Marijuana Legalization Policy Prioritizes Profit over Human Life

Callous Disregard for Human Life in Pursuit of Profit and Getting Stoned

In California, a mother will soon go on trial for the drunk driving crash that killed her daughter and daughter’s friend.  The girls were skateboarding on a rural road in Humboldt County when a vehicle hit them.  Toxicology reports revealed that the 14-year-old girls had THC in their blood.  Marci Kitchen allegedly fled the scene of the accident on July 12, 2016 and tried to get rid of the pot in the car.  A judge has called for a jury to decide if she’s guilty of drunk driving and homicide.

In Washington, a man high on marijuana killed  policeman Jake Gutierrez. He was holding his 6-year-old daughter while in a standoff with multiple police that lasted 10 hours.  The perpetrator claimed  to be a sheriff named “Zeus.”   Bruce Randall Johnson, 38, had been unraveling for weeks before police fired the shots that killed him.   “A regular marijuana user, he’d been smoking more lately,” according to KIRO 7. The autopsy revealed:  “Johnson’s body weighed in at a spindly 104 pounds. He had no drugs in his system, apart from high concentrations of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Left to right–Marijuana Victims Brandon Powell (Oregon), Kiya Kitchen and Faith Tsarnas (California) and Jake Gutierrez (Washington)

In March, Brandon Powell, an 18-year-old, went psychotic after smoking marijuana “dabs ” in Estacada, Oregon.  He left home barefoot in pajama bottoms and went missing until found dead in a river earlier this month.  Also in Estacada last weekend, a man carried a severed head into a convenience store and stabbed a store clerk.  The incident happened after a woman was reported dead in her home.  She was the mother of 36-year-old Joshua Lee Webb who has been connected to the crime.   He allegedly killed his mother first.  Nothing in reports links the killing to marijuana.

West Coast Problem Becoming a National Problem

States that legalize pot promote a substance which can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems.  Most of these hideous, vicious stories occurred on the West Coast of Weed.

It might be easy to pass judgment on people like Marci Kitchen and Bruce Johnson, but what about state policy that normalizes marijuana use?  Kitchen grew pot beside her garage, but she lives in a county where everyone does it.

Marijuana madness is spreading throughout the country.  In Massachusetts, two teens smoked marijuana together before one murdered and decapitated his  classmate.  In Texas,  Davie Dauzat murdered his wife after they had smoked marijuana together last August.  He said it was in a “battle between good and evil.”

Murders under the influence of marijuana often happen because the perpetrators become psychotic and hallucinate.

In Wisconsin recently, a mother murdered her toddler after smoking pot.   In West Virginia, the “Pretty Little Killers” planned and killed a friend under the influence of marijuana.    It is easy to judge and condemn the perpetrators of violent crimes, but what of the culture that promotes marijuana?  What of the culture that tells 14-year-olds it’s ok to get stoned and go skateboarding?

Profit Before People Drives the Legalization Ballots

Marijuana-induced insanity is recognized in every part of the world except North America.  It appears that the United States and Canada prioritize profit over mental health, safety and human life.   Voters pass these ballots even though there is no definitive, reliable test to detect stoned drivers, as there is for drunk drivers.

Legislative analysis for California Proposition 64 was written to emphasize that the state could earn 1 billion dollars annually.

The California government obviously thinks the tax money the state can earn from intoxication and addiction is the highest priority.  The opening statement on the ballot to legalize marijuana used profit as motivating reason to legalize. That’s government motivated by preying on its own people. The press is guilty of the same mentality that emphasizes profits over human costs.

Press Ignored Child Abuse Deaths in Colorado; Will Cover-up Continue?

When marijuana stores opened in Colorado in January 2014,  a toddler died in a fire while his parents smoked pot in another room.  The mother was a medical marijuana cardholder, and the press should have covered the incident.  During the same month another mother  who smoked pot while her two sons died of carbon monoxide poisoning went on trial.  These stories were in the local Press, but did not make national news.

According to NBC News, the driver who rammed into crowds in Times Square yesterday admitted to smoking marijuana before driving.  He killed an 18-year-old girl and injured 22 others.  Condolences to the heart-broken family of Alyssa Elsman.  Other news services reported “he smoked something” or  “mind-altering drug” or “synthetic marijuana.”  Are they covering up behalf of the pot industry?   Like the New York Times, do they want to legalize marijuana and try to downplay the bad news about pot?

In Oregon last fall, a driver smoked pot, went psychotic and deliberately killed a construction worker.  

When stoners argue in favor of legalization, they use the deaths caused by alcohol to promote their cause.  The truth is that neither drunk driving nor stoned driving should be tolerated.  But marijuana has more of a propensity to cause madness and psychosis.  National policy which refuses to warn the public, along with states that promote a dangerous drug industry,  share the blame for deaths.

No state successfully regulates to keep potent marijuana extracts — as used by Brandon Powell — away from teens.  Those who value  profit and tax money over people claim legalization is  successful.    Sadly, profit over human life is becoming the American way.

Miley Cyrus-Woody Harrelson-Quit-Marijuana

Miley Cyrus quits pot, other celebrities renounce marijuana

Miley Cyrus is Latest Celebrity to Renounce Marijuana

About a week ago,  24-year-old Miley Cyrus announced that she hasn’t smoked marijuana for three weeks  The star stated that, “I like to surround myself with people that make me want to get better, more evolved, and open. And I was noticing, it’s not the people that are stoned.”

Cyrus began her career at a young age when she landed the role for Hannah Montana in 2004. Two years later she launched her singing career with the release of the Hannah Montana soundtrack which featured her father, Billy Ray Cyrus.  In 2012 in an attempt to distance herself from the Disney persona she decided to chop off her hair, thus creating the Miley with whom we are all now very familiar.  Some of her most “famous” antics were when she twerked on stage with Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV awards, and also when she pulled out a marijuana cigarette on stage European Video Music Awards.  There were several weed references when she hosted the awards in 2015.

Recently the star is approaching life with a new attitude. Miley insists that the decision to stop smoking pot was entirely her call and also shared that, “I’m completely clean right now!” She is now excited to focus on some new music.  She also began talking to her ex-fiancé again, Liam Hemsworth, as well as working as well as working on her relationship with him. It’s rather amazing to see the change in a person after they stop using drugs.

Miley Cyrus-Marijuana

Woody Harrelson Says Pot Kept Him from being Emotionally Available

Another celebrity who recently renounced their love for marijuana is long-time activist Woody Harrleson, who held a position on the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).  After 30 years of partying and smoking marijuana he said, “The drug kept me from being emotionally available.” In 2016 the actor submitted an application to start open a medical marijuana dispensary on his island home of Hawaii. His request was denied in May and this might have been around the same time as he started to quit smoking pot. As of March 21st of this year Harrelson told the media that he had been clean from marijuana for the past year and he intends to stay clean in order fto live the life he wants.

Celebrities who quit smoking for their kids

Clifford Smith, also known by his stage name Method Man, is a famous rapper who is known for his role in marijuana advocacy. His role in the movie, How High, and lyrics in the song, Tical, are a few examples of how the celebrity promotes marijuana use to his audiences. Although Smith has not completely sworn off marijuana, he has definitely backed off the forefront of advocacy. In an interview he mentions that raising his kids is more important than being high all the time. And it has come as a major shock to fans and people who have seen and heard his work. Method Man is part of the rap group, “The Wu-Tang Clan” which consists of 10 different artists, two of them being nick named RZA and GZA. These two members decided to stop smoking before Method Man; their decision to quit may have rubbed off on their friends!

Mark Wahlberg’s Secret Unveiled in Surprising Way

Boston native, Mark Wahlberg, also recently quit using marijuana because of a conversation he had with his daughter. He said, “One day we were driving and you could smell it from somewhere. My daughter asked what the smell was so I told her it was a skunk. Then she said, ‘Sometimes Daddy smells like that!’ to me and my wife. So I knew I had to quit.”

These are just a few celebrities who have quit using marijuana. For a longer list, please click here.

Child Endangerment-Babysitter-Marijuana

In Days of Legalization, Pot-Impaired Babysitters Concern Parents

Impaired babysitters are a new problem, as the laws across the country continue to advance the cause of marijuana legalization.    About half the Americans now want to legalize the drug, because the marijuana lobbyists have invented the idea it is safer than alcohol.  Their propaganda comes with a cost in terms of driving deaths and child deaths from abuse or neglect.

Impaired babysitters

One such instance happened in Palm Bay, Florida when babysitter Jacqueline Bjorndal used marijuana, alcohol, and meth at a party the night before she was supposed to watch a little girl. The following day she showed up to work and was instructed to not let the child go near the pool because she could not swim.

During the course of the day the child asked if she could go outside near the pool to pet the family pig to which Bjorndal said she could.

Minutes went by and there was no sign of the child anywhere so Jacqueline called her roommate over and they continued searching for another 20 minutes or so. Eventually, the roommate looked in the bottom of the dirty pool and saw the outline of the child.

Police reports say that there was a bunch of debris and hoses loosely scattered around the pool. The babysitter has been charged with Aggravated Manslaughter by Neglect of a Child.  In the state of Florida if you are convicted of that charge you are likely to expect a: Minimum-mandatory 16 ¾ years in prison, you can receive up to Life in prison, Up to Life on probation & Up to $10,000 in fines.

Another babysitter Went Out to Smoke Pot

There was a case in San Diego where a teen-aged girl was hired to babysit a 16-month-old old toddler. While at the house, the baby was playing inside with his slightly over sister.  The girl got a call from her aunt, stepped outside, and the two females smoked pot out in the car. The baby come out of the house and walked into the behind the car as the visitor’s car pulled away. The baby was killed.   However, two California juries acquitted the babysitter.  The sitter’s first error in judgement was thinking that she could leave the toddler out of her sight.  We don’t know how much time she spent in the car, but smoking marijuana distorts time.

Both these horrendous deaths occurred because young people have been told marijuana is harmless.

Babysitter Ate Pot Cookies by Mistake

In another case in Palm Beach, Florida, the roles got reversed. The mother of the house had gone out and hired a babysitter for the evening and at some point she went into the refrigerator and ate one of the homemade cookies that were in there.

The cookies, unfortunately, had been laced with marijuana which caused the victim to start hallucinating.

The police report stated she felt like she was going to die and kept thinking that she had a brain tumor. The babysitter was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Police spoke to the mother and she said, of course, “that she had never seen the cookies before.” But, when police talked to the children they were aware to not eat the homemade ones but to only eat the store brand ones.

This is not just negligent because the babysitter got sick, it is also because the container was within the children’s reach. This was noted in the police report and relayed to the Department of Children and Families.  Hopefully somebody will follow up with the case.

Trusted Sitter Believed in “Harmless Herb” Message in Missouri

Another instance occurred in St. Louis Missouri after a 10-month child was found with a fractured skull after the child care provider had left for the day. Katie Hartwig, 31, was arrested after the girl’s mother found her, “sleeping face down on a couch.”

Hartwig was no stranger to the family as she had been taking care of the baby for most of the past year. The family thought this was completely out of character for her.

“Our sweet baby Quinn was abused by her babysitter who was also our family friend.  We are all so devastated and still in shock.  Her skull was shattered by a person we cared for and trusted.  She has a long recovery and between  medical bill and time off work we would be so grateful for any help.”

Katie was arrested and charged with first-degree felony child abuse and misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The “reason” Katie gives for injuring the child is because she wouldn’t stop crying.

These are just a few examples of completely irresponsible behavior that cannot go on while raising or taking care of a child.  Marijuana should not be around at all in a household especially when others can mistakenly gain access to it.

Child Abuse Deaths Have Been Caused by Babysitters who Toked

 

Child death-Marijuana

As of January 1, 2017 Parents Opposed to Pot traced 80 deaths to child abuse and neglect by parents or caregivers under the influence of marijuana.  In three cases, the babysitters stopped paying attention when the children who died.  In Florida, babysitters were the responsible party in two of the deaths by drowning.   In California, a sitter left the toddler and went outside to smoke pot in the car of a visitor.  But the 16-month-old boy wandered outside and was hit by the car when the visitor back out and left.

Many of the marijuana-related deaths, about 15% of them, occurred because of the mothers’ irresponsible or abusive boyfriends.  It’s not clear how many of these were boyfriends who had been babysitters.  However, we are creating a sad society in which a mother puts her precious baby in the care of irresponsible drug users.  These deaths point to another reason we should caution people not to date marijuana users.

Children testing positive for THC

Recently in Nebraska a babysitter has been investigated after a child in her care tested positive for THC. The girl was taken to the emergency room where doctors determined that the 2-year-old was suffering from exposure to the psychoactive ingredient.

After the police investigated more into the matter it was discovered that the day care provider had baked marijuana brownies and used the same pan to make some cookies for the kids to eat throughout the day.

The babysitter was ticketed for suspicion of child abuse and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order to close the daycare.

Whom do you trust?

When it comes to your family, you always want the best for them and that means choosing the right person to watch them when you are not around.  We need to trust that teachers, babysitters and bus drivers would not put our kids in harm’s way.

Children’s minds are molded by what they experience in the household and if this type of behavior is displayed in front of them at an early age, they will begin to accept its normality.

While it is considered the norm to hire a neighbor or good friend you have known for awhile it is always important to really know a good amount about the person before letting them take care of somebody you love.

Today’s teens do not realize the consequences of smoking and then being around small children or infants.  Many parents also don’t realize the problem.

The notion that marijuana is considered harmless has caused a number of tragedies and it leads babysitters (and other professionals) to believe that they are not impaired.

Legal Marijuana Imperils Traffic Safety, Adds Mental Health Burden

By Dean Whitlock, a freelance writer from Thetford, Vermont, writes about safety as it relates to marijuana.  The article appeared in Vermont Digger on May 2, 2017.

The discussions of H.170, which would legalize possession and home-growing of small quantities of marijuana, have focused a lot on the danger to teenagers, which is appropriate since adolescents are in a stage of neural development that makes them much more likely to become addicted, develop mental health conditions, and suffer decreases in cognitive processing and memory retention. The problem with this focus is that people over 21, particularly up to the age of 25 or 26, are still susceptible to all of these effects, just at a lower level of risk.

That point aside, the area where every age runs the same risk is on the highway. Again, teens and young adults are more at risk because they tend to take more risks in the first place. They are also less experienced with driving and with the use of alcohol and drugs. But adults do make the same stupid mistake of driving under the influence.

According to the best data we have available, drinking alcohol before driving increases the risk of accident five-fold at the still-legal .08 blood level. Driving under the influence of marijuana doubles your risk. That being the case, we would expect to find considerably more people dying on the roads because of alcohol then because of marijuana. The data on traffic accident fatalities that we have from the Vermont Department of Safety tell a somewhat different story:

This data is based on blood tests that measure active THC, so we can be reasonably sure that the drivers had used marijuana recently enough to still be DUI.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Imperils Safety

Note the small difference between the number of deaths due to alcohol and the number due to marijuana. The most likely reason for this is that many marijuana users think it’s OK to drive after using. For teenagers, we have clear evidence for that from our Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Here’s the 2015 data:

Reports from both Colorado and Washington indicate that the same must be happening there. While accidents and fatalities involving drunk drivers went down in recent years, the numbers involving marijuana went up.

Why is this happening? Because we are not teaching people – young or old – that marijuana impairs your ability to drive. At a well-attended forum on marijuana effects held in Burlington last month, one attendee stood up and insisted that marijuana helps people drive more carefully, and this message pervades the popular websites that cater to people interested in learning more about marijuana from sources “untainted” by officials like police officers and scientists.

It’s important to note that the traffic fatality data shown above only includes deaths in accidents. It does not include the five Harwood teenagers killed on I-89 last October. The driver of the car that hit theirs, Steve Bourgoin (36, hardly a teen), has been charged with second-degree murder, so their deaths are not considered to be due to a traffic accident.

Addiction is Not a Crime

Addiction is not a crime, it is a mental health issue, and the behavior of users who suffer acute or chronic psychotic episodes goes far beyond the usual definition of addiction.

When Bourgoin’s blood toxicology report was completed, authorities withheld the contents pending trial; however, Vermont investigative reporter Mike Donoghue, writing for Vermont News First, quoted several sources in saying that there was active THC in Bourgoin’s blood at the time of the accident. Since then, Vermont Rep. Ben Joseph, D-Grand Isle-Chittenden, a retired judge, has reported being told the same thing by contacts of his in the state legal apparatus.

As reported on VTDigger, Bourgoin told friends that he suffered from anxiety and PTSD due to childhood trauma, and his former girlfriend told detectives that he self-treated with marijuana for “mood spells.” Court documents quote her saying, “It was always very evident when he was out [of marijuana], as he would be more angry and violent during those times.”

Anger is one of marijuana’s withdrawal symptoms, and it is a more addictive drug than most people think. A review of several studies of treatment methods for marijuana addiction found that one-year abstinence rates for adults, even under the most effective treatments, ranged only from 19 to 29 percent.

In a 20-year study involving more than 2000 U.S. war veterans being treated for PTSD, the vets who used medical marijuana along with the standard therapy reported more violent behaviors and worse outcomes after treatment than vets who didn’t use marijuana. The heaviest users showed the strongest effects. Another study found that marijuana use resulted in increased suicidal ideation among marijuana users.

Marijuana and Mental Health Problems

There are other correlations between marijuana and serious mental health problems. Since 2002, a series of studies in Europe have reported that individuals who use cannabis have a greater risk of developing psychotic symptoms. Not only does marijuana bring on symptoms earlier and make them worse, it is a causative factor.

A Finnish study published this past November compared sets of twins where one used marijuana heavily and the other did not. Heavy use increased the risk of developing psychosis by a factor of 3.5. Again, the data indicated that, in many cases, marijuana abuse caused the psychosis, not the other way around. The newly released report on marijuana from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences agrees with these findings.

Addiction is not a crime, it is a mental health issue, and the behavior of users who suffer acute or chronic psychotic episodes goes far beyond the usual definition of addiction. These sufferers needs effective treatment far more than jail time. And these new research findings, combined with Vermont’s recent traffic fatality data, highlight the fact that marijuana is not harmless. Legalizing recreational marijuana in Vermont would not be a simple matter.

Vermont has already decriminalized marijuana use. What we haven’t done is provide a mental health system that can deal with the thousands of cases of addiction, psychosis, and other mental illnesses that we already have in our state, nor have we done nearly enough to educate Vermonters about marijuana’s harms, in order to prevent tragedies from happening.

Legalizing marijuana – whether like alcohol or tobacco – will only make our mental health burden worse, while it makes our highways far less safe.

A former supporter of legalization, Whitlock is now opposed. He is a member of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM-VT)