Three months after Colorado opened marijuana stores, Richard Kirk shot and killed his wife while she was on the phone with 911. On November 12, Lori Gliha, an investigative journalist from the news magazine program Insight with John Ferruggia interviewed him on Rocky Mountain PBS. Most viewers who watched the jailhouse interview agree that he wouldn’t have killed his wife had he not eaten the marijuana edible.
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.
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.)
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 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.
The Seattle Police Department report has details of their investigation, which came to the same conclusion as the King County Medical Examiner’s Office did in January. The toxicology screen found “relatively high levels” of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element of marijuana, in Warsame’s system. In Washington, smoked forms of marijuana average more than 20% THC.
A native of Somalia, Warsame was an advanced high school student who was taking a college class at Seattle Central College. Levy Thamba was an exchange student from the Republic of Congo going to college in Wyoming. In 2014, he jumped four stories after eating a marijuana cookie for the first time. He was only 19, under the legal age for purchasing marijuana.
In the case of Warsame and Thamba, the reactions to marijuana were quick. Bondi fell 150 feet to his death last year, and had used other drugs in addition to marijuana. Goodman committed suicide a few days after ingesting marijuana edibles.
The lawsuit claims that the company that made the marijuana edible and the store that sold the candy to Richard Kirk recklessly and purposefully failed to warn him about the bite-sized candy’s potency and side effects — including hallucinations and other psychotic behaviors. Kristine Kirk had called 911 for help, but it was too late.
(The pictures of Levy Thamba and Kristine Kirk are from CBS News.)
The stories were in the Denver news the same month that recreational marijuana stores opened in Colorado, January 2014. The national press ignored these two horror stories with a marijuana connection, but made a huge issue of marijuana commercialization, the story promoted by the marijuana industry. Continue reading Parents’ Pot Use Leads to Neglect, Death in Fires, Part 2→