When I was using medicinal grade marijuana from dispensaries, I defended the drug vigorously–even though I knew it was negatively impacting my quality of life. Though I could still function, and my productivity was not significantly impacted, my ability to fluidly process information and communicate slowed.
I developed rings under my eyes, my eyes were always dry, my heart frequently palpitated out of sync, and most importantly I showed signs of pre-psychosis such as mania (getting over-the-top hyped about various ideas), paranoia (I feared a home invasion and went crazy with security measures), and my mind was often saturated with morbid thoughts (which I fixated on and couldn’t shake for days at a time). What kind of thoughts? Dark thoughts that became so frequent that I actually begin to think I might be going crazy.
While this was happening I was on social media defending the drug against critics, sharing its many medicinal benefits, and downplaying its dangers by comparing it to alcohol and tobacco.
I was rolling along in that state of dishonesty and hypocrisy when suddenly my cousin, a lifelong marijuana user, shot himself to death, leaving behind a beautiful family, a successful business, and a trail of pain and sorrow. I quit cold turkey when I learned that a psychologist had previously told him to stop using marijuana because it was causing psychosis.
After I quit, my health and outlook improved dramatically within days. I then began researching the relationship between marijuana and psychotic episodes and was astounded by what I found. I am now standing firmly against marijuana and doing everything I can to make people aware of its dangers. Thanks for reading. Feel free to share my story. It might save someone’s life.
BHO Labs are a By-Product of Increased Access to the Drug
On November 9, 2016, in California, three men in Humboldt County celebrated their marijuana freedom by extracting BHO from marijuana. On the first day pot was 100% legal in California, their actions sparked a fire. Helicopters airlifted the injured men to UC Davis Hospital because their burns were so extensive.
BHO or butane hash oil, which Californians call “honey oil” is a highly potent extract of the marijuana plant. Using highly flammable butane, amateurs extract the oil which can produce the strongest, most immediate high. Pot advocates claim that dangerous BHO fires are a by-product of “prohibition,” but they didn’t start happening until 2011, a good 15 years after so-called “medical” marijuana was legalized in 1996 by California. In 2009, medical marijuana dispensaries proliferated, and in 2010, the first BHO lab was discovered. By 2011, 8 illegal BHO labs were discovered, 3 of which exploded. In 2012, authorities uncovered 20 BHO labs, 16 of which had fires. In 2013, authorities found 68 BHO labs and 38 of them went up in flames. Nine people died from these BHO Labs in California that year.
In Washington, marijuana was legal — but not yet commercial – in 2013. A huge blast rocked an apartment complex in Bellevue. The BHO fire sparked huge flames and completely damaged two 12-unit apartment buildings. One hundred fire fighters and police spent 7 hours putting out the flames, in November, 2013. Neighbors jumped from the 2nd and 3rd floors. One elderly woman died from an injury sustained while fleeing from the fire.
The state did not take action, federal authorities needed to step in and establish that operating hash oil labs constituted reckless endangerment to human life. (Those responsible for the Bellevue fire and others convicted.) Today, both California and Colorado have laws making BHO manufacture in a residential setting a felony.
Worst Year for Fire and Death in 2014
In 2014, 32 people died in California from these explosions. In 2011, there were 5 explosions from butane extractions in California. The illegal practice grew until 2014, when 232 hash oil labs were discovered in California and 102 of them exploded. The state legislature then passed a law making the illegal manufacture of marijuana into hash oil a felony. If operating near a school or home with children, these crimes are now considered “aggravated felonies.”
In 2015, there were at least five hash oil fires in Butte and Shasta Counties. Seven children and five adults were at home during one of these fires. In another huge fire in Redding in 2015, residents of 12 units were evacuated as a result of the massive explosion.
The fire near Seattle’s SeaTac airport last March 21st occurred in a house next door to a day care center. No children were there at the time, but it was a close call.
In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown signed a law in 2016 making unlicensed production of marijuana extracts a felony. The bill was intended to target homemade butane hash oil setups. However, the fires are still taking place.
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.
Since Massachusetts allows huge home grows, it probably won’t be long before police will be investigating such murders. Obviously voters didn’t understand Question 4. The marijuana advocates in Massachusetts are laughing right now.