Category Archives: Politics

Washington Sheriff Urquhart Pushed Marijuana Cover-up

TV Ads for Other States Promote Deception

When Oregon had a ballot to legalize marijuana in 2014, King County Sheriff John Urquhart appeared on TV ads claiming that legalization hadn’t created problems  in Washington.  However, on November 4, 2013, King County experienced a massive butane hash oil (BHO) fire explosion that required 100 police and fire fighters to extinguish over a 7-hour period. What a cover-up!

BHO labs are marijuana labs and today they’re far more common than meth labs. This type of fire was extreme, having completely damaged at least 10 apartment units, killing a woman.   Other sheriffs rebuked Sheriff Urquhart when he went on TV the first time.

Last year Urquhart repeated his deception, appearing in ads for Massachusetts. Colorado doesn’t coverup its pot problem so well. Continue reading

Marijuana Can’t Treat the Opiate, Heroin Epidemic

Any marijuana use leads to less intelligence potential, less empathy for life, less motivation and poorer decision making.  A war on drugs is a protection and defense of our brains.   Governor Susana Martinez probably recognizes how Colorado’s marijuana problem leads to the drug epidemic and filters into New Mexico’s substance abuse issues.   Read about her veto in Part 1.

One young man who gave us a testimony explained how his marijuana use led directly to heroin addiction.

In Colorado, Dr. Libby Stuyt, addictions psychiatrist, traces a direct line from marijuana legalization to the heroin epidemic.    Colorado’s recent report on heroin has shown that the number of deaths from heroin overdose have doubled between 2011 and 2015.

In fact, Pueblo County, has suffered from heroin use and addiction more than any other Colorado county.  Pueblo, Denver and Boulder have the highest rates of youth marijuana use.   Southern Colorado is suffering the most from the heroin epidemic. Counties that have banned marijuana dispensaries have been affected the least by the heroin.

Misunderstanding of the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic

Since the government has clamped down on opiate prescriptions, more users have replaced the pain drugs with heroin.  Since the legalization of marijuana, Mexican cartels have replaced much of their marijuana with heroin.  Heroin is now cheaper and addicts find it easier to get heroin than prescription pills.

Politically there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the opioid epidemic. If it was initially caused by over prescribing of medications, that’s no longer primarily the case.   Seth Leibsohn wrote an insightful article on the subject last week. The abuse of opioid prescriptions acquired legitimately constitutes a small portion of the overdose problem, he said. *

A simple crackdown on prescriptions will not solve the problem, according to Maia Szalavitz.  Although Szalavitz misunderstands the  inherent danger in using marijuana,* she explains the underlying causes of substance abuse quite well.  Impulsive children are at high risk of becoming drug users, but so are some highly cautious and anxious young people.   Two thirds of people with opioid addictions have had severely traumatic childhoods, and the more exposure to trauma, the higher the risk.  We need to help abused, neglected, fragile and otherwise traumatized children before they turn to self-medication as teens.  On the other hand, we should also provide tools and teach coping skills to children who are impulsive, ADHD or anxious.   (Overmedicating children doesn’t allow them to develop the skills needed to transition into adulthood.)

Let’s Help People Get off ALL Drugs

Effective treatment for addictions is getting off all drugs, not going to other harmful, brain-altering substances.   “The goal in helping a loved one with a substance use problem is not to reduce their use. It is to stop drug use,” according to Sven-Olov Carlsson of Drug Policy Futures.  He gave the opening address at the World Federation of Drugs Conference in Vienna last year.  As Carlsson said, the current heroin epidemic proves that “harm reduction” is not saving lives.

No one sets out to become an addict.   Fortunately, more people and states are realizing the foolishness of allowing “medical” marijuana for intractable pain.  It opens up a Pandora’s Box of problems, as in California and elsewhere.

Addiction specialists estimate that one in five American adults is addicted to drugs or alcohol.  With such large numbers, there should be no “stigma” attached to addiction or treatment.  A new or revised health care act should maintain the provision to treat addiction.

Those who are addicted have a strong need to protect a secret.  Their brains have been hijacked and there isn’t a straight path back to previous functioning.

Optimum treatment requires a period of time when the person is not using any substance of addiction in order for the brain to heal.  During that time, the person needs to be able to learn new things. The lack of treatment resources which allows this to happen is a big barrier to recovery.   Marijuana cannot be used to treat this current drug epidemic.

___________________________________________________________________________*  Another recent article explains how doctors began to take pain seriously, treating it as a fifth vital sign.  Szalavitz based her 10% addiction rate for marijuana on the weaker pot of the ’70s and ’80s, not the pot of today.  She also disregarded teen users of pot.

 

Governor Martinez Denies Marijuana to Treat Opioid Addiction

On April 7, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed a bill which would have made opioid addiction a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.  Governor Martinez has consistency shown leadership in working to prevent drug addiction.  Earlier this year, legislators in New Mexico wisely rejected a bill to legalize pot,.

Maryland legislators recently proposed using marijuana to treat heroin addiction.   They removed the provision from the  bill after researchers explained there’s no evidence that cannabis is effective in treating addiction.

The mass insanity surrounding cures from “medical” marijuana sometimes comes from the Press.  As the number of newsprint subscribers dwindles, newspapers are looking to marijuana for new sources of advertising money.  (The New York Times, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and Denver Post are pro-marijuana newspapers.)  Another problem is that the marijuana industry’s paid lobbyists are pumping unscientific information to state legislators.   Many of these lobbyists have advanced degrees in Social Policy, Law or Political Science, but not the biological sciences.

Marijuana , Opioid Addiction and Heroin

Tyler Martel, finally free of opioid addiction, was getting his life back on track when the state of Washington legalized marijuana.  On December 5, 2012, marijuana became 100% legal for those ages 21 and over.  A few days later, Martel refused to drink with his parents, but smoked marijuana before driving.  His car crossed the center lane, and both he and his fiancé, also 27, died.  Another man was badly injured in that crash.  Martel died a victim of the “safer than alcohol” phrase that the marijuana lobby used to gain acceptance for legalization.

His death also demonstrates the public’s ignorance of marijuana as a dangerous drug.  Brain science reveals a connection between marijuana and the opiate/heroin epidemic.

Dr. Mark Willenbring, an addictions psychiatrist,  believes that alternative treatments are needed for pain, but not another drug of abuse.  He doesn’t believe you can solve the problem of addiction with another drug of abuse.  “The concept on its face is absurd,” he said.  “It doesn’t work,” he said. “Like trying to cure alcoholism with Valium.”

Pam Garozzo and Carlos, who lost his life Dec. 23, after 10 months of being off drugs. She told Gov. Christie’s panel at the White House that marijuana had been a gateway for her son.

Stop Denying the Potential Gateway Effect

Generally speaking, marijuana is already in the mix of drugs used by those who abuse opiates.   Those who use heroin invariably are using other drugs, including marijuana.   In fact, a group of parents in Massachusetts recently made a video tribute to 79 of their children who died from drugs.   In all cases, the deceased sons and daughters had started their drug use with cannabis.

When Governor Chris Christie convened a panel on the drug epidemic at the White House last week, a mother, spoke.  Pam Garozzo, whose son Carlos died from drugs in December, said her son had started smoking marijuana at age 15-1/2.  For him it was a gateway drug, and he’d be the first to tell you.   He died of heroin that had been laced with fentanyl–after being clean for 10 months.

Read Part 2 to learn how marijuana leads to opiates and heroin.

Vermont House Avoids Vote to Legalize Marijuana

Last Tuesday the Vermont House of Representatives planned to vote on a bill to allow possession and home grows for marijuana.  However, when it came to a floor vote, the pot proponents knew there were not enough votes to pass the bill.

Even though Vermont’s former governor supported legalization, a legalization bill failed miserably in the Vermont House  last year.  The new bill is less expansive than last year’s bill, but legalization appears to be headed for failure this year.

Vermont’s new governor, Phil Scott, has made it clear that the legislature needs to find safeguards against drugged driving.   There is no simple test to measure stoned driving, as there is for drunk driving.  Individuals have a legal right to refuse a blood test, and police must get a court order to administer the tests.  THC levels in the blood may go down during the waiting period.

In October, five teens were killed by a wrong-way driver who had high levels of THC in his blood.  The 36-year-old driver allegedly used marijuana to calm himself, a sign of dependence and addiction.

Crash scene of double fatality, which killed Richard Tom and Joseph Marshall on April 26, 2015. The driver who had been speeding, also had a very high THC measure in his blood. Photo: Elizabeth Murray, in the Burlington Free Press file.

A 17-year-old stoned driver hit and killed Richard Tom, an experienced cyclist with VBT Vermont Biking and Walking Vacations, in April, 2015.  That teen driver, who also died, had 36 nanograms of THC in his blood, way above Colorado’s limit of 5 nanograms. (Many people think Colorado’s limit is insufficient.)

Vermont’s Teen Use of Pot Must be Addressed

To many legislators, teen pot use is also a problem making it difficult to legalize.  The current bill has been sent to the Human Services Committee for additional work aimed to prevent youth marijuana use.    Youth marijuana usage often leads to other opiate pill and heroin abuse.  Last year Vermont had 105 opiate abuse deaths, up from 75 in 2015.

In 2014, one third of Vermont’s traffic fatalities occurred because of drugged drivers, with marijuana frequently mentioned in crash reports.   Vermont decriminalized pot in 2013.

Vermont has less than 625,000 residents, but a number of deaths in recent years were indirectly linked to marijuana use. Jody Herring, who allegedly shot and killed four people in 2015, had mental health issues.  She had initially lost custody of her daughter for lying about her marijuana use.  It was a shocking crime in the small, rural state.