The following is a response to an online article Kari Kilroy at Momstrong.org entitled, “I Blame Marijuana and I Wished We Had Never Moved Here” (http://momsstrong.org/2019/04/19/i-blame-marijuana-and-i-wished-we-had-never-moved-here/), wherein she blames marijuana use for her son having destroyed his life and is now in prison for his crimes. This is our response, written with all due respect, and love, for this torn family.
Dear Kari and Family,
While I am saddened to hear about the terrible turn of events in your son’s life, it is clear that his rather serious psychological issues, exacerbated by the use of an assortment of drugs, had a huge part to play in his eventual unraveling, and I find that blaming marijuana as the key to it all, is questionable. I see your family has suffered immensely, and I do not mean to disrespect or diminish the value of your life experiences and values, in stating this.
It’s not really common for people to steal from their family for marijuana. This is beyond uncommon, practically unheard of, in fact. “…he was also using Xanax, Dilaudid, Oxy, and smoking heroin and meth. Basically, he used anything he could get his hands on…” How can we dismiss these facts?! Multi-drug abuse is highly dangerous, and choosing cannabis as the lone culprit is illogical when so many more dangerous substances were also involved. Smoking any substance one encounters is risky, and not a common practice in our society. That alone demonstrates a behavior that deserves more attention in understanding your son’s issues.
Additionally, Lexapro and other prescription drugs that your son took for recovery are not without risk for psychosis, depression, suicide, and violence in some patients. Any psychoactive drug can cause this, even prescription pharmaceutical drugs.
While I am deeply saddened by what’s happened to your son, we have to be honest with ourselves and recognize that the situation was a poly-drug abuse scenario, and that your son may have had some serious underlying psychological and/or emotional and/or personality conditions to start. Perhaps he was self-medicating with cannabis, as some do? This is not a good solution for an adolescent, as a caring counselor or psychiatrist was in order.
It’s not your fault; your son was in way over his head. Methedrine can and does cause psychosis and can be physically addictive. Xanex is also PHYSICALLY addictive. And, of course, we all know Heroin is physically addictive and nearly impossible to get off of. (That’s why there’s methadone.) Mixing drugs, with or without weed, can be deadly, and even cause mental health symptoms in otherwise mentally healthy individuals.
None of your son’s diagnoses, “…Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Opioid Use Disorder Severe, and Polysubstance Abuse” included Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder or (Acute) Cannabis Psychosis or suggest in any way that cannabis is the root cause, as you seem to have concluded.
In fact, “Cannabis Psychosis” and “cannabis overdose” are not quite the same as organic psychosis, actually, and simply refer to temporary affect and psychological state changes a patient experiences, immediately after ingesting/smoking/vaping too much THC for reasonable comfort; these are not necessarily, or even often, lasting effects, and only a very small percentage of people suffer in this way at all.
It’s simply a medical term, analogous or equivalent to saying, “The patient drank way too much alcohol for comfort, and was quite ill.” Unlike alcohol poisoning, stomach pumps, and death, cannabis psychosis is the only acute adverse effect from overconsumption, and it’s usually not serious, and definitely never deadly. Surely, there are some people who do not do well ingesting cannabis, as there are some that cannot drink alcohol for various reasons, or even eat mild bell peppers, for that matter.
That’s not to say that cannabis cannot induce psychosis in those already so predisposed, just as all other stronger mind alterants can, including alcohol. Underling Personality Disorders, Eating Disorders, or other substance-use disorders, can all be predictors to conversion to schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder, from an initial psychotic break induced by some substance. Some people just cannot use any mind-alterant and need immediate help from our mental health system if they do. This in no way translates into a need to ban all mind alterants.
In fact, many more people enjoy cannabis as a way to relax, than those that suffer (lasting or short-term) deleterious effects. Many others use cannabis for a variety of medical conditions, and in most traditional cultures that used marijuana, there is a historical basis for this use. Additionally, it’s been historically employed religiously by Hindus, Zoroastrians, Rastafarians, as well as contemporarily by New Age Yogis and Buddhists and unaffiliated “Spiritual” people, and was quite possibly one of the Bibically-mentioned ingredients of the Temple Incense in the Torah. It is a non-deadly substance, factually backed up by our United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency.
Blaming marijuana alone, while so much else was happening with your son, does not make much sense. Of course, you’re looking for answers, and trying to find culprits, but taking the word of a disturbed, addicted youth about why he’s amiss is probably not the best way to proceed. Even if we have arrived at different conclusions than you regarding cannabis and its role in your son’s demise, we still pray for you and your son and your family.
Of course, your son had issues that led to addiction in the first place. What was upsetting him? He needed to talk to someone and probably still does.
What did your son try overdosing on? It would be impossible for the substance to have been cannabis, as it is not deadly, under any circumstances. Possibly, a severe allergy is the exception, or choking on an edible, but that is not quite the same. I’m definitely not trying to give anyone ideas, but I suppose asphyxiation by taking toke after toke after toke is also possible. Of course, these are scenarios that could happen with any other substances that we can eat or smoke.
In fact, no naturally-occurring cannabinoid is a full-agonist like synthetic K-2 and Spice are, rendering these “man-made” lab drugs among the worst offenders, those that have a high potential for abuse, and can, and provably have, led to heart attack, seizures, coma, and death. These should forever remain illegal. This all means that if a person wanted to OD on real cannabis, the scientific answer would be that it is not a possibility.
Love, acceptance, and kindness are the tools your family needs to heal. And, we need to recognize, as a society, the hazards of opiates and other hard drugs. Cannabis, like alcohol, needs to be used with caution, as it is a mild alterant, although quite different, in its effects, and risks, from alcohol.
You blame Colorado, but in states where cannabis is legal, the illegal marketshare is slowly shrinking. Can a youth buy cigarettes and alcohol with ease in this day and age? No way! Thank the repeal of Prohibition, stricter age laws, and education for any changes we’ve witnessed. Cannabis Prohibition just allows illegal cartels to flourish and make money off our Nation’s kids. And the cannabis that’s available in illegal markets in various states has been found, in mainstream news reports, to be laced with the deadly opiate drug fentanyl.
And, realistically, cartels do not sell marijuana on the streets that has not already been “washed” or “blasted”; this refers to the process of running the flowers through solvents like benzene or wood alcohol to extract the valuable resin. In this way, the cartels double their profits, selling marijuana flower that is polluted with carcinogens and devoid of psychoactive cannabinoids, as well as “waxes” extracted therefrom using dangerous chemicals, that can, and have caused serious fires. They double their money; do you think they care about who is hurt in the process? These are criminals.
True; newly developed cannabis strains peak at 30% THC, but that’s not what kids buy on the streets, contrary to hype. And if kids did smoke such high-potency weed, they’d just smoke less to get the same effect, and avoid the discomfort over-consumption provides. Remember, they smoke, and take all drugs, to feel good, and not bad. Too much THC is a decidedly bad, uncomfortable experience, if patient accounts mean anything. “It felt like I was dying,” is a common report from patients. And, such strains have been around for decades, only with less colorful names.
Your son’s life is not over. I’ve met many incredible people who have been incarcerated and “Seen the Light” and got out and did something to help the world in a big way, perhaps more than their peers, battling both depression and other mental illnesses, past substance abuse, and a difficult family history. These people I’ve personally encountered in my own life have been teachers, drug counselors, social workers, ministers, and people in all walks of life, really, just doing their best.
What they “got clean” from while in prison was not marijuana; they’d laugh at me if I suggested that. (And I do mean that, with all due respect and sincerity.) In actuality, they got clean from barbiturates, alcohol, other depressants, opiates, amphetamines, crack cocaine, and the vices like committing crimes against others, or even themselves (as in the case of those that had prostituted themselves for drugs), to support their destructive habits.
My uncle returned from prison a few years back with a Masters Degree in Theology, a far swing from his pre-incarceration Masters in Pharmacology, and an attitude that was more positive than most. Though drugs were not involved in why he had been in jail, he did use the time wisely to become a better person. Your son can surely do the same.
Your son can, hopefully, continue received the counseling he needs while in prison, as well as afterwards when he gets out. It might be good starting now looking for agencies and nonprofits that can help him once he returns home. He’s clean, at least right now, and if he’s set in the right direction when he returns to society, this may all help your son to actually achieve more in his life, in the end. I’d say my only advice to him is to read. A lot. Learn and grow.
He has to maintain a dedication to keeping away from the drugs once he gets out. If that includes marijuana, so be it. He may have underlying mental issues that make any mind-alterant off-limits. Don’t despair; worse could have happened in your son’s life. No one has died or been injured, and his life is far from over. Sadly, a second-cousin of mine overdosed while enjoying an opiate-lollipop while but a teen. (I had never even heard of these products before this tragedy!)
It could always have gone worse. Right now, your son needs to be grounded and stable. I don’t push my faith on others, so all I’ll say is a reiteration, and expansion, of what’s written above: It’s all about compassion, understanding, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, patience, diligence, and love.
Be well, and best to you, your son, and your entire family. Love,
Someone Who Cares At Cannabistical.com