentation), please get the proper treatment. The mental health system needs to first address the drug effects and assess the need for addiction treatment. Next, wait for the drug-induced mental illness to run its course. Then educate about brain health.
Our California Problem
In California, it’s common to rope young marijuana users with psychotic symptoms into the label of a permanent, debilitating mental illness rather than give them addiction treatment. When it comes to strong males like my son, they also flood them with powerful, unnecessary pharmaceutical drugs. In the case of cannabis-induced psychosis, the anti-psychotics are often ineffective against the psychosis.
For some youth, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder may also be devastating. After all, everyone else is using marijuana and it’s a sign of weakness not to be able to handle pot. As reported recently in the Desert Sun, “Despite robust scientific research about the negative potential effects of marijuana use, young adults tend to underestimate the risks……Nearly two-thirds (60.5 percent) of young adults surveyed who use marijuana do not think it’s addictive, and just as many (60.8 percent) do not think marijuana can damage the brain.”
If marijuana is legalized nationally, the need for mental health treatment will explode. Psychiatry is a tricky field with less success than other medical specialties such as heart disease or emergency medicine. The fallout will be huge. Wake up, America. We are in uncharted waters. Marijuana use is growing nationwide and your kid may be the next casualty.
How do We Know Who is Vulnerable?
We don’t know. There’s no genetic test to discover who is susceptible to adverse mental health problems from pot. Those who have fancy educations and six-figure incomes frequently brag about their ability to use without negative consequences. (Their families may see it otherwise.)
This boasting shames people — particularly youth — into feeling they should be just as powerful. Some people continue even when they know it’s bad for them.
As a child, I was stung by bees several times. Each time my reaction got progressively worse. The last time it happened was at age 16; the doctor told me I could die if it happens again. Why is marijuana use like a fatal bee sting that makes some people swell until they implode?
Stop the Denial
So many young people develop adverse effects from using today’s high-strength pot. The marijuana advocates are pushing it because there’s so much money to be made. The don’t want potential users to become aware of these problems. They preach that nationwide legalization is inevitable and foster denial.
Research around the globe proves that marijuana causes panic attacks, paranoia, severe anxiety and/or depression. American hospitals often don’t consider marijuana a factor in the picture of mental health, and that’s a tragedy. There’s an urgent need for psychiatry to train more addiction specialists. If users quit after the first episode of psychosis or mental health disorder, they probably can avoid a permanent psychological problem. However, these users must never go back to pot again. It’s like avoiding the bee stings if someone who’s allergic doesn’t want a fatal reaction.
Maybe these families placed their denial in the wrong diagnosis. Youth who use marijuana are 7x more likely to attempt suicide, as reported in Lancet Psychiatry Journal in September 2014. How many of these loved ones have been marijuana users, or former users?
National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported today that drug abuse among teens is trending downward, except for marijuana. The University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future Survey was completed for 2016. It showed that six percent of high school seniors across the country are daily marijuana users.
Many of these young, habitual tokers, are potential addicts–if not yet addicted. They may stick to marijuana which is extremely potent today–5x more potent than it was in 70s. Or they may go onto other drugs, or slide into alcoholism as they turn the legal age to buy booze. The six percent of seniors who are daily pot users is triple the rate of daily drinkers in 12th grade. That figure is very troubling, and it is the same high rate from the previous year.
Teen abuse of other substances, including opioids and heroin, is down. However, adult substance abuse continues to rise astronomically. The Centers for Disease Control released new statistics last week: 52,404 drug-related deaths in 2015, an 11% rise. By comparison, 37,757 died in car crashes, an increase of 12%. Gun deaths, including homicides and suicides, totaled 36,252, a jump of 7%. In 2014, there were 47,055 drug overdose deaths. The rate of increase has risen rapidly in the last decade.
There’s the concern that these daily marijuana users will go onto other drugs, drugs that lead to overdose and are potentially lethal. States with high rates of teen marijuana use in 2011 and 2012 ended up having the highest rates of opioid pill abuse two years later. Here’s five reasons marijuana is a gateway drug.
Pain Pills, Cough Syrup and Other Drugs
The use of synthetic cannabinoids and ecstasy is lower, but still too high. High school students are using much fewer opioid pain pills. Among 12th graders there’s been a 45 percent drop over the past five years. Only 2.9 percent of high school seniors reported past year misuse of the pain reliever Vicodin in 2016, compared to nearly 10 percent a decade ago. The Drug Free American Foundation, CADCA and the pharmacies regularly sponsor “Take Back Your Drugs” days. At these times, pain relievers from other family members are tossed out, with the hopes of preventing illicit use.
Fewer eighth graders are using marijuana, which is encouraging. Parents Opposed to Pot believes it’s because new parent and community drug education efforts – since legalization — are discouraging early pot use.
One troubling note is that eighth graders had an increase in misuse of over-the-counter cough medicine. This year, 2.6 percent of them have abused it, up from 1.6 percent in 2015.
Tobacco use and drinking are trending downward, but use of e-cigarettes has gone up. Here’s the statistics.
The Christmas carol is poignant – reminder of Christmas, and beyond. “What child is this, who, laid to rest …” the carol begins. “Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?” it continues. The stanza ends, “Haste, haste ….” Lovely, lilting, full of promise – like the birth of a child. Here, a special child – but also every child.
In a season of joy, it is a message is joy. But the mind wanders, also to our mortal world. New numbers on drug addiction and drugged driving death, so many lost souls – mitigate the joy. They caught me off guard this week. My brother, a high school teacher, shared with me the loss of another student, another fatal crash, as drugged driving numbers rise. What is the season for heartbroken parents – but a season of loss? Each year, upwards of 100,000 parents lose a child to drug abuse.
What child is this? It is America’s child, and America’s childhood. How is it that we have, collectively, forgotten to keep watch over those entrusted to our watch – especially from high office? Last year, 47,055 Americans, most of them young, were lost to drug abuse – just statistics now. Why?
In part, because so many Americans have heard a mixed message from their leaders – with devastating effects. Led to believe drugs are “recreation,” something not different from beer or wine, kids try and soon die. Synthetic opioids, heroin, cocaine, high potency marijuana – and then a trip to the ER, or not even, on the way to a mortuary. Numbers do not lie.
Drugged driving is now another epidemic. Drivers and helpless passengers are all at risk, along with everyone on the road. Near home, not long ago, several kids died in a terrible car crash. They missed a bend and hit a tree. The sister of a child known to my son was almost in that car – but courageously declined the ride. She knew the driver was compromised. That decision saved her life. Unfortunately, the searing truth caught others off guard. Drugged driving is death on wheels, period. Drug legalization is the unabashed promoter of that death. So, where are the shepherds? Where are the outspoken leaders, who know this – but are silent?
What child is this, who starts with marijuana, soon is addicted, ends overdosing on opiates or as a roadside cross? What child is this, who needed knowledge from someone they trust – but get misinformation? What child is this, who is force-fed popular lies, that drug abuse is “recreation?”
And what child is this, “greeted by angels,” who was forsaken here – by knowing leaders for political advantage? “Laid to rest” by parents’ inconsolable hands? Where were leaders, a thoughtful president, governor, congressman, legislator, mayor? How could we, in a blink, give up 50,000 souls – this year, again? Silence is not just holy – it can also be complicit. Permitting legal expansion of drug abuse, legalized money laundering, an insidious tax grab and a Federal blind eye – comes at the expense of young lives. That is the truth.
Needed in this season of change are new national and community leaders, who are unafraid to say: Do not compromise the future. Do not risk everything for nothing. Do not break faith with yourself, or those counting on you.
The mind wanders … from a Christmas carol to those not here to celebrate. To parents, siblings, friends and teachers sadly forced to ask “what if…” And bigger questions: What if the legalization pabulum and knowing disinformation were stopped? What if drugs that addict and kill were less available? What if policy indifference turned to saving young lives, not putting them at risk?
Said Henry David Thoreau, every child is an “empire.” But today, these empires are falling fast. The risk inherent in our indifference, disinformation, disregard for truth, and treating death as recreation. Addiction’s darkness comes on fast. Life soon narrows, ambitions die, dependence rises, users are boxed in, relationships and functions degraded, nightmares start and then the awful, big question – who cares?
These days, few seem to – not the president, Congress, many state “leaders.” They just go along. Meantime, more families are drained and left alone – victims of widening drug abuse, drugged driving, drug-related crime, and life-changing addictions. The Trump team has a chance to say: Enough, experiment over. That would help American families stop grieving, and save kids from this unparalleled dance with false information and societal indifference. That would be leadership – and long overdue. So, pull the Drug Czar back to Cabinet rank, put Federal resources and smart people on enforcing the law, and educate the country.
“What child is this?” It is America’s child. With new hope and real leadership – may we have no more compromises with evil, but truth spoken to power, and power to people. Let us stand watch, shepherds for young America. “Haste, haste …” in this and all seasons. There is a resolution for the new year.
Robert Charles is a columnist for Town Hall Magazine. He also wrote Return the Drug Czar to Cabinet. Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement under George W. Bush, former Naval Intelligence Officer and litigator, who served in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses. He wrote the book “Narcotics and Terrorism,” and writes widely on national security and law.
Can Other States Prevent Deaths Like those in Washington?
Washington – not Colorado – was the first state to legalize weed on December 5, 2012, exactly four years ago. Within a few weeks, five people died—probably only because marijuana was now legal. California and Massachusetts have not figured out how to measure stoned drivers. Will other states that now allow pot possession face a rapid rise of deaths too?
On the morning pot was legalized, two intruders broke into the Puyallup home of a large marijuana grower. Robbery was the motive, of course. The owner shot and killed the masked men immediately. So much for the claim that legalization will “free up law enforcement for more serious crimes.” A few weeks ago, there was a similar situation in Denver, when a homeowner shot and killed a 15-year-old stealing pot from his yard.
On December 17, 2012, Scotty Rowles struck and killed pedestrian Donald Collins in Vancouver, Washington. Rowles was not speeding, but admitted to smoking a bowl of marijuana before driving. He spent six months in jail and is now on probation. (Punishments for stoned driving in Washington aren’t strong enough to discourage it.)
Tyler Martel’s accident on December 7, 2012 was more deadly. Martel left his parents’ house at 10:30 p.m. By 3:45 a.m., the police came to the parents’ home and said that he had died. His girlfriend, his soon-to-be fiancé, had been airlifted to Harborview Hospital Center. Stephanie Nicole Profitt underwent many surgeries and fought to regain her life. Her struggle ended in death on January 19, 2013.
Don’t Substitute One Dangerous Addiction for Another
Stoned driving caused three of these deaths. Marijuana greed and jealousy inspired the shooting when two men died. Perhaps the worst news of all is that Tyler Martel, 27, who died instantly had survived and conquered Oxycodone addiction. He had gone through rehab, had a job and was building a new life. At a party on that fateful night, he declined all invitations to drink. But marijuana was now legal, and he smoked marijuana with his brother before he drove. If the state hadn’t legalized marijuana, and otherwise endorsed its use, perhaps Tyler and Stephanie would be alive today.
When people suggest that substituting opiate pain pill abuse with marijuana, remember what happened to Tyler Martel and Stephanie Proffitt. They were not the only victims. Timothy Lang came to Profitt’s funeral in a wheelchair. He was one of the other drivers, and is thankful to the emergency workers who saved life.
Martel’s mother Patrice is on a mission to warn students of impaired driving. It is counter-intuitive to suggest that any addictive substance should substitute for another addictive substance. It’s a case where someone tried it and we know the results.
Colorado gets more publicity than Washington because many anti-pot activists live in Colorado. The Seattle press usually covers up the downside of pot. Colorado opened commercial marijuana six months ahead of Washington, and we’ve heard more about deaths from edibles in Colorado.
How do we help children with difficult childhoods grow into adulthood without becoming drug users? Is healing possible without using medicine? Can our health system devise ways to treat chronic pain and illness without using marijuana or pharmaceutical drugs?
Those who grow up in difficult, traumatic situations – those whose bodies hold a painful past of abuse, shock or emotional pain – respond to opioid pain pills differently from the way non-traumatized people do. They may be primed for opioid pill addiction more than others, according to Jon Daily of Recovery Happens, Sacramento. Furthermore, emotional trauma during childhood also leads to hypertension and a host of chronic illnesses.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now recognize Adverse Childhood Experiences as part of public health. Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs are considered contributing factors to depression and a host of chronic diseases. Experts use 10 paradigms for testing childhood trauma. A score of 4 or more ACEs makes a person 460 percent more likely to suffer from depression. A score of 6 or more takes 20 years off life. Adults with high ACE scores are susceptible to chronic diseases that are rare in those who do not have ACEs.
The death of a parent, divorce, family drug abuse, physical and sexual abuse are among the events that can be counted as ACEs. These traumas are singled out because of their unexpected and unpredictable nature. Severe bullying, excessive parental criticism are included, as well as living in a violent neighborhood. Extreme poverty also creates stressful situations which can be compounded by abuse and the other problems.
Healing Chronic Disease Through Mind-Body Solutions
There’s good news. Psychology, Psychiatry and the medical field can lead the way for overcomimg both disease and emotional garbage. Understanding and applying the mind-body connection can work miracles without medicine. Several notable scholars have led the way. Francine Shapiro’s Getting Past Your Past and Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score provide excellent explanations and understanding. Books by Daniel Siegel and Peter Levine offer therapeutic keys to healing.
Donna Jackson Nakazawa wrote one of the most straightforward explanations of healing ACEs in her new book. Childhood Disrupted explains the causes of trauma in childhood and how to heal it. In another book, The Last Best Cure, she describes her own healing from two debilitating auto-immune diseases. (Nakazawa experienced the sudden traumatic death of her father when she was twelve. While she outwardly coped, her body suffered deeply.) A science journalist, Nakazawa writes for the general public.
“Drugs are a wound in society and a trap for many people – victims who’ve lost their freedom.” These were the words of Pope Francis at the conference on drugs held today, November 24, in Vatican City.
As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, there are so many things to be thankful for in our world — the joy that is possible without drug use. Although the US leads the world with 56% percent of the world’s illicit drug users, other nations are falling into the same trap. Substance users and abusers try to find a shortcut to the spirituality that takes years to achieve. It doesn’t work, as Pope Francis recognizes.
“This event underscores both Pope Francis’ staunch support of protecting young people worldwide through preventing drug use and his strong opposition to the legalization of drugs,” Sabet continued. “The Pope has stated numerous times, in very unambiguous terms, that drug legalization is not only bad for kids, but that it fails to produce its desired effects.”
Sabet will address the Pontifical Academy on the subject of “The Social Impact of Drug Policy Change.” He will discuss early findings from marijuana legalization in the U.S. and other issues related to drug policy change worldwide. Other U.S. representatives include Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Dr. Nora Volkow, Dr. Robert DuPont, Dr. Jon Caulkins, and Dr. Bertha Madras. The event examines, among other topics, the prevention of substance abuse related to children and young people. It also includes a papal audience, which Dr. Sabet will attend.
Other attendees include H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden and Mr. Yuri Fedotov, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Drugs give rise to powerful delusions, in a world which can be difficult and challenging. Escape from reality doesn’t make problems go away, but merely creates new ones. A followup post contains excerpts from the small group audience. Please read here.
Social Justice is a pretext, the handy catch phrase to get people to support the legalization of pot. The idea doesn’t come from disadvantaged minorities. “Marijuana legalization is the worst way forward to reforming drug policy for the minority community,” claims Will Jones, founder of Two is Enough D.C.
Jones, whose family has always been involved in the Civil Rights movement, is enraged by the social justice message. “If you aren’t a minority, maybe legalization does look ok because you’re not going to have the deluge of (pot) stores in your community,” Liquor shops are on every block in his neighborhood. Jones admonishes the marijuana industry for “cherry picking criminal justice issues to conveniently pick a statistic that helps them.” Of the places that voted to legalize pot, only Washington DC has managed to stay free of commercial pot stores.
It was easy to cut through the illusion by watching Ethan Nadelmann at the Democratic National Convention last summer. Nadelmann, director of Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), was bragging to his supporters about how profitable the marijuana industry is. At the end of the video, when the cameras was on him, he added “and don’t forget social justice.” It was an afterthought. He must have been joking.
Where’s the Real Social Justice in a Mind-Destroying Drug?
We question the sincerity of those who promote “social justice” as a reason to legalize marijuana. What is the “social justice” in promoting a substance that lowers your IQ, weakens memory and directly contributes to the mental illness as a causal factor? Even without drug testing, using pot makes some people lazy and less likely to get a job or hold onto it.
It’s unfortunate that blacks and Hispanics are arrested more frequently for pot than whites. Complex social problems like police bias never have simplistic solutions.
Alternatives that don’t involve Legalization
Convincing people that hundreds of thousands of people are in prison for marijuana use is one of the false narratives of the legalization movement. The Sacramento Bee recently investigated and couldn’t find a single low level marijuana offender in California prisons.
Those who believe in social justice, should look into policies to reduce drug-related crimes and its ugly bedfellow, drug addiction. Even if the “war on drugs didn’t work,” it’s false to claim legalization and incarceration are the only options. Those trying to legalize marijuana intentionally scramble the messages so the public confuses decriminalization with legalization.
Since legalization, the number of actual marijuana users has increased to 13% of people ages 12 and older. Thirty percent of those users, or 6 million people have Cannabis Use Disorder. The business model of increasing addiction and making money off of those who are addicted is working.
Investors and politicians claim that legalization can end the black market. Evidence from Colorado and Washington shows that cartels are emboldened by legalization and the black market still thrives.
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) promotes a falsehood that marijuana is safer than alcohol, another delusion. Instead of encouraging less drug use, MPP, DPA, NORML and the ACLU manipulate opinion. Financial opportunists connected to these lobbies pretend pot is harmless and that arrest discrepancies will be solved by legalization. This marijuana industry and drug promotion organizations are devious, not compassionate.
Anti-Pot Movement Starts New Project After More States Vote to Legalize
After spending more than $20 million, the deep pocketed pro-marijuana investors prevailed in California. They also won in Nevada and Massachusetts, with the votes much closer. Arizona fended off the attempt to legalize marijuana. Vermont elected a governor who said he is against marijuana legalization. Several Oregon cities rejected marijuana sales.
In Colorado, the products with a high amount of THC (the psychoactive quality that brings the high) have been responsible for most of the hospitalizations and deaths. However, the marijuana businesses bought out an attempt to put a ballot that would cap the THC at 16%. So far the marijuana industry has not been held accountable for its deceptive political and marketing tactics.
SAM Project Will Make Pot Accountable
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and its partners are spearheading a new initiative called the Marijuana Accountability Project (MAP). Our objective is to be a credible resource for the oversight of the recreational marijuana industry as it begins to take hold in states. There will be more ballots. SAM hopes that some states will defeat these ballot measures, but acknowledges that some are likely to pass. Regardless of outcome, SAM and the Marijuana Accountability Project will continue pushing back against the abusive practices of the marijuana industry in the states that have already legalized marijuana.
In their announcement SAM said: “We cannot let another industry dead-set on hooking a new generation gain an unfettered foothold in society without a watchdog at their back. We intend to launch the initiative in late 2016 with a press conference in Washington, D.C., where we will outline our objectives, year one activities, and a new research report that shows the true cost of marijuana legalization on the health of states.
MAP will include the following activities in 2017:
Congressional Outreach: SAM will boost federal lobbying efforts to stop legalization on the federal level. State Report Card Tracking Project: Evaluate the states with legal recreational marijuana across the following metrics: Public health (incidence rates of poisonings across age and demos), public safety (car crashes, ER visits), marketing (evaluate and compare based on other legal drugs), political influence (track lobbying and spending), and economic impact (promises made on funding, promises kept?) Community Roundtables: We anticipate holding up to five community roundtables, open to the media, in select states in the first year. At these events, we will release the results of the tracking project, and hear from citizens who have been impacted by legalization and the industry as a whole. These roundtables will serve two purposes: show the real life impact of legalization, and promote MAP as a critical oversight voice. Public Education/PSA Campaign: SAM will launch a media campaign called “Are We Sure?” that asks localities if they really want marijuana stores in their neighborhoods. The campaign will also be used in non-legalization states, and will educate the public on today’s high THC marijuana and its impacts. Earned Media: Earned media will be a critical component to ensure the accountability messaging and approach is well understood in our target states, and pushes the agenda forward. Our tactics will include op-eds, rapid response, editorial board visits, press conferences, and reporter briefings. Organization of Municipalities Concerned about Marijuana (OMCM): OMCM will consist of officials from localities that have implemented strict controls on marijuana, including those that have banned marijuana stores altogether, and officials from other jurisdictions interested in promoting public health-based marijuana laws. Through OMCM, these localities will share best practices, model ordinances, and other strategies. SAM Legal Initiative: SAM will launch an initiative to hold marijuana businesses accountable to the law of the land, and research legal compliance issues. SAM State Legislative Caucus: The SAM State Legislative Caucus will bring together like-minded state legislators who want to stop legalization and commercialization, and share best practices on marijuana policy. Model laws: MAP will also develop copies of model state laws and local ordinances to control the marijuana industry, incorporating best practices from existing laws and input from scientific and legal experts. MAP needs founding partners.
Kevin Sabet, President of SAM said that we can change the trajectory of marijuana legalization. SAM released a statement at 3 a.m. : “Tonight’s results were disappointing overall, but given how we were outspent by 15 to 1, not wholly unsurprising,” said SAM President Kevin Sabet, who also served as a White House drug advisor. “There are several bright spots: Arizona resisted legalization and their campaign will be a blueprint for other states in the future. Vermont Governor-elect Phil Scott will be replacing the most pro-legalization governor in our history (Peter Shumlin), and a pushback is starting in Oregon. No matter what happens in Maine, we will be in a strong position when the legislature meets. We will redouble our efforts with this new Congress. And we won’t abandon the legalized states, where much work remains to be done.”
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marijuana is now legal in 25 states for medicinal purposes and in four for recreational use. Voters in another five have a chance on Nov. 8 to legalize the retail consumption of pot, but the evidence rolling in from these real-time experiments should give voters pause to consider the consequences.
In 2012 Colorado and Washington voters legalized recreational pot, followed by Alaska and Oregon two years later. Initiatives this year in California, Arizona, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts would allow businesses to sell and market pot to adults age 21 and older.
Adults could possess up to one ounce (more in Maine) and grow six marijuana plants. Public consumption would remain prohibited, as would driving under the influence. Marijuana would be taxed at rates from 3.75% in Massachusetts to 15% in the western states, which would license and regulate retailers.
Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which prohibits states from regulating possession, use, distribution and sale of narcotics. However, the Justice Department in 2013 announced it wouldn’t enforce the law in states that legalize pot. Justice also promised to monitor and document the outcomes, which it hasn’t done. But someone should, because evidence from Colorado and Washington compiled by the nonprofit Smart Approaches to Marijuana suggests that legalization isn’t achieving what supporters promised.
One problem is that legalization and celebrity glamorization have removed any social stigma from pot and it is now ubiquitous. Minors can get pot as easily a six pack. Since 2011 marijuana consumption among youth rose by 9.5% in Colorado and 3.2% in Washington even as it dropped 2.2% nationwide. The Denver Post reports that a “disproportionate share” of marijuana businesses are in low-income and minority communities. Many resemble candy stores with lollipops, gummy bears and brownies loaded with marijuana’s active ingredient known as THC.
The science of how THC affects young minds is still evolving. However, studies have shown that pot use during adolescence can shave off several IQ points and increase the risk for schizophrenic breaks. One in six kids who try the drug will become addicted, a higher rate than for alcohol. Pot today is six times more potent than 30 years ago, so it’s easier to get hooked and high.
Employers have also reported having a harder time finding workers who pass drug tests. Positive workplace drug tests for marijuana have increased 178% nationwide since 2012. The construction company GE Johnson says it is recruiting construction workers from other states because it can’t find enough in Colorado to pass a drug test.
Honest legalizers admitted that these social costs might increase but said they’d be offset by fewer arrests and lower law enforcement costs. Yet arrests of black and Hispanic youth in Colorado for pot-related
The share of pot-related traffic deaths has roughly doubled in Washington and increased by a third in Colorado since legalization, and in the Centennial State pot is now involved in more than one of five traffic fatalities. Calls to poison control for overdoses have jumped 108% in Colorado and 68% in Washington since 2012.
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has said that “criminals are still selling on the black market,” in part because state taxes make legal marijuana pricier than on the street. Drug cartels have moved to grow marijuana in the states or have switched to trafficking in more profitable drugs like heroin.
One irony is that a Big Pot industry is developing even as tobacco smokers are increasingly ostracized. The Arcview Group projects that the pot market could triple over four years to $22 billion. Pot retailers aren’t supposed to market specifically to kids, though they can still advertise on the radio or TV during, say, a college football game. Tobacco companies have been prohibited from advertising on TV since 1971.
The legalization movement is backed by the likes of George Soros and Napster co-founder Sean Parker, and this year they are vastly outspending opponents. No wonder U.S. support for legalizing marijuana has increased to 57% from 32% a decade ago, according to the Pew Research Center.
We realize it’s déclassé to resist this cultural imperative, and maybe voters think the right to get high when you want is worth the social and health costs of millions of more stoners. Then again, since four states have volunteered to be guinea pigs, maybe other states should wait and see if these negative trends continue.
Thanks to the WSJ Editorial Board for warning U.S. voters about the downside of commercialization of a highly addictive drug.
Colorado’s marijuana legalization has wreaked havoc on Pueblo, and city will be featured on 60 Minutes on November 6th. (Date has since been changed to Oct. 30) After nearly four years of legalized pot, many in the community are rebelling. By initiating Propositions 200 and 300, citizens of Pueblo hope to regain a voice in their future. A “yes” vote on both initiatives will shut down marijuana businesses in the city and Pueblo County.
Seventy percent of the counties in Colorado opted out of Amendment 64, which commercialized marijuana. The city of Pueblo banned retail marijuana, but the county of Pueblo licensed marijuana grows and retail stores. In 2014, we reported on the efforts to ban retail expansion in Pueblo West. Pueblo County commissioners promoted marijuana as an opportunity to fill empty factories and create jobs. Acting against the wishes of most of the county’s 160,000 residents, commissioners decided to license marijuana businesses..
An influx of 15,000 migrants moved to Pueblo for easy access to the drug. Some of the newcomers also hoped to find jobs in the pot industry. Tent villages are housing newcomers who can’t afford or find homes. Pueblo has always taken care of its homeless, but it can no longer handle the huge number of people needing services. Social services, soup kitchens and emergency rooms are stressed to the breaking point. Approximately one-third of county residents, 67,000 are on Medicaid.
Doctors from Three Hospitals Hold Press Conference
The medical community recently held a press conference, announcing that 237 physicians signed a statement supporting “yes” votes on the propositions. Physicians who spoke at the event detailed some of the health risks coming from marijuana use in the community. Dr. Steven Simerville, a pediatrician and Medical Director of St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, reports that 7-10% of the babies born are testing positive for THC. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana. Dr. Simerville cited a dramatic increase in attempted suicides, a five-fold increase since legalization. Every suicide attempt in the community, except one, involved THC.
Dr. Karen Randall an emergency medicine doctor affiliated with several of the Pueblo hospitals said that many of the newcomers to the area are coming to the emergency room with multiple and severe illnesses. Dr. Randall believes the Pueblo community could be on the verge of a public health disaster. She explained that those living in tent camps are at risk for the same communicable diseases found in refugee camps: flu, pertussis, cholera, tuberculosis. Randall, who previously worked in Detroit for a large city hospital as disaster coordinator, says she fears the Pueblo community health system is not equipped to deal with such an outbreak.
The black market is growing alongside the legal industry. Sheriff’s office reports that foreign cartels from Laos, Argentina, Cuba and Russia are now operating in Pueblo. The cartels are buying or renting homes and setting up illegal grows. Law enforcement has busted sixty illegal grows in 2016, but there are 1500 other documented grows –also illegal. Sheriff Kirk Taylor is also retooling his tracking methods to account for the increasing crimes associated with marijuana . Currently Pueblo has the highest murder rate in the state, at 11.1 per 100,000.
Rural Areas, Crime, Gangs and High Teen Use of All Drugs Reported
“Those living in the rural areas are scared,” reports Paula McPheeters of the Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo. “The marijuana grows are despoiling the land and draining the water aquifers. Squatters are growing marijuana and crime is increasing.” McPheeters says the community is being overwhelmed by outsiders moving in and taking over. Gang activity is increasing, drive by shootings, petty crime, auto theft are now big problems in a once peaceful community.
“Pueblo County now has 20 retail marijuana stores, compared to our 18 McDonalds, Starbucks and Walmart stores combined,” says McPheeters. The county took in 3.5 million in tax revenue from the marijuana industry, but McPheeters says, “The social costs to the community could easily be upwards of two times that amount.”
The biggest concern to those seeking to pass the ballot initiatives is the increase in youth drug use. Thirty one percent of high school students are using marijuana, three times the national average. Tragically, 12% have tried methamphetamine or heroin. The community has inadequate drug treatment facilities, so when teens get into trouble with addiction it is difficult to get them help.
A Cautionary Tale
Pueblo offers a cautionary tale against trying to resolve a government’s financial difficulties with tax revenue from marijuana. This relatively small city with a population of 120,000 is a former steel mill town which fell on hard times. It ranks number two in the state for poverty.
The Pueblo experience warns public officials to listen to the people’s will before allowing predatory businesses. It warns other communities what can happen to the youth when they’re surrounded by these businesses.
Pueblo may have some of the worst crime problems in Colorado, but it is not as bad as Eureka and Humboldt County, California. Humboldt County’s murder rate is 18.7 per 100,000 people, and it reports 250 missing persons per year.
Here’s one story. As personal and painful as it is to relate, I write this account hoping that efforts to legalize the use of recreational marijuana will be defeated.
My second son, Chris, had an outstanding secondary school career. As the youngest student in a class of 315 students, he was the valedictorian. At spring honors day, he received the American
History prize, the best peace essay, a state and national scholastic writing award, the best student in mathematics award, AP Calculus award for the highest score and the Student Leadership award. But he was no nerd. He was President of the Student Council and Co-captain of the wrestling team. He had a ton of friends and he loved to backpack, kayak and rock climb. My only worry about him was his lack of fear in tackling any physical challenge.
On a holiday break in his first year at Stanford, he came home and went out with some of his friends. About a half hour later, he came running back home in a state of absolute panic. This fearless kid was terrified and in a state I hardly recognized. He thought the woods were surrounded by FBI agents and that a high school football star was trying to rape him. It turned out that the kids who picked him up were smoking marijuana. Evidently, this was not Chris’ first time. With all his accomplishments, he always tried to be one of the boys and smoking weed was what they did. I felt a tremendous sense of guilt because I hadn’t thought that it was necessary to talk about drug use with my own boys.
That night was a marker for his steady mental decline which continued even after he ceased using marijuana. Within two years, he was exhibiting full-blown schizophrenia. In his first of six hospitalizations, the doctor told us that he had a severe case and we should expect his mental acuity and his social affect to decline. The positive news according to the doctor was that Chris was high functioning enough that the decline could be tolerated. He was wrong.
The next ten years were not pretty. This thoughtful, intelligent, winsome child became extremely paranoid and sometimes violent. He heard voices continually and his thoughts became completely disordered. Once a promising writer, his journals show a steady progression from cogent essays to paragraphs and sentences that don’t make sense to jumbles of meaningless word combinations. Hospitalizations and attempts to medicate him had no effect.
At the age of 28, perhaps in a moment of lucidity recognizing what had become of him, he took his life. Although there will never be any proof that marijuana was the cause of his schizophrenia, I believe that the first panic episode I witnessed was a precursor and initiator of his illness. This is certainly consistent with the scientific studies which suggest the correlation between early marijuana use and schizophrenia.
Proposition 205 would imprint on young people that recreational marijuana use is without risk. No wonder that so many social agencies, medical professionals, state officials and business groups oppose its passage.
I am sure that many people smoke marijuana on a limited basis with no apparent ill effects. However, there is ample scientific evidence that marijuana use by teenagers whose brains are in the developmental stage are at risk for psychotic events which may be long term. There is also evidence that long-term use by adults can also lead to mental impairment issues. For anyone who is interested, I can share a bibliography of over 60 scientific articles addressing the risks that early marijuana use poses.
Editor’s Note: It is a public health failure that we have not warned young people they are at risk for psychosis and other mental illnesses from marijuana. But as this author remarks, risks remain for those who start using marijuana as adults. Our recent article summarizes the dangers of marijuana, and why it cannot be consumed safely by anyone.
This testimony is from a mother in California who spoke in front of the capital in Sacramento with Moms Strong on October 4, 2016.
Today’s pot can be far more dangerous than it used to be. There is “weed” 300-800 times stronger than it used to be, “edible cookies and candy,” and honey oil or “dabs” sometimes called hash oil, which is up to 90% THC.
I learned all of this the hard way. Thankfully, I’ve joined a group no parent would ever want to belong to called Moms Strong. How does one become a member of this group? You don’t want to know …It began 5 years ago with my gifted son who went off to college. His elite state college on the central coast warned us of the dangers of alcohol but nothing about the dangers of drugs.
He was seeking a way to belong by joining a fraternity and a consulting club, tutored students and lived in a dorm with roommates. He tried drinking, despite the warnings, but found he couldn’t handle it.
Friends in the dorm offered him pot and he thought it would be safer. That first hit took him down a long path into darkness.
He was able to obtain a medical marijuana card from a doctor over the phone–to treat insomnia. The doctors rarely suggest which type of THC product the patient should use. Here in California, marijuana edibles, as well as weed and “dabs” (butane hash oil) are delivered to medical marijuana cardholders via the Internet dispensaries.
By his 2nd year, there were early warning signs that things were not going well. The changes were:
Falling off the Dean’s list
Disconnecting from close friends and family
Increasing fears, paranoia, insomnia and stress
Breaking the law by selling pot to friends
Fighting with roommates and quitting the frat
Decreased feelings of self-worth
During his 3rd year, he went from a casual to an addicted user. From weed, he went to edibles and onto dabs which triggered psychosis within a few months. He noticed he couldn’t carry on a normal conversation or work math problems. His college friend contacted me via FB reporting my son’s disturbing voice mail:
“Hey..I’m not sure if I want to live. I’m seeing flying mustaches. So call me if you think I should live.”
We brought him home, took him to our local ER where we hoped to get help for him. The doctor thought he was having a 1st time schizophrenic outbreak, tested his blood and found “just pot” and placed him on a 72 hr. involuntary hold. It was the worst night of my life seeing my son so afraid and being powerless.
A psych expert sent him to a behavioral hospital to rule out bipolar mania.
At that hospital, the experience was a nightmare. They had no knowledge of cannabis-induced psychosis, instead diagnosed him as bipolar and prescribed Lithium. He forced to be among people trying to harm themselves or others.
That doctor suggested he take a leave from college and go into an outpatient therapy program. Within 3 days, he started smoking pot again. In a couple months, he stopped taking the Lithium as he hated how it made him feel. We were powerless over his drug use.
He returned to college for his fourth year, but then withdrew with failing grades. Just a year and a half after his 1st psychotic break, he experienced symptoms for 3 days reported by this same friend:
Hearing voices, distrusting everyone (including his best friends)
Getting lost in his head and then suddenly saying “That’s what they want you to believe” or “They’re coming for me.”
Running from friends through traffic, scaring bystanders, with his friends trying to make sure he didn’t hurt himself or anyone else.
They waited for him to snap out of it, to no avail. They took him to the Emergency Room where he got no help; they called me AGAIN. We had 2 more ER visits which resulted in a medication to help the psychosis, advice on how to stop smoking pot.
My son just couldn’t kick smoking pot. Within a few weeks, his rock bottom hit when he had a car accident, totaled the vehicle, and got a DUI. Thankfully he did not harm himself or others.
He called me begging for help to quit smoking pot. We agreed he would go to a dual diagnosis drug rehab where he was first thought to be schizophrenic. But after proper medication, he was diagnosed with cannabis-induced psychosis.
My son learned he has a sensitivity to THC. He quit and is struggling to stay clean. He takes medication to counteract the THC cravings from his three-year marijuana addiction. He is still hoping to finish college and his future is still not set in stone. He doesn’t see flying mustaches any longer, or any other hallucinating visions, but it sure was scary. We are thankful that his whole life has not gone up in smoke.
Prop 64 will make it easier for anyone to try the “Russian Roulette” of today’s pot, without any warnings. Marijuana must be avoided, especially to those under age 25 — and maybe up to age 28 — because the brain is still developing, marijuana must be avoided.
Please vote No because of all the young minds that are at stake.
There are several reasons that marijuana should no longer be called a soft drug, which is misleading. The cannabis of today is undeniably a hard drug. Dr. Darryl Inaba, Director of an addictions recovery center in Medford, Oregon was recently interviewed on the science of marijuana addiction. He said:
“As a clinician who has worked with those who experience medical, emotional and social problems from its use for the past 40 years, I am concerned about the life consequences that legalization will have on those who are vulnerable to developing problems from its use, especially youth users who are most at risk.
“Currently about 17% of those who are treated for substance-related and addictive disorders in the United States list marijuana as their primary and many list it as their secondary or tertiary drug of choice. It is, in fact, the substance most often listed by the 1.8 to 1.9 million treated for addiction each year in this country.
“The majority of the clients I have treated for CUD during the past 40 years were self-referred, not criminally-referred into treatment. They entered treatment because marijuana was causing severe dysfunction and disruption in their lives and they desperately wanted to stop despite the great ridicule they were getting from others calling them a ‘wussy’ who should go out and get a real addiction like heroin or meth before needing any help to stop.”
Those with Cannabis Abuse Disorder will not be able to stop without help. Dr. Inaba goes on to explain the problem with stronger strains of marijuana today, “dabs,” “spice” and edibles.
“The cannabis grown and sold today is not same drug as was available in the 1970s. The average THC has increased to more than 15%. Cannabis issue can clearly lead to addiction. The damage to the brain from chronic use is worse compared with chronic use of heroin. Among the negative effects of long-term cannabis use in adolescence include neuro-psychological dysfunction, decline in IQ, short memory, among others.”
Dr. Kooyman vehemently stated that cannabis can no longer be labeled a ‘soft’ drug. There is no justification to have different laws for cannabis than other drugs (labeled as ‘hard’).
“The legalization of cannabis reinforces already existing opinion among youth that there are no risks in using cannabis.” Dr. Kooyman made these comments at a special session on cannabis at the World Federation Against Drugs meeting, held in Sweden, 2014.
Marijuana advocates insist it’s not as dangerous as heroin. Existing studies on addiction are not accounting for the higher THC of today, over 16% in Colorado and average more than 20% in Washington. In the old studies, the rate of addiction was 9% for adults and 17% for those who began as adolescents. In essence, your chances of getting addicted to marijuana were roughly the same as the chances for getting addicted to alcohol.
These statistics need to be studied again, accounting for THC that is averages about 4x higher than previously. Furthermore, “dabs” and “wax” are off the charts in THC, very potent and addictive.
Pew Research released a new poll from late August and early September that shows 57% of American voters favor marijuana legalization. Based on the question and the article, the poll probably means that 57% of the voters favor marijuana decriminalization. Next time the poll should be more specific in its meaning. The same day this poll was released, a headline from the Cape Cod News in Massachusetts read: Support Scarce for Legal Pot. There could not be a bigger difference in meaning between these headlines. Why the difference?
Despite this poll, all 5 states with ballots for marijuana legalization this November poll at less than 57% in favor of legalization. There is a disparity between the survey question and legalization in practice. Legalization creates a new industry expected to make a lot of money for investors. It is the reason that Weed Maps, ArcView group and Soros-funded groups contribute to the ballots. There’s a big difference between legalization and decriminalization. Did those conducting the survey explain what legalization means?
Legalization creates commercial marijuana stores regulated by the state . Administering and implementing it is very difficult to do. Pot sales are taxed at various levels and earn some money. But as Colorado marijuana director, Andrew Freedman said, it’s not worth legalizing for the benefit of tax revenues.
When presented with facts, voters are skeptical of commercialization and don’t want more impaired drivers. The cost of regulation is high. On October 1 in Colorado, new rules began. and the packaging must make it more difficult for children to access. Gummy candies in the shape of animals are now forbidden. The number of hospitalizations and overdose deaths from marijuana edibles which make up nearly 50% of the market necessitated these changes.
Opting out of commercial pot is very tough, too. Dealing with inconsiderate neighbors who grow a lot of pot plants is difficult. In Colorado, city governments are often greedy for tax money while residents say no to pot. When voters want to ban dispensaries, other forces such as the marijuana industry fight them. It’s one of the reasons Colorado now has buyer’s remorse.
Why Marijuana Decriminalization ?
Decriminalization means that marijuana is not treated as a crime but as a mistake; offenders are charged with a small fine, like a speeding ticket. In legal terms, it’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. The marijuana lobbyists have successfully convinced Americans that large numbers of people go to jail for marijuana possession only.
The only people who go to jail for marijuana possession charges have committed other crimes and have plea bargained to get convicted of lesser charges. Other crimes include drug dealing, transportation of drugs or possession of a large amount of drugs that indicates intent to sell. Selling drugs is not a victimless crime.
Marijuana lobbyists omit information about drug courts which allows users an alternative and provides addiction treatment.
The reason that marijuana possession is a felony crime in some states is so that it can be used as evidence to convict when there are more serious crimes. Drugs and drug paraphernalia become supporting evidence when other crimes may be harder to prove.
How are Minorities Really Affected by Drug Laws?
Minorities have the most to lose by using marijuana. Daily or near daily use of marijuana by teens nearly doubles the risk of dropping out of high school. Dropping out of high school makes future education and job prospects dim. Furthermore, a study of long-term marijuana users in New Zealand over a 25-year period found an average 7-point drop in IQ by age 38. People who complain that this study did not adjust for IQ differences as reflected by socio-economic class should realize that IQ differences resulting from socio-economic factors are in play seen before age 13, when participants first entered the study.
A recent study from UC Davis showed how chronic marijuana users faced more downward mobility than chronic alcohol users. In the US, the disproportionate arrest of minorities may reflect concern about dropping out of school and what that means for the future. The higher conviction rate for minorities is probably a reflection of income disparity and poverty. A disproportionate number of black and Hispanic drug dealers go to jail. Minorities are less likely to be able to afford the legal fees that allow wealthy white drug dealers to get less time in jail or wiggle their way out of going to jail. Justice reform should not be centered on legalizing drugs, but on giving minorities better legal representation.
There’s a strong misconception that people go to jail just for having a joint. (The threat of jail is not the reason to tell kids not to use pot, but defense of your brain is!) There’s also a misconception that inequities in the justice system would be solved by legalization.
Maybe next time Pew Research present the polls with a bunch of different options between decriminalization, allowing home grows only or commercialization. Or Pew Research should a better job at explaining what they mean by legalization.
We all know individuals who have been able to use marijuana and be happy, successful and productive members of society. The precise proportion of users who fall into this category is not known, but what is clear is a substantial percentage of people cannot use marijuana with impunity. Unfortunately, you can’t tell ahead of time who that is going to be. There is no genetic test, no psychological profile, no family history screening that is reliable.
The question becomes not how many fatalities does use of marijuana cause, but can a young person use it occasionally, i.e. “responsibly,” like having a single beer once a month or once a week, and be sure that they’ll be O.K.? The answer is no, particularly in regards to psychotic outcomes. Some individuals experience acute psychosis after their first use.
1) Psychosis: hundreds of peer-reviewed, scientific articles show a correlation between marijuana use and psychotic outcomes such as schizophrenia, too numerous to list here. The question of whether marijuana is causal for psychosis has been answered in the affirmative by applying standard principles of causation used in pharmacological and epidemiological research:
Dose response effect, so that heavier use of more potent product results in more users developing schizophrenia(Zammit et al., 2002; van Os et al., 2002; DiForti et al., 2009; DiForti et al., 2015)
Administration of the active ingredient (∆9-THC) in the clinic under controlled conditions causes psychotic symptoms (D’Souza et al., 2004; Morrison et al., 2011; Bhattacharyya et al., 2011; Freeman et al., 2014).
Self-medicating is not that likely, because many will try to quit to avoid the psychotic symptoms before they become too impai