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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
As per the agreement with the intervention, we cut off contact with him. Tough love they call it. We didn’t know what else to do. K’s brain was obviously fried from all the drugs. Surely, he would die doing drugs and we couldn’t be part of it. We couldn’t have our own lives ruined because of his choices.
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.
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)
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.
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,” turning the phrase into a euphemism. 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.
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 email@example.com.
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 impaired (Fergusson et al., 2005), e.g. comedian Seth McFarlane; but for others it may be too late (as seen in The Other Side of Cannabis, Heartsgate Productions, 2015).
Marijuana use generally comes before the psychosis, not vice-versa (Arseneault et al., 2002; Henquet et al., 2005; Kuepper et al., 2011).
In users who have schizophrenia, the age of onset is earlier than for non-users, similar to the effect of carcinogens in causing an earlier onset of a suite of cancers (Veen et al., 2004; Barnes et al., 2006; Large et al., 2011)
Of all recreational drugs, marijuana use is the most likely to result in chronic psychosis (Niemi-Pynttari et al., 2013).
What percentage experience a psychotic outcome? The low to moderate-strength marijuana available in the last century was shown to trigger single psychotic symptoms (paranoia, racing thoughts, delusions, hallucinations) in 12% to 15% of users (Thomas, 1996; Barkus et al., 2006; Smith et al., 2009). Of those with such “prodromal” symptoms, about 35% can be expected to develop full psychosis, i.e. a constellation of symptoms occurring at once (Cannon et al., 2008). For about half of these individuals, conversion to chronic schizophrenia spectrum disorder occurs irrespective of family history (Arendt et al., 2008; Niemi-Pynttari et al., 2013).
The result for low to moderate-strength marijuana was about a 2.5-fold increased risk of schizophrenia, but for the high strength product available today, the risk for schizophrenia is 5-fold compared to non-users (DiForti et al., 2015). That increase in risk translates into about one out of every twenty users if they don’t quit in time. Is this impact limited to adolescence? Given that the brain continues to develop in males through the late twenties (see figure on back), it seems unlikely that the risk for chronic psychosis is limited to adolescent users. Furthermore, administration of THC to adults in a clinical setting results in psychotic symptoms (D’Souza et al., 2004; Morrison et al., 2011. Bhattacharyya et al., 2011; Freeman et al., 2014).
Other Adverse Psychological Outcomes
2) Risks for anxiety, panic, and depression are increased by marijuana use: Zuardi et al., 1982; Thomas, 1996; Patton et al., 2002; Dannon et al., 2004; Hayatbakhsh et al., 2007; Medina et al., 2007; Hasin et al., 2008; Zvolensky et al., 2010; Fairman and Anthony, 2012; Silins et al., 2014; Cougle et al., 2015; with some studies showing that correction for confounding variables lessens the association with anxiety and depression, while others report the effect remains. For a review see: Miller CL, The Impact of Marijuana on Mental Health in: Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana (Winters KC and Sabet K, eds), Oxford University Press, in press.
3) Risk for suicidal ideation is increased on average 7-fold: Arendt et al., 2006; Silins et al., 2014; Kvitland et al., 2016 , even after correcting for a prior history of depression: Clarke et al., 2014. In 2014 (the report specific for 2015 data is not yet available), the 2nd year after legalization of recreational use of marijuana, Colorado experienced the highest suicide rate in state history: “In 2014, there were 1,058 suicides among Colorado residents and the age-adjusted suicide rate was 19.4 per 100,000. This is the highest number of suicide deaths ever recorded in Colorado.” Office of Suicide Prevention Annual Report 2014-2015, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Particularly alarming, the Colorado media has reported sudden onset suicidal ideation or completed suicide in consumers of commercial edibles: Levi Thamba Pongi, Denver, 2014; Richard Kirk, Denver, 2014; Luke Goodman, Keystone, 2015, but also reported following the smoking of potent marijuana: Brant Clark, Boulder, 2007; Daniel Juarez, Brighton, 2012. (Editor’s note: In Seattle, 16-year-old Hamza Warsame jumped six floors to his death after smoking marijuana in December, 2015.) These responses can happen so quickly in individuals who were not previously suicidal that intervention may be impossible.
4) Lack of educational achievement and decreases in motivation – after covariate adjustment, the odds for marijuana users completing high school are reduced to about 0.37-fold that of controls (Silins et al., 2014); accounting for demographics and other factors, marijuana use adversely affected college academic outcomes, both directly and indirectly through poorer class attendance (Arria et al., 2015); decreases in motivation with marijuana use have been documented in clinical studies of humans (Bloomfield et al., 2014) and in animal models (Silveira et al., 2016).
5) Negative impacts on IQ: up to an approx. 7 point drop in IQ from childhood scores by age 38 in marijuana users who have been abstinent for 24 hours prior to testing; but only an approx. 5 point drop in those abstinent for a week prior to testing (Meier MH et al., 2012); a subsequent study of twins by Jackson et al., 2016, yielded mixed results, with an average decline of 4 points in marijuana users by late adolescence, however restricting the comparison to the matched twins (thereby controlling for genetics and a myriad of environmental factors), the effect of marijuana largely disappeared. The limitation of this later study is that brain development is not complete by late adolescence, particularly the wiring of the all-important cortex is still ongoing through the late twenties (see Figure below). There is no controversy, however, about the negative, real-time impact of marijuana use during tests of cognition and memory: Curran HV et al., 2002; Ranganathan and D’Souza, 2006; Morrison et al., 2009; Solowj et al., 2010; Pavisian et al., 2014.
By Anonymous from Maryland I support your organization and everything that you are doing. Thank you for your work to protect children from the drugs and drug dealers.
My 17-year-old daughter was murdered, in a murder-for-hire scheme because someone thought she set up a drug robbery. The killer was paid in marijuana because the killer had a fix. He needed his weed. The person robbed testified that the killer was paid in $400 cash and $200 of marijuana.
Testimony indicated that my daughter did not rob anyone.
(The murder took place in 2005; the murderer is up for parole next year.)
The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, Worcester, formally voted to oppose Question 4 and to make a large contribution in opposition to the ballot. Marijuana proponents outspend anti-legalization campaigns by millions of dollars, so donations to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts would be greatly appreciated. (Donate here)
The Health Foundation is concerned that allowing the billion-dollar commercial marijuana industry to promote and sell its products would negatively impact public health. Pot edibles which include highly potent products like candy, chocolates, cookies, and sodas would be allowed. These products are particularly attractive to kids and look like popular sweets. They account for 50% of the sales in Colorado.
Question 4 sets no limits on the number of pot shops statewide. In Colorado, that has resulted in more pot shops than McDonalds and Starbucks combined.
“The leadership of the Health Foundation of Central MA is exemplary of what all organizations, groups, associations and residents need to do in order to keep the Commonwealth from being snowed by the marijuana industry who wrote the law that completely protects their big profit interests,” said Heidi Heilman of Massachusetts Prevention Alliance. “The law was written by the industry for the industry. If it passes it’ll be the tax-payers who’ll be burdened with the shovel-up costs from all the negative outcomes,” she concluded.
Most Massachusetts Politicians Join Forces to Oppose Question 4
The Commonwealth could lead the country into smart drug policy. A strong bipartisan team of leaders is working to shut the door on promoting drug dependency and addiction for profit.
The Foundation joins a bi-partisan coalition of elected leaders as well as health care, public safety, business, anti-addiction, and child protection advocates who are opposing Question 4. Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Attorney General Maura Healey, Sheriff Steve Tompkins, 120 legislators and many other elected leaders have come out in opposition to Question 4.
In fact, Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey, Mayor Walsh and Speaker DeLeo have been exemplary leaders in their ability to study all aspects of the issue, educate the voters and work across the aisle. A group of legislators went to Colorado to study legalization and see if it legal pot could be implemented safely.
An interviewer recently asked Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts if she supports marijuana legalization. Senator Warren did not give a “yes” or “no” answer. She replied that marijuana is decriminalized in Massachusetts, putting the state in a difficult position. She did not endorse Question 4, and probably knows that enacting it would be bad for the Commonwealth. It’s clear from the video that Senator Warren does not think there’s enough regulation now. She’s smarter than the legalizers who would love to trap her into supporting Question 4. (Decriminalization of pot in 2008 resulted in a great increase of marijuana use, followed by a opiate and heroin crisis.)
Fang’s investigation provides excellent insight into the marijuana industry — which suspects that everyone must have a profit motive. Much of the giving to marijuana ballots comes directly from the pot industry. Three of the largest donations to marijuana legalization in Massachusetts come from marijuana businesses, including one in Colorado looking to expand.
In Massachusetts, some of the groups that oppose Question 4 include:
· Massachusetts Hospital Association
· Massachusetts Medical Society
· Massachusetts Municipal Association -Massachusetts School Nurses Association
· Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals
· Associated Industries of Massachusetts
· Retailers Association of Massachusetts
· Association of School Superintendents
· Construction Industries of Massachusetts
· Action for Boston Community Development
· Association for Behavioral Healthcare
· National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) – Massachusetts
· Massachusetts Chiefs of Police
· Massachusetts Sheriffs Association
· all Massachusetts District Attorneys
Only in the instance of law enforcement have investigative journalists been correct in predicting opposition to legalization. Police unions oppose legalization, but The Nation article doesn’t probe the deeper reason for their opposition.
Looking for Evidence-Based Solutions
In explaining the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, President Jan Yost, Ed.D., said: “The Foundation maintains that Massachusetts would be wise to wait for further evidence from research and other states’ experiences regarding the impact of the use of marijuana on health status, employee performance and public safety, before voting to allow recreational use. This position is consistent with the Foundation’s practice of advocating for public policy that is based on evidence.”
“In addition, the Foundation is concerned that sanctioning marijuana as a legal substance will likely normalize its use and create a commercial industry intent on spreading the use, like the tobacco industry.” The Nation‘s 2014 article could have looked into why health organizations, hospitals, educators and doctors’ groups oppose marijuana legalization instead of promoting a preordained agenda set by financiers.
Health organizations have insights that a biased media does not have. Evidence-based solutions don’t support pot legalization.
Massachusetts is leading the country in wise drug polices. New England may be ahead of the rest of the country. Vermont and Maine rejected legalization through their state legislators. These states realize that marijuana is not a solution to the opioid abuse that is rampant today. Replacing one addiction with another addiction is a bad idea, and actually encourages multi-addiction, making recovery more difficult. Please donate and vote against the addiction-for-profit industry in Massachusetts or in your state.
It may seem like an old fashioned thought, but the one you date should be a suitable mate. Consider the type of person you want to marry before getting involved with a stoner. Doing this will save you from short term frustrations and long term unhappiness.
Ten Reasons NOT to Date a Stoner
1. Financially Unstable. The stoner lifestyle may not seem to interfere with your relationship until it begins to put a strain on your finances. When you are dating someone who begins to spend excessive time and money on marijuana, you may be left responsible for picking up the slack.
2. Addiction Takes Priority. Despite the claims of many who say marijuana is not addictive, marijuana dependency exists. According to a study done by Samhsa.gov in 2012, over 1.5 million Americans under the age of 26 were found to be addicted to marijuana. There is no way of knowing whether your friend will become a full blown addict. But if it does become an addiction, it will dictate and often interfere with daily life due to the dependency.
3. Competing with a Drug. A relationship is more likely to collapse when an individual expresses a greater interest towards a substance than towards their partner. See one woman’s story: I Smoked Marijuana for Love
4. Guilt. You may experience feelings of decreased self-esteem and self-worth when you feel obligated to “accept” his or her addiction/lifestyle despite your own disapproval.
5. Fertility and Parenthood. Smoking marijuana has been linked with decreased sperm counts and chances for fertility, which could complicate a couple’s attempt to have a child. Furthermore, even if fertility is not compromised, do you really want to expose your children to a mind altering drug? See this fact sheet from Health Canada to learn about the many other risks involved with the use of marijuana, even for medical purposes.
6. Lack of energy. Relationships take work, and being friends with a stoner may not last when your partner’s motivation is decreased by his or her pot habit. Your boyfriend or girlfriend will make less effort and less desire to make you the priority.
7. Activists Like to Cause a Racket. If he or she is an activist… good luck. A majority of marijuana users are also “politically active and energized” according to Ed Gogek, and their “allegiance to the drug” consumes their social calendar and Facebook newsfeed. Even activists will admit to the excessive amount of time and energy they spend at social gatherings and meetings where they aspire to make noise and fight the battle for legalization.
8. Say Goodbye to the Simple Pleasures. If you are dating a frequent user it is likely that they will rarely be satisfied with the simple pleasures in life unless they are high. This may lead to a major disconnect between the two of you.
9. Fear of the Unknown. Perhaps the scariest part of dating a marijuana user is the fear of what may come next. Just because you begin dating someone who’s habit seems harmless, there is no way of knowing what it could evolve into, whether it be addiction, mental illness, depression, or in some cases the exploitation of other harmful drugs. Check out this story of a teen whose marijuana habit led him down a path towards heroin abuse.
10. Dealing with Mood Swings. There are highs and lows involved in any relationship, however it is important to realize that with a stoner, the literal highs will be high, but the lows may be extremely low. As with any other drug, there are withdrawal symptoms that accompany marijuana such as irritability, anger, aggression, and sometimes depressed mood.
Since 2009, the state Legislature has taken liberties with the school funding formula mandated by the voter-approved Amendment 23, using the so-called “negative factor” to cut funding every year. The Legislature has relied on circuitous reasoning and intricate formulas to withhold crucial money from school districts across the state.
We’ve felt the impact of those cuts in the Cherry Creek School District. We’ve been underfunded by about $50 million annually. Since 2012, $380 million has been withheld from Cherry Creek. We’re facing a shortfall of more than $20 million for the 2017-2018 school year. These cuts have the potential to impact every facet of district operations, from recruiting new teachers to maintaining a reasonable class size.
It’s a crisis that’s tied to our fundamental priorities as Coloradans, one that won’t find an easy remedy from the state’s nascent marijuana industry. People keep asking me, ‘Where’s the pot money?’ The short answer is that the Cherry Creek School District hasn’t received any. The longer answer is about how the money actually is allocated.
The lead-up to the legalization of marijuana in 2012 brought plenty of rhetoric regarding the positive impact on public schools in Colorado. Voters were told that taxes on legal marijuana would prove to be a windfall for cash-strapped school districts; millions of dollars’ worth of education cuts from the state would be offset by new income from a new vice tax.
That’s not what happened. In the fiscal year 2014-15, for example, taxes from the sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado totaled $77.9 million, $66.1 million of which came from special sales and excise taxes.
For context, the state’s general fund is about $9.7 billion, and the total state budget is $26 billion. By state law, the first $40 million of the excise taxes from marijuana sales went toward capital improvements for poor and rural school districts, and the remainder went toward marijuana education, treatment and regulation and enforcement programs across the state.
The Cherry Creek School District saw none of that money, nor did most of the other large school districts in the Denver metro area.
Similarly, the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grants allotted for the 2016-17 year by the State Board of Education will have no impact on Cherry Creek Schools. Funding for projects in Aurora Public Schools, Adams 14 and Westminster all carry the contingent of matching funds from the school districts, and the vast majority of the 31 awarded grants will go to rural districts far outside of the metro area.
But to be eligible for the grants, those school districts must pass a local bond issue first, or already have matching capital funds available.
So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana.
This isn’t a new story. Taxes on alcohol and tobacco haven’t fixed the state’s quandary when it comes to funding public education, nor have revenues from lotteries or casinos.
The reality is that any fix will have to come from a much more complex and overarching effort. To offer our students the resources they need to learn, we need a much more profound change at the state level, one that comes down to real and lasting change. It comes down to spelling out our collective priorities as Coloradans, to urging our elected representatives to do the hard work and make sure that students in Colorado receive the funding spelled out by a voter-approved constitutional amendment.
That effort is much more complex than any easy fixes offered by legal marijuana. (Harry Bull, Ed.D. is Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools)
California’s Proposition 64 is called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA. Please tell your friends in California to vote NO ON 64 for good reasons.
1)It allows pot shops sell marijuana candy and soda, near where children live. According to the Latino Report the former mayor of Downey said, “These things look just like the candy that children love, and I’m not sure why the pot industry feels the need to market such kid-friendly stuff, unless it is taking a page from the tobacco industry’s handbook.”
2) It fails to properly protect from stoned drivers: Proposition 64’s proponents refused to include a DUI standard for marijuana. This has become a real problem in states that have legalized pot like Washington, where the percentage of traffic deaths involving stoned drivers doubled in just one year post-legalization.
4) It puts the pot industry in charge of safety standards: Proposition 64 allows the pot lobby to set the product safety and testing standard which will be based on voluntary codes. That’s like putting Philip Morris in charge of tobacco regulation.
In California, anyone who is 18 can get a medical marijuana card for the most dubious of reasons. Some may argue that the by legalizing marijuana for adults only, the state will control its out-of-control drug dealing in the form medical pot dispensaries. A state as big and diverse as California failed miserably with medical marijuana. What makes you think they can do any better. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom says California doesn’t want to make the same mistakes as Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Then don’t legalize pot at all.
Marijuana Lobby Depends on Selling a Lie to Pull off a Scam
If you tell a lie long enough, people start believing it’s the truth. We found a “medical” marijuana box in the middle of the soaps and toiletries of a gift shop in a state where lobbyists have been trying to commercialize “medical” marijuana through the state legislature. Marked “For Daily Use Only,” it gives the appearance of necessity, much like a pill box. The marijuana industry is finding good ways to trick the public into believing marijuana is “medicinal,” just as the tobacco industry claimed cigarettes were healthy. However, there are 450,000 marijuana-related hospitalizations in the US each year.*
It should be no surprise, as Judge Kimberly Mueller made a similar ruling against rescheduling in April, 2015. Her decision followed a Court ruling of January 2013, which followed many years of studying the issue, by the DEA, with input from the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Ruling of July 12 in New York
In his ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Feldman said, “There can be no dispute that public opinion on whether marijuana has legitimate medical uses is changing in this country.” But Feldman ruled that Charles and Alexander Green, two brothers accused of marijuana trafficking, had a to prove that current federal laws are “so arbitrary and irrational as to be unconstitutional.”
The Greens, who are from California, are accused of major roles in a marijuana trafficking operation that brought the drug into western New York. They have challenged how federal law classifies marijuana, in the same category as heroin. The category known as “Schedule 1” drugs suggests Congress and federal authorities consider it among the nation’s most dangerous illicit substances.
Marijuana, as a plant or a weed, is not medicinal. Derivatives may have medical application, but those are derivatives of the plant not marijuana. National Families in Action put a good explanation of the difference between marijuana and marijuana-based medicines.
Quotes by leaders of NORML reveal that medical marijuana was planned as a scam from the start. On February 6, 1979, at Emory University, Keith Stroup said: “We are trying to get marijuana reclassified medically. If we do that, we’ll be using the issue as a red herring to give marijuana a good name.” Richard Cowan and Ed Rosenthal followed up with statements saying that getting people to buy into the idea of medical marijuana and getting hundreds of thousands to do it will be the key to getting full legalization. Watch the video.
*Information comes from checking the long DEA report that was available online until recently showed a growing number of hospital treatments for marijuana up until 2010. Obviously, it is more now. Here is the summary available online.
Since the marijuana industry bought off ALL of the companies authorized to collect petition signatures in Colorado, it’s not surprising how deep corruption runs through that industry. Some dirty tactics have been going on for years. (Please read Part 1 and Part 2 of exposing the deceptive tactics of the marijuana industry.)
In 2012, Oregon Attorney General candidate Dwight Holton was defeated in the Democratic primary, because he had inspired the wrath of the marijuana industry. Only 25% of Oregon’s Democrats voted, but that success gave marijuana lobby the boost it needed to threaten anyone who would dare go against them.
The Oregon Attorney General’s race shows how vindictive the marijuana lobbyists really are. Dwight Holton, former acting US Attorney for Oregon, was highly regarded as a prosecutor (pictured below). But he also prosecuted marijuana violations, while opponent Ellen Rosenblum promised to go lightly on “medical” marijuana, and even courted the marijuana businesses. She won. The biggest contributors to her campaign were Drug Policy Action and John Sperling, founder of University of Phoenix and a billionaire marijuana contributor. Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement, a marijuana legalization group, spent more $53,000 in radio ads against Holton. The political reason to oppose Holton was that he was a relative newcomer to the state of Oregon, but the true reason he lost was that the marijuana forces came out to defeat him.
In fact, a headline earlier this year reminded politicians of Dwight Holton’s fate and warned that lists will be kept of those who support local marijuana bans in Oregon. There’s much written about the corruption in the state’s marijuana businesses, both in the past and in the present.
Carmen Trutanich also “was one of a number of politicians to suffer the wrath of the weed vote” in the California primary on June 5, 2012. In California, Los Angeles City Attorney Trutanich lost his bid for District Attorney because of his stance towards marijuana businesses, according to one of the marijuana blogs.
Since 2012, the marijuana lobby has promised backlash against politicians who aren’t with them. By 2012, financiers such as Peter Lewis and George Soros were giving big donations to the legalization campaigns in Colorado and Washington. This year Sean Parker has already given more than $2 million to the legalization effort in California.
Politicians who don’t support the marijuana industry’s agenda — using “medical” marijuana as a backdoor to full legalization — are accused of wanting people to die or wanting to send innocent people to jail. Those who are skeptical of the efficacy of “medical” marijuana are painted as individuals lacking compassion in well- orchestrated smear campaigns. In 2014, some politicians felt the backlash through dishonest television ads. Using the word “compassion” helps initiatives pass, although in reality it’s about corruption and full of entirely different motives.
The Television Ads
In 2014, Americans for Safe Access, a “medical” marijuana lobbying group (funded by Soros?), ran television advertisements on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida. They targeted two members of Congress who voted “no” to the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment in their districts, Republican Andy Harris of MD and Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz of FL. The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment was the first major victory for the heavily-funded marijuana lobby.*
Has anyone ever investigated how much the marijuana lobby pays “patients” to advertise and go on TV on behalf of medical marijuana?
The ad in Maryland claimed that Rep. Harris’ vote would result in sending Maryland’s patients to prison. A voice said: “Congressman Andy Harris thinks it’s OK for medical marijuana patients to go to federal prison.” The ad was juxtaposed with the image of a 4-year-old boy who suffers from epilepsy and his mother.
We need more politicians who are brave and who stand up to this political corruption to protect the children. The bravery of Steve Cooley, Dwight Holton, Carmen Trutanich, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Andy Harris, and Linda Newell in Colorado, is much appreciated.
*The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment prohibits funds to the Drug Enforcement Agency (FDA) to be used for “medical” marijuana in states that have authorized state “medical” marijuana programs.
It’s Democracy at it’s worst when Big Marijuana buys off the process for gathering signatures in Colorado. Today, supporters of proposed initiative 139, a measure aimed to place reasonable controls on the sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado, announced that they will withdraw their initiative from potential consideration on the November 2016 general election ballot.
“I witnessed the buy off of the voting process this week, ” explained Jo McGuire, Five Minutes of Courage, Colorado Springs.
The marijuana industry has made it too expensive to move forward. The Cannabist reported that marijuana businesses raised more than $300,000 within a few days. The initiative would have capped the level of THC in marijuana at 16%. Since marijuana was much weaker in the 1970s, 2-4% THC, it’s hard to understand why 16% limit would anger the industry. Amendment 139 was a health and safety plan to bring the number of emergency room hospitalizations down and possibly avoid at least some of the deaths caused by psychotic shooting sprees and other reactions to marijuana. There is no money to be made in harm reduction, so supporters were not trying to make a profit.
“The Marijuana Moguls put a pile of campaign cash on the table and won. Our kids, and our communities are in crisis, for now,” lamented Ron Castagno, a former Jefferson County high school principal one of the initiative’s designated representatives.
The move comes on the heels of a successful effort by the marijuana industry to stall the process and buy off signature gatherers to keep the initiative from moving forward. After a two month delay, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously rejected the claims concocted by the marijuana industry.
In addition to Castagno, the other mover behind the ballot was Denver mother Ali Pruitt. She said: “As disappointed as I am to shelve these critical public safety reforms for now, we simply couldn’t go toe-to-toe with the Marijuana Moguls who committed tens of millions to defeat our common-sense controls on the sale of recreational marijuana.”
Supporters who developed Amendment 139 are also announcing that a new coalition is forming to hold Big Marijuana accountable. “We are not done,” emphasized Sue Anderson of the Healthy Colorado Coalition.
“With the initiative option off the table for 2016, it’s time for our elected leaders to stand with men like Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and recognize the harm that legalized pot has had on our state, and more importantly, to end their excuses and rein in an out-of-control marijuana industry.” Denver has been forced to pay a security firm $650,000 in addition to its police force to keep it’s streets and malls safe.
“The commercialized marijuana industry once again showed that they are willing to put their profits ahead of the safety of our children and our communities,” Castagna concluded.
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 720-931-3700
Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a broad coalition of organizations working to prevent and treat substance abuse sent a letter today to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of their decision on their party platform, including marijuana policy. Former Representative Patrick Kennedy , Honorary Chair of SAM, who once chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, signed the letter.
Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), the National Alliance of Alcohol and Drug Counselors (NAADAC), Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC), Phoenix House, CeDAR and The Hills Treatment Center represented the recovery community in urging politicians not to legalize drugs.
“The DNC should resist any calls to legalize drugs,” said Kevin Sabet, a former advisor to the Obama Administration and current President of SAM, a bipartisan organization dedicated to implementing science-based marijuana-policies. “The legalization of marijuana is about one thing: the creation of the next Big Tobacco.
The letter details how legalization has resulted in huge spikes in arrests of Colorado youth from communities of color-up 29 percent among Hispanics from 2012 (pre-legalization) to 2014 (post-legalization), and up 58 percent among Black youth in the same timeframe-while arrests of White children fell. Additionally, there has been a doubling of the percentage of marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Washington in just one year after legalization (2013 to 2014). Emergency poison control calls related to marijuana from 2013 to 2014 in both Colorado and Washington rose, by 72 percent and 56 percent, respectively, and there has been a 15 percent average annual increase in drug and narcotics crime in Denver since 2014.
“The pot lobby has successfully fought off Colorado’s attempts to regulate advertising targeting children, rules restricting the use of pesticides, and rules to limit marijuana potency. This same lobby is now exporting these tactics to other states in November,” said Jeffrey Zinsmeister, Executive Vice President of SAM. “This assault on health and safety regulations is no less than a repeat of Big Tobacco’s tactics from t he 1960s and 1970s. Parents Opposed to Pot is concerned that the Democratic Party’s platform (as worded) will protect marijuana businesses and their profits at the expense of children and teens. Legalization policies in Colorado and Washington reveal that businesses can be quite unscrupulous in the way they advertise and locate. For example, a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado is currently operating next door to an “alternative” high school for students with special needs.
A draft of the platform could be interpreted by some as an endorsement of marijuana legalization and/or expansion. The specific wording, as shown in the letter to the DNC Chair and platform committee, is vague. (Although decriminalization and legalization are not the same thing, many people use these terms interchangeably.)
Parents Opposed to Pot wonders why marijuana, a major drug of abuse, would be promoted during the time of a drug epidemic. Another section of the platform addressed the opioid drug abuse, but refused to deal with the gateway effects of marijuana and alcohol and to educate accordingly. US government statistics show that at least 66% who overdose began their illicit drug use with marijuana.
Kevin Sabet explains the marijuana industry, “Marketers cleverly package pot candies to make them attractive to kids, and pot shops do nothing to improve neighborhoods and communities. Moreover, there are other, more effective ways to address questions of racial justice and incarceration. So does the DNC want to be known for fostering the next tobacco industry, or will it stand with the scientific community, parents, and public health?”
Major anti-drug organizations stand in unity with SAM and against all drug abuse and addiction. Executive officers of the Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF), National Families in Action (NFIA), Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA, Community Alliances for Drug-Free Youth (CADFY), the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Association of Addiction Professionals co-signed the letter, as did Dr. Robert DuPont, Founding Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and President of the Institute of Behavior and Health
Eleven years ago the ONDCP and SAMHSA held a press conference to inform of research that confirms what many families already knew–that marijuana use was a trigger for psychosis and mental illness.
The ONDCP is the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Each agency has a crucial role in trying to ascertain usage and reduce demand for drugs.
At this same Press Conference, a couple who had lost their 15-year-old son to suicide due to the mental health problems arising from marijuana use, spoke. The Press covered the story, but did not use their considerable investigative skills to probe into what those parents and Dr. McKenagey were describing. It is true that about one quarter of American high school students are depressed, which points to multiple problems of American culture, not just drugs. However, knowing how vulnerable teens are, and then not exposing the factors that could make their outcomes worse, is lamentable.
In addition to depression, anxiety and suicide, there are the risks of psychosis, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia that arise from marijuana use. Pot proponents love to state that anyone who has a psychotic reaction to pot already had the problem before they used it. They tend to blame family members for not wanting to admit mental health problems, and argue that pot is used as a scapegoat.
Several studies have shown a link between marijuana and schizophrenia. Explains pharmacologist Christine Miller, Ph.D: “No one is destined to develop schizophrenia. With identical twins, one can develop the disease and the other one will do so only 50% of the time, illustrating the importance of environmental factors in the expression of the disease. Marijuana is one of those environmental factors and it is one we can do something about.”
A Missed Opportunity
One person who worked in the office of ONDCP Director John Walters told Parents Opposed to Pot, “They accused us of being pot-crazy during a time when there was a methamphetamine crisis going on. Marijuana is almost always the first drug introduced to young people and the evidence for the mental health risks were very strong by 2005. Although pot was getting stronger as it is today, the warning was falling on deaf ears. Members of Congress wanted us to focus on the meth crisis, but marijuana was a growing issue and we had a myriad of issues.”
This Public Service Announcement reached audiences in the Press, and some newspapers and magazines reported about it. Since the Internet and search engines were not as they are today, few parents, children, schools and mental health professionals took notice. (Did the marijuana lobbying groups bully and try squelch the information?)
Lori Robinson, whose son suffered the mental health consequences of marijuana said: “I will always deeply regret Shane not hearing this PSA . Shane was a smart, gregarious and fun-loving young man who naively began using pot never knowing he was playing Russian roulette with his brain in ’05-’06 at the age of 19. Dr McKeganey so clearly stated that the public views marijuana as harmless, not realizing the potency of THC was rising while the “antipsychotic” property of CBD was being bred out. Sadly, despite both parents never used an illegal drug in our lives, our son assumed that since a few of his friend had smoked in high school, it was just a “harmless herb.” Shane’s story is on the Moms Strong website.
Robinson added, “This video is absolutely current TODAY. Let’s keep this video circulating & it WILL save young brains & families the destruction that lies ahead when marijuana hijacks your kid’s brain.
Lives could have been saved, and so many cases of depression, psychotic breakdowns and crimes could have been prevented – if the public had become more aware back in 2005. Congress, the Press and most of all, the American psychiatric community was wrong to ignore the warnings that were issued with this PSA.
Let’s not continue to ignore the evidence. Today in the US, mental health is worse than it’s ever been, and the promotion of drug usage may be a huge factor in this problem. Harm reduction in preference to primary prevention strategies is practiced in many jurisdictions. Drug overdose deaths have overtaken gun violence deaths and traffic fatalities in the USA — by far — under this strategy.
Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds became an early supporter of Rep. Tim Murphy’s Help Families in Mental Health Crisis Act precisely because it promised to give families access to important medical information. Deeds had been unable to find a hospital bed for his son and to access his mental health records before the 24-year-old attacked him with a knife in 2013–and later killed himself.
The situation is all too frequent that families of adult children with mental health issues cannot help their children and are shut out of treatment programs. Privacy law leaves loved ones on the sidelines — with tragic results. The HIPAA Privacy Rule, passed in 1996 to keep health care information private, has repeatedly been an obstacle to Mental Health Care and Substance Use Disorder Treatment. We recommend that Congress not pass H.R.2646 because the Act doesn’t loosen the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules to provide for better family access to medical records.
If your child is age 14 + and has a substance use issue or a psychiatric issue, parents may be prevented from knowing if there is any substance use or abuse. How many parents / families would really use this information against their child? Families are better equipped to be the judges of care than the government, or some impersonal hospital treatment center.
Since it’s likely that Congress will pass the CARA Act to prevent addiction overdose deaths, it’s time think holistically. Could a reason there are more than 47,000 substance abuse deaths per year be that parents often don’t know when their children are using drugs, or that they have no idea when drug use begins?
A whole new bill to reform the HIPAA Privacy Rule with regards to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder is called for at this time.
Aren’t parents who are trying to get children off drugs or into treatment trying to save their lives? If a child or teen signs for parents or guardians to have this information, they can learn about substance use or diagnosis. However, a child may refuse and hospitals/doctors are bound by HIPAA law not to tell. Substance users often don’t see that they have a problem and don’t want to give up their use of drugs. Denial is a part of addiction.
Practicing medicine is more art than science. Psychiatric treatment in the United States is imprecise, hit or miss and often determined by insurance companies. The DSM Manual for Psychiatry is frequently revised. Sometimes when a first episode of psychosis is triggered by marijuana, psychiatrists are quick to jump the gun and prescribe heavy anti-psychotics instead of getting the user off of marijuana.
Patients can refuse to take medications and they have the freedom to do that. Anthony Hernandez supported Murphy’s bill because his son Aaron killed the family dog and stabbed his mother at age 19. Stronger mental health care laws forcing treatment would have protected the family. It had been impossible for the Los Angeles family to force their son Aaron — who had begun using marijuana in middle school – into treatment. As there were other family members with mental illness, no one knows for sure if Aaron could have avoided his condition (paranoid schizophrenia) by never touching marijuana and hallucinogens. Certainly schizophrenia comes at a younger age to those who use marijuana and it makes the condition much more severe.
Decrease Substance Abuse to Decrease Mental Illness
The best way we can decrease mental health problems in this country is by decreasing substance abuse. Again and again studies note that violence is associated with substance abuse more than psychiatric disability. People who abuse substances are more likely to be violent, with or without a diagnosed mental disorder.
Parents Opposed to Pot believes that educating children in early elementary school about the organic brain changes that come with substance use and abuse will cut down violence and mental illness in the United States by 25-40%. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, almost 60% of the world’s drug users and nearly 25% of those incarcerated. Yet people deny that our nation’s rate of incarceration reflects the fact that so many people commit crimes when they use drugs.
Rep. Murphy said that under HIPAA, families are often treated “like the enemy,” His original plan was to allow health providers to disclose a patient’s diagnosis, treatment plan, appointment schedule and medications to a “responsible caregiver,” if the patient has a serious mental illness, and if the information is needed to “protect the health, safety or welfare of the individual or general public.” The bill did not allow providers to share psychotherapy notes. It was meant to safeguard continuity of treatment, especially for those who would be gravely disabled in the absence of treatment.
H.R.2426 mandates a presidential appointee who is an assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders, a senior leadership position in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The current agency Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an important agency which does a very important job.
Is the Marijuana Lobby Trying to Buy Your Legislature and Your Votes?
If marijuana has a medical application that can be proven, Merck and Pfizer will probably see the benefit of getting into the 4.2 billion dollar business. Marijuana companies, like pharmaceutical companies, contribute heavily to politicians and lobbying efforts. Unlike the pharmaceutical industry, they don’t go through a rigorous testing and approval process. The marijuana industry uses pesticides, even banned pesticides, but it promotes itself as organic and natural.
Medical marijuana “caregivers” have no accountability and liability, and their lobbyists know it. We think it is wrong when the marijuana industry lobbyists give parents with very sick children false hope.
A few of the children treated with an artisanal CBD (cannabidiol, the derivative of marijuana used for epilepsy) have died, and some of the children treated with cannabis oil for cancer also died.
In Montana a few years ago, Cashy Hyde’s father was featured on TV, saying his son had been cured of cancer using cannabis oil. Sadly, the boy eventually died, sometime after the startling announcement that he had been cured. The constant nurture and love from his parents probably helped to extend his life.
A man in Iowa who advocated for marijuana also died of cancer. In Australia, a little girl whose father had been treating her neuroblastoma with cannabis oil died in May. Receiving constant love, attention and kind wishes from others sent good vibes into the world, but no medical professional thought it had an effect on the cancer.
When reading about the remarkable claims advocates of medical marijuana propose, please remember the placebo effect. We don’t know why placebos cure some people and not others. It could be the power of belief, or the result of a person’s own immune system having the ability to fight the disease.
Parents Opposed to Pot objects to the tactics of marijuana lobbyists because:
They give partial truths, attempt to sway public opinion while hiding essential facts.
They engage in unfair defamation of character and advertising. Two years ago Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Andy Harris were targeted with cruel and slanderous attacks because of their votes regarding medical marijuana. Rep. Wasserman Schultz recently voted to allow veterans to be allowed marijuana — although it makes PTSD worse.
They outpsend the opposition to marijuana legalization and target youth with their advocacy, while pretending to be grass roots. Smart Approaches to Marijuana was founded after the vote to legalize in Washington and Colorado.
*The 1996 ballot in legalizing marijuana in California was called the Compassionate Use Act and people were led to believe it was only for terminally ill people with cancer and AIDS. In reality, only 3-5% of the marijuana has been used for these conditions.
Informing parents that children can die after using the non-pharmaceutical CBD is not suggesting that the CBD kills; it is merely suggesting that to call it “life-saving” is misleading. Parents who have watched their children suffer much and are desperate for a cure should not be promised more than can be given. What sounds too good to be true can be too good to be true.
A family in Arizona who was part of a lawsuit to get the extracts for their son saw a dramatic difference in the boy, an improvement in all levels of functioning. Nonetheless, the poor boy died. The family still advocates for marijuana extracts. They saw their son have a better life for a period of time before his death.
One child who moved to Colorado for the CBD medication got help, but still died. The mother returned home alone. The medical marijuana industry doesn’t tell you that sometimes these “miracle cures” don’t work.
Why are People, Legislators Shielded from the Whole Truth?
Medical marijuana campaigns don’t always supply the whole truth, especially when there’s much drama surrounding the presentation. When Dr. Sanjay Gupta went on television with his special segments about marijuana, he publicly advocated for “medical” marijuana using the example of Charlotte’s Web, an artisanal CBD product from Colorado. The televised documentaries were called Weed 1, Weed 2 and Weed 3.
At the end of Weed 3, it was mentioned that Vivian, the little girl whose family moved to Colorado for an extract of marijuana not available in New Jersey, was no longer being longer being helped as much as she had been previously. Were people listening?
Why Support Artisanal CBD?
National Families in Action (NFIA) published the American Epilepsy Society’s statements against artisanal CBD. NFIA has written about the advantages of having pharmacy-grade, FDA-approved medicine over artisanal products, which haven’t been tested for mold or pesticides and may not have the same exactitude in dosage.
Like the “Right to Know” campaign on GMOs, shouldn’t there be a Right to Know about CBD oil advocacy, or a “Right to Know about “medical” marijuana?
Parents who are considering alternative treatments for devastating diseases or conditions have a right to know that some of the experimental medicines that are aggressively promoted do not always save a child’s life. These preparations should never be called “life-saving,” because no one can prove that phrase to be true.
“Medical” marijuana has succeeded in shielding itself from lawsuits in ways that pharmaceutical companies would never be able to do.
One of Parents Opposed to Pot’s biggest fans in Facebook is an ex-convict who now shares his story. Eddie Martinez was a marijuana smoker at a very young age, which led to his joining a gang, dealing drugs and being in and out of prison for many years.
Eddie tells his story today, in hopes of changing the minds of young people who think marijuana is cool. He also wants to encourage parents as they work to set a good example and teach their children the pitfalls of getting swept up in today’s pro-drug culture. His marijuana testimony is powerful and persuasive against going down the drug road. Fortunately, he turned his life around.
For those who are casting a vote this year on the marijuana issue, we urge you to consider the impact on the poor, and communities of color. This immigrant’s story is an example of how drugs derail the American dream, leading to unthinkable outcomes after the drugs are introduced into his life.
This YouTube video podcast contains a slide show of Eddie’s personal photos.
If you have a testimony to share about how drugs have hurt you or your child, we encourage you to contact email@example.com. We are happy to publish your story anonymously. In this case, Eddie was willing to use his full name.
Marijuana Industry Taking Advantage of Opiate Problem to Entrap More People
Medical marijuana proponents have a nationwide effort to add opiate addiction to the list of conditions for medical marijuana. They aren’t just saying medical marijuana is a replacement for opiates; they are now pitching it as a medical treatment for opiate addiction. The marijuana industry’s savvy marketing campaign is bigger, trickier and even more devious than Big Tobacco and Big Pharma ever dreamed. Yet many people who get addicted to opiates were already addicted to drugs via marijuana.
Mixing marijuana with other drugs is becoming so routine that “drugged and stoned” is a new normal. Just because another person didn’t die from doing “dabs” and mixing it with Xanax doesn’t mean we shouldn’t warn our children of this dangerous practice.
The worst car accident by a driver in recent memory was caused by a driver who used both marijuana and alcohol. Driver Diane Schuler killed 8, including 5 children, in the Taconic State Parkway crash in New York on July 26, 2009. It appears that the driver was in pain. Schuler, three of her nieces, her 2-year old daughter and three men in the oncoming minivan died. Schuler used marijuana regularly to deal with insomnia. (Insomnia is a condition promoted by medi-pot advocates.)
Marijuana lobbyists try to portray marijuana customers as single drug users. Multi-substance addiction is the norm today.
The Seattle Police Department report has details of their investigation, which came to the same conclusion as the King County Medical Examiner’s Office did in January. The toxicology screen found “relatively high levels” of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element of marijuana, in Warsame’s system. In Washington, smoked forms of marijuana average more than 20% THC.
A native of Somalia, Warsame was an advanced high school student who was taking a college class at Seattle Central College. Levy Thamba was an exchange student from the Republic of Congo going to college in Wyoming. In 2014, he jumped four stories after eating a marijuana cookie for the first time. He was only 19, under the legal age for purchasing marijuana.
In the case of Warsame and Thamba, the reactions to marijuana were quick. Bondi fell 150 feet to his death last year, and had used other drugs in addition to marijuana. Goodman committed suicide a few days after ingesting marijuana edibles.
The lawsuit claims that the company that made the marijuana edible and the store that sold the candy to Richard Kirk recklessly and purposefully failed to warn him about the bite-sized candy’s potency and side effects — including hallucinations and other psychotic behaviors. Kristine Kirk had called 911 for help, but it was too late.
(The pictures of Levy Thamba and Kristine Kirk are from CBS News.)
by Randy Philbrick, Director, SAM Oregon, Fighting Back Against Big Marijuana
“Oregon is reaping the reward with massive tax revenue ”
Yet another claim by legalizers that can’t be proven. Recreational sales started in October of last year, yet the tax only kicked in this past January. That’s three months of tax-free drug sales. In the first month of taxation, Oregon pulled in $3.5 million in tax revenue. In the February, the second month, it dropped to $3.3 for a two-month total of $6.8 million. I know what you’re thinking, “Man that’s great. That’s a lot of money”. Is it really!? Yes, standing alone that amount seems like a lot of money. But when you put it next to the state’s operating budget of $60 billion , the measly $6.8 million now looks like our planet sitting next to Jupiter. If that trend stayed all year that would be $40 million for the year. Again, planet earth sitting next to Jupiter.
This testimony was submitted by SM in British Columbia. Photo above is from the Facebook page of Sunset Beach Vancouver. It was from the 420 event in Vancouver, BC, Canada, on April 20, 2016.
Dear Prime Minister,
Proud to serve as Minister of Youth, I hope you will take my suggestions into consideration. I stopped going for walks by the beach with my kids because of the pot smell and second-hand exposure. At the moment we have law prohibiting smoking in the public areas. Once I asked a park ranger why he does not fine a pot consumer on the beach. He answered to me that this pot consumer does it for a medical reason. What does it matter if it is for a medical reason or not? I don’t want to be exposed to the second-hand smoke! It is also questionable who and how you can get permit for medical marijuana use.
Pot should be treated in public area the same way liquor consumption is, but even more strictly because of second-hand exposure. I want to point out the difference between smoking a pot cigarette versus cigarette and alcohol use. You can drive a car if you smoke cigarettes without any safety issue to the traffic, but not if you are under influence of the pot or alcohol. Second-hand exposure to the pot smoke is far more dangerous than cigarette exposure because it has an influence on the brain. Young peoples brain under development is specially vulnerable to the pot second-hand pot exposure!
How is the government is going to control selling of cookies or any other food product with pot in its ingredients? Are our kids going to be safe or can any pot candy manufacturer manipulate them?
What about the smell? What about second-hand smoke exposure? What about impaired driving? What if I have a neighbor who consumes pot and I can’t open my window? Pot users must be kept away from public. If it’s medical, make it be used in designated clinics where they can consume with no influence and exposure to the public. This all needs to be regulated by law.
How much is it going to cost this government to care for a stoned generation? Are we going to be allowed to go to work stoned?
We took away cigarettes from our streets but now we allow pot. Pot needs to be regulated by a law far stricter than cigarettes, somewhere in between alcohol use and drug use.
Marijuana Doesn’t Need to be Rescheduled to do More Research
Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton criticize the Citizens United ruling without criticizing the millions and millions of dollars that George Soros, Peter Lewis and others have used to fund marijuana legalization. It is a double standard.
A few days ago on Good Morning America, a representative of NORML asked Hillary Clinton if she would support legalizing marijuana. She doesn’t support it, but she supports research and changing marijuana from a schedule I to schedule II classification.
Hello, my name is _______. _ I am 16 years old, live in Idaho Springs and attend Clear Creek High School. I am here today to express my concern on the potency limit amendment.
In my town there are three dispensaries within about a 3-mile stretch.
With the legalization of marijuana it is becoming more accessible even to youth. While it is not legal for anyone under the age of 21, they are still getting it pretty easily. Parents and other supporters are willingly buying it illegally for children.
I have seen it all throughout my high school weekly if not daily. Kids come into school smelling like weed, you see them vaping, eating edibles or popping pills (marijuana pills).
Countless students have dropped out, been suspended or expelled because of it. My own friend has come to school high countless times. Her motivation, GPA, and aspirations are dwindling at an alarming rate. She is 17 years old and has now decided she no longer wants to go to college. We don’t hang out as much anymore because all she wants to do it get high. And I know for a fact her parents are buying it from retail stores.
Not only are kids getting bud, edibles, oils or pills. They are getting “dabs” or liquid THC.
I am a firm believer that children WILL be negatively affected by marijuana. It starts with one drug and then they want something stronger.
My own mother smoked it. She was aloof and distant and soon moved onto other drugs. She gave my brother weed; he never finished high school and has been struggling since. I haven’t talked to either of them in years. It tore my family apart.
I am now a part of the Rock House, which is a youth outreach center for troubled teens or teens with troubled pasts. There I do a lot of community outreach and we see a lot of kids who come from troubled families. One member I was really close with got sent to foster care because his parents were abusing marijuana. I haven’t seen him in 2 years.
We cannot force the youth to stop, but with lowering the legal potency levels I believe we can help protect and prevent unwanted ‘accidents.’
My husband and I are 67 and 69. Last year we went to a Steely Dan concert and our neighbor (36 yrs old) gave us some marijuana and with a smile said “be careful.” We hadn’t smoked pot for 30 or more years and we thought “why not?” and we blew off his warning saying, “We know, we’ve smoked pot before.”
Off we went and with true teenage abandon we took two puffs each in our car in a casino parking garage. We looked at each other and agreed… we didn’t feel anything. A few minutes later we attempted to step out of our SUV and almost fell. It came on so fast and so strong. We had to navigate an elevator, walk through the casino, out to the street and two blocks to where the concert was being held. We were having to focus 100% on the act of walking.
The doors to the venue weren’t open and we stood up against the building, away from people just waiting to be able to get to our seats and ride it out. My husband wanted to slide down the wall and sit on the sidewalk but he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get up… Everything visual and auditory was exaggerated and distorted.
This new marijuana is waaaaaaay beyond simple medical use for pain. It lasted about six hours with the first three hours being at its strongest. There is no way we could have or would have driven the first three hours. Sit in a classroom and learn, impossible. Sit at the dinner table with your family and enjoy a conversation, impossible. This is not a couple of beers. This is not a couple of martinis. This is being drugged.
Is CBD from Marijuana for Epilepsy Really About Compassion?
Parents Opposed to Pot supports every effort to find cures for children who suffer, but it’s unclear if Pennsylvania legislators who passed a medical marijuana bill on April 13 really understood the subject. Dr. Michael Privitera, President of the Epilepsy Society urged legislators to vote “no” on SB-3, but the legislators voted to follow anecdotal evidence rather than the science. (Portions of the letter are below.)
The manipulations of the marijuana lobby are typical: give people false hope, play the “compassion” card to manipulate public opinion and shame people into adopting their view. Because there is so much drama behind the people who advocate for marijuana use to treat epilepsy, many parents are expecting miraculous cures that are not always forthcoming. The pro-marijuana advocates need to warn that any relief CBD oil gives for epilepsy is not necessarily permanent.
The Children Given Marijuana for Seizures who Died
A family in Arizona who was part of a lawsuit to get the extracts for their son saw a dramatic difference in the boy, an improvement in all levels of functioning. Yet the poor boy died. The family still advocates for marijuana extracts. We understand the view of the parents — they saw their son have a better life for a brief period before his death.
At the end of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Weed 3, it was mentioned that Vivian, the little girl whose family moved to Colorado because to have extracts of marijuana not available in New Jersey, was no longer being helped as much as she had been at first.
We are sorry for the parents who must go through so much to help their children. We would hope they can be assured of purity — free from mold, fungi and pesticides.
Lori Robinson, co-founder of Moms Strong said, “Apparently, only young kids who have disorders that break the heart can move mountains because parents whose kids are suffering egregious consequences from this plant really don’t garner any attention by legislatures.” Compassionate Pennsylvanians should learn both sides of an issue.
So, MIchael Privitera MD, President of the American Epilepsy Society, who wrote a heartfelt letter on March 15, 2016, to Rep Matt Baker and the Pennsylvania Legislature, noting scientific studies and warning of the dangers of making law on such scant evidence. Legislators voted against Dr Privitera’s pleading of a “no” vote on SB-3. There are those kids who develop the adverse condition like status epilepticus. Here are excerpts from Dr. Privitera’s letter:
“Additionally, in 13% of cases reviewed seizures worsened with use of cannabis and in some patients there were significant adverse events. These are not the stories that you have likely heard in your public hearings or have read in popular press, but they are the reality of AES members who are practitioners at Children’s Hospital Colorado who have cared for the largest number of cases of children with epilepsy treated with cannabis in the U.S.
Unlike the product used in the GW Pharmaceutical study, the families and children moving to Colorado are receiving unregulated, highly variable artisanal preparations of cannabis oil prescribed, in most cases, by physicians with no training in pediatrics, neurology or epilepsy. As a result, the epilepsy specialists in Colorado have been at the bedside of children having severe dystonic reactions and other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures that can be so severe they have to put the child into a coma to get the seizures to stop.” (GW Pharmaceuticals is a British Company)
Lori Robinson stated: “Now that we have medicinal marijuana in 24 states, why is it that the federal government not demanding disclosure of marijuana’s adverse effects on mental health, particularly for those ages 25 and under?” Recently, Arizona’s governor signed a law stating that medical marijuana dispensaries must post prominent signs warning pregnant and breastfeeding women not to use.
She added, “I wish I believed this was more about compassion, but I don’t. More likely it’s about the money.”
We believe that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who supports marijuana legalization, is disingenuous when he criticizes the Koch Brothers and Wall Street bankers while not calling out the fact that George Soros and Peter Lewis have given millions and millions of dollars for the legalization of marijuana. The marijuana lobby also donates to Congress.
“If Shane had known that marijuana could lead to any mental disorder, I know he never would have tried it,” opined Lori Robinson, co-founder of the website Moms Strong. “Even though my husband and I are from California and had never used drugs, California voted to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 when Shane was 10. He grew up in a state that legitimizes marijuana use, way beyond the severe disabling health conditions for which people had voted 20 years ago. Continue reading Moms Strong Unite to Protect Children from Marijuana→
As some women consider using marijuana to treat pregnancy issues such as morning sickness, they are left wondering about the effects of marijuana on themselves and their baby while pregnant. In this piece, author Pamela McColl shares a few reasons why marijuana use during pregnancy may have detrimental effects on the child, and why it should be avoided during this critical time. Continue reading Smoking Marijuana is Dangerous During Pregnancy→
Sven-Olov Carlsson gave an opening address at the 5th Annual World Federation of Drugs Conference in Vienna on March 12-13. His speech challenged ideas about drug policy that are popular at this time. “The goal in helping a loved one with a substance use problem is not to reduce their use. It is to stop drug use,” he said.
Anyone who believes that a “Harm Reduction” emphasis (instead of drug prevention) needs to take a close look at the current heroin epidemic and ask if we are really saving lives. Today some countries favor harm reduction policies over drug prevention. These policies fail to acknowledge the difficulty of treatment and that harm reduction only prevents immediate death. More lives will be saved when we stop the drug use, and prevent the initiation into drug usage.
While it is important that the Senate passed the CARA Act and that the House will now take up their version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, we are sorry that Congress is not addressing youth marijuana use as a gateway to opiate abuse which in turn leads to heroin abuse.
In his opening address Carlsson said that a successful drug policy makes it clear that drug use is unacceptable. The future of an improved drug policy is not to legalize intoxicating drugs of abuse, including marijuana. (The United States is demonstrating that legalization does not work.)
In the US, funding for D.A.R.E. has been drastically reduced, with most schools no longer using the D.A.R.E. program. Since some of the states have legalized medical marijuana it has become controversial to be anti-pot, and D.A.R.E. responded by cutting marijuana out of its standard curriculum. It’s time to replace that program with a more effective anti-drug prevention education in schools–geared at the state of affairs today.
The US should listen to Carlsson, President of the World Federation of Drugs. In his speech, he proclaimed: “It is in the development of a balanced, restrictive drug policy that prevents drug use, and that intervenes with drug users to provide them with a path to life-long recovery.
“Instead of legalizing drugs, an enlightened drug policy can harness the criminal justice system to thwart drug markets, facilitate entry into treatment and restrict incarceration to egregious offenders.” In other words, a public heath approach and a criminal justice approach should not be considered as opposites.
Carlsson is from Sweden which has a drug policy based on prevention and treatment. It has only 5% of youth drug users in contrast to 22% in the USA. Socialist policy depends on low drug use and keeping marijuana illegal, something that Bernie Sanders’ followers don’t understand. (Sanders may understand, but he wants young voters on his side. )
People are learning about the deception used by the Marijuana Industry to sell voters and the public on medical marijuana and marijuana legalization. People are learning about the harms caused by marijuana and a reckless Marijuana Industry.
People are learning that the Marijuana Industry, like the Tobacco Industry, has deep pockets so they can create the illusion of widespread support — which does not actually exist (except by those who are looking to make $$$).
Take a look at what happened over the last few weeks in Colorado. More people are rejecting the commercialization and legalization by the Marijuana Industry.
• The Colorado Springs City Council voted to ban marijuana clubs 3/9/16. The Council saw through the Marijuana Industry smokescreen as they attempted to portray marijuana clubs as medical sites for people with PTSD. (The Marijuana Industry does not hesitate to exploit many people and issues.) Below is a link to a 2-minute promotional video for one of the marijuana clubs (no mention of its “medical” practices). View the video
• Cannabis Cup kicked out of Colorado. High Times Magazine’s Cannabis Cup, a marijuana celebration event, has been rejected by Colorado communities. Adams County Commissioners did not approve their application to hold the event again in their community citing safety concerns. High Times thought they could find a home in Pueblo County but withdrew their application after local pushback, including from the Pueblo County Sheriff. Many in law enforcement voiced their opposition and concerns.
• Marijuana events bill dies in committee. A bill to allow marijuana events across the state died in a state legislative committee.
An initiative to legalize marijuana in Maine failed to make the 2016 ballot today, after over 40,000 signatures legalization proponents submitted in favor of the proposal were invalidated due to irregularities. This left legalizers well short of the 61,123 signatures needed to put the initiative to a vote this fall.
Almost half of the signatures submitted (47,686 of 99,229) were declared invalid. More specifically, Maine election officials found that, among other irregularities:
Over 31,000 signatures were invalid because the signatures of petition circulators swearing that they witnessed signature collection did not match their signatures on file. (Indeed, one circulator was listed as the public notary on an incredible 5,099 petitions containing 26,779 signatures.)
Another 13,525 signatures were invalidated because they did not belong to a registered voter in the municipality where they were submitted.
“This is a huge sigh of relief for Mainers and our public health community, especially in a period where we are facing a serious and growing opiate crisis,” stated SAM Maine Director, Scott M. Gagnon. “The last thing we needed amidst an addiction crisis is increased access and availability to drugs. We are pleased that the Big Marijuana agenda will not be allowed to disrupt our efforts to protect and improve the health of Mainers and Maine communities.” Gagnon has written about how the marijuana industry is trying to cash in on the heroin epidemic.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of SAM added, “This represents a victory for public health over industry profits. Despite pouring money into Maine, it appears that the pot industry was unable to get enough real people to sign their petition. The fact that almost a full 50% of the signatures were invalidated casts a cloud over the entire legalization movement in the state.”
Marijuana lobbyists and industry groups have also tried to legalize marijuana by going through the state legislature multiple times. These efforts failed, also.
My name is Jen and I am a Marijuana addict. I have been sober for three years and one month.
Marijuana addiction is a very controversial topic and I often avoid discussing it with others. I know I’m an addict but it can be extremely discouraging when I hear people say things like “It’s physically impossible to be addicted to such and such.” I know they are wrong but it still hurts my feelings and makes me question myself at times. Getting sober is the most amazing thing I have ever done and I need to surround myself with people who appreciate this achievement for what it is, rather than piss all over it and make me feel like a joke.
There needs to be more support and better support that is just geared to marijuana addiction. In the beginning of my sobriety, I tried going to Marijuana Anonymous meetings in Phoenix but they are not very good here. There are usually just a few people — half of them are court ordered and the other half are teenagers that were dragged in by their parents. Needless to say, I did not find these meetings very helpful and eventually stopped going.
I’ve also tried Narcotics Anonymous and often felt ostracized because I have never been addicted to “harder” drugs, thus could not relate to others in the program. I got the most help from Alcoholics Anonymous because the stories were so similar to my own. However, people often shunned me away because “The only requirement for AA is to have desire to stop ***drinking***.” Many people in AA welcomed me with open arms. Others rejected me ruthlessly and went out of their way to make me feel not welcomed. Some would even interrupt others speaking, announcing “You’re only supposed to talk about alcohol!! Do not talk about other drugs!” Finding support for my addiction hasn’t been easy.
Furthermore, an attempt get legalization of recreational use marijuana on the Wyoming ballot failed. “The group fell far short of the roughly 25,600 signatures from registered voters needed to get on November’s ballot.” The Wyoming Senate Judiciary panel issued a favorable recommendation for a bill to make marijuana edibles illegal. (Levi Thamba Pongi , a foreign exchange student at college in Wyoming, became psychotic and committed suicide after eating a marijuana cookie in Colorado in March, 2014.)
Marijuana lobbyists and policy groups are making strong efforts to legalize or decriminalize marijuana in western and northeastern states. Vermont, a bill to legalize marijuana has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
Vermont gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman issued a statement critical of the governor and legislature for acting too quickly. Six Vermont physician groups come out in opposition to legalizing marijuana for recreational use in their state. The state’s health department wrote a scathing attack against legalization.
An state considering legalization needs to recognized the continuous onslaught of problems in the schools of Colorado. Last week, 9 students were negatively affected by marijuana edibles that had gotten into a Colorado High School. ( Maine, the state next to New Hampshire had already rejected a bill to legalize marijuana by a vote of 2 to 1, last summer. )
Government Accountability Office Takes on DOJ for Failure
Today the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report recommending the Department of Justice (DOJ) implement a specific plan for documenting the effects of marijuana legalization.
The report, which Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) requested, states that DOJ has not “documented their monitoring process or provided specificity about key aspects of it[.]” This lack of specificity includes missing information about “potential limitations of the data [DOJ officials] report using and how they will use the data to identify states that are not effectively protecting federal enforcement priorities.”
It is not clear who gave or sold marijuana to Haven Dubois, a 14-year-old boy in Saskatchewan who drowned, but his mother wishes that police had investigated more thoroughly. There were other teens with him, but did the police even try to get the bottom of the issue? “It’s so easy for them to brush it aside. It’s just another dead Indian to them.” Pamela McColl of SAM Canada would like to see those who provide marijuana to teens who suffer harm held accountable, the same way those who give drinks to young people are held responsible for fatal accidents. (McColl is the editor of On Marijuana which contains important essays by international specialists such as Mary Brett of the United Kingdom.)Continue reading Children of Stoner Parents Fall, More Likely to Fail→
Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont gave a very good State of the State speech. He talked about how he plans to help create more jobs, help bring Vermont a greener environment and get more kids to college. Then his speech took a dramatic turn down a very steep embankment to its death.
Vermont legislators are expected to take up legislation to legalize pot this month, but they should examine the evidence and stop looking at dollar signs. Marijuana causes car accidents and is known as a trigger for mental health problems and psychosis.
Marijuana Keeps Psychiatric Hospitals in Colorado Busy
(Excerpts edited from a letter written by a Colorado resident to the state’s marijuana regulatory board. If you are a Colorado resident with a similar story, please write firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you into a group of parents who are dealing with similar, urgent problems.)
When Colorado’s Amendment 64 passed, my son and his friends celebrated it. They wrote 4/20 all over their bodies and clothes. He was only 12, and now he’s 15. I was familiar with the problems with smoking marijuana and educated my son about it. However I was not prepared to deal with a near-death experience due to him smoking marijuana.
Brain Fibers, Left and Right Side Brain Communication Subject of Two Studies
A study published in the December issue of Biological Psychiatry attempts to understand how the THC in marijuana creates psychosis-like effects, similar to those in schizophrenia. A different study, published in Europe, looked into the brain fibers of those who use high-potency marijuana and how they differ from non-users, specifically addressing how the two sides of the brain communicate. The authors concluded that “frequent use of high-potency cannabis is associated with disturbed callosal microstructural organization in individuals with and without psychosis.”
Infants and toddlers are vulnerable to negligence and abuse by marijuana-using parents. How are older children vulnerable? In Gresham, Oregon on September 25, a mother suffering from anxiety who used marijuana several times a day, shot and killed her 17-year-old son. The recently-divorced mom was losing her home, had quit her job and was suffering from anxiety. The stress of her situation is understandable, but marijuana is the wrong way to cope with stress. It ultimately increases anxiety and can lead to psychosis, too.
Marijuana activists have been using the term “inevitable” to discourage Parents Opposed to Pot and other groups from fighting against legalization. We are energized by the defeat of Issue 3, an effort to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in Ohio. In a sweeping victory, 64.1 percent of Ohioans voted against the measure and 35.9 percent of the voters favored it. The margin of victory is nearly 2 to 1, and those opposed to legalization may have been outspent by a margin of 8 to 1 or more. Continue reading Marijuana Defeat in Ohio Bursts the Myth that Legal Pot is Inevitable→
(Part 1 shows child justice failures in Court. Part 2 of this series is about neglected children who died in fires. Part 3 covers children who die in hot cars and in drownings. Part 4 explains parents who are addicted or psychotic from marijuana. Part 5 shows how children die through violence related to pot. Part 6 presents a solution. Read a previous article,Three Children Die in Colorado.)
(Part 1 shows child justice failures in Court. Part 2 of this series is about neglected children who died in fires. Part 3 covers children who die in hot cars and in drownings. Part 4 explains parents who are addicted or psychotic from marijuana. Part 5 shows how children die through violence related to pot. Part 6 presents a solution. Read a previous article,Three Children Die in Colorado.)
Kevin Sabet,Smart Approaches to Marijuana Hold Key to Solving Addiction Crisis
Most of the young people who overdose from drugs began their illicit drug usage with marijuana, according to government statistics which have quoted it at 71%. Parents Opposed to Pot receives anecdotal evidence suggesting this pattern over and over. Some teens develop marijuana addiction, but marijuana is also a gateway drug for many other people who become addicted to cocaine, heroin, opiates and other drugs.
Today there’s news out of Denver that is a negative for the marijuana industry.
SmithJohnson Research, a polling firm who has worked with Democrats and Republicans, today released a poll finding that a majority (51%) of likely Coloradan voters would oppose Amendment 64 today. About quarter of voters thought the Amendment had done a good job at regulation, but most voters did not think so. Supporters of Amendment 64 had promised that legalizing marijuana would keep it from children and teens and that hasn’t happened. Continue reading Coloradans Now Oppose Marijuana Legalization→
My son suffers from schizophrenia and marijuana addiction. He has become severely depressed and psychotic smoking marijuana, and talks of ending his life. He has been hospitalized 6 times since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. He was not hospitalized the year before the legalization of marijuana.
How could Colorado legalize marijuana without any consideration for the mental heath community? Amendment 64 is a travesty. I need help. I am so afraid for my son who just leaves his home and is in a state of confusion. He gets so paranoid and believes everyone is out to kill him. It has only been two weeks since his last hospital stay, in which he refused substance abuse treatment. He wants to drive high while being psychotic and talking to his voices.
He is a veteran and receives his treatment through the Veterans Administration. He has a case manager and I have been trying to have his psych doctor sign a paper from the department of motor vehicles that would pull his license to drive. I don’t want him to kill himself or someone else. He has already had several accidents and now has a careless driving ticket. The police have even told me not to let him drive, but how can I do that when he is actively psychotic?
My neighbors wrote a letter for the doctor who’s had this paperwork from the DMV for two months and still refuses to sign the papers. My son almost hit our neighbor’s car head on. as he was driving down the wrong side of the road, and he almost backed into them. Does he have to kill himself or someone before this doctor will take any action? He keeps telling me the VA has to call their legal team. They don’t make the call, and its so frustrating.
He won’t listen to his doctor’s advice or to anyone. Every day is so very challenging and stressful, and it has been very devastating to my family. (The author lives in Adams County, Colorado)
Most marijuana today is skunk, not the weaker strains of the Woodstock era. It is so potent that a study from London showed that one quarter of new psychosis patients over a seven year period was triggered after using marijuana.
For the state of Washington, we’ve tracked 15deaths in which marijuana was a direct causal factor, since marijuana possession became legal. In 3more deaths, it’s likely that pot was a contributing cause. Here’s the tally beginning December, 5, 2012:
3 teens killed in crash by student driver high on marijuana 5 pedestrian deaths in Vancouver, WA 5 deaths in a school shooting including the gunman 2 neighbors died after hash oil explosions 2 shooting deaths for robbing a marijuana grow. 1 motorcyclist killed by a stoned driver
(Editor’s note: An anonymous testimony highlights that the harms from using marijuana outweigh any harms caused by criminal justice system, at least 80% of the time. We’d be wiser providing youth with the evidence as to why never to use–not because they could lose a scholarship or go to jail, but because of the harms to their brain, and the addiction.) My son has always been very popular and has a vast assortment of friends. He has an above average IQ. Girls consider him very good looking. He is very secure in himself and outgoing and has never changed any of that throughout this whole ordeal. He is almost 19 and has never had a “steady” girlfriend, but many girls. My son began experimenting with drugs — I believe it was around age 15. He was into baseball (because I was) and played Continue reading Stuck in the Cycle of Addiction→
By February 16, a mural on the side of Wellstone, a Colorado Springs medical marijuana “pharmacy” had been taken down. A figure resembling the popular Cookie Monster of Sesame Street fame had been painted on the building two weeks earlier. Many children were attracted to the popular children’s TV character carrying a plate of cookies, as well as a huge ice cream cone painted along the building’s exterior. There had been a local uproar over the picture and its appropriateness for a medical marijuana dispensary.
At least 20 small children have died nationwide because of their parents’ or caretaker’s marijuana usage, since Colorado and Washington voted to legalize pot. It began in November 2012, just over two years ago, and it continues to happen in 2015. Four of those deaths occurred in Colorado, three in California.
It’s high time that a parents’ marijuana usage becomes part of the national discussion of child custody and visitation. It’s hard to understand why Doreen Reyes of Palmetto Bay, FL, had to allow her son, 4-year old Javon Dade, Jr., overnight visitation to the father who used marijuana, cocaine, had several drug arrests and kept pit bulls. The last time Javon spent the night with him was in August, the time that he died.
Children’s deaths — involving parents whose marijuana use interfered with parenting — have occurred in every corner of the country—from Vermont to Florida, from Michigan to Texas, from Oregon to Arizona, from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma. The more pot promoters say that marijuana is harmless and justify their growing industry, the more neglected and abused children there will be; some will suffer and die — unnecessarily.
Marijuana users—if addicted– have a tendency to lose a sense of time and be neglectful parents, or in some cases, abusive. Unfortunately, in many cases, both parents are drug abusers. Many medical marijuana “patients” prefer to convert pot into hash oil. When these “patients” use butane or other flammables, they should not be given custody and should only be allowed supervised visitation. Too many fires have resulted in children treated for burns.
Children who died in Fires, Hot Cars
Levi Welton, Kyheir and Dyheir Arthur, Andre Sosa-Martinez and Lileigh Kellenears died in fires. Levi Welton died in a fire while his parents used pot with friends in another room. Sosa-Martinez’s mother was also home when he died, but she was too stoned to notice sooner, or to react. In the other three deaths by fire, the parents had left the children home alone while the parents toked.
Jamison Gray, Tyler and William Jensen, Kadylak Poe Jones and Giovanni Soto died in overheated cars. With the passage of time and their parents’ marijuana usage, they were forgotten.
Jase Colby, Gabriela Guerrera, Natalye Price and Andrew Prior died because they were victims of physical abuse….and their parents were marijuana users. Kamari Taylor died because of his mom’s violent boyfriend, who left the child alone as he went out to sell pot. Paxton Stokes’ death is a little more mysterious, but it was probably the marijuana-using mom’s boyfriend who abused him.
In Vermont, the mother of Saunder Coltrane River Gilruth, smothered him to death while he slept. She admitted to smoking pot and drinking the previous night. The mother smoked pot daily during her pregnancy, and her physician knew it. The infant was only 27 days old, and was at risk because of his very low birth weight. When alcohol or other drugs add to a parent’s impairment, it doesn’t minimize the danger of today’s high-strength pot.
These cases do not include the many children who have been put in harm’s way while their parents made butane hash oil, and caused explosions. Since November of 2012, at least two dozen children have been in homes, apartments or hotels where BHO fires occurred, in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, California and Montana. A tremendous amount of luck, and quick emergency services, have allowed these children to survive.
While the Press reports on the glamor of those in the marijuana business, young people and young parents have the wrong impression of marijuana’s risks. While everyone acknowledges that heavy drinking or 2nd-hand tobacco smoke are a risks for children, pot users are treated as celebrities. Thanks to Maureen Dowd’s expose in the NY Times, people have been warned to keep marijuana edibles from children.
However, where is the justice for these 20 children who died?
In family courts, judges need to consider the extreme impairment that many marijuana users have – no matter how much they love their children. There should be requirements for drug testing, addiction treatment and follow-up which figure into custody orders. Child Protective Services (CHS) and Departments of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are in difficult situations.
The simplest way to cut down child abuse/neglect is not to legalize marijuana, legitimize its use and call it harmless. Our young people need better education about the harms of marijuana before they become parents. We also need to provide plenty of ways to get addiction treatment for the parents who need it.
As a nation, we are turning a blind eye to the damage marijuana users may present to their children. We need to recognize the poor judgment and the warped sense of time that marijuana users have. When marijuana use has been combined with fires and hot cars, children die. See Child Abuse, Part 1 (neglect) and Part 2 (violence).
by Robert Weiner, originally published in the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly last October: Last week, the Harm Reduction Coalition held its conference in Baltimore. Marijuana legalization is not one of its issues, which are mainly access to clean needles and syringes, overdose prevention with naloxone, HIV and hepatitis C, and the rights of drug users. Keynote speaker Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), supports naloxone and medication-assisted treatment. He is a clear harm reduction advocate, but not an advocate of marijuana legalization.
But harm reduction sometimes gets confused with marijuana legalization. I had the privilege of speaking to the “Politics” class at American University in nearby Washington, D.C. on October 20, a few days before the conference was to begin. I was invited to discuss the movement toward drug legalization. I also covered some “harm reduction” assertions as well.
Unfortunately, because the legalization movement is sweeping across America, my counterpoints were very well-received — I say “unfortunately” because we are being overcome by the tidal wave of the movement. Here is some of what I said to Assistant Professor Rick Semiatin’s “Washington Semester” class of juniors and seniors from 200 colleges and universities across the United States.
I’m a “liberal” on most things, but on the drug issue, I know the harm that is done by car crashes, DUIs, date rape and the impact of flooding already overcrowded emergency rooms — and that includes from marijuana, which most “legalizers” claim they want to separate from “harder” drugs. I was the one who wrote then-Congressman Ed Koch’s testimony on his bill in the 1970s to legalize marijuana, and sat with him at the table as he told Congress that drugs are personal and harmless, and that we should stop crowding our prisons. But both Ed and I learned and changed our positions, he as mayor of New York City and me as I learned more and more as spokesman for the House Narcotics Committee and then the White House ONDCP.
I told the students that the election is being overwhelmed by the issue because my own party, the Democrats, don’t want to touch it. They are afraid their candidates will lose a big chunk of the youth and liberal base who support legalization/decriminalization in the legislatures and state referenda. Like laetrile in the 1970s (which was legalized in more than 20 states and was supposed to cure cancer but turned out to be useless apricot pits that simply deferred real and needed treatment), “medical” marijuana is backed up only anecdotally and never is compared to an “n” of other treatment modalities that would be prescribed by doctors. There is truth to former drug czar Barry McCaffrey’s joke that a shot of gin also takes away your pain. Having said that, no one wants to deny a truly sick or dying patient who wants to get high the opportunity to feel better, even if it’s a placebo effect. It’s not the truly “medical” cases anyone wants to stop; it’s what law enforcement tells us are the 90+ % (and as many as 99 %) non-sick people who also come in to the clinics feigning illness with a makeshift letter just to get drugs.
Harms of marijuana
The evidence on harm in the legalizing states is rolling in. You have to scrounge for the reports, but they say, “youth marijuana use increased by nearly 11 % since medical marijuana became legal in 2009,” “traffic fatalities involving drivers testing positive for marijuana have increased by 100 percent between 2007 and 2012” and “toxicology reports with positive marijuana results for driving under the influence have increased 16 % from 2011 to 2013.” In addition, Colorado Public Radio reported, “Denver Emergency Room Doctor Seeing More Patients for Marijuana Edibles.” The United Nations reported, “Marijuana-related Health Problems on Rise in US,” with a 12 % rise last year in marijuana usage by teens.
But for the most part, the legalization referenda are speeding ahead. The most-cited ones, in Oregon and D.C., show legalization 11 and 20 points up, respectively, with just days before the election, and the legalization advocates say they are counting on “young voter turnout.” Since Democrats count on that demographic as well, you can understand the silence.
Even though Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told me personally two weeks ago that “I’m concerned about legalization” because of car crashes, emergency room upticks, the horrible message to kids (how legalization disarms parents from the moral high ground on the message), and the like, politicians in the state are silent on the issue.
Of course, the legalizers say the drug war is a “failure.” But the students I addressed did open their eyes when I said that because of the efforts of parents, teachers, coaches and religious and business leaders, and a strong foreign policy (Plan Colombia) and domestic enforcement efforts, drug use has declined almost 50 % in the last three decades, and cocaine use — the disproportionate driver of crime — is down 70 %. If any other social problem, such as literacy, hunger or poverty, or health problem, such as cancer, diabetes and heart attacks, improved 50–70 %, would we call it a failure?
Drug Courts Work
To these quite smart college juniors and seniors, I pointed out that medically assisted treatment — including methadone, buprenorphine and Vivitrol — is in fact harm reduction. It’s valid because people can function, work and pay taxes. But if we’re talking about heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine to addicts, that’s pure nonsense that destroys their lives. If we are talking about marijuana, I still oppose it because it jams hospital emergency rooms with car crashes and treatment centers with patients. Legalization or decriminalization would simply increase availability and use. When I debate the Ethan Nadelmanns of the world on radio or Bill Maher or Crossfire, they invariably say, “That’s true but…” I cut in and say, “You can’t say ‘but’ to more availability and use — that’s the point. Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”
I do concede we need to stop prison overcrowding but point out that’s why Attorney General Janet Reno and ONDCP Director McCaffrey supported creating drug courts, for treatment instead of prison for nonviolent drug offenders. There were eight drug courts when we started in 1996. Drug courts rose to 1,000 under Clinton-Reno-McCaffrey, and now are near 3,000.
Science, not politics, should guide U.S. drug policy. Bob Weiner is former spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the House Narcotics Committee and the House Government Operations Committee. He now heads up a public affairs and issues strategies group in Washington, D.C., Robert Weiner Associates, and is founder and president of Solutions for Change, a foundation supporting young journalists to write op-eds informing the public on issues in major newspapers. He can be contacted at email@example.com
By Roger Morgan, Founder/Chairman Take Back America Campaign America has gone from leading 92 countries in the fight against narcotics to a rogue nation with a federal government that has largely abandoned its responsibility to enforce drug laws. Marijuana, the enemy within, is rightly classified a Schedule I drug because it has no accepted medical use and has the potential for harm. Isolated components of the plant, like CBD, do appear to have medicinal value, but the marijuana being sold today as medicine has been bio engineered to be high in THC, the psychoactive ingredient, and void of CBD, because 98% of the “patients” just want to get high.
In 1979 by Keith Stroup, founder of NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws), announced at Emory University that the term “medical marijuana” would be used as a red herring to give pot a good name as a first step toward full legalization. It has been a long, patient plan, but obviously working thanks to the help of a few billionaires, with George Soros at the helm. Owing to a propaganda campaign financed by Soros, and now deceased Peter Lewis (former Chairman of Progressive Insurance) and John Sperling (founder of Phoenix University), Californians approved Prop 215 in 1996 to provide “medical marijuana” out of compassion for the chronically ill. In reality it had nothing to do with compassion, but was simply the first step in the long journey to legalize pot, with no concern for the social consequences for mankind.
Public Health and Safety is the first and most important priority of governments at all levels. Unfortunately, when the federal government fails to enforce the law, the burden falls to the States. When the States fail, the burden falls on local communities, which is exactly what has happened in California. In spite of the fact that the State collects between $58 and $105 million a year taxing marijuana, the money goes into the general fund leaving local government with burden of mental illness, suicides, declining academic achievement, more welfare, traffic deaths and crime. As an example, 54% of arrestees in the Sacramento area test positive for marijuana, 80% for all drugs. But crime isn’t the only problem.
Marijuana is s fat soluble toxin that stays in the body and brain longer than any other drug. Unlike water soluble alcohol where one ounce is excreted from the body in 12 hours, half the THC from pot remains in the body and brain for a month, compounding with each additional joint. It weakens the immune system, increases the chance of cardiac arrest, leads to respiratory problems and cancer, and causes more DNA damage than even heroin based on studies done over 30 years ago, when the THC content was only 1/2 to 2%. Today the THC content averages 15%, goes as high as 37% in smoked form, and up to 90% as wax (BHO). It doesn’t kill by overdose, but almost all of the 114 Americans who die every day from drug overdose started their drug journey with pot.
Marijuana’s biggest impact is on the brain, which isn’t fully developed until age 25. Until it is, particularly during adolescence, marijuana can cause irreversible brain damage and subsequent loss of IQ by as much as 8 points. Pot is a causal factor in suicidal depression; psychosis including schizophrenia and paranoia; psychotic episodes leading to violent acts; impaired cognition, learning and memory; double the risk of traffic accidents and death; addiction; and causes death or physical deformities to a fetus. Unfortunately, the majority of consumers are 25 and under, peaking at age 19 or 20.
California is targeted for outright legalization in 2016, financed again by Soros and out-of-state billionaires. America is already on a trajectory for 1/4th to 1/3rd of its young people and their offspring to incur permanent brain damage. Since the burden of public health and safety now rests with local government and private citizens, we must lock arms and do all possible to protect our youth, or neither they nor we have a future as a nation
__________________________________________ ABOUT THE AUTHOR …. ROGER MORGAN Chairman/Founder, Take Back America Campaign, 20 year anti-drug activist dealing with drug prevention at the local, state and national level. (www.tbac.us). Formerly Chairman and Executive Director of the Coalition for A Drug-Free California. Owner/CEO of Steelheart International LLC, engaged in international business development and has been an entrepreneur and businessman in California for 35 years. Formerly, he was Vice President of Volvo of America and General Manager of Volvo Penta of America; and engaged in sales, marketing and dealer administration with Caterpillar Tractor Company and Caterpillar Overseas. He is a graduate of Washburn High School in Minneapolis (1956), Colorado College (1963) and The Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management (1964). He was Founding Chairman of the Coronado SAFE Foundation in 1997, a non-profit dealing with drug prevention; prior Board Member of the San Diego Prevention Coalition; member of the National Coalition for Student Drug Testing; and Special Advisor to the Golden Rule Society in Coronado. His passion for drug prevention stems from two step-children who became drug addicted at age 12 and 14 roughly 32 years ago, and two nephews who died from drug related causes. Morgan has authored two books, published on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble, relating to marijuana and drug prevention. He is a frequent speaker and has written hundreds of articles on drugs and drug prevention.
Parents Opposed to Pot believes the decision of January, 2013, by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, to keep marijuana a Schedule I drug (high potential for abuse), is correct. Marijuana is a dangerous drug because of its perceived harmlessness, and its cult-like following. Americans would be wise to look into what happened when marijuana was rescheduled in Great Britain.
Marijuana can cause psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addiction and psychosis. In January, 2014, Dan Linn of NORML Illinois said that there has always been the cannabis and schizophrenia connection. If NORML has known this link, how in good conscience can they push for legalization? A typical reader may compare it to the tobacco industry, fast-food restaurants, etc. However, marijuana-induced mental disorders can appear within a shorter period time, as opposed to other unhealthy choices that take years off the end of life. Not everyone is susceptible to problems with marijuana and not everyone will use in excess, but the industry preaches that marijuana is harmless and non-addictive .
How They’re Pushing the Medical Marijuana Hoax
Reading the “weed blogs” gives insight into the mind of the “Pot Lobby.” First comes decriminalization, followed by medical marijuana, followed by full legalization. Californians voted on Proposition 215 and approved medical marijuana in 1996, because huge campaign donations funded that ballot. The roll of money to legalize has been nonstop ever since, with billionaires such as George Soros funding the movement. Oregon and Washington had ballot initiatives for medical marijuana in 1998. Alaska, Maine and Colorado came shortly afterwards. Pot policy makers are going for a checkerboard pattern of states, so that states without it will be forced to join their neighbors.
Medical marijuana businesses depend on catchy names while guaranteeing no consistency in their product. One strain had no buyers until it changed it name to Chocolope. This lack of consistency is a huge red flag. As the Los Angeles Times article further explains, “Chemist Jeff Raber examined 1,500 samples of marijuana in California and found little genetic cohesion between varieties of the same name.”
Medical marijuana has always been the cover for a plan to bring full-scale legalization. The marijuana industry plays the “compassion” game to gain sympathy supporters and gradually get public acceptance, slandering members of Congress who disagree. (See The Medical Marijuana Hoax, Part 1: Do Patients Go to Jail?) Once the industry markets itself to potential patients, many of these so-called patients get “hooked.” The industry’s tactic of getting more people addicted has succeeded by introducing the potent strains of marijuana, and by targeting the young.
If they succeed in getting enough people high, it is easier to control their minds. For a year or two, the pot industry has been telling us that legalization is “inevitable.” — another manipulative tactic. The plan is that states without medical marijuana will face extreme political pressure to join their neighbors.
Medical marijuana advocates now count 23 states as having some form of medical marijuana. However, Florida, the 4th most populous state in the country, recently rejected a medical marijuana ballot which needed 60% of the votes to pass. Marijuana lobbyists are active in every state, and they believe full legalization is right around the corner.
A Cure for Everything
In early 2011, the . At first, marijuana was promoted as an aid for cancer and AIDs treatment, because the THC in marijuana can help nausea and stimulate appetite of cancer victims. At this time, not more than 5% medical marijuana patients actually have cancer or AIDS, as a political site fact – checker published. Today, the common condition those who seek medical marijuana is “pain,” a sign the industry is trying to nurture dependence, and not cure people. (A shot of whiskey also cures “pain.”) If those who use marijuana for “pain” treatment, sought a chiropractor instead, their treatments could be for a limited time.
Marijuana has been promoted from its status, as the cure for nausea in cancer patients, to being the cure for cancer, as marijuana advocates claim today. The biggest argument against marijuana as a cancer cure is that pharmaceutical companies from around the world would be marketing it, if it were truly a viable cure. The claim that marijuana cures cancer is reminiscent of the laetrile controversy 30 years ago, explained in a recent article by Robert Weiner in AlcoholismDrugAbuseWeekly.
Treating Epilepsy, Seizures, Etc.
Regardless of safety or efficacy, it is understandable how parents may want to try an alternative to the strong cancer-fighting and epilepsy drugs. However, we do not support any treatment for children that has THC which can alter brain chemistry. We ask that marijuana providers provide warnings, (See our article of the Medical Marijuana Risks for children), as pharmaceutical companies are required to do.
No qualifications are needed to be a “ganjapreneur,” in today’s “green rush.” How can we continue to allow self-proclaimed wizards of pot to hold all the cards, without warning about the side effects? Regulation of medical marijuana has been very difficult in the West, due to the objection of the industry. Oregon finally implemented regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries this year, but faced industry opposition. When Washingtonians voted for pot legalization in 2012, there was a consensus that medical marijuana was not being regulated and perhaps the limits of I-502 could bring commercial marijuana under some regulation.
Since we published our story on Medical Marijuana and PTSD, a new story has come out about how marijuana makes PTSD symptoms worse. A ploy of the medical marijuana industry has been using is to convince people that marijuana is the only medicine for their ailments. They try to find people who are “chronically ill.”
“The road to HELL is paved with good intentions” explains the path of medical marijuana. One former medical marijuana patient wrote to PopPot, explaining that after two years of using medical marijuana for an auto-immune disease, it brought on psychosis. How can the Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, NORML, Americans for Safe Access and United for Care not see that it is ethically wrong to promote something which such strong and horrific side effects—particularly in the mental health arena? We already have a mental health crisis in the US. Why add to it?
The vast majority of ordinary citizens who don’t use marijuana also don’t take the time to figure out the deception.
A driver was stoned when he hit 7-year old Cadence Boyer on Halloween in Vancouver, Washington. She died two days later. The car had jumped the curb when it crashed into the trick-or-treaters. The little girl’s mother and her 6-year old friend were also hospitalized, but survived. The friend’s mother ended up in intensive care and was in critical condition. It wasn’t a fun way to spend Halloween, and for Cadence there will be no more Halloweens.
The state’s major newspaper is clearly disillusioned with marijuana in Washington, even though it supported Initiative-502 back in 2012. The editorial implied that the medical and recreational regulation should be integrated, calling the legislature’s failure to do so “abysmal.” At last, Seattle’s mayor issued a plan to regulate medical marijuana, but it probably doesn’t have much teeth. Continue reading Washington’s Marijuana Policies Still Chaotic→
Since 2011, at least 68 people were treated for burns caused by butane hash oil fires and explosions, at northern California burn centers, including Shriners Hospital for Children, Sacramento, and at the UC Davis Regional Burn Center.
Usually those making BHO suffer the most, but several times it has happened at homes with children. The most recent baby who was badly burned in a hash oil (BHO) explosion was a 19-month old boy at a student housing complex in Montana. The law has not kept up with the problem, as parents who engage in this deadly practice still have custody and visitation rights. Children are threatened by neighbors who do it, too.
Thanks to quick emergency response and to the quality of emergency medical treatment available in the United States, it appears that all of the children have survived. However, we have raised a group of young adults who are so accustomed to hearing “marijuana is safe” that they have no notion of the need to protect children from the dangers pot involves.
It also happened last year in a state without a legal marijuana program. In Pennsylvania woman pled guilty to leaving her 3-year-old twins to die in a fire while she left the house to see whether her marijuana had been stolen by her 15-year-old daughter. Police say the boys turned on a burner on a grease-covered stove, sparking flames that soon engulfed the house.
As California Gov Jerry Brown has said, the world is too dangerous a place for Americans not be alert by using pot. This concept applies to parenthood. Parenthood is too large a responsibility for us not to protect our children. We need not expose small children to the manufacture of BHO or put them in the care of parents who prioritize marijuana over their children. However, when neighbors make hash oil, parents may have no warnings.
Our tolerance for marijuana has taught a new generation of young adults that marijuana is safe. Making BHO is mainly done in western states, but the explosions have happened in Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, Chicago, Michigan, Virginia, Houston. It will spread east if we don’t watch out. No longer should anyone say, “safer than alcohol” or “it’s just pot.” We have sent the wrong message, and need to replace it with a message that parenting and pot use do not mix.