Tag Archives: Hamza Warsame

Ten Years After the Deaths of Levy Thamba and Kristine Kirk, Part I

What have we learned 10 years after the deaths of Levy Thamba and Kristine Kirk?  We ask that question as April 15, the tenth anniversary of Kristine’s death, approaches. Unfortunately, the USA continues to make critical mistakes by allowing the expansion of marijuana. One problem is the increasing number of violent episodes related to cannabis-induced psychosis. Some incidents made the news this year, including four stabbings in Rockford, IL.

Another issue is that states legalized pot without guardrails to deter stoned drivers, resulting in a huge increase in traffic deaths

This article covers some of the many psychotic events and tragedies related to THC in the early legalization states of Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California.  

Colorado Cases

Levi Thamba Pongi,19, jumped three stories to his death after eating a marijuana cookie in Colorado on March 11, 2014.  Thamba, an exchange student from the Congo, traveled from Wyoming to Colorado two months after Colorado legalized pot.   The report listed marijuana intoxication as a significant contributor to his death.  

Richard Kirk of Colorado killed his wife on April 15, 2014, after ingesting marijuana candy. Before it happened, Kristine Kirk called 911 and explained her husbands was hallucinating and wanted her to kill him.  Just minutes before police arrived, he shot his wife.  Three children witnessed the event and are now in the custody of Kristine’s parents.  Kirk is serving a 30-year sentence for the crime.

Luke Goodman, 23, traveled to Colorado with his family and tried marijuana Colorado on March 21, 2015.  When two edibles did not affect him, he took three more. Several hours later he shot himself and died three days later.  The family believes that marijuana was the cause of his suicide.

Daniel Juarez‘s family believes cannabis intoxication caused his death.  He stabbed himself multiple times under acute intoxication on September 26, 2012, weeks before the vote to legalize.  Had the report been made public, some say Coloradans never would have voted for legalization.   He was 17 at the time.

Top to bottom, l to r: Levy Thamba, Kristine Kirk and Richard Kirk; Robert Corry and Luke Goodman; Hamza Warsame, Brandon Powell and Bryn Spejcher

Cases from Washington

Hamza Warzame, 16, Seattle, jumped 6 floors to his death after smoking marijuana for the first time with a 21-year-old friend in 2015.  At first, police investigated a possible hate crime because Warsame was a Muslim. The cannabis was purchased legally in a Seattle recreational pot store, but it was illegal for Warsame to be using it.  He may have been trying to jump from building to building, without trying to kill himself.

Joseph Hudek – a man from Tampa, Florida — purchased marijuana edibles in Seattle before going on a flight from Seattle to Beijing.  He tried to open a door during the flight. When an attendant and passenger were helping to subdue him, he punched them.  In an affidavit, he said that he ingested the drugs in Seattle before getting on the plane.   Perhaps Hudek expected Seattle pot to mellow him and put him to sleep during the overseas trip.   In the recent incident of an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot trying to take over a plane, the man actually was actually tripping on psilocybin mushrooms, another hallucinogen.

 Crystal Daniels, of Washington, drove her vehicle into a utility pole around 1:40 AM on June 17, 2015. The crash caused power lines to fall to the ground and resulted in “about a hundred yards of flames.” When King County sheriff’s police arrived at the scene, they had to pull her out a back window of the vehicle.  She was completely naked and babbling incoherently. The electricity outage affected about 4000 residents in Shoreline, a city about 10 miles from Seattle.  She had 28 ng of THC hydroxyl in her blood and 8.5 ng. of THC.

Missing teens in Washington and Oregon

Logan Schiendelman went missing at age 19, back in May 2016, from Tumwater, Washington. His story has been told on Dateline and on the Missing Persons podcast.  One of the few things noted about Logan that could relate to his disappearance was his marijuana usage. His grandmother also said: “I know he did a lot of smoking pot, and I’ve wondered sometimes if that caused a little bit of paranoia.” 

Brandon Powell, an 18-year-old from Estacaba, Oregon had a panic attack after taking a highly potent marijuana dab in March 2017. He left home in his pajamas and search missions found dead in a river one month and a half month later in a river.   Dabs are a highly potent form of marijuana that is more popular with teens who use marijuana than with adults. His case is similar to that of Jelani Day from Illinois

California drug normalization; teen parties with heavy marijuana use

On May 28, 2018, Chad O’Melia and Bryn Spejcher were smoking marijuana out of a bong in southern California. Bryn became acutely psychotic and stabbed Chad over 100 times, ending his life. She also stabbed herself and her dog.  The Bryn Spejcher trial was covered in numerous news outlets earlier this year.  A judge sentenced her to probation and community service, even though the jury convicted her of involuntary manslaughter.  Numerous podcasts discuss the trial, including Every Brain Matters and Dr. Daniel Bober. 

Cases in California confirm the failures of the state’s harm reduction approach to drug education. Both Kiely Rodni, 16, and Karlee Lain Gusé, 16, went missing after attending teen parties featuring heavy marijuana use.  Keili was found in a submerged car two weeks later, although Karlee has never been found.  Keili’s death was probably accidental.  The toxicology report on Kelli revealed caffeine, nicotine, and Delta-9 THC.  A review of Karlee’s tragic disappearance suggests impairment from THC, but also the possibility that she may have been harmed.  The FBI has a long case file with testimony from the family.

Autopsies listed “drowning” as the official cause of death for Keili Rodni, Jelani Day and Brandon Powell, but would they have drowned without the THC?  Probably not!  The bottom line — with or without psychosis — marijuana raises your odds of death by accident or otherwise.

Odd cases of psychosis in Colorado

In the Denver Mall, a homeless man started physically attacking people with a PVC pipe, in June, 2016. The 28-year-old man had moved from Indiana to Colorado for marijuana.  Mayor Michael Hancock, blamed the rash of violence on the 16th Street Mall on legalized marijuana. “This is one of the results of the legalization of marijuana in Denver, and we’re going to have to deal with it.”

Robert Corry, the attorney behind Colorado’s successful legalization ballot in 2012, later regretted pushing legalization.  He himself went crazy, and he suffered from cannabis-induced psychosis. Corry went from being the pot advocates’ favorite lawyer to having his law license suspended for one year. 

What have states learned?   Nothing

Perhaps Virginia’s governor, Glenn Youngkin, and New Hampshire’s Governor Chris Sununu have learned lessons from other states.  Only two states, Vermont and Connecticut, cap the potency of THC.   States like California and Washington refuse to pass sensible regulations about warning labels.  They care more about pleasing wealthy donors invested in the cannabis industry.  Too many lives have been destroyed.

Pot advocates who claim teen use doesn’t rise with legalization remain silent about the use of high-potency THC products promoted since legalization.   Part 2 will cover psychotic episodes in other states.  

The Common Element in These Suicides: Marijuana

The common element in all these suicides or self-inflicted deaths was marijuana.   Marijuana was the factor, not alcohol or other drugs…………in all cases.  (Read Part 1 and Part 2)

Marc Bullard, 23      Colorado

Brant Clark, 17        Colorado

Tron Dohse, 26        Colorado

Luke Goodman, 23      Colorado, traveling from Oklahoma

Daniel Juarez, 18     Colorado

Shane Robinson, 25      California

Rashaan Salaam, 41      Colorado

Levy Thamba, 19         Colorado, traveling from Wyoming

Hamza Warsame, 16       Washington

Andy Zorn, 31          Arizona

marijuana-suicide-risk
These four young men died in marijuana-related suicides. Clockwise from left, Daniel Juarez, Colorado, (photo, CBS News), Shane Robinson, California, Hamza Warsame, Washington (photo, Seattle Times, from the family) and Andy Zorn, Arizona.

Four of these victims — Warsame, Thamba, Juarez, Clark — had experienced pot-induced psychosis during the period leading to their deaths.  Juarez was an outstanding soccer player who got very high with a friend the night he stabbed himself 20 times.   The suicide report showed he had 38.2 ng of marijuana in his blood, eight times the limit for Colorado drivers. Toxicologists tested him for methamphetamine and other substances, but the results turned out to be negative. Although the death occurred in 2012, CBS News obtained the police report in 2015 and made it public at that time.  Juarez´s sister claims he would not have killed himself had he not gotten stoned that night.

Suicidal thoughts can come on very quickly while under the influence in individuals who were not previously suicidal. The suddenness of suicidal ideation means that intervention may be impossible. 

Dohse’s death was determined to have been an accident. Unable to find his keys, Dohse climbed up the apartment building and fell.  The toxicology report 27.3 ng. of marijuana in his blood, but no other drugs or alcohol in his system.  As his sister told CBS, she believes marijuana impairment led her brother to make poor decisions the night of his death.  (Read Part 1 for more background on Warsame, Dohse, Juarez and Clark)

Levy Thamba, left, and Kristine Kirk, right. Both died shortly after marijuana edibles went on sale in Colorado.

The story of Levy Thamba is particularly tragic since he was on a student visa to this country.  He came from the Democratic Republic of Congo to study engineering in Wyoming.  While visiting Denver with friends, he tried a marijuana edible for the first time.  It was a pot-infused cookie, the effects of which don´t appear immediately. About two hours later, he became acutely psychotic, thinking pictures were jumping off the wall. The friends calmed him down before going to sleep, but his psychosis returned.   He ran from his room to the sixth floor balcony, jumping to his death.

Thamba’s death is often described along with the death of Kristine Kirk.  She called 911 because her husband, Richard Kirk, wanted her to shoot him, after he ate a marijuana candy.  By the time, help came, he shot Kristine, mother of their three children, instead.

Bullard, Salaam and Robinson appear to have been suffering from depression as a result of heavy and/or extended pot use.  Marc Bullard was “dabbing.”  Andy Zorn, a veteran who had been taking medical marijuana, knew he had to quit marijuana to survive.  But he couldn’t quit and so took his own life. (Many people begin smoking pot after being told “it’s not addictive.”)

Marijuana Withdrawal is a Risk, Too

Although Shane Robinson had experienced two periods of pot-induced psychosis, he was having marijuana withdrawal syndrome at the time of his death.   According to a program of Dr. Drew Pinsky back in 2003, there is “an extraordinarily high incident of suicide in the first six months of marijuana abstinence.”

Most striking about the youths we describe is that they did not begin pot use because of depression.  All of these deaths occurred in marijuana-friendly states where the social situation was an influence on their pot use.  Lori Robinson, Shane’s mother, warns that educating against drugs and modelling a healthy lifestyle without drug use doesn’t work today.  It is no match for current  cultural trends and government policy which normalizes pot use.

Most who die in marijuana-related suicides are male, but women and girls are still at risk.  One of our supporters attempted suicide in her 20s after years of daily pot use, failed relationships and domestic violence.  Her attempt was not successful.  Today she is 29 years sober and her survival is a blessing.   Not all people will be as lucky. Males are generally more successful in suicide attempts, because their methods are often more efficient.

Pot is the Common Element, not an Underlying Mental Health Issue

These youths banish the claim that mental health problems always come before the marijuana use.   (A strong misconception is that mental illness after using pot only affects those with previous mental health issues.)  The deaths described here include active psychotic reactions at the time of marijuana use, as well as depression from long-term use.

The lives of these young men need to be a warning to states trying to legalize marijuana.  Suicide rates in Colorado have reached all-time highs and each one of Colorado’s 21 health regions had a suicide rate higher than the national average, according to a February report by the Colorado Health Institute.

When the pot industry tells us that “no one ever died from marijuana,” they’re lying.   Maybe it is time for the CDC to start tracking marijuana-related deaths.

These 10 deaths are just a few of the many self-inflicted deaths related to marijuana use.  Lori Robinson has assembled more stories of marijuana-related deaths and psychosis on the website of Moms Strong.  Read these stories on momsstrong.org.

Marijuana and Suicide: A Growing Risk for Our Youth

When Hamza Warsame fell six floors to his death in December, 2015, the social media was abuzz with suggestions of a hate crime against the Muslim teen.  Warsame, an immigrant from Somalia, was living in Seattle and had been invited to the  21-year-old classmate’s apartment.

Hamza Warsame.  The 16-year-old killed himself after using only once, a reflection of the high potency of today’s pot.

However, the news came out that Warsame had smoked marijuana for the first time and had a psychotic reaction.  He may have tried to jump to the next building’s roof.   It wasn’t legal for a 16- year-old to smoke marijuana.  But Washington is a marijuana state, and his 21-year-old classmate had bought it legitimately at a dispensary.  (Signs along the highways of Washington warn that it’s illegal to buy or give alcohol to those under age 21. There should be similar warnings for marijuana.)

Warsame’s death was from smoking today’s high potency ganja, not the edibles.   At least two young men, Luke Goodman, 23, and Levy Thamba, 19, killed themselves in Colorado after eating marijuana edibles which made them psychotic.  In Colorado, edibles first went on sale for recreational purposes beginning in January, 2014.   Many people read about New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s experience with marijuana.   A mother also wrote a New York Times column about that marijuana chocolate bar that put her son on suicide watch.

Less well known are the stories of Brant Clark and Daniel Juarez, featured on a CBS News Report of May, 2015.  High potency pot has been the norm in Colorado since the early 2000s.  Psychosis and hallucinations occur quite frequently.   These teens became psychotic and killed themselves — before Coloradans voted to legalize recreational marijuana.

Tron Dohse, from the website of CBS4 News    Photo of Daniel Juarez on top is also from the CBS affiliate in Denver.

Tron Dohse was a young adult featured in the same evening news report that reported about Clark and Juarez. He overdosed on marijuana and fell to his death while trying to climb a building.

As one Colorado resident said, “If residents had known the horror story of why Daniel Juarez death in 2012, they never would have voted to legalize.”  (Juarez’s photo is on top of the page.)

More Recent Suicides

More recently, there were the marijuana-related suicides Marc Bullard and Rashaan Salaam in Colorado. (These are the stories that made the news, so we don’t mention recent suicides from pot not in the news.)  Salaam was 41, a former Heisman Trophy winner.  He had a promising football career until 1999, when he lost his energy and began spending time smoking pot.   He never got his life back and when he died there was 55 ng. of THC in his blood.

Like Salaam, Marc Bullard was living in Colorado at the time of his death.   The Texas native had been a high school valedictorian, a successful college student and had landed a dream job.   However, he had moved to Colorado and was doing dabs.  In his journal, he recorded the downward spiral of depression and his inability to stop doing marijuana dabs.    He was 23.

A landmark study published in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal, September, 2014, tracked teenage marijuana use in Australia and New Zealand.   The subjects were tested for a variety of outcomes by age 30.  The evidence showed that consistent early use below age 18 is connected to 7x the risk of attempted suicide before age 30.

Not all suicide attempts are successful.   But it is shocking and traumatizes a family when someone attempts suicide.   Parent have written of these events and how it affects their families, I wish We had Never Moved Here and My Son’s Psychiatric Surprise.  Another striking story of survival is on the MomsStrong.org website.   Part 2 will explain more about the suicide risk with marijuana.  Part 3 will have more specific information about marijuana victims Daniel Juarez, Levy Thamba, Andy Zorn and Shane Robinson.

Marijuana Deaths: 5 Killed Instantly After Pot Became Legal

Can Other States Prevent Deaths Like those in Washington?

Washington – not Colorado – was the first state to legalize weed on December 5, 2012, exactly four years ago.    Within a few weeks, five people  died—probably only because marijuana was now legal. California and Massachusetts have not figured out how to measure  stoned drivers.  Will other states that now allow pot possession face a rapid rise of deaths too?

On the morning pot was legalized, two intruders broke into the Puyallup home of a large marijuana grower.  Robbery was the motive, of course.   The owner shot and killed the masked men immediately.    So much for the claim that legalization will “free up law enforcement for more serious crimes.”    A few weeks ago, there was a similar situation in Denver, when a homeowner shot and killed a 15-year-old stealing pot from his yard.

On December 17, 2012, Scotty Rowles struck and killed pedestrian Donald Collins in Vancouver, Washington.   Rowles was not speeding, but admitted to smoking a bowl of marijuana before driving.  He spent six months in jail and is now on probation.   (Punishments for stoned driving in Washington aren’t strong enough to discourage it.)

Tyler Martel’s accident on December 7, 2012 was more deadly.   Martel left his parents’ house at 10:30 p.m.  By 3:45 a.m., the police came to the parents’ home and said that he had died.  His girlfriend, his soon-to-be fiancé, had been airlifted to Harborview Hospital Center.   Stephanie Nicole Profitt underwent many surgeries and fought to regain her life.  Her struggle ended in death on January 19, 2013.

Don’t Substitute One Dangerous Addiction for Another

Stoned driving caused three of these deaths.   Marijuana greed and jealousy inspired the shooting when two men died.  Perhaps the worst news of all is that Tyler Martel, 27, who died instantly had survived and conquered Oxycodone addiction. He had gone through rehab, had a job and was building a new life.  At a party on that fateful night, he declined all invitations to drink.   But marijuana was now legal, and he smoked marijuana with his brother before he drove.  If the state hadn’t legalized marijuana, and otherwise endorsed its use, perhaps Tyler and Stephanie would be alive today.

When people suggest that substituting opiate pain pill abuse with marijuana, remember what happened to Tyler Martel and Stephanie Proffitt.   They were not the only victims.  Timothy Lang came to Profitt’s funeral in a wheelchair.    He was one of the other drivers, and is thankful to the emergency workers who saved life.

Alex Ashley poignantly describes Tyler Martel’s battle to regain his life and the legacy of the accident.

Martel’s mother Patrice is on a mission to warn students of impaired driving.   It is counter-intuitive to suggest that any addictive substance should substitute for another addictive substance.  It’s a case where someone tried it and we know the results.

Colorado gets more publicity than Washington because many anti-pot activists live in Colorado.  The Seattle press usually covers up the downside of pot.  Colorado opened commercial marijuana six months ahead of Washington, and we’ve heard more about deaths from edibles in Colorado.

However, Washington has a slightly higher rate of stoned driving deaths than Colorado.  A stoned driver killed Rosemary Tempel four months before the vote to legalize, but the Press and police failed to report it.

One year ago, 16-year-old boy Somalian immigrant Hamza Warsame — died immediately after smoking weed.  He jumped off a balcony and fell six stories to his death in Seattle.

A warning to Massachusetts, as state legislators discuss delaying marijuana.  Government’s job is to protect its people.   The black market still thrives in Washington and also causes violence.

So many tragic marijuana-related accidents involve children.