Shaky Start for Oregon Marijuana Laws

Marijuana legalization is off to a shaky start in Oregon. Less than a week after commercial marijuana shops opened, Elizabeth Kemble was hit by the car of a stoned driver while crossing the street. She died 11 hours later, on October 5. The driver admitted to smoking pot behind the wheel. By all accounts, Kemble was a wonderful person who was born in El Salvador and spent much of her free time doing volunteer work to help others.

Since marijuana stores opened in Oregon October 1, it took no time for a company to violate the rules by offering free cannabis-infused lozenges. Stores are not allowed to distribute edibles at this time.  (Photo courtesy of SAM Oregon). The arrest of several youths in Redmond near a school shows that Oregon marijuana laws are not successful in keeping it away from youth.

On September 24, Diane Davidoff fatally shot her 17-year-old son, Jake, in the back in Gresham, near Portland.  She loved her son but did not appear to be in control of her emotions, or her actions.  Diane Davidoff suffered from anxiety, lost her job and was losing her home. She used marijuana a couple times a day. Days before the murder, her ex-husband and neighbors had noticed that she was delusional and paranoid, thinking others were out to get her.

The Davidoff’s tragedy illustrates exactly why marijuana should never be recommended for depression, anxiety or any mental health condition. If not the cause of a mental health condition, marijuana certainly makes the course of treatment much worse, although people may not know that it is impairing them more and more.

On July 4, a stoned driver killed Jennifer Barry of Beaverton. The driver was going 120 m.p.h. in the wrong direction, on I-5 near Olympia, Washington. Critics will argue that it happened in Washington, not Oregon. Yet we question why Oregon residents would want the disaster that is in Washington. Traffic deaths in Washington caused by pot went up 98% between 2013 and 2014.

Oregon would be smarter if the state promoted tourism based on places of natural beauty, such as Mt Hood and Crater Lake.

It would be surprising if the Oregon marijuana laws don’t increase violence and traffic fatalities, due to the state encouraging widespread commercialization of more marijuana. In fact, there were at least four homicide deaths in Portland, since October 3.

Around 23 high-priced lobbyists advocated for marijuana sales during the recent session of the 2015 Oregon Legislative Assembly.  No wonder the legislature caved into to all their demands.  Unfortunately, Rep. Ann Lininger champions marijuana businesses for economic reasons. Rep. Lininger needs to look into how marijuana use damages education and fuels violence against women, two other problems about which she expresses concern. She should realize the devastating affect parent’s marijuana use can have on children; it caused the deaths of two toddlers in Oregon last year, Coltin Salsbury and Andre Sosa-Martinez.

The cost in human suffering is grand, but if you’re in a business trying to make money off of marijuana, you may see the roll out of legalization as a big success. If recreational marijuana doesn’t succeed in Oregon, then the industry could be doomed, according to an article in the Motley Fool this week.


Many Oregonians are very skeptical, as described in a recent Oregonian article. The Oregon chapter of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) is working on damage control to protect youth — limit advertising, remove paraphernalia from convenient stores and assure proper labeling. Another group, Clear Alliance is  supplying education tools to guard against all drug usage.

This week physicians and health experts went before the Oregon Liquor Commission, charged with regulating pot. They warned about allowing edibles and called for strict packaging. Child abuse is a concern.  Dr. Thomas Valvano said: “I have seen firsthand the effects of drug abuse in the home on the children living in that home when the drug is not used responsibly.”   He continued, “I have listened to children as young as 5-years-old describe in detail what their parents’ marijuana looks like, where their parents keep it, how their parents smoke it, and how they act afterward.”