Family Disease of Addiction Unleashed by State Legalization
When a state legalizes drugs, it changes the culture dramatically and does incredible damage to the family system. Take the case of Ralph who believes he lost three nephews because of marijuana, and has completely lost touch with his sister, perhaps because of marijuana abuse by both her husband and daughter.
Ralph is 75 years old and moved out of the state of California once medical marijuana became legal. He witnessed crime skyrocketing, and pervasive drug use that he didn’t want his wife and children exposed to. “I didn’t want to live in a prison with bars on my windows.” He describes whole houses being robbed when people were away. He saw motorcycle gang members doing drug pickups in his residential neighborhood and noticed people became afraid to walk outdoors in the once safe community.
The Curse of Marijuana on the Family System
The stories he tells of his nephews are chilling. His first brother Steven’s 15 year old son Tom was murdered, along with his 15 year old cousin Sarah in cold blood by a Mexican-American Vietnam Veteran. The two children were out bicycle riding in an orchard. The stranger killed them and stole their bicycles. He was a psychotic killer and later found to be responsible for the murders of at least 5 children. News reports describe him as a brutal rapist who had anger issues. Ralph is convinced he was a marijuana user which caused his mental health problems.
Steven’s other son, Samuel, started smoking marijuana in grade school and kept it up all through his teen years. His habit caught up with him when he lost a job as a welder after failing a drug test. Unemployed, he lost his home and his boat. Samuel drank himself to death in his early 40’s.
Employers won’t hire a marijuana user, because insurance companies won’t cover them – the risk is too great of an on the job accident. One of Ralph’s sons works for a large company in California as a manager and has a hard time finding prospective employees because few can pass the drug test.
His other brother, Craig had a son, Frank, who was 20 years old when his wife got him involved in marijuana. He began doing crimes, Ralph thinks, because of the influence of the drug. Frank involved his children in his crimes, hoisting his children through the windows of homes so they could open the door and he could break in to steal to support his drug habit. He even robbed a bank. He was put in prison and became a hardened criminal. Every time he was released from prison, he would do a crime because he wanted to go back. Frank called prison, “the only home I got.” Finally, he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. He died there at age 42.
Tragically, Frank’s son was also into drugs, starting with marijuana and ended up doing both cocaine and heroin. Ralph says his relatives told him the drugs “fried his brain.” Tired of living the way he was living, Frank’s son died ‘playing chicken’ with a diesel truck. He hit the truck head on going 60 miles per hour. Ralph believes he intended to commit suicide and that he was probably under the influence of the drug at the time.
As to Ralph’s sister, she married a heavy pot smoker. Their daughter is a heavy marijuana user. His sister has moved out of California and refuses to talk to her family. “She is just not herself anymore,” explains Ralph.
Thankfully, Ralph’s children were spared the fate of their cousins, perhaps because Ralph moved out of California to protect them from the drug culture. Sadly, both of his brothers lost their only children to early death. Ralph lays the blame on the permissive drug culture in California.
Note: The names of the persons in this story were changed to protect their identities.
Governor Now Has Opportunity to Speak up for Youth Brain Health
A group of six parents who spoke at a Moms Strong rally in Sacramento highlighted the egregious ways marijuana harms young brains. Their exposés shed light on how costly it has been to freely give out medical marijuana to 18-year-olds whose brains are still under development. The state legislature had a chance but failed to raise the age for smoking and ingesting medical marijuana to 21. Gov. Jerry Brown now has the opportunity to speak out once again against marijuana legalization, citing a need for taking brain health seriously.
Smoking cigarettes takes off from the end of life while using marijuana increases the risk of mental impairment in early life and increases the risk for suicide by 7x. A poster at the rally showed photos of seven people who died from suicide following psychotic breaks after ingesting or smoking marijuana.
NAMI and Science Provide the Facts
National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) states that marijuana is the substance of abuse recognized for a relationship to schizophrenia. NAMI’s webpage for schizophrenia states: “A growing body of evidence indicates that smoking marijuana increases the risk of psychotic incidents and the risk of ongoing psychotic experiences. The younger and more frequent the use, the greater the risk. Another study has found that smoking marijuana led to earlier onset of schizophrenia and often preceded the manifestation of the illness.”
California does not track medical marijuana users for psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, suicide or other negative mental health outcomes. In fact, the United States and individual states do not have tracking systems for psychosis and schizophrenia.
Canada and the American Society of Addiction Medicine insist that the age limit for “medical” marijuana should be 25 or over, after the brain has fully developed. The State legislature should consider health in early adulthood–when one is completing their education and getting that very first job — as important as end-of-life issues.
Tobacco Cigarettes Versus Marijuana Smoke or Edibles
When California raised the age for buying cigarettes to age 21, Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana (CALM) vigorously lobbied the state legislature and the governor to include “medical” marijuana (excluding CBD for seizures or for terminal cancer). It would have been logical to include another smoked product.
When the state banned vape pens and e-cigarettes for those under 21, it excluded medical marijuana. “If California gets a national reputation as being a little bit kooky, sometimes we have only ourselves to blame,” read an article in LA Weekly explaining the new law. It means there is no limit on teenagers vaping marijuana, including concentrated pot products like hash oil, wax and dabs.
Our lungs develop until age 18. When the age limit for buying tobacco products was set at 18, medical research had shown that lung damage could be mitigated by waiting until the lungs had fully developed before starting to smoke.
Our brains continue to develop until age 25, perhaps until age 28 or 29 for males. Therefore, a person who begins smoking or ingesting marijuana after age 25 experiences less brain damage and fewer negative consequences than those who begin below age 25. (While tobacco smoke has its greater influence on the health of our lungs, the THC of marijuana has the more influence on our brains than any other organ.)
Tom Steyer is Silent
Billionaire political donor Tom Steyer is currently running a TV advertisement in favor of raising the tax on cigarettes by $2, but remains silent about the environmental damage of marijuana and Proposition 64. Considering that he is an environmental activist and cares about lungs, his silence is on Proposition 64 is perplexing. It is completely fine to be against BIG TOBACCO, but it is not progressive enough to be against BIG MARIJUANA. The Dark Money behind Proposition 64 comes from George Soros, and from Silicon Valley billionaires. People give BIG MARIJUANA a pass because this greedy industry is promoting itself as quite glamorous.
Here’s news for Mr. Steyer and others: Big tobacco is investing in marijuana. However, Joe Camel is no longer cool or popular but marijuana is hyped as the next big investment.
When California allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana, there are no specifications for dosages. There’s no record-keeping. It can be given over the phone without even seeing the doctor, with a minimal fee.
CALM and Moms Strong, a coalition of drug prevention activists and those who have lost family members to marijuana abuse, demonstrated in front of the capitol on October 4, 2016. In a rousing series of speeches which ended when legislature member Jim Cooper arrived at 1:30, the activists told how their lives had been influenced and changed by marijuana. Jim Cooper is the Assistant Majority Leader in the state legislature and his district includes Sacramento. Maybe he can spread his knowledge to other legislature members.
Some people say California has already legalized marijuana and Proposition 64 gives it a chance to be regulated. Pandora’s box has been opened. We can and will put it back, by following federal law and adhering to international treaties.
On September 14, two women were arrested for holding four men captive to work on a marijuana plantation near West Point in Calaveras County. The men had escaped violence in Mexico, only to be forced at gun point to work on a marijuana plantation. When discovered in late July, a chain of events began and several law enforcement agencies eradicated 23,245 marijuana plants on private and public lands. The Federal Bureau of Land Management led the way.
Calaveras County had a devastating fire that burned 71,000 acres and destroyed 860 houses and other buildings. In seeking economic salvation, the County commissioners voted 4 to 1 to sell licenses for cultivating “medical marijuana”. They ultimately sold 200 permits for an annual fee of $5,000, bringing in $1 million in revenues. By imposing a $2 per square foot annual levy on outdoor commercial grows, and $5 per square foot on indoor grows, the County hopes to bring in $4 million in new tax revenue.
The licenses allow up to 99 plants. If you do the math, at 1 to 5 lbs per plant in outdoor cultivation, that equates to 118,000 to almost 600,000 joints. Some indoor grows in Oregon are getting in excess of 10 lbs per plant, with plants the size of orange trees. All of this is being grown under the guise of medicine in a “medical marijuana” market that has long since been saturated.
A year ago, a 72-year-old woman was arrested for shooting and killing her son because “he was going to rape her.” They lived together on a marijuana farm in West Point, Calaveras County. Also in 2015, three people were shot and killed trying to steal marijuana from a local pot farm. Ironically, the Sheriff and California Highway Patrol are ramping up to provide better protection for the growers during harvest season, including extensive use of a helicopter. In contrast, it is almost impossible to get anyone to enforce state or federal laws to protect the public from the drug.
Human trafficking is all over California’s marijuana trade. In San Francisco, Asian gangs bring in young, underage laborers living in crowded grow houses surrounded by the stench.
In Lake County, two marijuana growers used a 15-year old girl for labor and sex, chaining her ankle to a box to keep her from escaping. The men are expected to plead guilty for “illegally growing marijuana and using a minor in a drug operation,” while the sexual and human trafficking charges are dismissed. Are these the people the ACLU claims are non-violent drug offenders while trying to get them out of jail?
Cosmopolitan Magazine and Reveal recently published exposés of the secretive sexual exploitation that is woven into very profitable marijuana industry of the Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino Counties).
Economic Salvation is Really the Downfall
Calaveras isn’t unique in turning to pot to solve their economic problems. Examples include Desert Hot Springs who is planning on 3 million square feet of indoor cultivation; Adelanto, a desert town in Southern California with no other obvious forms of salvation; and Coalinga, a little town in the San Joaquin valley converting a prison to a pot farm. All these towns are oblivious the harmful impacts of marijuana on humans, or the fact that social costs will exceed income by 10 times, or that they have violated federal law and their most fundamental responsibility, to protect the people.
Drug legalizers say the War on Drugs has failed, and that legalization is the answer. For sure, greed and money in politics gets in the way. It’s a war that can never be won entirely, but surrender isn’t an option. From 1978 to 1992, marijuana and other drug use by youth was cut in half. Because of today’s greed and the influence of money on our politicians, marijuana use has gone from 7 to 13% over the past 8 years, and 129 Americans dying of drug overdose every day.
Marijuana and other drugs inflict more death, social destruction and economic cost on this nation than all events in modern history. If we care about our youth, public health, safety and our natural resources, it is time to demand of our leaders at all levels that they focus once again on serving the people and fulfilling their oath of office. That includes Calaveras County. Vote No on Prop 64.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ….
ROGER MORGAN Chairman/Founder, Take Back America Campaign,
20 year anti-drug activist dealing with drug prevention at the local, state and national level. (www.tbac.us). Formerly Chairman and Executive Director of the Coalition for A Drug-Free California. Owner/CEO of Steelheart International LLC, engaged in international business development and has been an entrepreneur and businessman in California for 35 years. He was Founding Chairman of the Coronado SAFE Foundation in 1997, a non-profit dealing with drug prevention; prior Board Member of the San Diego Prevention Coalition; member of the National Coalition for Student Drug Testing; and Special Advisor to the Golden Rule Society in Coronado.