Tag Archives: Andy Kerr

Violence, Anger, Explosions: Children in Danger

(Part two of Marijuana and Child Neglect/Abuse. Last week we published an article about neglect; this week we cover violence, anger and explosions.)   A 15-year old boy living in fear of his violent father was afraid to go home and confided in a friend’s family.  The friend’s mom told police, who went to investigate the child abuse. They found out more, accidentally discovering an illegal, indoor marijuana grow.  Yet marijuana activists tell us they are calm and non-violent.

Butane hash oil explosions are another way children surrounded by marijuana face grave danger.  In Medford, Oregon, a 12-year old girl suffered many broken bones when she had to jump from the 2nd floor of the apartment building to escape the flames.

After three children died in Colorado because of parental neglect while parents smoked pot followed by a string of hash oil explosions with children at home, it should have been easy to pass child protection laws in Colorado.  On April 27, 2014, an 8-month old baby had be rescued from the 2nd floor of a burning townhouse in Littleton, after a father and his girlfriend sparked a fire by burning hash oil.   The neighbor whose adjoining townhouse was damaged rescued their 4-year old.  Just 10 days earlier, on the 17th of April, a couple in Colorado Springs endangered their 3 children, the oldest a 7-year old, using fire to make dabs from hash oil.

Since the Alliance for Drug Endangered Children began in the 1990s, there are fewer meth lab explosions.  Instead, the promotion and legalization of marijuana has created one of its most dangerous by-products: hash oil explosions fueled by butane gas.   In short, it’s called BHO.

Hash Oil Explosions

As of early May, Colorado had experienced 31 hash oil explosions in 2014, 10 of them involving serious burns.  The  Colorado Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (CoDEC) has been taking steps protect children from the drug-using parents, but two child-protection bills failed to pass.

On April 1, 2014, state Senators Linda Newell and Andy Kerr introduced two Senate bills to strengthen protections for children whose parents’ drug usage, manufacture or cultivation put them in danger.   Unfortunately, an associate of the Drug Policy Alliance had written a letter to the Denver Post implying it was unfair to marijuana users.

The bills HB 177 and 178 were voted down at the beginning of May. The outcome was undermined by interests of the marijuana industry, marijuana users and politics.   When the city of Denver met September 16 to restrict unqualified individuals from making hash oil — the marijuana activists again objected.

After Failure to Pass Child Protection Bills

In mid-May, a Manitou Springs, Colorado, couple cooled the hash oil in the refrigerator.   The refrigerator door blew off and landed on the woman’s three-year old child.  Multiple charges of arson and child endangerment have been leveled against each of the parents in Colorado who put the lives of their children in danger.  They are indeed lucky that none of the children burned or died in the fires.

Making hash oil at home is perfectly legal in Colorado.   However, the state of Colorado should be blamed for putting the marijuana users’ freedom and the “good name” or reputation of marijuana ahead of the children.  The evidence is that the legalization of marijuana has put more children in harm’s way.

 Huge Problem in Other States, in West

Hash oil explosions are frequent in other states, too, particularly on the west coast.  On August 25, a man living in Santa Rosa, California, had an explosion and burned badly.  While he did not have children, the family next door with 5 children were put in the line of danger. Today, the LA Times reports of 20 hash oil explosions within the last year in San Diego County, California.  One of the 4 groups currently under investigation involved a child put in danger, and the offending party has been charged with child endangerment.

A recent hash oil explosion in San Diego
A recent hash oil explosion in San Diego

In May, the Oregonian reported that nine major hash oil blasts had occurred in Oregon since 2011, four of them in homes or hotel rooms where children, including a newborn, were present. In one case, a 12-year-old girl suffered multiple broken bones after leaping from the second floor of an apartment building rocked by a butane hash oil (BHO) explosion.

Last year a 10-day old and one-year old baby and two women suffered injuries from a hash oil explosion in Forest Grove, Oregon, the site of another extensive fire from making hash oil in January, 2014.    Two months ago, on July 22,  it was announced that the District Attorney in Seattle filed charges against seven who caused explosions in the state of Washington.

Anger Management

Marijuana users like to claim they don’t get mad and violent, like the cocaine addicts and some alcoholics routinely do.  If their marijuana usage leads to explosions, selfishness, abandonment, or narcissistic rage and anger, they fall into the same violent category as other substance abusers.

A case of violent child abuse erupted in Tampa, Florida in June. Christopher Finlayson, who babysat an 11-month old girl, tried to amuse her by tossing the child into the air.  He tripped and dropped the child face-first onto the floor. When the child continued to cry, Finlayson went into a moment of rage and he “lost it.” The baby was totally unresponsive when the mother returned home.  She took her to the hospital and authorities were called. The man admitted he had smoked a “blunt and a half” of marijuana the previous day and was unable to sleep the night before the incident.

Just a few days ago when police in Nevada went to investigate a case a suspected child abuse, they discovered a fetus in the freezer, with a gun and marijuana in the bassinet. This year authorities in Utah discovered that Megan Huntsman, heavy marijuana user, had buried 6 of her children over several years.

In July, four adults in south Modesto, California, pleaded no contest to severely beating a 7-week old girl. The child had several broken ribs, a lacerated liver and spleen and swelling on her brain. When authorities investigated the home 3 were used for growing marijuana for sale. They parents were charged with two counts of child cruelty, illegally growing with intent for sale, stealing electricity and damaging power lines.

According to a recent article “chronic [marijuana] users exhibit blunted emotional reaction to threat stimuli, which may also decrease the likelihood of aggressive behavior.”  This study is one of many articles  or studies using data while trying to promote marijuana usage.  The study didn’t show what happens when one partner does marijuana while the other does not, sometimes a problem in abusive marriages.   It also did not track child abuse.

From the website, Marijuana Makes You Violent
From the website, Marijuana Makes You Violent

Why is marijuana likely to make some people violent, if using can cause a “blunted emotional reaction to threat?”  The nature of a psychologically addictive substance is that a person needs it to feel ok and to feel normal.   Take it away and there can be panic which results in anger.  Leah Allen tells the story of how her cool, chronically high father abused her mother.  Furthermore, disagreeing with the marijuana bloggers gets them so riled and angry.

What About DEA mistakes?

The tragedies of children lost to parents’ marijuana usage, and other drug usage, are larger than the widely-publicized mistakes made by the Drug Enforcement Agency, DEA.  No teacher, parent, police agency, politician or worker of any sort is free from making mistakes.  This summer a story spread about a failed raid which resulted in a grenade hitting a 20-month old child.  It’s regretful that there was an injustice suffered by this child for that mistake.  However,  this baby and his parents will have their justice with law.   There will be no justice for the marijuana – endangered children, as long as the marijuana community holds all the cards.

It’s a tragedy that because “Drug Wars Don’t Work,” Americans have legitimized a very dangerous drug.  It’s a tragedy that the current anti-government trend spreading in American political circles also leads to more chaos and more abused children.

Based on the fire, anger, rage and explosions, we cannot continue this marijuana experiment if we are to have a saner, safer society.

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Negligent Parents Let Three Children Die in Colorado

(Part one of two articles on Marijuana and Child Abuse/Neglect)

On November 27, 2012, three weeks after Coloradans voted to legalize marijuana, Heather Jensen, 24, kept her two-year old and four-year old sons in the car seats of an SUV, while she smoked marijuana and had sex in her boyfriend’s truck. She left the ignition on and turned the heater up so the boys wouldn’t freeze. When she returned 90 minutes later, the younger boy wasn’t breathing. The older boy died in the hospital a week later. Jensen had lost her husband, Eric, in a car accident six weeks earlier.   She has been sentenced to serve 10 years in prison.

Another Child Dies from Neglect

On January 13, 2014, two-year old Levi Welton died in a fire.  He and his four-year old brother had been left in a room alone, where the fire started.  Little Levi went into the closet to escape the flames. The parents, aged 27 and 33, were smoking pot in another room with friends.  They survived, along with the older son.  Julia and Christopher Welton have been charged with negligent child abuse causing death.   Logan County officials had investigated the parents previously for neglect.  Both boys had tested positive for THC, although the mother insisted she did not smoke pot around her sons.  A family friend who took custody of the surviving boy told a reporter that the county should have done more to take the children out of the home prior to the fire.

Two year old Levi Welton hid from the fire in a closet, while his parents smoked pot, in Sterling, CO.
Two-year old Levi Welton hid from the fire in a closet, while his parents smoked pot, in Sterling, CO. His four-year old brother survived.

Three children died in Colorado within 14 months, while the parents’ indulged in a marijuana.   The Colorado Alliance for Drug-Endangered Children (CoDEC, affiliated with national DEC) has been working for stronger child protection laws. On April 1, 2014, Senators Linda Newell and Andy Kerr introduced two Senate bills to strengthen protections for children whose parents’ drug usage, manufacture or cultivation put them in danger.

The bills didn’t pass.  Newell believes the bills were misconstrued by critics and that the outcome was undermined by interests of the pot industry and politics. Drug Policy Alliance had written a letter to the Denver Post suggesting it was unfair to marijuana users.

Marijuana and Child Neglect

“Don’t blame marijuana, blame the state.” some marijuana activists exclaim. Others say, “Bad parents will be bad parents, and marijuana has nothing to do with it.”

Parents Opposed to Pot blames the aggressive advocacy to legitimize marijuana for killing these three children. Those who praise cannabis refuse to see the irresponsible behaviors and outright neglect could have anything to do with marijuana. No one defends alcohol in the same way.  These parents loved their children.  With addiction, the object of addiction becomes more important than loved ones.  We need to stop minimizing these incidents, because they’re also happening in states without legalized marijuana.

On May 22, in Lakeland, Florida, an abandoned three-year old knocked on the door of his mother’s house for an hour, crying, before the neighbors discovered him. The mother and her boyfriend had been smoking pot and doing whip-its all morning and then went into the bedroom to nap.  Neither one of them had been supervising the boy who had gotten outside other times, even though they lived on a busy street. They told deputies that “marijuana should be legal anyways” and gave that as the reason they smoke pot all the time.

Tyler and William Jensen were happy-go-lucky boys before their death at ages 2 and 4. Negligence and impaired judgment from marijuana is to blame
Tyler and William Jensen were happy-go-lucky boys before their death at ages 2 and 4. Negligence and impaired judgment from marijuana is to blame. Photo original from Facebook.

At least one of the children who died in a hot car this summer was a victim of a marijuana. On July 24, Seth Jackson, the foster father, went to see his marijuana dealer in Wichita and left the 10-month girl in the sweltering heat while he got high. He came out two hours later, and she was dead. He and his partner had been foster parents previously, without known issues.

Why Marijuana and Parenting Don’t Mix

Each situation outlined above — including the ones which resulted in the three Colorado children who died — demonstrate how it’s typical for pot smokers to not realize the lapse of time. Marijuana smoking distorts the sense of time and space, and harms short-term memory.  Ideally, parents would never leave an infant or toddler for any period of time.  Sober parents, with normal functioning, would rush back to their children before the heat or cold could do harm.

It’s possible to sympathize with Heather Jensen for losing her husband, but her coping mechanisms are unacceptable.  The three parents living in Colorado – a state with medical marijuana since 2000 – may have been using marijuana as their crutch to escape the challenges and pains of life.  If a recreational user also starts using pot for anxiety, the anxiety is likely to become worse than it ever may have been had the user not started.  Lady Gaga explains the vicious cycle in her video.

Furthermore, those who begin using any addictive substance  before age 21 are more likely to become addicted. These people may have grown up to be decent parents had they not begun using marijuana. Though many people begin drugs because they come from tough or abusive situations, it’s not necessarily the case.  Where marijuana is legal or when people learn to use pot (or alcohol or prescription drugs) to medicate problems, they don’t learn healthy ways to get through the troubled times.

Another factor that could play into the impaired judgment of Seth Jackson, Heather Jensen, Julia Welton and Christopher Welton was the length of time they had been using marijuana. They ranged in age from 24 to 33. If they had begun smoking marijuana as teens, the part of the brain that deals with executive function could have become very impaired. The bad judgment, escapism and laziness could continue even when they aren’t smoking pot. Consistent pot smoking from teenage years into adulthood can prevent the normal process of growing into maturity.  Recent studies give evidence to these changes in the brain structure.

Last year a 24- year old mother in Centralia, WA, let her 22-month old son smoke from a bong, as friends laughed.
Last year a 24-year old mother in Centralia, WA, let her toddler son smoke from a bong, as friends laughed and encouraged it. A cell phone photo surfaced and she was arrested.

Pregnancy, Breast Feeding and Daycare

The use of marijuana is inappropriate because of the constant alertness needed for child care.  Plus, it messes with short-term memory. Users don’t always realize they’re impaired.

Tobacco smoking leads to health concerns and addiction, but it doesn’t impair the mind. Second hand smoke is bad for children, and many smoking parents make an effort not to do it with children around.  Many women quit when they become pregnant. Today there are moms who insist on smoking marijuana while pregnant, and even when they’re breast feeding.

The neighbor of a home daycare provider in Oregon reported she had seen the owner’s daughter outside smoking with a bong in front of the children.  Both the owner and her daughter were  medical marijuana cardholders.  The state investigated.  In August,  a state board told owners of four Oregon home-based day care centers will have to give up their medical marijuana cards or lose their licenses to care for children.

We know marijuana often brings about impaired judgment, forgetfulness and carelessness.   One 19-year old Arizona mother, who had smoked marijuana, drove off with her infant in a car seat, on the roof of the car.  Casey Anthony was a big party girl, but according to one of her friends, marijuana was her drug of choice. Without casting guilt on Amanda Knox, certainly heavy use of marijuana as a teen stunted her maturity and ability to function as a rational 19-year old in Italy.

It is estimated that 80% of all child abuse, neglect and endangerment is caused by by marijuana, alcohol or drugs. The problems of marijuana have specific relevance to judgment of time, memory and alertness.  They are not quite the same as with other substances.  Many tragedies can be avoided IF WE DON’T NORMALIZE MARIJUANA and make it legitimate for adults.

Marijuana Moms of Beverly Hills made big news last year when they declared that cannabis made them better moms, because it cut down on their anxiety. It’s a publicity stunt set up to promote the industry and bring Cheryl Shuman, the founder, fame.  If you have children and love them, or if you care for children, please don’t indulge and don’t spread the baloney that marijuana is safer than alcohol.  (Part two of this series is here.)

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