There’s no doubt that parents are the most powerful force in protecting and preparing children for the future. But these days, that job has become exponentially more confusing with the legalization of marijuana in many states and the subsequent arrival of a much more allusive, potent and dangerous variety that’s already flooding across state boarders. One thing has become clear: there’s no such thing as a harmless habit.
Marijuana is no stranger to most parents, but many are unaware of the way it’s being ingested these days and that it has 5x more THC than it did in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Recent studies have concluded that it can even cause a permanent lowering of I.Q. for adolescents, along with a host of other problems which decrease the chances of having and enjoying a prosperous future.
Ironically, this mounting evidence about pot’s adverse affects on teens comes at a time when public attitudes toward marijuana are relaxing at a phenomenal pace, and public information is being consistently and deceptively spun and politicized.
This misinformation, coupled with the difficulty in spotting or identifying pot in its new and dizzying array of forms are inspiring many concerned parents to broaden their perspective and learn more about educating their kids on the dangers, all while looking for tools to identify a problem that could be hiding in plain sight.
After all, today’s pot is being disguised in edibles like brownies, cookies and candies, along with vape pipes and a litany of other clandestine forms. And to make it worse, most are completely invisible to the eye and odorless.
Fortunately, the scientists at S2 Threat Technologies, a company outside of Denver, Colorado has just come out with a revolutionary new way to address the problem by going directly to the source. Unlike urinalysis tests which can be invasive and put an unnecessary strain on the parent-child trust bond – ata time when crucial – this test is discreet and can be performed without being noticed.
It can detect the presence of pot on or in just about anything in less than twenty seconds. One quick swab on the suspect material, compare it to a color card and the results are there. It’s the only test of its kind and it’s pretty ground-breaking stuff.
MTK Cannabis Test Kit
The test is being sold under S2 Threat Detection’s new offshoot: Parents & Pot. It’s the same test being used by law enforcement, the TSA and over 600 international airports, and it’s just become available to the consumer market.
Parents & Pot’s ambitious next focus will be to get their kits into every school across the country. “In the years to come,” says Michael Callahan, President of S2 Threat Detection’s Parents and Pot “these kits could be as important as EpiPens in protecting our kids.” A sobering commentary from a group of scientists at the forefront of threat and abuse detection.
But as great as these tests are, if you’re curious or concerned that your teen could be using pot, it’s probably best to first put your energy into creating a healthy relationship and encouraging non-judgmental conversations that allow your teen to be honest with you. If that doesn’t dispel concerns, you now have the option of discreetly testing any suspicious items like those candies, baked items, waxes or vape pipes.
It’s truly a novel way to get to the root of a modern-day problem without causing unnecessary friction within the household. And a great new way to arm parents who are at the front lines, fighting the good fight.
Marijuana use confessed by driver in Times Square incident
A man in Times Square drove his car for three blocks on the sidewalk killing one young adult and injuring 22 others. The driver was Richard Rojas, a Navy veteran who lived in the Bronx. Rojas confessed to smoking marijuana laced with PCP just prior to the incident.
When he was arrested there was suspicion of either DUI or DWI given his arrest history which is rather extensive. He was arrested just over a week ago for a menacing charge as well as criminal possession of a weapon which consisted of him pulling a holding a knife to the throat of a 45 year old man on May 11.
He was also arrested on 4/23/15 for DWI to which he pleaded guilty to “Operating Motor Vehicle While Impaired by Alcohol.” In 2012 he was arrested for suspicion of battery after he attacked a cab driver, refusing to pay the $44 fare. Rojas was also arrested 8/26/08 for another DWI in Queens.
In 2014 he was, “Other than honorably discharged” from the navy due to his actions.After the crash yesterday he was taken to check for drugs and alcohol in his system and it was reported that PCP, K2 (synthetic marijuana), and marijuana were all found in his system.
Out of the 22 people who were injured, four of those were labeled as “critical” one of those being the deceased’s younger sister. Rojas has been charged with murder, 20 additional counts of attempted murder, along with aggravated vehicular homicide. See CNN article, New York Times Square Driver Charged.
The subject then allegedly drove off before being apprehended outside the Tuscany Casino. She left her child in the car, approached a valet and told him, ‘she ran over some individuals on Las Vegas Boulevard’.” She is accused of killing one person, 32 year old Jessica Valenzuela, and injuring an additional 37 people.
She picked up 71 different charges, most of them being for attempted murder and battery with a deadly weapon. After a toxicology report was performed, it was determined that marijuana was in her system but prosecutors said it was unlikely that she would be charged with driving under the influence.
According to Prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo, “The amount of marijuana and marijuana metabolite does not appear to be enough to affect her mental state at the time of the crime, she intentionally drove into the crowd.” The 3.5 nanogram per milliliter of marijuana in her blood were above the 2-nanogram limit in Nevada and the 23.6 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolites in her system were above the 5-nanogram state limit.
Needless to say it is rather clear that this woman was seriously impaired and she should not have been driving. During an examination after her arrest it was also reported that, “she appeared to be under the influence of a stimulant.”
Driving stoned is never a good idea as these two stories suggest. It does not matter if you think you are able to drive, the drugs can always have a weird effect on your impulse control and decision making.
Neither of the two drivers were injured in the crashes which just reinforces that regardless of whether you are behind the wheel or not you should always be careful when you are out and about. Marijuana should not be used at all, especially now that we are seeing that its use can cause death. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.
Marijuana Drivers Deliberately Aim to Kill?
Above are just a couple of examples that have happened recently.
Another eerily similar incident in Oregon is featured in a recent blog on Poppot.org. A man in Salem Oregon smoked pot and then deliberately mowed down a man in his car, killing him. See the Poppot.org article, Legalization Prioritizes Profits Over Human Life.
Here is a story on Momsstrong.org which describes a marijuana impaired driver deliberately trying to run over a squirrel. Instead, he lost control of the car and killed his best friend. Read The Deadly Consequences of Marijuana Use.
George Michael and Carrie Fisher’s Deaths Have Marijuana in Common
Two recent untimely marijuana related celebrity deaths are a wake-up call about drug use. Both Carrie Fisher and George Michael were addicted to drugs, and both appear to have a problem with marijuana, in particular. Current scientific research is showing that marijuana is hazardous to the heart, and both of these famous people died of cardiac arrest.
The Carrie Fisher story began when her actress mother encouraged her to smoke pot at age 13. Carrie was an avid smoker for 6 years before moving on to cocaine and LSD. She ended up with full blown mental illness. Carrie suffered from bi-polar disorder, which is characterized by wild swings from mania to depression. The actress suspected her father was bi-polar as well. She may have inherited his predisposition for the disorder. Yet heavy marijuana use, and use at young ages, increases the likelihood of triggering the disorder.
It is believed that Carrie Fisher was clean from drugs long before she died. However, having used marijuana, followed by lots of cocaine, would have done considerable damage to anyone’s heart.
From the Washington Post article about her death, we read: “I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital,” Fisher said to Sawyer. “I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple — just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully. And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive.”
Marijuana and Bipolar Disorder
According to Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana does cause chemical imbalances, it overrides our naturally created feel good chemicals and suppress the body’s ability to produce them. A Psychiatry Journal study, Cannabis-Induced Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features, says clinicians agree that cannabis use can cause acute adverse mental effects that mimic psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Lori Robinson, founder of MomsStrong.org, wants America to Wake Up to the Looming Health Crisis. Robinson and her husband, lost their oldest son to “marijuana withdrawal suicide.” She works in the health field and is concerned that doctors are not making the connection between mental health problems and drug use. Neither are our parents and teenagers aware that marijuana use can lead to serious problems with brain health. However, a press conference warned about the risk more than 10 years ago. Unfortunately, the Press did not adequately report it.
George Michael struggled for years to overcome his addiction to marijuana. Just a year before his death, he went to one of the finest rehab centers in Europe. All to no avail.
What we know from press reports about pop singer George Michael is that he was smoking up to 25 joints daily before he checked himself into rehab. He had several brushes with the law while under the influence. At one point he was forbidden to drive a car for 5 years. And yet, he declared that marijuana was not “getting in the way of my life in any way.” This is what is called ‘denial’ which is a common trait among drug users.
News reports of George Michael’s death say that in the end, he was struggling with addiction to heroin, and crack cocaine. Once again, the gateway theory that marijuana addiction leads to other drugs is confirmed in his tragic case.
It would be easy to write off these few bipolar celebrities as aberrations, but there is another singer, this one Irish, whose 30 year marijuana habit was widely reported. In this blog on a treatment center website it mentions at least one doctor gave her a bipolar diagnosis.
Marijuana and Heart Attacks
Check out the DrugAbuse.gov website, see the article on Marijuana. Here is the reference to heart attack, which both George Michael and Carrie Fisher died from:
“Increased heart rate. Marijuana raises heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking. This effect may increase the chance of heart attack. Older people and those with heart problems may be at higher risk.”
Another celebrity, Whitney Houston died at age 48 of heart disease and drowning and was found to have both marijuana and cocaine in her system when she died.
These talented individuals suffered needlessly while they were alive and their talent was lost to the world too soon.
It makes you wonder. Why aren’t we learning from these high profile cautionary tales? Why is marijuana use rising and why are legal strictures loosening? We bemoan the loss of these celebrities but we need to look deeper as to why they have departed so young.
Some Things to Consider if Your State Just Legalized Marijuana Like California Did
What is legal today in California
• Adults can grow 6 pot plants in their home or apartment – this is a huge new unregulated (black market) supply of marijuana. It will service those under 21. Growing pot smells poorly. That skunky-garlicky smell is probably no longer a skunk.
• Pot can be advertised in all media – pay attention to internet advertising on sites and apps your kids use.
• Pot can be promoted using any method – merchandise/swag giveaways, free subscriptions. Keep an eye out for these offerings and giveaways. Notify Program Directors of any sport or other kid activity if you see marijuana vendors or increasing marijuana imagery at events.
• Mobile delivery must be allowed on our streets – current medical marijuana licensees are legally allowed to deliver to homes; it will be impossible to know if these licensees will restrict delivery to medical sales while they upgrade their license to include recreational use.
• Smoking pot/consuming THC in your home – marijuana-infused foods are common in Colorado, both commercial and home-made versions are available. They are easy to make at home yet difficult to monitor potency. They are very bad for kids and developing brains (0-25) and are responsible for huge increases in poisonings and hospital visits.
• Giving away pot to friends and potential friends – there will be more pot used in our communities. All Legalization results in increases in marijuana use across all age groups – 12-17, 18-25, 26+
What is not legal in California:
• Smoking in public – is not allowed however only carries a $100 fine. Few may be deterred by this low penalty, but you can legally ask for it to stop or be stopped.
• Driving under the influence of marijuana – however the incidences of this will go up as they have in all other rec-legal states. Be careful.
• Selling pot for recreational use to friends or customers without a specific recreational sales license – for which it will take approximately a year to set up procedures.
The mind-set to adopt is “more people around me may be high”. The first fundamental of marijuana legalization/commercialization is that use of marijuana goes up among all ages…12-17, 18-25 and 26+
That skunky-garlicky smell is probably no longer a skunk and will become more prevalent. Growing and burning marijuana smell similarly.
A parent’s jobs just got exponentially harder:
• Start really watching your kids for signs of marijuana use. The legal age limit of 21 set by Prop 64 is meaningless, because of how much “off-premise” pot will be in our communities. One of California’s Prop 64’s central features is the unlicensed home grows, which became legal November 9th. This is a new black market supply from which many kids will be first exposed to marijuana and where most kids who use pot will get it.
• Start getting over any ambivalence about pot. Stop thinking of pot as being the same as alcohol. Pot is an extremely potent drug today, and the younger kids start they risk a greater chance of addiction, loss of IQ and decline in neuroplasticity. We all need to learn more about potency (% THC) and the neurological impact of marijuana. If you have not smoked pot in 1-2 years, you don’t know anything about it. You cannot rely on your personal experience to direct you in this matter. Potency is the main goal of today’s market. Currently reaching THC levels in the mid-20%, commercial cultivators are shooting for the mid-30% and expect to achieve it in the next couple of years. 15 years ago, pot rarely contained more than 3% THC. Also, no edibles nor concentrates existed then; today they do and can contain upwards of 90% THC.
• Must begin inquiring about home grows and edibles at any house your children (0-18) will visit without you. 1 in 6, or 17%, of all teens that try marijuana, will become addicted – their’s will be the brains that light-up with the first use of a cannabinoid. So sadly, allowing a child to enter a neighbor or friend’s house is now dangerous business. As uncomfortable and invasive as it might feel, you must determine if they will be exposed to marijuana. Between the potential of growing marijuana plants, possibly without the proper ventilation for greenhouse gases, fertilizers and insecticides housed inside and possible edibles on premise, you cannot risk not knowing. Again, CCC passed Prop 64 by 60.1% – your neighbors will grow and use.
• You may want to consider family pot messaging – it might serve all best to let friends know your marijuana status – are you a “no-pot” family or a “pot-friendly” family. This may start to divide some friendships, but it will keep communities from making serious mistakes with each other and this is the new world California voters want to live in, so best to get on with it.
• Big Marijuana will target kids in the same ways Big Tobacco and Alcohol have in the past. Watch youth events for casual marijuana promotion. Youth sports will be a target. Vans handing out marijuana swag were already seen last summer at a big outdoor Lax tournament for 8-18 year old boys.
• California primary and secondary “Ed Code” says no drugs on campus, but schools will need to develop strategies as they see the use of marijuana increase among students, increase smelliness among students (big problem in Colorado) and/or an increase of edibles on campus. Prop 64 offers nothing to elementary, middle or high schools – no policy, structure or money.
• Eventually, parents will need to demand drug-free education from California colleges and universities. Colorado has failed in this regard. We must find a way or the right partnerships to make this happen, so the investments in our kid’s futures do not become 4 years of being high with negative impact on executive brain function – which is under development at greatest rates 18-25.
Do not assume your city or town will disallow pot shops or other marijuana businesses in your community. Any city that wants to ban marijuana businesses must officially do so within the next year and the sooner the better. If you don’t want pot shops in your downtown, you really have to attend city council meetings when marijuana is on the agenda. Here’s how this works…a) a majority of your neighbors are in favor of commercializing marijuana in our communities.
The county I lived in passed Prop 64 by 60.1%, so many from your town are likely to show-up to these meetings extolling what they see as the value of selling, manufacturing or growing pot commercially right here, and b) the marijuana industry is quite adept at fostering local outcry for marijuana, they will send outsiders to every council meeting with marijuana commercialization on its agenda to speak in favor of it. Hopefully, Councils will require addresses of all speakers, so they know who is speaking from inside and outside the city. And, hopefully councils will factor this information into their decision making. But it’s not guaranteed especially if the pro-pot voice is louder than the anti-pot voice.
Be careful of homemade foods. A marijuana-infused option will start to become more prevalent everywhere – at home parties, farmers markets, events with food trucks, outdoor tournaments, concerts, etc. Again technically it is illegal to sell to people not carrying a medical marijuana card without a recreational license, but pot edibles are very easy to make and many communities and environments will embrace them now.
Seriously, enjoy the last Christmas without an onslaught of pot products being promoted as this year’s hottest gift giving item or best stocking stuffer. There may be some marijuana companies with products available, but given the greater difficulty in selling to non-medical users this year, they are less likely to promote broadly. We will not have another Christmas without a myriad of marijuana gifts. How tragic given how negatively these “gifts” will affect 9-30% of new recipients.
Reprinted with permission from a drug prevention activist in California.