Tag Archives: The Oregonian

Marijuana Industry Aims for West Coast of Weed

How can a babysitter in California who allowed a 17-month old baby to die in her charge while she smoked pot be acquitted?

Why did a marijuana-intoxicated driver who killed Rosemary Tempel and injured others in Seattle receive a lesser charge of vehicular homicide which can get him out of jail in 3 years?

Rosemary Tempel, a nurse, was killed by a marijuana-intoxicated driver on July 17, 2012, less than 4 months before I-502.
Rosemary Tempel, a nurse, was killed by a marijuana-intoxicated driver on July 17, 2012, less than 4 months before I-502 passed in Washington state.

(The driver was driving without insurance, on probation, had previous marijuana DUI, domestic violence charges, and the judge refused to allow the marijuana in his blood as evidence.)

How can a man in Oregon who made butane hash oil out of marijuana while his children were in harm’s way never be charged with a felony or misdemeanor?    (He suffered burns and the friend who was with him later died. Insurance covered his $1.3 million in burn treatment, but he is  filing suit against the butane suppliers, despite the well-known dangers of making BHO. )

With much of the expensive real estate in the west owned by foreign business interests, both in Vancouver and in California, it seems as if the prevailing powers are just hoping to have a “doped up” population on the west coast to control.  The illegal marijuana grows have had a devastating impact on California’s water supply.    Yet, the marijuana industry/lobby has made clear its intention to make the western coast of North America a solid block of territory where marijuana is legal.

The Oregonian featured a series of articles on hash oil explosions, May 5, 2014.
The Oregonian featured a series of articles on hash oil explosions, May, 2014.

If these accidents were caused by alcohol instead of marijuana, there would probably be less sympathy in the justice system.  It’s a sad state for the west coast of North America, if the rights of marijuana users continue to go unchecked.

Alaska voted to legalize in November, despite the wild, marijuana-related murders of two state troopers last year.  Just last week, Vancouver City Council, in British Columbia, approved rules for the city’s 100 or so medical marijuana  dispensaries.   The weed community is upset that 2/3 of Oregon, the eastern part, will not open marijuana dispensaries.  Yet,  there will still be a solid weed coast from southern California to Alaska.    Some readers may be thinking it’s not legal in California.  It is, however, legal for anyone 18 or over to get a medical marijuana card, for the least of medical conditions.   Nonetheless many cities and counties in California and Washington have banned dispensaries.

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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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Out-of-State Money Funds Marijuana in Oregon

Congressman Earl Blumenauer isn’t voicing objections to the $1.5 million of out-of-state money to finance Measure 91,  the ballot to legalize marijuana in Oregon.   However, he supports a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling of 2010, which prevents limits on campaign contributions from corporations and associations.   Like so many politicians, his inconsistency is puzzling.  It can only be understood if we imagine that he’s under the thumb of the marijuana industry.

Instead of complaining  of the out-of-state billionaires, the Congressman from Portland takes on the small-time public servants and volunteers.  These are people who would have presented the latest educational information on marijuana and other drugs,  to the smaller towns and cities in Oregon.  If Blumenauer had adequately looked into the studies of youth marijuana usage and other illicit drug usage of his state, he would have known that drug education is needed.   07_nonmedical use pain relievers past yearOregon ranks very high in all illicit drug usage, compared to other states.  (These maps were published late last year, using statistics from 2010-11)   Regarding the current heroin epidemic, and deaths from overdose,  it’s wise to ask why all alcohol and drug prevention programs get 48% less in federal funds than they received 10 years ago!

The money in question was $15,000.  A non-profit prevention group that receives federal funds was going to use the money to put on a summit in Madras, Oregon, followed by a tour.

Voters should have much more of an issue with more than $1.5 million — 100 x the amount provided for the summit —  that outsiders have spent to legalize marijuana in their state.

Rep. Blumenauer has called for a federal investigation into whether taxpayer dollars are being improperly spent on marijuana education events that he said appear to be aimed at influencing voters to oppose the November ballot measure that would legalize the drug.    Kevin Sabet of Project SAM was to be a speaker at 12 localities around the state, just as he had been educating in Oregon years before.  At this time, the program has now been reduced substantially, although a district attorney has been raising funds. This particular summit is a continuation of educational events that takes place every two years in that community and has been going on for over a decade.  Oregon does not have a state-sponsored program of drug education that provides education to the counties.  Local prevention coordinators must do that job.

Blumenauer had taken aim at Mandi Puckett who left her job at Best Care Treatment Services in Madras, to become coordinator of Vote No on 91-Oregon campaign.  Puckett explained in a Press Release on Friday: “My job was to help apply for State and Federal grants and work with the local coalition to use that money to educate people about the dangers of using addictive substances.”  Prevention education efforts, like the Madras Summit, are often a required component of grant applications.  The educational summit in Madras, followed by the tour of Oregon cities was planned between Fall of 2012 to Spring of 2014,  before Measure 91 was on the ballot. There were various stages for approval of the tour, before the state granted final approval in writing from the Oregon Health Authority.  “Later, when it was announced the measure would be on the November ballot, we took extra steps to include in our work plan and advise presenters to not speak about the ballot measure. Our goal was to educate, not lobby,” said Puckett.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., talks with reporters September 5 about a series of marijuana education events. (Jeff Mapes/The Oregonian)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., talks with reporters September 5 about a series of marijuana education events. (Jeff Mapes/The Oregonian)

So as it appears, prevention coordinators were required in their “federally-approved work plans” to educate about alcohol and drugs, including marijuana.  The state, via Oregon Health Authority, was involved in that process and granted approval for the Summit and the tour, which was in planning long before Measure 91 was on the ballot.  Then in August, when advocates in favor of Measure 91 learned of the approved educational events, is when the problem occurred.  According to documents provided by the Oregonian, representatives of Measure 91 and a member of Congress, who is a supporter of Measure 91, lodged false accusations against prevention educators funded to do the very work they were approved to do.

Not Tiny Grants, but Big-time Marijuana Money from the PACs

As one of Congress’ leading advocates for the marijuana industry, Blumenauer isn’t questioning the use of huge donors with no connection to his Congressional district or state.  New Approach Oregon, the group sponsoring Measure 91, plans to spend $2.3 on television ads, while the opposition has no money to advertise.  Here’s the group’s financial status:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
New Approach Oregon 2014 $599,455.82 $599,455.82
New Approach Oregon $950,168.16 $912,890.50
Drug Policy Action of Oregon $0.00 $0.00
Total $1,549,623.98 $1,512,346.32

Private, out-of-funds state funds donated earlier this year are:                            Peter Lewis & his family                      $350,000                                       George Soros                                              $160,000

Soros is connected to the Drug Policy Action PAC.  Because not all donors to PACs are made public, it is a bit difficult to sort the information.  None of the big donors appears to be from Oregon.

According to Ballotpedia, as of July 30, 2014, the No on 91 group had zero money, but Measure 91 had received more than $1.5 million.   The top 5 contributors were:

New Approach PAC $250,000
Drug Policy Action $200,000
Drug Policy Action Fund for Oregon $150,000
Philip Harvey $100,000
Henry van Ameringen $100,000

 

Soros lives in New York.  Peter Lewis was a Florida resident when he died in November, and his sons have continued to contribute to the campaign.   Philip Harvey is from Washington, DC, and Henry van Ameringen lives in New York.  They serve on the New Approach Oregon Committee, along with Cari Tuna, wife of a Facebook co-founder.

How Marijuana Money Controlled the Oregon Election in 2012

In Oregon, the marijuana lobby succeeded in determining the outcome of the 2012 race for Attorney General.   The winning candidate in the Democratic primary for Attorney General had received the largest portion of her campaign money from marijuana industry supporters.  These donations came from: Drug Policy Action committee,  $80,000; Arizona resident John Sperling, $70,000, and Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement, which spent $53,000 on radio ads.  (The largest non-marijuana donation was $25,000)  There were to be no Republican candidates running in the primary or general election.  Since it was a ballot by mail and only 25% of the Democrats voted,  marijuana advocates got out their vote.

Other voters were led to think the main issue was that the opponent, interim US Attorney General Dwight Holton, had not been a resident of Oregon very long.   In reality, Holton had taken a tough stance on drugs, allowing some federal raids on marijuana producers in violation of law.  He had called the state’s medical marijuana program a “train wreck.”   Medical marijuana came to Oregon after a ballot vote in 1998, but it didn’t come under state regulations until this year.

Winner Ellen Rosenbaum had promised not to prosecute medical marijuana.  John Sperling, also a big marijuana donor, was the founder of the University of Phoenix.  At the time, Oregon’s Justice department was part of a multi-state investigation into his school and other for-profit universities.  Only 25% of the Democrats voted, so it is clear that radio commercials sponsored by pro-pot groups, in addition to Rosenblum’s campaign ads, got out the “weed vote.”   Rosenblum won by 64% to 36%, and the marijuana groups  bragged about their victory.

Two years ago the big out-of-state donors financed marijuana legalization campaigns in Washington and Colorado, but they did not donate to Measure 80,  Oregon’s failed legalization initiative of November 2012.   However, by June 2012, BIG MARIJUANA had already funded and controlled the race for Attorney General that year, which promised that medical marijuana in the state would — relatively speaking — continue unregulated.

 Key Components of Measure 91

This year’s initiative,  Measure 91, would place marijuana regulation under the state liquor board.  The premises of Measure 91 are that legalization would 1) Eliminate 12,800 arrests (The number of marijuana arrests was actually around 2700, politifact.com found.   2) Regulation would do a better job at keeping it away from children (only with good prevention education!) and 3) It would eliminate drug cartels and give profits to the state instead of criminals (highly speculative, with no concrete evidence).

New Approach Oregon hired ECONorthwest, a Portland firm,  to estimate the potential tax revenues of a legalized marijuana industry, if this measure is approved. The estimate of $38.5 million for the first year was to be based on a Colorado’s figures, from the viewpoint of cost/benefit analysis.  Currently, Colorado is taking in much lower taxes than they originally planned.

Although the tax rate would be lower than Colorado’s tax, the experience in Colorado and Washington shows that black markets don’t end with legalization.  Marijuana has been decriminalized in Oregon since 1973, and medical marijuana was approved in 1998. The Oregon Medical Association does not recommend marijuana for medical reasons, or otherwise.  After 15 years, Oregon only began regulating medical marijuana this year, after passage of House Bill 3460.

Why BIG MARIJUANA won in Colorado

The Marijuana industry targeted Colorado for legalization because its largest city, Denver, is in the center of the state.  The Denver – Colorado Springs television market is the only place in the state with a sizable population.   Television ads could target the Denver region, while other parts of the state  were less likely to know marijuana was on the ballot. The Marijuana Industry may have hoped the same thing could happen in Oregon this year.  Possibly they took issue with Madras summit because voters in outlying areas would be getting more factual information about marijuana.  As in Colorado, voting in Oregon is done by mail in the weeks leading up to the election date.

Oregon compares well to Colorado, because both states have a high number of pain pill abusers and other drug abusers.  States with medical marijuana tend to have higher percentages abuse, dependence and teen marijuana usage.  It’s not clear if the difference reflects medical marijuana or the low perception of risk from using pot.  An exception is Maine, which has had medical marijuana since 1998, but its percentage  of youth marijuana use and all drug  use is significantly lower than in nearby states and it can be attributed to good prevention education programs and staff.

States that have high amount of illicit drug usage tend be the states where the highest percentage of teens begin using marijuana at a young age, Oregon included. There’s good reason to believe the Summit in Madras and the entire 12-city tour is very much needed

We ask Representative Blumenauer and other politicians to stop pandering to the marijuana industry and caving to their lobbyists.

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