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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Illinois House of Representatives -- House Resolution HR157

House Resolution HR157

RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we urge lawmakers to slow the process of legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois, so that lawmakers, stakeholders, and experts alike have the chance to consider the societal impact of legalization and examine all of the data from other states that have passed similar legislation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That lawmakers should not rush irresponsible legislation purely for tax revenues but should consider the health and safety of Illinoisans as their first priority when considering the question of legalization; and be it further.

RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be presented to the Governor’s Office and the Clerk of the House.

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House Bill 902: Rep. Carol Ammons, D – Urbana, has introduced a bill that is drawing attention Illinois lawmakers soon expected to turn attention to marijuana

Rebecca Anzel and Peter Hancock, Daily Chronicle, February 12, 2019

Two key Chicago Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, have met with interested groups around Illinois and are expected to introduce legislation soon.

Meanwhile, however, Rep. Carol Ammons, D—Urbana, already has introduced a bill that is drawing attention. It would open the door to a much more expansive legal pot industry than most others have envisioned.

Ammons’ bill, the Cannabis Legalization Equity Act, would allow anyone age 21 or older with valid identification to buy or sell marijuana. Driving under the influence of the drug still would be illegal. And the legislation makes specific mention that only “legitimate, tax-paying business people” would be permitted to sell cannabis.

Under the measure, Illinoisans could possess as many as 224 grams, or about a half-pound, of marijuana at time. It also would allow individual to grow as many as 24 plants in their own homes for personal consumption, and it would provide for the licensing of cultivation facilities and retail dispensaries.

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New School Resource Officer data shows increase in teen use marijuana

Press Release, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, December 13, 2018

New data shows a troubling increase in teenagers’ use of marijuana in Illinois, and a significant increase in vaping by teenagers. Those are two major results from the second annual survey of School Resource Officers, who are police officers with primary responsibilities in schools throughout Illinois.

In the first survey, nearly 60 percent of respondents said that marijuana was the primary drug facing schools. Then, 30 percent of respondents had seen an increase in marijuana-related incidents. Since then, new reports show about an 8 percent increase in the number of school resource officers that say more students are abusing the drug.

In October of this year, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, the School Resource Officers Association and Illinois Partners/Educating Voices, conducted its second annual statewide multi-disciplinary study on the impact of marijuana on the health and safety of Illinois residents. More than 100 of the state’s School Resource Officers answered survey questions and recorded a variety of case examples of drug-related incidents that occurred in their schools.

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At least 5 Florida middle school students taken to hospital after eating marijuana-laced gummy bears

 Janelle Griffith, U.S. News, November 29, 2018

A 12-year-old boy allegedly handed out gummy bears ingested with marijuana during the school’s gym class. He faces felony charges of one count of possession of THC or marijuana resin, six counts of distribution of THC within 1,000 feet of a school and possession of paraphernalia.

Marijuana ingested in an edible manner can have a stronger and more prolonged effect, especially in children under the age of 12, according to Children’s Hospital Colorado.

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'Something wasn’t clicking’: WSU study shows offspring of pregnant rats exposed to THC have impaired development

 Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, November 20, 2018

The offspring of lab rats that were exposed to marijuana smoke during pregnancy took longer to learn and comprehend tasks than rats whose mothers weren’t exposed to THC, researchers found.
At Washington State University, researchers placed pregnant rats in a small transparent chamber, and 60 times a day, for 2 minutes at a time, the moms-to-be got hit with a blast of vaporized cannabis extract.
Photographs show the white haze, sometimes shooting right at the nostrils of the curious animals, sometimes engulfing their tiny heads. The female rats began getting stoned during the week of their mating period, and then for the 21 days of gestation.

The results were another warning for mothers-to-be who like to light up. The offspring of the rats that ingested marijuana during pregnancy showed slowed development. Or, in layman’s terms, “It was like something wasn’t clicking with them,” explains Ryan McLaughlin, an assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience.

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Parents Opposed to Pot, October 25, 2018

Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country and Illinois is a pay-to-play state. Billionaire JB Pritzker hopes to become the next governor of Illinois. When he talked to young voters at Northwestern University, he highlighted a plan to legalize marijuana. But do these students know the true dangers of the drug? Do they know that the marijuana industry is Big Tobacco 2?

Illinois has budget woes, but legalization of marijuana will bankrupt the state even more. The relatives of billionaire Pritzker invest in marijuana companies and donate nationwide to legalization campaigns. Their companies contribute to the politicians in California with its burgeoning marijuana industry. (See chart below from CALMatters.org.)

Imagine how the legalization of marijuana will add to the crime in crime-ridden as Chicago, while auto insurance rates rise 27% as they did in other states. In Washington State, marijuana figures strongly in the crimes the teens commit against each other. Amazingly, Pritzker said that marijuana is part of his crime-fighting plan. “We don’t need more studies on this. We need to act.”

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Driver’s marijuana, sedative use led to crash that killed 13 in Texas church bus, NTSB says

Claire Z. Cardona, Dallas News, October 17, 2018

A driver’s marijuana and prescription sedative use led to the head-on crash that killed 13 people on a church bus last year, the National Transportation Safety Board determined …

Toxicology test showed Jack Dillon Young had marijuana and clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizure and panic disorders, in his system. Young also said he took twice the prescribed dosage before the March 29, 2017, crash, according to a summary of the NTSB report.

Young’s truck crossed into on U.S. Highway 83 … and slammed into the bus carrying members of First Baptist New Braunfels.

Unsmoked and partially smoked marijuana cigarettes, drug paraphernalia and prescription and over-the-counter medication were found in Young’s truck.

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It’s Legal. In Canada, Recreational Marijuana Gets Green Light

 Emily Sullivan, NPR, October 17, 2018

The sale of recreational marijuana begins in Canada following a law passed over the summer.

The law says anyone in Canada over the age of 18 is allowed to possess marijuana, provided it’s less than 30 grams – just over an ounce. Canadians can also grow up to four marijuana plants in their home and buy from a provincially regulated retailer.

Keeping the drug illegal in the years prior "has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth," the government said in a news release last year. The Canadian Department of Justice says historically, the majority of police-reported drug offenses have involved marijuana.

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Teen Cannabis Use Tied to Lasting Cognitive Changes

Judy George, MedPage Today, October 3, 2018

EVI Editor Note: Canada legalized cannabis on October 18, 2018.

Cannabis use was tied to concurrent and lasting changes in adolescent cognitive functions, according to a study that tracked Canadian high school students.

“The question has been highly controversial, because of concern that legalization will place more cannabis in the hands of more juvenile users,” Moffitt told MedPage Today.

While adolescent use of cannabis and alcohol was tied to generally lower performance in all cognitive domains, “of particular concern was the finding that cannabis use was associated with lasting effects on a measure of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for other addictive behaviors, and might explain why early onset cannabis use is a risk factor for other addictions,” said Patricia Conrod, PhD, of the University of Montreal CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center in a statement.

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Medical cannabis legalization and state-level prevalence of serious mental illness in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2008–2015

International Journal Review of Psychiatry, July 16, 2018

Lauren M. Dutra, William J. Parish, Camille K. Gourdet, Sarah A Wylie & Jenny L Wilie

A higher prevalence of serious mental illness is linked to the states having legalized marijuana. This is the first analysis of the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and mental health. The results of this analysis suggest that, at a population level, medical cannabis legalization is associated with a higher prevalence of serious mental illness, and cannabis use somewhat accounts for this association.

Similarly, research should continue to investigate the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and specific psychiatric disorders. Mental healthcare providers should continue to assess cannabis use among patients to understand its potential role in patients’ symptoms and treatment.

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FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy

US Food and Drug Administration — FDA News Release — June 25, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 25, 2018 approved a new drug, a derivative from marijuana, to treat patients with two forms of epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals developed Epidiolex, made from cannabidiol or CBD, a marijuana component that does not cause “highs.” The drug was shown to decrease by 40 percent the number of seizures in patients with Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes.

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A Perplexing Marijuana Side Effect Relieved by Hot Showers

 Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, April 5, 2018

By the time Thomas Hodorowski made the connection between his marijuana habit and the bouts of pain and vomiting that left him incapacitated every few weeks, he had been to the emergency room dozens of times, tried anti-nausea drugs, anti-anxiety
medications and antidepressants, endured an upper endoscopy procedure and two colonoscopies, seen a psychiatrist and had his appendix and gallbladder removed.

The only way to get relief for the nausea and pain was to take a hot shower.

He often stayed in the shower for hours at a time and could be in and out of the shower
for days.

When the hot water ran out, “the pain was unbearable, like somebody was wringing my
stomach our like a washcloth,” said the 28-year- old, …

It was nearly 10 years until a doctor finally convinced him the diagnosis was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that causes cyclic vomiting in heavy marijuana users and can be cured by quitting marijuana.

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Study: Marijuana Smoke 3 Times Worse For You Than Tobacco Smoke

Alexa Lardieri, U.S. News and World Report, March 20, 2018

Exposure to marijuana smoke is three times more harmful than exposure to tobacco smoke, new research suggests.

Matthew Springer, a professor at University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, studied the effects of smoke on rats and found exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke makes it harder for arteries to expand and allow a healthy flow of blood.

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Pot shops face bans in most of Mass


Boston Globe, Dan Adams and Margeaux Sippell, March 17, 2018

Marijuana companies will be banned from a majority of cities and towns in Massachusetts when recreational sales begin this summer, a Globe review has found, the latest indication that there will be fewer pot stores in the early going than many consumers expected.

At least 189 of the state’s 351 municipalities have barred retail marijuana stores and, in most cases, cultivation facilities and other cannabis operations, too, according to local news reports, municipal records, and data collected by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey.

Fifty-nine of the local bans on marijuana businesses are indefinite. The remaining 130 are temporary moratoriums designed to buy local officials time to set up marijuana zoning rules. Many expire on July 1, and the rest are due to end later this year.

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Sessions reverses Obama-era policy on marijuana, unleashes prosecutor

Adam Shaw and Jake Gibson, Fox News, January 4, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy that allowed legal marijuana to thrive without federal intervention.

The move effectively unleashes federal prosecutors to consider bringing marijuana cases, while stopping short of ordering them to do so. “U.S. attorneys need to make decisions in these cases as they do in other drug cases,” a senior DOJ official told Fox News.

“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful,” he told law enforcement officials in march. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

In a letter to congressional leaders in May, he asked them to ditch language that prevents the DOJ from spending money preventing states from implementing their own laws on medical marijuana.

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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

Steve Doughty and Ben Spencer, Daily Mail, 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.

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Teens rescue girl from horrific crash that killed her pregnant mother

 Dana Rebik, WGN 9, 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

 Anthony Bondpatrick Lion, Mirror, 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.”

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Elephant tranquilizer carfentanil causes first death in Chicago area

Dina Bair, WGNTV.com, 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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