I'm Sara's mom. Sara was 18 years old and our only child. She died of a PMA overdose on Mother's Day May 14th 2000. PMA is a drug similar to Ecstasy.

I can't tell you about Sara without telling you a little bit about our family.

My husband Bob is an Electronics Technician at a national laboratory and I'm a part-time receptionist for a local animal hospital. We don't have a huge social life. We enjoy our families and our home. We enjoyed working around the house and garden. Bob even designed and built a beautiful deck behind our home the summer after Sara died. He tried to cope with the death of our daughter by constantly working. I couldn't even get that far. I couldn't even leave the house. I think this is the difference between men and women and how they cope.

I was a stay home mom when Sara was young. When Sara was about a year old we moved into our second home. It was a hundred-year-old house that we wanted to restore. Sara helped with everything. I have pictures of her with her diapers on helping Bob hook up the plumbing. She knew the hardware store backward and forward.

When Sara entered Jr. High school I started working part-time, four days a week, only in the morning. I wanted to be home when Sara got home from school. Until Sara was about 14 and in high school, I made arrangements for someone to be with Sara on her extended vacations.

Sara was a wonderful girl. She loved nature. She always liked the walks we took in the forest preserve, especially in the fall. She also liked our pets, music, photography, drawing and decorating her room. We spent a lot of time together. We could just look at each other and know what the other was thinking. She loved her cousins and grandmother and when she was able to drive she would frequently drop over to see them.

Sara wasn't the perfect child though. She was very strong-willed and she was smart. She wanted things her way. When she was 4 years old. She asked if she could do something. When I told her no, she asked why. I told her that it was the rule. Her reply was "that's a stupid rule." I knew raising her was going to be a challenge.

Sara frequently pushed the limits. She wanted to experience everything life had to offer. This was a problem for me, because I was always afraid for her. I was very protective.

Sara had a lot of friends too. Even though I met most of them and was in touch with parents I always had to know where she was and who, she was with. I would keep track of her by paging and calling. She got a pager only because I could keep in contact with her. We got caller ID. I would page and she had to call and then I was able see where she was. I used to page a lot.

A couple of times in her life she was involved with marijuana. She said she didn't use it, but after searching her room we did see evidence of it. We enrolled her in a drug prevention program. I also went to private counseling with her.

When Sara turned 17 we were dealing with her independence. She would tell us that she was an adult now and she could do what she wanted. We informed her that she lived under our roof and needed to be respectful of our requests and us. In our town there is no curfew for young people 17 and up. She constantly reminded us of this, but she knew we worried. She introduced her friends to us, told us where she was going and called whenever she went to a different place. If she didn't, she knew I would start paging and calling and that was a fate worse than death. She would get so embarrassed.

After Sara died we learned that she had started using Ecstasy only 5 - 6 weeks before her death...on Spring Break. We also learned that she had attended a Rave and that several of her friends were supplying her with the Ecstasy. They would just give it to her. She wasn't a user for very long, but we did notice that she was much more depressed and irritable. She was always tired too. I also remember her mentioning back pain.

Just after Spring Break Sara started spending time with a friend. He was the brother of a classmate of Sara's. He got her a job and they went to the job together. He would hang out with Sara and her friends. He was a very friendly type of guy and liked to talk to my husband and myself. He was 3 years older than Sara, he was 21 and she was 18. I always worried about a 21-year-old hanging around younger people. I found out the hard way. He was selling drugs...Ecstasy, Cocaine, LSD, marijuana and any other drug he could get his hands on.

After Sara died, he was arrested. We learned from his trial that he had been selling drugs since he was 16 years old. He had sold drugs in school and at school functions. He used every opportunity to sell drugs. He especially liked his pizza delivery job because he could drop off pizza at parties and do a little drug deal too.

On Saturday, the day before Sara died, my husband had found Sara's change purse lying on our front sidewalk. It had marijuana in it. I flushed it, took her car keys away and said she wasn't getting her car back until she drug tested clean for drugs and we would have to go back to counseling. She didn't even seem angry about it. She called her friend, he picked her up in his car and off they went.

She was gone most of the day, but returned home briefly at about 10:00 P.M. with him. At which time she combed her hair, put on a little makeup and said she was going to town to meet some people at Star Bucks. At about midnight she called and said she was now at his house. They were going to play pool and watch videos. His parents and sister were home, as well as another friend. She said not to worry that if it got too late she would just stay there. I was never comfortable with the fact that she would stay at people's homes, but I was confident that the parents were home and there was another friend, too.

I was alone on that Sunday morning. It was Mother's Day, and my husband had gone to visit his mother in Wisconsin. Sara's friend called me at approximately 9:30 that morning. He said that Sara had a "seizure or something" and the paramedics were there. I rushed to his home to find Sara on the floor unconscious. The paramedics asked if Sara was ill, did she have a history of seizures or was she on any medication. No was the answer to all three questions. The first thing that popped into my head was drugs. The paramedics and myself asked the young man if she had taken anything and if so what it was. He was asked this question several times, always with the same answer, "I don't know."

We later found out that not only did he know what she had taken, but even after she had taken Ecstasy on her own he had crushed up 4 more pills and put them in her water in an attempted date rape.

Sara was taken to the emergency room. I couldn't see her at first because they were trying to work on her. A nurse told me, however, that her temperature was 108 degrees. I thought that she must have some horrible infection or illness. I knew nothing at that time about Ecstasy.

The first time I was allowed to see her was a shock. She had tubes coming out all over. They had her on a respirator to keep her breathing. She was just starring up in space. I talked to her and told her we loved her, pleading for her to come back to us. It was then that I noticed a tear rolling down her cheek. I also noticed on the monitor that the blood pressure had risen to almost normal. I wiped the tear from her cheek and kept talking to her. Her blood pressure dropped again and I had to leave.

The second time I was allowed to see her I noticed that there was a clear canister behind her. It was filling with blood. I asked where the blood was coming from. It was from her stomach. She was bleeding at every needle puncture. They even had to put a small sandbag on the place that they put a tube into her. It was bleeding around it. She had cut her lip when she had a seizure and this too continued to bleed.

The nurses told me to talk to her again. They too had noticed that her blood pressure had stabilized a bit when I spoke to her. They felt that she heard me, and they too had noticed the tear. I talked to her constantly telling her we loved her and to fight. Another tear rolled down her check. I prayed she could hear me.

My husband had been called and arrived at the hospital about 3:00. Sara's organs had started to shut down. They moved her from the emergency room to the intensive care unit. Her liver and kidneys were shutting down. A cardiologist saw her. Her heart was giving out too. She didn't have long to live. We were ushered for the last time into her room. There was no hope. I was shocked to see that they had put tape over her eyes. I just couldn't believe this was happening. She was so alive and full of life the day before and now... She died 5½ hours after she entered the hospital.

The police had found the drugs hidden in the friend's house, but it was too late. She was gone.

The hospital is what haunts me most. Seeing those eyes that once sparkled with happiness starring up...no life in them and all the tubes and blood. I had to leave her just lying there, all alone. No more noise from the machine helping her breath, no movement.

This isn't just a story about my child, this has happened to others. It can happen to your child. These children and young adults are not bad kids. They can have good grades, be active in school activities and sports, and come from wonderful families that support and care for them. I learned at a DEA Convention that I attended that it's the achievers and those that want to succeed that are more likely to use Ecstasy. Those that haven't used drugs before are also more likely to try it.

These are kids that are just trying to grow up and get on with life...find out what they want to do for a living, but at some time, for some reason they may choose to try Ecstasy. They may just be at a vulnerable time in their life or just trying to party. Whatever the reason, they are at risk.

We need people to understand that this drug is dangerous. The new laws help to send that message. They need to know that if you don't die from Ecstasy, your life may be changed forever because of the effects it can have on the body. Recent research has shown that Ecstasy causes brain damage...actual holes in the brain. It can cause Parkinson Disease type symptoms, and it definitely causes depression. It can cause liver and kidney damage, due to the high body temperature caused by the Ecstasy.

Since Sara's death I've had a variety of kids in and out of my home. Some of the kids have used Ecstasy and stopped using it and some never did use it. The thing they all have in common is that they ALL know where to get it. It's in the schools being passed around; it's used at proms and other school functions. It's used at Rave parties and at clubs. It can be used in your homes too.

We need to educate the kids, the parents, the educators and the community. We need to use our new laws to stop the Rave promoters and club owners from enticing our children to use this drug. We need to keep communication open between the children, parents, educators, law enforcement and prevention and treatment groups. I feel that education and open communication is essential in helping our young people. Don't be afraid to acknowledge that this drug IS in our community and IS used by our children, and can be used by your children too.

Children and young people are overdosing on Ecstasy. Yet the kids keep saying that the statistics are wrong, Ecstasy isn't harmful. I keep reading about friends dumping bodies back at the parents' home or even leaving them at the entrance of emergency rooms so they can get care. Remember these friends are probably using something too and don't make wise choices and don't want to get caught.

I met one young man, about a year ago, who no longer had short term memory, had to be on antidepressants, maybe for the rest of his life, and had developed a speech impediment because of the affects of Ecstasy on his brain...still not harmful. I just heard a few weeks ago on the nightly news that the Ecstasy use is still rising. I heard just last week about another 16-year-old girl who went to a rock concert, took what she thought was Ecstasy that a friend had bought for her...the girl died. In this instance the friend actually took her back to the friends' home, told her parent's that she was drunk. The friends' parents put her to bed, the next morning she was dead. The friends knew she was extremely sick, she had stopped breathing and yet they didn't get her help. The parents of the friend didn't call the paramedics and the girl had been in obvious trouble. Parents need to be more aware and do the responsible thing. If your child or anyone else's child is under the influence of any thing and not well and is in YOUR home...do the responsible thing...call 9ll.

There was almost no information or statistics about Ecstasy when Sara died. Kids really thought it was safe and fun. Since Sara's death there have been new laws established, more statistics about its dangers and even more deaths from it. It's so important to acknowledge that this drug IS NOT safe. Young people can have long-term disabilities and depression and yes even die.

It's not always the stereotypical drug user that uses this drug. They don't all look like club or rave kids. I know that in our communities they use this drug in private homes, apartments and in small groups. It's used during school hours, after school and on the weekends.

The kids that use this drug are not bad kids; they're great kids that make poor choices. They just may not be educated enough to know how bad Ecstasy is, or mature enough to say no. Please help to keep them safe.

Thank you

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Latest News

Proof cannabis DOES lead teenagers to harder drugs: Study finds users are 26 times more likely to turn to other substances by the age of 21

 Daily Mail, Steve Doughty and Ben Spencer, June 8, 2017

The study of the lives of more than 5,000 teenagers produced the first resounding evidence that cannabis is a gateway to cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin.

Teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis are 26 times more likely to turn to other drugs by the age of 21.

It also discovered that teenage cannabis smokers are 37 times more likely to be hooked on nicotine and three times more likely to be problem drinkers than non-users of the drug.

Read more ...

Teens rescue girl from horrific crash that killed her pregnant mother

 WGN 9, Dana Rebik, July 6, 2017

A man, arrested for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana, hit a car killing a mother who was six months pregnant and leaving a 1-year-old daughter hanging out the front of the car with one arm hanging out and the other hand reaching back grabbing the baby seat.

The driver, Jacob Kaminski 23 from Marseilles, went on to hit a Toyota Camry carrying three people. They were not hurt.

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2 Kids Die In Hot Car After Mom Locked Them In As Punishment: Cops

 Inside Edition, June 25, 2017

A Texas mother of two was jailed after she left her kids in a hot car where they died while she went inside to smoke marijuana. Cynthia Randolph locked 1-year-old Cavanaugh Ramirez and 2-year-old Juliet Ramirez in a vehicle at as temperatures soared to the mid-nineties. Juliet was unable to escape the car with her brother.

According to police Randolph acknowledged that she left her children in the car intentionally. She found the kids playing in the car and, when the 2-year-old refused to get out, she shut the door to teach her a lesson in the belief that her daughter could get herself and her brother out of vehicle when ready.

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Weed pizza? Massachusetts dispensary offering THC - infused pies

 Fox News, June 9, 2017

Ermont Inc., a dispensary in Quincy, Mass., has created a new pizza sauce infused with 125 milligrams of THC and they’re using that sauce to top their homemade personal pizzas. The THC-content of the pizza is far too high for a single serving. The suggested dosage is 10 milligrams of THC every two hours, not 125 milligrams in the time it normally takes to consume a 6-inch personal pizza.

The pizzas are baked and frozen on-site in Ermont Inc.’s kitchen.

But, for dispensary visitors, these weed pizzas might be too good to be true. There are some downsides to the THC-infused snack, the biggest of which may be the high cost. The personal weed pizzas will cost $40, they cannot be delivered and in order to purchase one of these pizzas, a valid Department of Public Health-issued patient or caregiver card is necessary.

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Horror in New York’s Times Square as car rams into pedestrians killing one and injuring 22

 Mirror, Anthony Bondpatrick Lion, May 18, 2017

Driver ran into pedestrians in Times Square high on marijuana

A car rammed into pedestrians in New York City’s busy Times Square, with one person dead and 22 injured.

Richard Rojas, 26, of the Bronx, was named as the man who drove a maroon sedan at pedestrians, knocking them over near the intersection of 45th street and Broadway.

Rojas, who had two prior arrests for drunk driving, was reportedly high on marijuana after telling officers he had smoked the drug earlier today.

Witnesses said the vehicle drove against traffic and on to the sidewalk about noon after entering the district around 42nd street and driving north.

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Workplace drug testing finds cocaine, marijuana use at 12-year high

Quest Diagnostics, May 17, 2017

Employees increasingly are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines at work, driving the rates of positive drug tests in the United States to the highest level in 12 years.
Illinois' positive drug test rate matched the national average, though employees' drugs of choice vary widely in different parts of the state.

Cocaine is big in Chicago's south suburbs while opiates dominate at the southern end of Illinois, according to a local breakdown based on the first three digits of the ZIP codes. Heroin is concentrated around Rockford.

Marijuana, the most common drug for which workers test positive, has a steady presence throughout much of northern and central Illinois but leads to a particularly high positive rate in Sangamon County, home of the state capital.

Illinois has nearly double the national rate of positive heroin tests — 0.055 percent versus 0.028 percent — and the rate is even higher south of Chicago around Will and Kankakee counties. The rate of positive heroin tests is highest around Rockford, where it exceeds 0.12 percent.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions issues charging and sentencing policies for drug crimes.

 Note: A bill in the Illinois legislature would raise the amounts of all drugs constituting an offense while decreasing penalties for all drug offenses (HB3235).

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks at Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City Award Presentation
Department of Justice, Friday May 12, 2017


In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. According to a report by the New England Journal of Medicine, the price of heroin is down, the availability is up and the purity is up. We intend to reverse that trend. So we are returning to the enforcement of the law as passed by Congress – plain and simple. If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way. We will not be willfully blind to your conduct. We are talking about a kilogram of heroin – that is 10,000 doses, five kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. These are not low-level offenders. These are drug dealers. And you're going to prison.

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Scientists Expose Colorado’s Marijuana Problems

Letter to Governor John Hickenlooper, March, 2017

We are a group of scientists from Harvard University and other institutions acutely concerned about the impact of marijuana on youth, and among drivers, employees, parents, and other members of society.

The only representative sample of teens ever conducted in Colorado, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), shows that Colorado now leads the nation among 12 to 17-year-olds in (A) last-year marijuana use, (B) last-month marijuana use, and (C) the percentage of people who try marijuana for the first time during that period (“first use”).
Youth use has risen since statewide since the legalization of marijuana.

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Mysterious illness tied to marijuana use on the rise in states with legal weed

Jonathan Lapook, CBS News, December 28, 2016

There is a disturbing new illness resulting from heavy, long-term marijuana use that causes nausea and vomiting. Hot showers and baths are the only thing that seems to relieve the symptoms. It is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS.

For more than two years, Lance Crowder was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and no local doctor could figure out why. Finally, an emergency room physician in Indianapolis had an idea.

“The first question he asked was if I was taking hot showers to find relief. When he asked me that question, I basically fell into tears because I knew he had an answer,” Crowder said.

Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency room physician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado co-authored a study showing that since 2009, when medical marijuana became widely available, emergency room visits diagnoses for CHS in two Colorado hospitals nearly doubled. In 2012, the state legalized recreational marijuana.

“It is certainly something that, before legalization, we almost never saw,” Heard said. “Now we are seeing it quite frequently.”

Read more ...

Elephant tranquilizer carfentanil causes first death in Chicago area

WGNTV.com, Dina Bair, December 9, 2016

There is a new opioid, a fentanyl synthetic called carfentanil that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. A 35-year- old Lake Zurich man became one of its first victims.

Drug dealers are manufacturing their own version of a painkiller used by veterinarians to immobilize elephants. In people, it leads to instant death.

“It’s really like a ticking time bomb because it’s so potent. If someone thinks they are getting something else, like just straight street heroin for example, its being so much more potent, they’re likely to stop breathing and die,” Dr. Steven Aks, Stronger Hospital, Emergency Medicine and Toxicology.

In an effort to save lives naloxone has been made available by prescription. If administered immediately after an overdose of heroin, for example, it can completely reverse an overdose. But carfentanil may be too strong for naloxone.

“The problem with carfentanil is because it is so potent, we are not sure how effective it is going to be,” Aks said.

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Gummy bears that sickened Naperville students contained marijuana, doctor says

WGN TV, December 8, 2016, Associated Press

On Tuesday December 6th, fourteen Naperville high school students were taken to the hospital after eating gummy bears believed to have contained marijuana. Dr. Jennifer McNulty of Edward Hospital said after talking to the students and observing their behavior she is certain that the gummy bears contained marijuana or marijuana oil.

On Tuesday, police said they had taken a 17-year-old into custody for his alleged involvement in the incident but on Wednesday police did not provide any updates on the investigation.

Source:
http://wgntv.com/2016/12/08/gummy-bears-that-sickened-naperville-students-contained-marijuana-doctor-says/

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Drug Positivity in U.S. Workplace Rises to Nearly Highest Level in a Decade, Quest Diagnostics Analysis Finds

 Quest Diagnostics, Sept. 15, 2016

In the general U.S. workforce, between 2011 and 2015, marijuana positivity increased 26 percent and heroin positivity increased 147 percent.

Following years of declines, the percentage of employees in the combined U.S. workforce testing positive for drugs has steadily increased over the last three years to a 10-year high, according to an analysis of nearly 11 million workforce drug test results released today by Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services.

Another notable trend is the rising positivity rate for post-accident urine drug testing in both the general U.S. and federal-mandated, safety-sensitive workplaces. Post-accident positivity increased 6.2 percent in 2015 when compared to 2914 (6.9% versus 6.5%) and increased 30 percent since 2011 (5.3%). In addition, post-accident positivity for safety-sensitive workforce has risen 22 percent during a five-year time period (2.8% in 2015 versus 2.3% in 2011).

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Child Abuse, Exploitation in California’s Marijuana Country

 Parents Opposed to Pot, September 12, 2016

The Emerald Triangle can’t hide behind its secrets after a report of widespread abuse, sexual exploitation and worker exploitation was published last week by Reveal News. There’s both worker and sexual exploitation.

In summer and fall, temporary workers come in town to work the marijuana harvests. These “trimmigrants” sometimes end up homeless and without jobs. In one article, it’s reported that 100 European “trimmigrants” were stiffed for pay, broke, and without a place to go and ended up in homeless shelters. Mexican and other immigrants also face abuse.

After exploitation, teens and other workers many end up in homeless shelters.

Read more ...

How Marijuana Begat Heroin

Notable & Quotable, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2016

Okay, I’m going to say it. The heroin epidemic was caused by the legalization of marijuana.

We wanted legal weed, and for the most part, we got it. Four states have legalized it outright, others have decriminalized it, and in many jurisdictions police refuse to enforce the laws that are on the books, creating a de facto street legalization. The American marijuana was superior and the cost of doing business significantly less.

Colorado’s recreational marijuana law threatened to annihilate the Sinaloa Cartel’s weed operation. In a single year, the cartel suffered a 40 percent drop in marijuana sales, representing billions of dollars.

Looking at the American drug market as it existed, Guzmán and his partners saw an opportunity. An increasing number of Americans were addicted to prescription opioids such as Oxycontin. And their addiction was expensive. One capsule of Oxy might sell on the street for thirty dollars, and an addict might need ten hits a day.

Read more ...

Mass Illnesses Due To Marijuana Edibles, Brownies, Candy

California, Child Endangerment, Colorado, Washington

Parents Opposed to Pot, August 8, 2016

Edible marijuana poses a ‘unique problem,’ because ‘no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form’ – such as cookies, brownies and candy. Many household items cause poisonings, but marijuana edibles are different because they’re made to look appealing and they appeal to children.

Last year there were more than 4,000 treatments at hospitals and poison center treatments in the US related to marijuana toxicity in children and teens.

Parents Opposed to Pot summarized the recent cases of toxicity from edibles.

• A JAMA Pediatrics article explains the dramatic rise in children’s hospitalizations related to marijuana in Colorado since legalization. In 10 cases, the product was not in a child-resistant container; in 40 scenarios (34%) there was poor child supervision or product storage. Edible products were responsible for 51 (52%) of exposures. The report claimed that child-resistant packaging has not been as effective in reducing kids’ unintended exposure to pot as hoped.

• The state of Washington has a similar problem with edibles, as reported on the King County Health Department’s website. From 2013 to May 2015, there were 46 cases
of children’s intoxications related to marijuana edibles reported in Washington. However, reporting is voluntary and the state estimates that number could be much higher. 

Read more ...

Secondhand marijuana smoke damages blood vessels more than tobacco smoke

American Heart Association News, July 27, 2016

In a new study, arteries in rats that inhaled secondhand marijuana smoke for one minute carried blood less efficiently for at least 90 minutes. Similar exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke caused blood vessel impairment for 30 minutes.

 “While the effect is temporary for both cigarette and marijuana smoke, these temporary problems can turn into long-term problems if exposures occur often enough and may increase the chances of developing hardened and clogged arteries,” said Matthew Springer, Ph.D.

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Marijuana exposure in kids rose after recreational use legalized in Colorado

The JAMA Network Journals, July 25, 2016

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado was associated with both increased hospital visits and cases at a regional poison center because of unintentional exposure to the drug by children, suggesting effective preventive measures are needed as more states consider legalizing the drug, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics

The authors identified 81 children – 62 included in the analysis – evaluated at the hospital and 163 marijuana exposure calls to a Colorado RPC. The median age of children who visited the hospital was 2.4 years and for children in RPC cases. 

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Colorado Youth Marijuana Use: Up – Down – Flat? Examine the Data and You Decide!

Press Release, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA), July 6, 2016

In June, 2016, the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) was released with the media claiming that past month marijuana use by Colorado teens had not increased since pot had been legalized and use was within line with the national average.

However, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area asks, “Is the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey ‘Good News’ and is Colorado teen marijuana use ‘flat?’ The reader can examine the facts and data to make an informed decision. What is clear is that there is no overall pattern in the HKCS data: thus it is best to refrain from jumping to conclusions on such an important issue. The HKCS results are highly variable between class years and regions from major increases to major decreases.

Examples of variables include:

• There was a 57.5 percent increase in use among one region’s freshmen while a 53.4 percent decrease in another.
• In one region there was a 72.0 percent increase in high school sophomore use but, in another, a 38.9 percent decrease.
• One region for juniors shows a 49.8 percent increase and another, 33.1 percent decrease.
• In one region, high school seniors had a 90.0 percent increase and in another a 34.3 percent decrease. 

Read more ...

Opioid overdose deaths by state

Emily Rappleye, Becker’s Hospital Review, June 27, 2016

Opioid abuse — which has spurred a 20-year high in heroin use in the U.S. — has become a significant cause of death nationwide.

In 2014, there were 28,647 deaths due to opioid overdoses. The overdoses were due to natural, semisynthetic and synthetic opioids, methadone and heroin.

The five top states were Ohio – 2,106, California – 2,024, New York – 1,739, Florida - 1,399, and Illinois – 1,205. The data was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  

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One in six children hospitalized for lung inflammation positive for marijuana exposure

 Science Daily, American Academy of Pediatrics, April 30, 2016

A new study, Marijuana Exposure in Children Hospitalized for Bronchiolitis, found that one in six infants and toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with coughing, wheezing and other symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure. There were comparisons made between before the legalization and after the legalization of marijuana.

A questionnaire given to parents asked whether anyone in the home smoked marijuana.
Of the children who were identified as having been exposed to marijuana smokers, urine samples showed traces of a metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana, in 16 percent of them.

These findings indicate that secondhand marijuana smoke, containing carcinogenic and psychoactive chemicals, may be a concern for children’s health. 

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Effort to limit pot’s THC count raises questions

Those behind the THC limiting proposals say they’re smart, cautious moves; Opponents say they’ll hurt the pot industry

Ricardo Baca, The Denver Post – Denver and the West, March 30, 2016

Colorado is concerned about extremely high levels of THC in their marijuana and marijuana products. Their average potencies are 17 percent for marijuana and 62 percent for marijuana concentrate products.

Josh Hindi, whose dispensary, Dabble Extracts, a concentrates company, “estimates his extracts test between 70 percent and 80 percent THC and cater(s) to patients who prefer the more potent product.”

For Josh, lowering THC limits “would remove concentrates in total from any kind of retail operation.”

There is no research available on these alarmingly high THC levels and its impact on brain development of adolescents. As a result, the Colorado state House has a proposed bill limiting THC potency of marijuana to 15 percent and 16 percent in marijuana products. Additionally, “It would require everything to be sold in a child-resistant, opaque, resealable package and would require edibles to be packaged and sold only in single-serving amounts.”

There is also a THC-capping ballot initiative limiting retail marijuana products to 16 percent but not medical marijuana.

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New Study Shows Increased Heroin Availability at Root of Heroin Crisis, not Prescription Painkillers

Brian Blake, Hudson Institute, January 21, 2016

There is no consistent evidence of an association between the implementation of policies related to prescription opioids and increases in the rates of heroin use or deaths. Instead the heroin market forces, including increased accessibility, reduced price, and high purity of heroin appear to be major drivers of the recent increases in rates of heroin use.

This finding contradicts the White House claim that the huge increase in heroin overdose deaths---440 percent in the past seven years---is directly related to prescription pain killers and changes in prescribing policies aimed at making them harder to obtain and abuse.

The article appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine is a product of leading researchers at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They surveyed dozens of recent, peer-reviewed studies on heroin use. Initiation patterns, overdose deaths and the effects of policy changes in prescribing opioids.

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Study: 20 percent increase in youth marijuana use --- Kids 12 to 17 used the drug 20% more in the two years since legalization

Kody Fisher, 22NEWS WWLP, January 17, 2016

Marijuana use by Colorado teens ages 12 to 17 has increased 20% more in the two years since legalization. The data came from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

With the increase the state moved from number 4 to number 1 in teen pot use.

“With the legalization of marijuana it has just kinda made people more comfortable with being open about. It’s more socially acceptable, so I think people are more open about the fact that they use it,” said Studio A64 Owner Ambur Racek.

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Prevalence of Marijuana Use Among U.S. Adults Doubles Over Past Decade

National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, NIH News, NIAAA News Release, October 21, 2015

Marijuana use by adults in the United States has soared, more doubling, over the past decade, 2001-2002 to 2012-2013. Surveys show 9.5 percent of Americans use marijuana; 30 percent of users meet criteria for a disorder.

Past year marijuana use rose from 4.1 percent to 9.5 percent of the U.S. adult population, while the prevalence of marijuana use disorder rose from 1.5 percent to 2.9 percent, according to national surveys conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
“Based on the results of our surveys, marijuana use in the United States has risen rapidly over the past decade, with about 3 in 10 people who use marijuana meeting the criteria for addiction. Given these increases, it is important that the scientific community convey information to the public about the potential harms,” said George Koob, Ph.D., director of NIAAA.

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Colorado Educators Concerned about Pot in Public Schools

Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post, October 14, 2015

The Colorado School Safety Resource Center in Thornton, CO, held a Safe Schools Summit. Over 350 educators, first responders and school mental health professionals crowded into a conference room to learn about the impact marijuana legalization is having on the schools.

“It’s the No. 1 problem in schools right now,” said Lynn Riemer, president of ACT on Drugs, a nonprofit drug awareness and education organization.

Jeff Whitmore, from Bayfield School District, said, “At first, I thought it was similar to alcohol and that the kids would do it anyway and all that. But it’s like they’re disguising alcohol as Kool-Aid and marketing it to kids. These edibles are cookies and gummy bears, and they’re filled with high amounts of THC.”

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Quotes and Facts

"The best policy to protect the public health is one that reduces, not increases, marijuana use. There are reasons why employers, including the U.S. government, prohibit marijuana use by employees in the workplace. There are reasons why marijuana emergency room admissions are reported at the rate of 1,250 a day and 455,000 a year and why highway crashes double for marijuana users. Crime rates in Denver have gone up 7% this year."
Peter Bensinger - Former Administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration & Robert L. DuPont, M.D. - Former Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse