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!
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.
What Does it Take to Admit the Failures of Legalizing Pot?
This past week a butane explosion rocked a North Portland neighborhood killing two men, the home owner and a man working on the home. The force of the explosion was so great that it leveled the home, damaged the two adjacent homes and threw debris across the street into a park where children were playing. When will Oregonians say “Enough is enough”? Legalization may not have caused this deadly incident, but it sure did contribute to it.
Oregon’s beautiful city, Portland, gained fame through the TV series Portlandia. People are nice and the drivers are generally more polite there. Although most major cities saw declines in real estate values during the recession, Portland’s real estate values rose very high. With its food culture, microbreweries and movie theaters, Portland has become the place “young people go to retire.” How long will the reputation last?
Marijuana labs — sometimes called hash oil labs or BHO labs — were exploding before legalization, but the problem grew bigger after marijuana possession became legal in July 2015. The number of burn victims rose from 7 to 30 within a year. Today marijuana users can buy “wax” or “dabs” from licensed dispensaries, but it is cheaper to make at home using butane. Unlicensed chemists who run the marijuana labs may be trying to sell their own supply to undercut the legal market. Or they be so addicted that risking death is not enough to stop them.
(Washington and Colorado outlawed the BHO labs after legalization; Oregon and California passed laws against the practice before legalizing weed. Since those laws aren’t working, some places in California are banning the sale of butane.)
What about mental health care?
The Vermont legislature failed to legalize pot this year. Vermont’s savvy governor probably recognized the need for more mental health care before legalizing a substance that assaults the brain. Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who makes mental health care his mission, had been warning of this problem. Oregon illustrates the problem of not having a rock solid, foolproof mental health care system in place before legalizing marijuana.
Twice this year, psychotic stoners brought knives onto the public transportation in Portland and terrified the public. On May 26, Jeremy Christian killed two men who were defending the Muslim women he was attacking. He had declared his love for cannabis on Facebook. Christian’s behavior was consistent with marijuana-induced psychosis.
On May 10, a 24-year-old in a mental health crisis terrified a group of people on the train, including a 17-year-old. Unfortunately a policeman shot Terrell Johnson to death. An investigation has cleared the officer of wrongdoing. Johnson began smoking pot at age 12 or 13. He was a healthy, “normal” young guy before THC assaulted his brain. The police officer had no choice when the guy pursued him. Anthony Bonofiglio, a man on a train the night before the final incident, described Johnson’s bizarre behavior in the police report. Johnson was in full-blown psychosis! His toxicology report revealed marijuana and a small amount of alcohol.
Psychosis is not a condition that the brain can just snap out of once it’s triggered. A hospital in the state of Washington gets one or two new psychosis patients every day. The medical staff at Providence St. Peter’s in Olympia stabilizes the patients with a drug Risperdal to stop the psychosis. It’s a temporary treatment which doesn’t solve the problem.
Other Accidents and Lawsuits in Portlandia
A stoned driver killed pedestrian Elizabeth Kemble within a week of the opening of commercial pot stores. Two months later, a driver high on pot killed bicyclist Martin Greenough in Portland. His family is suing the city of Portland. Furthermore, a construction worker who was burned in a hash oil explosion at a legal marijuana facility in Oregon is suing also. The District Attorney of Clatsop County Oregon, Josh Marquis, warned ahead of time that only the lawyers would benefit from legalization.
Marijuana is already popular and adults have a right to do what they want with their bodies. These popular arguments reveal how little our society cares about the young, mostly males, who go psychotic from marijuana. If they die or lose their minds, it was their choice to use substances, the legalizers say.
On the other hand, how long can we persist in ignoring the rights of others who are affected by this failed experiment? Marijuana labs do affect the neighbors, and they overwhelm our fire departments and burn centers.
Other marijuana-related emergency visits overwhelm the hospitals. All of us must pay for it in some way. We know marijuana legalization is not working in Washington, Colorado or California.