“There’s no question that marijuana and other drugs – in combination with mental illness or other disabling conditions – are essential contributors to chronic homelessness.” Senator John Hickenlooper made that statement when he was governor of Colorado in 2017.
The city of Portland has been plagued with nightly violence, arson and attacks on police for three months. Last month Portland experienced the highest homicide rate in one month in the last 30 years. In fact, in each month except March, the number of shootings exceeded the previous year’s rate for that month.
How does one explain extreme changes in the city over 5 years? How much does the explosion of new marijuana stores fuel the current violence in Portland? Oregon opened commercial “recreational” marijuana stores in July 2015, and now Portland boasts 304 licensed marijuana shops.
Obviously there’s much going on that does not concern Black Lives Matter in this city that is 6 % African American and 77 % white. While COVID-19 frustrations and concern over the treatment of African Americans may have started the protests, a different force fuels nightly crimes. Anti-police sentiment runs strong, but the current violence has nothing to do with the right to protest and free speech.
Could the anti-police protests be associated with cannabis use among young adults in that city? Negative effects of marijuana include irrational fears (paranoia), impaired judgement, delusional thinking, and aggressive or violent behavior. Remember how San Francisco’s Summer of Love came to a very bad end back in 1967? History often repeats itself.
The first unit to go was the gun violence reduction unit. Portland’s fiscal year began July 1, so it’s easy to measure the outcome of disbanding the gun violence reduction unit. There were 99 shootings in July, resulting in 15 deaths. August looks to be much the same, now that people 8 people were shot in the last week.
The mayor and city council decided to reduce the police budget specifically by defunding three specific units. As schools begin, Portland’s high schools will no longer use the police department’s school resource officers. Then in January, the police department will no longer patrol the transit system. As city officials give into demands of the rioters, the more the rioters mock and take advantage of them.
Portland residents Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein explain their views of what’s happening in a series of podcasts, the Dark Horse Podcast. Only a tiny proportion of Portlanders agree with the defunding policy, but the rioters win. Seattle, another city full of pot shops, is also defunding its police, but a petition to refund the police gathered over 200,000 signatures
Marijuana stores busier and pot shop thefts explode
Cannabis sales have gone up 20% since March. Furthermore, 60 weed store thefts have occurred since May. Really? Weed was supposed to make people mellow, or so they claim.
From this article, Weed Robbery Spree Strikes Portland: Joe Russo, who co-owns a cannabis distribution company, says the sales increase makes sense. People are working less [coronavirus related job loss] and many are getting generous unemployment benefits.
“It makes sense that recreational vices are picking up,” Russo says.
Police officers speak up
Is it possible that Portland’s violent protestors deliberately loot the purveyors of their favorite drug? Are these nightly rages against the federal courthouse drug-fueled rampages? We submit the following evidence to the court of public opinion.
This below video is a press conference with some of the front lines police officers giving their perspective. The first to speak is Sargent Brent Maxey, who described a nightmarish attack on his Central Police Precinct building, and the civilian workers inside. Maxey says:
“It got to the point where they were throwing burning material into the lobby through the gaps in the windows, and blowing marijuana smoke, it was almost like a scene out of a horror movie. It was really unnerving…they had removed all the plywood, they had disabled all the exterior cameras, they started coming at the windows with hammers, they had removed some 2×4 lumber and were smashing at the windows of the precinct at what I believe was a sincere effort to get inside… by words and actions their intent was to harm us and essentially burn down the building…”.
–from Police on Portland Protests video, below
Officer Rehanna Kerriage describes many of the calls received by the downtown Portland precinct:
“consist of livability issues: camping issues, mental health, drug issues, some shootings, stabbings, protest related issues and defending police property.”
–from Police on Portland Protests video, above
We know that many drug users end up homeless and living on the street (camping issues) with deteriorating mental health issues.
Homelessness is up, too.
The homelessness population has completely changed since 2014. Back then, it wasn’t even noticeable. Are people moving to the city because of the weed and then becoming homeless?
A drug legalization lobby, spearheaded by Drug Policy Alliance, aggressively demonizes law enforcement with oft-used phrases such as, “war on drugs,” “mass incarceration,” “militarized police force,” “low level drug crimes.” Their game is to make the public believe that possession of drugs, rather than crimes committed while on drugs, lands people in jail. This year, the Drug Policy Alliance donated nearly $ 2.5 million for a ballot to decriminalize all drugs in Oregon. Drug Policy Alliance, a Soros-funded group, gave most of the $ 9.2 million used for Measure 91, the ballot to legalize pot, back in 2014.
Marijuana use is a frequent element of these mass protests the “Chaz/Chop zone” in Seattle, the Ferguson protests and the attack on the Central Portland Precinct. While it may be scientifically difficult to associate marijuana use to the mob violence breaking out in several cities, it is still important to observe and pinpoint what role marijuana use plays as a root cause of the violence.
Cannabis’ negative effects can promote some of the behaviors we witness in the triggering incidents and the follow-on protests and riots. Among those are, resisting arrest, confusing fact with fiction, attractions to violent ideologies, mood disorders, paranoia and psychosis, violent outbursts. Jeremy Christian, who committed the violent knife attack on a Portland train three years ago, was a cannabis fanatic.
My husband and I have four sons. Our oldest, Trevor is 16. It gives me a great deal of pleasure and emotion to be able to write this letter, because he has overcome so much in the last six months. Since Trevor was 12 or 13, we had emotional difficulties with him and trouble in school. He started experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana with his friends, which was a shock. Trevor hadn’t been exposed to any substance at home, since we don’t even drink, let alone consume drugs or smoke anything. Right about the same time, the discussion about legalization was hot, and Oregon voted to legalize marijuana in 2014.
We knew something was off with Trevor, but at first we didn’t know if it was just typical adolescent troubles, a phase, or what. When we discovered he had been exposed to marijuana, and was using it, parenting became such a challenge. The availability of substances became rampant in the wake of legalization, and yes it was affecting our oldest son.
The Slippery Slope
Trevor moved beyond marijuana and got involved in so much more:
Dealing/trading other drugs, pills and alcohol
Stealing from friends and family
Driving without a license or even a permit
Skipping school, lying and promiscuity
How we finally got help
The effects of drugs on the teen brain are horrific. Many adults don’t even know, and many kids have no idea what they are doing to their brains when they’re doing pot. One must live through it in their own home, with their own child, to understand the dynamic and heartache this behavior brings. In our situation, the county juvenile services became imperative. We were forced to turn our own son over to authorities. Without the police and the county services, Trevor would not have progressed so far in the right direction.
Trevor has a support system in place: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and therapists. Counseling was pivotal for him. With time and much effort on everyone’s part – particularly, Trevor’s efforts, he appears as of now to be on the mend. We’re also thankful for cognitive therapy and accountability. It is vital that we somehow teach our kids the importance of their daily decisions and how it can impact the rest of their life. Our culture and media influence in many cases does not help. Our kids are being exposed to images and ideas promoting substance use.
As a mother, I’m aware that at any point this could turn and he could be headed down a dark path once again. Trevor’s probation is over I pray he has learned some valuable lessons. I’m on a community coalition board for a non-profit educator and our city. I’m determined to make a difference and would like to be able to help other families as they face similar challenges in the wake of drug legalization and normalization. Our communities are up against so much in terms of our youth. Legalizing pot is a mistake!