Tag Archives: Vermont

Horrible child abuse death in Texas highlights links to marijuana

A Texas man fatally stabbed his 16-month-old son, yelling “Jesus is coming,” in Lewisville, outside of Dallas, on August 19. Authorities say 27-year-old Blair Ness is charged in the death of his toddler son Ashton Ness.

Photo from Dallas News, Ashley Landis, Staff Photographer

Police say they found “fresh burnt marijuana as well as a haze of smoke in the apartment,” and blood in multiple areas of the apartment.  Ness started his attack inside and then continued outside in a courtyard.  A neighbor shot the father in his leg to stop the killing.

The man told police, “I know everyone’s mad, I’m mad. I killed my son.”   A caller to 911  expresses the disbelief and absurdity of the situation.  We send our condolences to the mother and the family.

Blair Ness, the father accused of stabbing his son, had no previous child abuse incidents or problems with the law

The incident suggests a marijuana-induced psychosis, a problem that figures in about 10% of the child abuse deaths Parents Opposed to Pot has tracked.

In Vermont last year, a father – in the midst of psychosis — jumped four stories with his 6-year-old son.  Anxious and suicidal, Tyler Denning had been smoking marijuana that morning, and claimed that God made him do it.  Fortunately, both father and son survived.

Death Highlights Cannabis’ role in Texas child-abuse death

In March, Texas released its report on child abuse deaths, finding half the 172 child abuse deaths in 2017 coupled with substance abuse.  Marijuana was the most-used substance connected to child abuse and neglect deaths, followed by alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine.  In one terrible case last year, Cynthia Randolph left her 1-year old and 2-year-old in the car while she smoked pot.  Both children died.

According to the report, of the deaths caused by parent or caregiver substance abuse, 56 used marijuana; 23 used alcohol; 16 involved cocaine; 14 were linked to methamphetamine, 2 involved opiates and 1 was connected to heroin.   Many abusers were co-abusing substances, such as combining marijuana and cocaine.

In 2017, Arizona also published a report showing that marijuana was the substance most often linked to child abuse deaths in 2016.

When will the public wake up?

Those who say that marijuana makes people calm misunderstand how cannabis works on their brain.   People who advocate for “responsible” use of marijuana need to cut out the delusion and misrepresentation. Popular magazines such as Oprah, Allure and Cosmopolitan present marijuana use as glamorous or at the cutting edge of our culture.  A California company MedMen, aka The Mad Men of Marijuana, aggressively tries to rebrand the stoner image.

In Atlantic Magazine last week, Annie Lowrey wrote an article  exposing the truth about marijuana addiction.  While the author tells the truth about addiction, she opines that marijuana is relatively benign compared to alcohol and tobacco. She may be basing her belief on old information, when 3 or 4% of the population used weed, vs. 65% using alcohol.  Marijuana is far more toxic to the brain than tobacco.

Meanwhile, our country focuses on opiate addiction, instead of  poly-drug  abuse.

In Pennsylvania, a child died because her mom gave her a drink laced with fentanyl and then smoked marijuana.  Although the fentanyl killed the girl, the mom’s marijuana use is loosely related to the death, although Poppot is not counting it in its total of 115 deaths.

 

Aggravated assault in Vermont Highlights marijuana-psychosis link

Assault, psychosis and marijuana

On Thursday, July 26 a man believed to be high on marijuana was arrested for aggravated assault with a knife, the Rutland Herald reported July 27. Fortunately no one was injured.  Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont issued a press release today, saying “the scene of a screaming, knife-wielding, apparently psychotic man whose lawyer suggested he had been smoking marijuana should give pause to Vermont legislators and other policy leaders who are considering regulated sale of marijuana, .

Although the event happened in Vermont, the 19-year-old perpetrator was from California.  Marijuana does not have to be “laced” with other drugs when acute psychosis occurs.

Once again events are linking marijuana to mental illness and violence in Vermont. The worst such event happened in October 2016, when a suicidal man with high levels of THC (the psycho-active ingredient of marijuana) allegedly drove his vehicle into another car, killing five teenagers, including four Harwood Union High School students.  Like last week’s assailant, the perpetrator of Vermont’s largest mass criminal homicide ever may also have had other drugs in his system. Regardless, the connection between high-potency marijuana, psychosis and violence is strong and must be understood and acknowledged.

Three physicians weigh in on issue

The following statements are from three eminent physicians and researchers on the advisory board of Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont, an organization formed in 2017 to oppose legalization of marijuana:

 ‘I don’t think any serious researcher or psychiatrist would now dispute that cannabis consumption is a component cause of psychosis.’

–          Professor Dr. Robin Murray, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London,  March 24, 2018 Globe & Mail

“I think it’s very similar to asking if tobacco causes cancer. I think there is sufficient evidence to say it causes psychosis.  Remember, we use “evidence- based medicine” in which one does not have to have 100% certainty to act but rather weighs the surety vs. the risks/benefits.   Another way is to ask the “my kid” question – i.e. what would you recommend if it were your kid.  Finally, I cannot help but say to legislators that the weight of the evidence that MJ causes psychosis is several times greater than the weight of evidence for most medical marijuana indications.”

–          Dr. John Hughes, MD, psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont, nationally-recognized expert on addiction, in December, 2017 statement

“The evidence that, for many people, cannabis use plays a causal role in the development of psychotic disorders grows stronger by the month.  At this point, much of the effort to discredit research on the link between cannabis and psychosis comes not from scientific rationales but from political and financial motivations.  It is time to move past false politically-driven debates and put into action efforts to reduce the negative impacts of cannabis on developing brains.”

–          Dr. David Rettew, MD, author, Burlington child psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics

For more information, contact Guy Page, 802-505-0448, Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont

What’s the Marijuana Mania of Today?

The cockpit after man disrupted a flight from Seattle to Beijing. AP Photo

Man on pot edibles disrupts flight to Beijing

The turbo-charged, high-THC marijuana of today brings out lots of marijuana mania. Jimmy Kimmel’s pot jokes at the Oscars fell flat, but Kimmel could try using these stories on his nightly comedy show.  Or maybe they aren’t so funny, just a reflection of how marijuana does a number on the human brain.

Dr. Randall’s Letter Exposes Truth of Pot Legalization

Dr. Karen Randall, an emergency physician of Pueblo, Colorado, sent a letter to the physicians of Vermont.  Their state legislature narrowly passed a bill that would legalize marijuana, but it’s hoped that Governor Phil Scott will veto it.  There was not enough time to read Dr. Randall’s at a Press Conference on May, 18, 2016.  Here’s the contents of that letter:

Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for the opportunity to share some of my experiences as a physician in a region with heavy legal marijuana use.

In 2012, Coloradans voted to pass Colorado Amendment 64 which led to the state-wide legalization of recreational marijuana beginning in January of 2014. Since then, the number of medical and recreational dispensaries in Colorado has grown to more than double the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. While individual counties could and did choose to abstain from allowing recreational marijuana sales, my county, Pueblo, was one of many that embraced Amendment 64 and the projected benefits of recreational legalization, even unofficially rebranding itself the “Napa Valley of Pot”.

A homeless camp along the river in Pueblo, one of many makeshift residences

This led to an influx of people looking to smoke without the risk of legal consequences and to cash in on the burgeoning “pot economy”. Unfortunately, many of these people arrived only to find that the supply of marijuana-related jobs was far outweighed by the demand, and few had backup plans. Since 2014, Pueblo’s homeless population has tripled, and our low-income housing have occupancy rates of 98% or more. We have seen a drastic increase in the number of homeless camps, and social services and outreach programs are buckling under the strain.

Our medical infrastructure is also reaching critical mass. Out of the 160,000 residents of our community, roughly 115,000 are on Medicaid. As a result, we have been losing primary care providers at an alarming and unsustainable rate.  The largest local clinic has been looking to hire 15 new doctors, but has only been able to hire 1 in the past two and a half years. My emergency medical group has been able to fill less than half of our open positions. The average wait time to see a new primary care provider is months with the wait for a specialist even longer, and many primary care physicians in the area are no longer taking new Medicaid patients.

Additionally, the legalization of marijuana has led to normalization of behavior that in my professional opinion is strongly impacting our youth. Despite sales being legally restricted to those ages 21 and over, the Healthy Kids Survey of 2015 shows:  16% of Pueblo High School kids under the age of 13 have tried marijuana, 30% of high school kids had smoked within 30 days of the survey, 64% feel that it would be easy or very easy to get marijuana, and that 6.3 and 6.6% of respondents have used heroin and methamphetamines respectively, compared to 2% for the rest of Colorado. The number of ED visits for cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, accidental

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome is an illness that is sending marijuana users to ER rooms.

pediatric ingestions, accidental adult ingestions and psychosis have sharply risen. There has been an increase in the number of babies testing positive for marijuana at birth (many internet and dispensaries are now recommending marijuana for nausea in pregnancy).

The potency of marijuana has risen tremendously since legalization, which is also a cause for significant concern. Almost all of what we do know about marijuana is based on studies where the marijuana was 1-3 mg of THC. Currently, dabbing provides 80-90 mg of THC; edibles provide 10 mg THC per bite and are frequently packaged in quantities to total 100 mg of THC.  Fortunately, legislation has passed so that edibles must be packaged in safety packages and can no longer be sold as appealing candy gummies, suckers, etc.  Currently, law requires that chocolate be labeled with a stamp and dose quantity but it still looks like a chocolate bar to a child.

Ads and claims to the health benefits of marijuana are rampant on the internet with reported cures for almost every ailment, yet there is very little research, if any to support those “health benefits” and frequently people come to the area with a disease process (for instance, Parkinson’s disease) and purchase marijuana.  Many of those looking for cures are seniors who are not toleratant to the dosage/strength of the current marijuana being marked and they come to the ED with side effects.

suicide-risk
Some people compare medical marijuana sellers to snake oil dealers of the 19th century. Certainly, the “snake bites” from the marijuana industry against those who disagree are brutal.

I deeply appreciate having been given a platform to share my experiences with you today, and I strongly encourage the physicians of Vermont to consider the broader medical, economic, and social ramifications of the legalization of marijuana.

Thank you for your attention,                                                                                 Dr. Karen Randall, FAAEM                                                                          Southern Colorado Emergency Medicine Associates                             Pueblo Colorado

Dr. Randall presented her experiences at a press conference in Pueblo on October 20, 2016.

To watch the Press Conference of May 18, Orca Media presents the proceedings of the entire Press Conference.