Category Archives: California

A View Into Legalized Marijuana 20 Years from Now

Drug Policy Alliance, NORML and Marijuana Policy Project are optimistic. They’re huffing and puffing now, having won  7 out of 8 states with marijuana ballots in the November election. They also smirk knowing that President-elect Trump supports states’ rights for marijuana.  In 20 or 30 years, they’ll have freedom and no one else really matters.  Pot lobbyists don’t explain the real picture. What if the whole country ends up just like Humboldt County?

Photo Credit: Weed bust photo comes from the sheriff’s department, originally published by Lost Coast Outpost.

Humboldt County Leads the Way

The oldest, strongest marijuana culture in the USA is not in Colorado, but in Humboldt County,  California.  Humboldt, Mendocino County and Trinity County also form this region called the Emerald Triangle. REVEAL, an online investigative platform, reported on the secretive world of sexual abuse and rapes in marijuana country.  (The pop culture magazine Rolling Stone doesn’t want the public to know.)  There’s politically-motivated denial and deflection, but heavy weed smokers have lots of delusions.

There were 2,000 domestic violence calls in 2015, an increase of 80% over the previous four years.*  A routine domestic violence call in December led to a huge bust for guns and weed.  Marijuana gained a foothold in Humboldt nearly 50  years ago, and it seems guns and weed are a way of life since that time.

Humboldt County leads the way in environmental destruction, too. The area used to be dominated by the logging and fishing industries.   Now the marijuana growers have polluted the streams and dried up many river beds.

See the video about the ecological damage from illicit marijuana grows

Environmental Damage

Environmentalists convinced politicians that the logging industry must stop cutting down the redwoods.  So the marijuana growers found an opening and they’re clearing out the trees!  Aerial views show the redwood forests pockmarked by marijuana grows.  It doesn’t seem that High Times and Alternet have caught on to the irony that marijuana green is not environmentally green.

In May of 2008, approximately 1000 of gallons of red diesel overflowed from an indoor marijuana grow’s fuel room into a creek.  The marijuana grower had left a valve open when pouring a larger diesel tank into a smaller one.  The fuel had spread so far down the rugged stream bed when a neighbor smelled the pungent odor and investigated.  He found “20 to 30 pools of red diesel” far below the spill.  The environmental cleanup was a massive operation, from damage which rivals the impact of an oil spill in the ocean.

Marijuana and Fire Damages

Fires are frequent throughout California, and marijuana sometimes causes these fires, including hash oil (BHO) explosions.  The massive Soberanes fire this summer uncovered several illegal marijuana sites.  Marijuana growers may have started the fire.

Humboldt County has had at least three BHO fires from marijuana labs since California legalized pot two months ago.   A home exploded on November 9 in Rio Dell, the first day after the election. The Redheaded Blackbelt noticed “how ironic that on the first day that it is legal to smoke recreational marijuana… that one of the side effects of marijuana prohibition, a black market BHO lab, exploded.”  The flames burned 90 percent of the bodies of two victims who were airlifted to Davis.   There are rumors that one or both men have died.

The true irony is that when recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado, these home explosions grew more frequent, rather than less. In one week of April 2014, there were four BHO explosions.   BHO fires didn’t occur in California before 2010, so liberalizing pot laws and expanding marijuana access created a new problem.  (In 2010, pot was decriminalized in California.)

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The man who started a fire in McKinleyville on December 26 fled the scene. It’s thought to be a hash oil lab fire. Photo above and on top by Marc Davis, published on the Redheaded Blackbelt.

Murders, Suicides and Missing People

If a tv news magazine were to expose the murder, rape and sex trafficking in Humboldt, reporters may be at risk.  An investigative journalism report released in September revealed that some trimmigrants and girls end up getting abused or raped.  The marijuana apologists mislead by insisting that murders and rapes happen because prohibition forces growers into hiding.

There were at least 22 murders in Humboldt County in 2016.   Only 134,000 people live in the county.  (Often it’s difficult to distinguish murder from suicide, which occurs at a rate twice the national norm.)  Humboldt reported 352 missing people in 2015, more per capita than any other county in the state.

Missing persons include trimmigrants, those who come to the region only in the Fall to work on marijuana farms.  Growers also are known to murder these migrant workers, but sometimes the trimmers turn on their growers. There’s even an area of Humboldt called “Murder Mountain.”  The site is where a notorious couple who carried out cult-like murders in the 1980s, but the tradition seems to continue today.

Nonetheless, Humboldt County has wonderful examples of love and community spirit.   Recently, residents of Eureka came out in the heavy rain to honorJennika Suazo, a teen girl who died suspiciously.

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An AP photo shows how marijuana growers have bulldozed trees in northern California to make room for pot grows. The environmental damage is worse than from the timber industry.

Domestic Violence, DUIs and Humboldt’s Other Problems

Humboldt County district attorney Maggie Fleming sat down for an interview with Paul Mann of the Mad River Union recently. (The entire article is in Lost Coast Outpost.)   “We see DUIs all day long in this community …. There are people who are drinking or using prescription meds or smoking marijuana or using methamphetamine or heroin and driving at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Some of our fatalities are in the middle of the day,” Fleming explained.

She listed multiple factors powering Humboldt crime: high rates of driving while intoxicated; the county’s nightmarish marijuana, drug and alcohol culture; the prevalence of domestic violence and the deep-rooted poverty that inflicts childhood trauma and impairs children’s health, often with lifelong afflictions, including criminal behavior.  She definitely sees the crime is a result of the drug culture. Both those  with substance abuse problems and those selling drugs for financial gain instigate the crime.

“I see firsthand how marijuana is a social and environmental disaster,” a policeman from the Emerald Triangle wrote to PopPot.org. “Youth access, abuse, transient population moving in to grow or trim, associated criminal behavior all rising.”

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The homeless population in Humboldt creates a dilemma. Here’s what was left when several squatters were forced out of a Eureka home on Oct. 31, 2016.

“Where there is pot …there are other drugs…..and all the behavior associated with lives less enabled,” he said.  “The money isn’t worth the social cost to our world.”

–Emerald Triangle policeman

It’s clear that having a marijuana culture adds to the use of other drugs. Those laid back from smoking too much dope will try amphetamines to get them back up again.  It also leads to rampant alcohol abuse, since booze just enhances the effect of the drugs.  People think the homelessness problem in Humboldt is caused by mental illness, but one social worker in the area disagrees.  He is certain that rampant drug/alcohol abuse precipitates the problem. Politicians in both parties remain clueless of how drug use creates mental health problems. Their ignorance will continue as long as it’s politically incorrect to blame pot for anything.

Seven hundred homeless children without parents or guardians in nearby Mendocino County, also part of California’s “Emerald Triangle” growing region. These street kids sometimes work on the pot farms, but basically no one has ever loved them enough to care for them.  They’re likely to become drug users too, and the cycle of multi-generation drug use will continue.

Pueblo is a Warning to Other Places

Four years after Colorado legalized marijuana, the small city of Pueblo is another example of how pot commercialization can destroy life for the residents. “I can no longer allow my 13-year-old to walk the dog, one mother said. There was recently a murder 3 blocks from our house.”  Pueblo failed to pass two referendums which would have closed dispensaries and growing sites in the city and county.  Some people think of marijuana as an economic panacea for lost jobs in the steel industry.  However,  it has created a huge increase in the homeless population. Pueblo doctors recently made videos showing the damage marijuana is doing to the health care in the community.

Buyers in Pueblo West, Colo., line up on Jan. 1, 2014 to legally buy marijuana after it was approved for recreational use. (Source: AP Photo/John Wark)
Buyers in Pueblo West, Co line up on Jan. 1, 2014 to legally buy marijuana when the state’s first pot shops opened. (Source: AP Photo/John Wark).  The Press prefers to emphasize that so much money can be made, rather than the destruction with legal pot. It hasn’t turned out as orderly as this photo.

International cartels have moved into Pueblo and bought up property for their marijuana grows.  The black market is booming.   Russians, Cubans, Argentinians and Cambodians have come to town. Pueblo, Boulder and Denver lead the state in percentage of high school students using pot, but in Pueblo there are more problems. Fully 12% of high school seniors have also used heroin.

Is marijuana growing also going to replace tobacco growing  in Kentucky and Tennessee?  Will it be a substitute for the coal mines that shut down in West Virginia and Pennsylvania?  When policy is driven by knee-jerk reactions without careful planning, chaos follows.

At this time, the United States has more than half of the world’s illicit drug users.  Six percent of America’s high school seniors are daily marijuana users.  It appears that the legacy of drug use is going to continue creating this problem for America’s children.  Humboldt County is the future of our country if we continue to believe marijuana use is perfectly harmless and normal.

* This statistic and much of the information on sexual abuse, missing persons, domestic violence, rape and abuse of trimmigants comes from the massive report by Shoshana Walter, published in Reveal, The Center for Investigative Reporting on September 8, 2016.

From Flying Mustaches to Flying Car and What Next?

 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.

Child Abuse, Exploitation in California’s Marijuana Country

The Emerald Triangle can’t hide behind its secrets after a report of widespread abuse, sexual exploitation and worker exploitation was published last week by Reveal News. There’s both worker and sexual exploitation.  Cosmopolitan Magazine published another version of the story.  Here are some of the most hideous incidents affecting children and teens.

  • A  girl from Humboldt County started  working for a local grower at 12.  He gave her methamphetamine to speed up her work as a trimmer,  and passed her around to pay off debts.   She ran away to a homeless shelter and found that pimps were using it for a hunting ground.
  • Two other teens in that same homeless shelter report having been trafficked for sex.   Both local and out-of-town teens may be involved.
  • They give girls weed, alcohol and food in exchange for trimming. Sex is also expected to go with it.
  • A 15-year-old  runaway from southern California,  was kept inside a box and forced to have sex with the two growers from Lake County, near Humboldt County,  who had found her.

    Federal prosecutors said they directed her to trim marijuana and have sex with them, sometimes while chained to a metal rack.   For several few days, she was kept inside a box.

    The men also shocked the girl with a cattle prod and told her she would be shot by neighbors if she attempted to leave, an employee later told police.  The men were initially charged with human trafficking.  When federal authorities took over, the trafficking charges were dropped. The men are expected to plead guilty to lesser charges of employing a minor and illegal marijuana cultivation.    (The Cosmopolitan article has more information about this incident.)

    DrugPreventionEducation
    Parents Opposed to Pot stands by its belief that preventing drug use is the key to preventing social problems and so much human suffering.   After exploitation, teens and other workers who came to the area to work in the marijuana industry frequently end up homeless.

     

  • After exploitation, teens and other workers many end up in homeless shelters

A housing and homelessness report of Humboldt County showed that 33% of the homeless said they had a substance abuse problem. (Not everyone with substance abuse disorders knows or admits it.)  The same report said 37% had been victims of domestic violence.  Mental health affects 30% of them.  Parents Opposed stands by its belief that preventing substance use in the first place will diminish all these problems and save so much anguish.   (Read one of our testimonies about marijuana and domestic violence.)

In summer and fall, temporary workers come in town to work the marijuana harvests. These “trimmigrants” sometimes end up homeless and without jobs.   In one article, it’s reported that 100 European “trimmigrants” were stiffed for pay, broke, without a place to go and ended up in homeless shelters.   Mexican and other immigrants also face abuse.

There’s a frequent “missing persons” problem in the area, which shows up through a quick search on the Internet.  Sometimes the lost people are found, but at least 5 women have never been found.

In fact, Cosmopolitan reports that Humboldt County, center of the marijuana cultivation, has the largest number of missing persons in the state on a per capita basis.

Reveal  is based in San Francisco and is a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, found in 1977.   Journalists Shoshana Walter and Elle Snow (not her real name) did outstanding jobs in their respective publications, Reveal.org and Cosmopolitan.     Elle is a victim of sexual trafficking and she is now working against this problem and has started an organization in Eureka, Game Over.   Listen to Against Their Will.

Mass Illnesses Due to Marijuana Edibles, Brownies, Candy

Mass Illness from Marijuana Edibles in San Francisco

There’s more potential for overdose from edibles than smoked marijuana, although the teen in Seattle who jumped to his death last December did it after smoking pot for the first time.  Two shocking incidents in California suggest that overdose emergencies will increase if that states vote to legalize marijuana in November.  Here’s a summary of recent cases of toxicity from edibles:

    • 19 people were hospitalized in San Francisco on August 7 from THC, after attending a quinceañera party.  The source is believed be marijuana-infused candies, perhaps gummy bears. Several children were among those poisoned, one as young as six.  A 9-year-old had severe difficulty breathing.
    • A JAMA Pediatrics article explains the dramatic rise in children’s hospitalizations related to marijuana in Colorado since legalization.  In 10 cases, the product was not in a child-resistant container; in 40 scenarios (34%) there was poor child supervision or product storage.  Edible products were responsible for 51 (52% ) of exposures.  The report claimed that child-resistant packaging has not been as effective in reducing kids’ unintended exposure to pot as hoped.
    • The report mentions the death of one child, an 11-month-old baby.  Nine of the children had symptoms so serious that they ended up in the intensive care unit of Colorado Children’s  Hospital.  Two children needed breathing tubes.

      HamzaWarsame
      Hamza Warsame, 16,  jumped 6 stories after smoking pot in Seattle in December. Photo: Seattle Times, from the Warsame Family
    • The state of Washington has a similar problem with edibles, as reported on the King County Health Department’s website.  From 2013 to May 2015, there were 46 cases of children’s intoxications related to marijuana edibles reported in Washington.  However, reporting is voluntary and the state estimates that  number could be much higher.
    •  In May, a father plead guilty to deliberately giving his 4-year-old daughter marijuana-laced cake in Vancouver, Washington.  He was sentenced to two years in prison.

      edible-marijuana-image1-july-15-2015
      Intoxication from marijuana edibles has risen steadily since legalization. Source: King County Department of Health. Top photo: AP
    • In Hingham, MA, there was a 911  related to teen girl who ingested marijuana edibles.  The candies were in a package labelled Conscious Creations, which didn’t disclose ingredients.   Massachusetts has a medical marijuana program, but it is not clear how or to whom they were sold or dispensed.
    • July, 2016: A California man was arrested for giving candy laced with marijuana to a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy; the 6-year-old was hospitalized for marijuana poisoning.
    • July, 2016: Police in Arizona arrested a mother for allegedly giving her 11- and 12-year-old children gummy candy infused with marijuana. Police say the marijuana-infused candy was originally purchased by an Arizona medical marijuana user, but was illegally transferred to the mother in question.  (State medical marijuana programs have poor track records of assuring the “medicine” goes to whom it is intended.)
    • On April 27, a Georgia woman was arrested after a 5- year-old said he ate a marijuana cake for breakfast.  The child was taken to the hospital for treatment following the incident; according to officials, his pulse was measured at over 200 beats per minute.

Edible marijuana poses a “unique problem,” because “no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form” – such as cookies, brownies and candy.    Many household items cause poisonings, but marijuana edibles are different because they’re made to look appealing and they appeal to children.