Drug Prevention Speaker Touching Hearts and Changing Lives
New York father, Jeffrey Veatch is taking the pain of loss from his son’s tragic drug overdose death, and turning it into a positive force for good. His son Justin was a talented musician with big dreams. Dreams that his father refuses to let die. Continue reading Father Spearheads Drug Awareness Campaign→
My name is Jacki Cosner and 27 months ago we lost our eldest daughter, Kayla Nicole (20), and her husband, Daniel Brian Amos (21), on Valentine’s Day. They had only been married 6 months and she posted that morning how excited she was that her “halfyearversary” would always be on this day of celebrating true love.
Dan worked at a local church as an Arts Worship Leader and had recently been ordained a minister. He played electric guitar in the church band and was living out a musical dream for his passion. Jesus Christ. Kayla recently had graduated from Liberty University with a BS in Business, Entrepreneurship. Her dream of running a coffee shop was coming to fruition thru the church as well. They were opening one in the church lobby to raise money for End Hunger, a local charity. She had been volunteering with them for some time. Dan and Kayla were rooted in their faith first and rooted in their love for Christ. That is what made them who they were and made their life extraordinary.
On February 14th, 2016 they had gone to a late lunch after church at a restaurant Dan had been wanting to try. After that they went to Kayla’s favorite shop at the mall and he bought her a beautiful red lace skirt in honor of the occasion. On the way home, not twenty minutes in, at 4:30pm, an oncoming car crossed the center line and hit them head on. The impact hard enough to lift the rear slightly causing the car behind them to go under and flip their car over. Dan passed at the scene and Kayla was life flighted to Shock Trauma. We were informed her injuries were not survivable. We kept her on life support knowing and watching as vitals slowed. At 7 a.m. on February 15, 2016, we gave her hand to Dan one last time. I’ve heard repeatedly over the past 2+ years how strong I am. My response is always the same, “I would be weak again in a heartbeat if it would mean they were still here.”
Though there are a lot of people that would probably not agree with me, I consider myself a mother who lost her children to drugs. Heroin and marijuana specifically. No, they did not use the drug and I have not gone thru the daily torment of watching them battle the addiction. However, had it not been for the decision to use this drug by another person, Kayla and Daniel would still be here. They would still be planning and living the future they only started together 6 months earlier. A life they lived with intention in everything they did.
My heart hurts for every mom watching a child suffer
In my life, I have had the trials of raising teenagers that are curious and have not always made the choice we would want. However, I have to say, we are blessed that that is all it came to be. A curiosity and lesson learned are lessons avoided. There are countless other parents who tragically cannot say the same. My heart hurts for every mom who has had to bear the burden of watching a child suffer. Its every parent’s worst fear to have their child make a horrible life altering decision that we know cannot end well. I say these things including the decisions to take that first pill, smoke that first cigarette or joint, shoot that first needle. We try so hard to teach them well and when these things come to light we wonder why and where did we go wrong? How did we fail them? The burden to keep our children safe and healthy becomes immeasurably harder and sometimes impossible.
I may not have been living it for years or dealt with it daily up to February 14,2016, but an all-night bender of a person who just wanted to get through the night, get to work, and then decided it was perfectly fine to get behind the wheel of a 5000 lb. weapon, took my daughter and son-in-law. She is here. And they are not. I fully support the idea that we must act on this war heavy and straight on. Mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers. All walks of life need help. We most certainly need to bring the awareness to the open. However, this is where I start to sway. I have a challenging time blaming biology or calling it a disease. I have a challenging time dismissing the whole “choice” factor. At some point a choice was made. We do not need to make those curiosities and choices easier for our young future to explore. This is how we eradicate a disease. The thought that we have started legalizing marijuana terrifies me. Just because we tell them to stay home does not guarantee anything. What next? Where will this lead?
Saying no can save the life of someone else
I feel there is a need for another perspective on the whole issue. Not one that undermines the work already done, but one that can hopefully enhance the cause and get the word to not just the families looking in the face of the addicted member, but to all the ones out there considering it. They need to learn how an innocent person can suddenly and tragically be thrown into this world in a matter of seconds. They need to understand that saying “NO” can not only save their life, but could be saving the lives of someone else. Maybe even their friend or family.
I would not wish this life on anyone–my life of grief or the driver’s life, living with that night. But I also cannot sit back and not try to help someone out there see that no one is beyond the unthinkable. No one is invincible. The driver thought they were and now is sitting wondering where their life is going to lead. Dan and Kayla Amos knew they were not invincible, but at least they knew where they were going and when they opened their eyes above, they were HOME.
by SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) Smart Approaches to Marijuana’s 2017 publication references academic studies which suggest that marijuana primes the brain for other types of drug usage. Here’s the summary on that subject from page 4, Marijuana and Other Drugs: A Link We Can’t Ignore :
MORE THAN FOUR in 10 people who ever use marijuana will go on to use other illicit drugs, per a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults.(1) The CDC also says that marijuana users are three times more likely to become addicted to heroin.(2)
And according to the seminal 2017 National Academy of Sciences report, “There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or a substance abuse disorder for substances including alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs.”(3)
RECENT STUDIES WITH animals also indicate that marijuana use is connected to use and abuse of other drugs. A 2007 Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology study found that rats given THC later self administered heroin as adults, and increased their heroin usage, while those rats that had not been treated with THC maintained a steady level of heroin intake.(4) Another 2014 study found that adolescent THC exposure in rats seemed to change the rodents’ brains, as they subsequently displayed “heroin-seeking” behavior. Youth marijuana use could thus lead to “increased vulnerability to drug relapse in adulthood.”(5)
National Institutes of Health Report
The National Institutes of Health says that research in this area is “consistent with animal experiments showing THC’s ability to ‘prime’ the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs. For example, rats previously administered THC show heightened behavioral response not only when further exposed to THC, but also when exposed to other drugs such as morphine—a phenomenon called cross-sensitization.”(6)
ADDITIONALLY, THE MAJORITY of studies find that marijuana users are often polysubstance users, despite a few studies finding limited evidence that some people substitute marijuana for opiate medication. That is, people generally do not substitute marijuana for other drugs. Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences report found that “with regard to opioids, cannabis use predicted continued opioid prescriptions 1 year after injury. Finally, cannabis use was associated with reduced odds of achieving abstinence from alcohol, cocaine, or polysubstance use after inpatient hospitalization and treatment for substance use disorders” [emphasis added].(7)
Moreover, a three-year 2016 study of adults also found that marijuana compounds problems with alcohol. Those who reported marijuana use during the first wave of the survey were more likely than adults who did not use marijuana to develop an alcohol use disorder within three years.(8) Similarly, alcohol consumption in Colorado has increased slightly since legalization. (9)
Secades-Villa R, Garcia-Rodríguez O, Jin CJ, Wang S, Blanco C Probability and predictors of the cannabis gateway effect: a national study. Int J Drug Policy. 2015;26(2):135-142
2. Centers for Disease Control. Today’s heroin epidemic Infographics more people at risk, multiple drugs abused. CDC, 7 July 2015.
3. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health andPublic Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda (“2017 NAS Report”).
4. Ellgren, Maria et al. “Adolescent Cannabis Exposure Alters Opiate Intake and Opioid Limbic Neuronal Populations in Adult Rats.”Neuropsychopharmacology 32.3 (2006): 607–615.
5. Stropponi, Serena et al. Chronic THC during adolescence increases the vulnerability to stress-induced relapse to heroin seeking in adult rats. European Neuropsychopharmacology Volume 24 , Issue 7 (2014), 1037 – 1045.
6. “Is marijuana a gateway drug?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Jan. 2017. See also Panlilio LV, Zanettini C, Barnes C, Solinas M, Goldberg SR. Prior exposure to THC increases the addictive effects of nicotine in rats. Neuropsychopharmacol Off Publ Am Coll Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013;38(7):1198-1208; Cadoni C, Pisanu A, Solinas M, Acquas E, Di Chiara G. Behavioural sensitization after repeated exposure to Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cross-sensitization with morphine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;158(3):259-266.
7. 2017 NAS report.
8. Weinberger AH, Platt J, Goodwin RD. Is cannabis use associated with an increased risk of onset and persistence of alcohol use disorders? A three-year prospective study among adults in the United States. Drug Alcohol Depend. February 2016.
One of the arguments to legalize marijuana use is that the “War on Drugs” failed. The term “War on Drugs” was adopted by President Nixon nearly 50 years ago, but it was officially dropped in 2009. Like “War on Poverty,” “War on AIDs,” it represents a concerted effort to get rid of something. However, it really is a just a euphemism which means different things to different people.
Today we have a “War for Drugs,” in which states think they can legalize marijuana for tax money without considering the other social costs. These costs include car crashes, suicides, mental illness and crime. Furthermore, gangs and cartels moved aggressively into the heroin trade after Colorado and Washington legalized pot. Some states with legalized pot have attracted foreigners who come into areas and buy up properties for illegal marijuana growing.
The idea that the “war on drugs” is a war on black and Hispanic communities is a simplistic way to explain a complex situation. The ACLU, which has had an important stake in legalization efforts in Maine, Vermont and Washington uses these arguments to press legalization of marijuana.
Wealthy white drug dealers can often afford more expensive lawyers than minority drug dealers, leading to disparate sentencing. Black males have been disproportionately jailed for violating drug laws. Michelle Alexander, who wrote The New Jim Crow, supports legalization of all drugs. However, she is laments the fact that legalization has benefited the white males who are now making all the profits.
The drug policy – violence theory also demonstrates a poor understanding of the nature of humanity. Gangs and cartels are money-making paths that bring profits quickly. Anyone can be lured into the profit motive without thinking of the harm, particularly when young and risky behaviors seem exciting. There is a certain “high” that comes from evading the law.
Criminal businesses will be always be attractive to both the rich and the poor. Some cartel leaders are well-educated and even rich. If it were only about income inequality, many would get out of the drug trade sooner. We need to foster opportunities for the poor, so they don’t see drug dealing as a route out of poverty. Regardless of circumstances, drug dealers are hungry for power. They would find other ways to maintain power over people, if legalizing pot truly kept all the profits for government. Experience has shown that they branch out into other crimes, such as human trafficking and selling heroin and fetanyl.
When Drug Wars Occur
Drug wars happen when growers and cartels compete to have the strongest, most potent strains of marijuana. High-THC plants bring higher profits. The marijuana industry pretends that government is to blame for the greedy, violent wars between drug cartels.
We can see the violence that comes with the competition in the drug trade in the book and movie, Savages of 2012, with Benicio del Toro. An earlier movie Blow, in which Johnny Depp played notorious drug dealer George Jung, tries to illicit sympathy for the criminal who was instrumental in bringing the Columbian cocaine trade to the USA. It is clear that greed and adventure motivated Jung, without concern about the harmful consequences to others.
Marijuana advocates who say “drug wars don’t work,” play into current anti-government sentiments. They say anti-pot groups take money from pharmaceutical companies, police unions or the alcohol industry. These claims are without merit. In their twisted logic, they say the US has created cartel violence in Mexico. Violence of course has many causes including poverty. On the other hand, there ‘s evidence that the legalization of pot moved the cartels into other countries of Central America. The legalization of pot made the cartels promote heroin which is killing people in record numbers today.
The cause of racial problems of the United States and drug violence in Central America shouldn’t be seen as one-dimensional issues. Opinions about the “War on Drugs” are irrelevant. The “War for Drugs” is about getting a higher, more potent version of marijuana and making a big profits. It’s a cruel trick the ACLU and Drug Policy Alliance play on the public and a bad deal for minorities, because pot is very harmful.