Tag Archives: District Attorney Josh Marquis

The Killing of the Portlandia Paradise

What Does it Take to Admit the Failures of Legalizing Pot?

The explosion began on North Kerby Avenue, Portland on Monday afternoon. Two men died. The Oregonian/Oregonlive published these photos which were courtesy of the public, Samantha Matsumoto and Olivia Dimmer.

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.

 

This photo comes from an article in The Portland Mercury. 

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

Elizabeth Kemble was the first victim of a stoned driver after recreational pot shops opened in October, 2015. Photo: The Oregonian

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.

Recently a woman in Portland sparked outrage by posting on Facebook a photo of breastfeeding while smoking from a bong.   Maybe that image will wake people up to the fact that pot addiction really does affect others.   It is no paradise in Portlandia.

Oregon’s underground marijuana market is on fire.  Watch the video with this news clip.

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Goliath Fails to Topple David in Oregon

American politics is full of bullies, but nowhere are the bullies more apparent than in the groups trying to legalize marijuana.  In Oregon, the marijuana financiers, including George Soros’ Drug Policy Action, donated $9,273,848 towards Measure 91, the successful marijuana legalization ballot which won by a large margin in 2014. The opposition raised only $179,672 .  A similar ballot failed in the state two years earlier, when the financial backers of marijuana  gave their money to ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington, instead of Oregon. Continue reading Goliath Fails to Topple David in Oregon

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Oregon: Debate Shows Flaws in Measure 91

Measure 91 would tax and regulate marijuana in Oregon.   A problem — acknowledged by both No on 91 and Yes on 91 in last’s night “Great Pot Debate” at Portland State University — is that the measure doesn’t allow cities to tax.  To test the  theory that a “weed” can be taxed and regulated, those who crafted 91 wanted taxes to be lower than in Washington and in Oregon.

Problems with the marijuana edibles in Colorado were discussed. Today Dr. Ron Schwerzler admitted he was wrong about 5 children dying from the edibles.  He may have confused facts about the edibles with three toddlers who died from neglect while parents smoked weed.  Added to the two adults who died, there are 5 non-traffic fatalities in Colorado caused directly or indirectly by marijuana. (So far 13 children have been hospitalized for ingesting edibles, 7 of them in IC Units.)   Dr. Schwertzler was correct, however, in asserting that you don’t treat one addiction with another addictive substance.

No one who was debating had the faintest idea how edibles would be regulated in Oregon.    The debate was live streamed October 21 and will repeat on  KATU TV station, Sunday, October 26, 9 a.m.

Measure 91 could set up turf battles between cities and the state over the right to tax.  In last night’s debate, Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis, suggested that it’s not the people, state, or the cities who would benefit, but lawyers who would fight for all sides.   Marquis sounded critical of the state’s aversion to a sales tax. Oregon has no sales tax and Washington, home of Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, doesn’t have a state income tax.  So instead of looking for easy solutions to raise revenues, both states have posed the idea of legalizing marijuana and using the tax for drug prevention education and other services.  Thus far, marijuana businesses have resisted regulations in Colorado.

Joshua Marquis
Photo of Clatsop County DA,  Joshua “Josh” Marquis                   Photo: Courtesy of Doug Crouch Photography.

Oregon’s law would allow individual possession of marijuana that is much more than either Colorado or Washington.

Oregon decriminalized marijuana in 1973.  There are about 2,000 + arrests per year for marijuana, but only 70 or so  currently in jail for marijuana violations alone.  Marquis pointed out that the crimes they committed, such as distributing or selling to children,  would still be illegal if Measure 91 passes.

Portland Pre-empts Marijuana Taxes

Last Wednesday Portland city council voted to for a 10% sales tax on recreational marijuana — to be applied if Amendment 91 passes. Votes are counted on November 4.   This action highlights one of the many flaws in Measure 91, which prohibits cities from taxing pot.  Cities like Portland would like a slice of the marijuana pie, since they will need a lot of money to regulate the industry.

Many cities — Hillsboro, Beaverton, Forest Grove– have passed a tax on marijuana, or are considering the action,  in advance of November 4.   Although Measure 91 gives the state  sole authority to tax marijuana, attorneys for some Oregon cities argue that municipal pot taxes will be grandfathered if passed before the election.  Supporters of Measure 91 argue otherwise.

 

Photo on top is DA Joshua "Josh" Marquis of Clatsop County. Photo: Courtesy of Doug Crouch Photography.  Oregon is known for hiking, biking, Mt. Hood and Multnomah Falls. Why change.  P
Oregon is known for hiking, biking, Mt. Hood and Multnomah Falls. Why change ?

A few local leaders think the pre-emptive taxes are a way to justify the marijuana businesses in cities without residents’ approval.   If this happens, Oregon will have the same political battles that have plagued Colorado and Washington.

While Oregon is counting on enacting a lower rate than Colorado and  Washington, estimates vary as to how much money can be collected.  A Portland firm, hired by the sponsors of Measure 91, estimated first-year taxes for the state to be 38.5 million.  A committee made up of state  economists estimated the figure to be about $9.3 million the first year.

Supporters of recreational marijuana propose that by creating a commercialized industry, marijuana can be taxed and regulated.  When governments introduce vice to raise revenues, they risk doing harm to significant numbers of the population.

Back to the Debate

In questions after the debate, supporters of Measure 91 objected to being “criminals,” as they consider themselves under current law, despite the fact Oregon decriminalized marijuana in 1973.  Inge Fryklund, a former prosecutor, argued that legalizing pot can keep marijuana away from children through regulation.  Her debate partner for Yes on 91 was Richard Harris.

No one discussed the possibility of an increase in explosions caused by hash oil extraction, already a problem in Oregon.  This problem increased threefold in Colorado by May of this year.

During the debate,  the idea that legalizing and regulating pot could take profits away from cartels and put them out of business was mentioned.   However, a Washington Post article earlier this year traced the business of cartels leaving Colorado to Central America, where they have introduced poppy cultivation.  There was general acknowledgement that Washington and Colorado still have black markets.   Why does Oregon think it could be different?

(Here’s our first story about Oregon’s Measure 91.)

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