Richard Kirk interview confirms marijuana as unsafe swap for opiates

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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.

The State of Colorado deserves a good portion of the blame for the death of Kristine Kirk.

The program revealed Richard Kirk’s chronic back pain and addiction to opiate pain pills.  One day, out of opioids, he stopped at the marijuana dispensary near his home.  When the edible containing 100 mg THC didn’t resolve the pain within an hour, he tried more.  Then Kristine Kirk called 911 to report his hallucinations and threat of violence in response to marijuana edibles.  It was only 3-1/2 months after dispensaries opened in Colorado, and regulations were inadequate at the time.

A few weeks earlier, Levy Thamba, an exchange student from the Democratic Republic of Congo, became psychotic from  a marijuana cookie, jumped off of a hotel balcony and died.  After these two deaths, Colorado made the regulations tougher.  The following year, another young man, Luke Goodman, shot himself after eating marijuana edibles.

It’s shocking that Kirk wasn’t given an involuntary manslaughter sentence instead of a murder conviction. Kirk knows he was psychotic and never would have done it had he not used the marijuana.  There is a wealth of scientific data supporting what happened to him.  A jury convicted him and he was sentenced to 30 years in jail.

Insights from the Investigation on PBS

Watch the entire Rocky Mountain PBS interview here.

The two scientists interviewed made key statements towards the end of what they had to say: Dr. Kari Franson, the clinical pharmacologist, maintained that we might have to accept that THC and the gastrointestinal system just don’t belong together and that interaction is too variable to be able to predict what will happen.

Dr. Andrew Monte stated that edibles should not be on the recreational market.  He reported 2,600 ER visits connected to marijuana at UC Health University of Colorado Hospital over the past 5 years.  Most of these hospital visits involve edibles. However, marijuana proponents have a view of self-entitlement which allow them to rationalize that if they don’t have these bad reactions, then why should it matter if others do?

The report revealed Colorado’s inability to require consistency in data collection for the state’s marijuana experiment. No amount of regulation takes away the danger of the THC.  Today it’s still a question about how much dispensaries workers understand other drug interactions and know enough to give good information.

Kristine Kirk was a beautiful person, wonderful mother, wife, sister and friend. Her death is a loss to the world, but especially to her three sons.  Although Richard Kirk had financial issues and was prone to anger, made worse by the back pain and opiate addiction, it took the unpredictable response of the marijuana edibles – not the opiates — to send him over the edge and kill his wife.

The grandparents filed a lawsuit against the dispensary and the edibles maker.   It was settled out of court.  It’s so incredibly sad for the three children who lost both their parents, and for another family named Kirk, too.

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