Highly potent 'ear wax' marijuana concerns health officials
by Marie F. Estrada
Two minutes after taking a five-second hit from a vaporizer, Josh felt the effects of the ear wax marijuana rushing over him.
"I felt like I was gonna die," the 17-year-old recalled. "The movie we were watching started to look 3-D. I kept seeing lights."
What the others in the group Josh was with had failed to tell him when they offered the drug to him, was that ear wax marijuana can include up to 90 percent THC.
In short, it's highly hallucinogenic. And, knowledgeable sources say, it can be very dangerous to certain people.
Officials on Solano County's Alcohol and Drug Advisory board, say they know little about ear wax marijuana -- its nickname derived from its appearance -- or its potential dangers.
The night Josh was under the drug's influence, someone telephoned Rhonda, Josh's grandmother. She picked him up and drove him to the hospital -- where his hands were handcuffed to the bed rails and he was later arrested.
(Josh and Rhonda agreed to be interviewed for this article under the condition that certain details of Josh's experience the night he tried ear wax be excluded.)
The effects of the drug didn't end with Josh's arrest. The ear wax was so intense that Josh's high lasted three days, all of which he spent in juvenile hall.
A year of probation and $7,000 in fines later, Josh is just beginning to get over the experience.
But he isn't the first -- and won't be the last -- teenager who has tried a modified form of marijuana. Even former Vallejo dispensary employees said that ear wax marijuana is a common concentrate to have in stock.
Despite this, most teenagers are unaware that a high THC content in their bodies can have short- and long-lasting detrimental effects on their bodies and their lives.
And what's worse, say some experts, the cannabis plant itself, whether as an ear wax variety or other type, is now bred to be increasingly potent.
Christie DeClue, a Solano County Alcohol and Drug Advisory board member, said marijuana has come a long way from the days of hippies and disco.
"In the 1970s, (people) were primarily smoking the leaves of the plant," DeClue said "Now users are smoking (the more potent) buds of the plant."
DeClue is also concerned that the starting age for many marijuana smokers also has changed.
Where most in the 1960s might have started while in college, today, children as young as 12 are experimenting, which can result in long-term damage.
Andy Williamson, a substance abuse administrator in Solano County, said using marijuana before age 25 can lower a person's IQ by up to 8 points since a young individual's brain is still developing.
Robert Lunch, a former volunteer for the Highway 29 Health Care dispensary in Vallejo, said many local dispensaries have ear wax in stock. It is for patients with a high tolerance and need the high potency medication, he said.
Lunch said the ear wax marijuana, which gets its name from its yellow-brown appearance, ranges in potency from 50 to 90 percent THC -- depending on the source.
Regardless, juveniles don't have to wait around for a friend with a marijuana card to pick up some ear wax -- they can make it themselves.
After officials confirmed that it was ear wax that Josh smoked, Rhonda Googled the substance and found numerous "how-to" Youtube videos.
What disturbed Rhonda the most was not that the ear wax exists -- but that the recipes are so easy to find -- and not one video explains the high THC content or potential risks.
Donald Poston, Josh's former counselor, said the substance is fairly easy to make, but can be incredibly dangerous.
"The ear wax is made with aerosol butane and the resin of the leaves and buds of the female plants. The result is a yellow-green waxy material," Poston said.
A substance abuse counselor for Youth and Family Services of Solano County in Fairfield, Poston said Josh was the first person he met who had tried the drug.
Since then, it has been coming up more in group meetings with other juveniles.
The consensus? It is too strong.
On June 17, CBS Detroit reported two people have been sent to the hospital in Detroit after using ear wax.
In the article, reporter Sandra McNeill wrote the two 36-year-olds -- both medical marijuana patients -- suffered episodes of psychosis.
Director Susan Smolinske, of the Children's Hospital of Michigan Regional Poison Control Center, told McNeill the two, "needed to be sedated because they were so agitated that they could not be controlled."
Josh can relate.After an intense year of fines, probation, weekly meetings and anger management, Josh said he thinks back to his decision and wishes it were different.
"I think what if I hadn't stayed (with the group) and what if I had just called my (grandparents)," he said.
But for the most part, he just had to stop thinking about it and move on.
All he can do now is discourage his younger brother from trying drugs and start to pay his grandparents back for his fees.
"I paid when I could, but they'll get all of their money back one day," Josh said. "I'm not gonna let them lose all of that money for one deed that I did."
In August, Josh will turn 18 and his advice to others is to take marijuana more seriously.
"What people are telling me is that (marijuana) is not a drug, that it's just an herb," Josh said. "That's bullsh--! If it gets you high, it's a drug, so don't do it."
The reality of it all, Rhonda said, is that it this could happen to anyone.
While there are groups that people might think are more at risk, many juveniles are unaware of the potency differences, she said.
"(Josh) is not, 'that kind' of kid. And I'll tell you, I don't think half of them are," Rhonda said. "I think it could be any kind of kid because marijuana is so downplayed. They just get caught up."
Cleveland Kidnap Victims Kept Diary of Ariel Castro's Abuse, Prosecutor Says
by ALEX PEREZ
Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro will appear in court today where he is expected to be sentenced to life in prison, plus 1,000 years, as prosecutors released new details from his captives' dairies that include "being held like a prisoner of war" on only one meal a day.
A sentencing memorandum, released Wednesday, outlines dramatic details of how Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, were restrained by chains attached to their ankles with access only to plastic toilets in the bedrooms that were rarely emptied. Castro fed the women one meal a day and used the "cold of the basement" and the "heat of the attic" as punishment techniques, according to the memo.
"The entries speak of forced sexual conduct, of being locked in a dark room, of anticipating the next session of abuse, of the dreams of someday escaping and being reunited with family, of being chained to a wall, of being held like a prisoner of war," the memorandum says.
Castro, 53, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder that will send him to prison for life with no chance of parole for abducting the three women and keeping them as sex slaves for more than a decade in his Cleveland home.
The prosecution released the memo in an attempt to persuade the judge to give Castro the sentence that the former bus driver has agreed to accept.
The plea deal spared Castro the death penalty because he was accused of the aggravated murder of a fetus after forcibly causing an abortion in one of his victims that he is accused of impregnating. The deal will also spare the three women from having to testify at a trial.
Knight is expected to appear at the sentencing to read an impact statement, a source with knowledge of the situation told ABC News.
ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams said, "While this is a legal proceeding, we know what the outcome is. This is going to be primarily a crossing the 'T's, dotting the 'I's on the legal side, and then incredibly powerful on the emotional and human side."
Castro's sister, Marisol Alicea, told CNN in an interview that he will give a statement at the hearing to allow people to see "the other side of Ariel Castro," but nothing he says could change his future.
Abrams said, "He can apologize, he could express remorse. He could try to explain himself. He might not do any of that. It doesn't matter. He is going to serve the rest of his life behind bars without any chance of parole."
The memo, released by prosecutor Tim McGinty, said the three women kept daily diaries about being raped, cut off from the outside world and holding on to a glimmer of hope that they would one day reunite with their families.
Castro allegedly told the women that he had other victims and that "some of them made it home, but others had not." The former bus driver once kept the three women locked in a vehicle for three days while he had a visitor at his home. Berry, Knight and DeJesus each kept a diary of their ordeal, documenting the horrific physical and sexual abuse they suffered on a daily basis.
The victims were discovered in Castro's home in May. They were abducted between 2002 and 2004, when they were in their teens or early 20s. He had a child with Berry during her captivity.
The documents also addressed Berry's 6-year-old daughter, saying her time in captivity started the day she was born Dec. 25, 2006.
Knight's pregnancy ended when Castro punched, kicked and jumped on her stomach to terminate the pregnancy and starved her for days, according to the prosecutor's memo.
Cleveland police Wednesday also posted a picture on Facebook of a handwritten note by Knight, thanking the authorities for collecting gift and cards from well wishers.
"Life is tough, but I'm tougher! Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly," Knight wrote.
Low crime rate sign of a 'healthy community'
Sudbury was a safer place in 2012, stats show
by Darren MacDonald
More than a year after her neighbourhood made headlines for a dramatic drop in crime, June Davis says the positive changes in the area have managed to take root.
“Things are going well,” said Davis, who heads the Louis Street Community Association, which has taken a leading role in establishing community programs in the area.
Police at one time were getting 12 calls a day to come to the neighbourhood, but thanks to the work of social service groups in the area and a community policing initiative called Zone 30, that number had dropped to one a month last year.
Davis said key to the change is the regular presence of police in the community, as opposed to having them there to respond to a crime. It allows police to be seen as more part of the community than outsiders called in to deal with problems.
“We have two officers on bicycles ... who come around the community and check things out,” Davis said.
“We meet with them on Thursday mornings in our Positive Connection group. Whenever we're hosting that, they'll come by and we can talk to them about whatever concerns that we have.”
Greater Sudbury Police Deputy Chief Al Lekun said it's that sort of preventative policing that's key to the city's declining crime rate, for both violent and property crime.
Both types of offences dropped in Greater Sudbury in 2012, matching a national trend that has seen crime rates drop steadily over the last decade.
According to figures released July 25 by Statistics Canada, total crime in Sudbury dipped by six per cent in 2012, and by eight per cent overall since 2007.
Violent crime was down four per cent last year, property crime dropped by nine per cent and drug offences dipped by five per cent.
Nationally, total crime and violent offences dropped by three per cent. Overall, Ontario had the lowest rating for crime severity, which reflects the seriousness of crimes being committed, not just the number of offences.
Lekun said while the StatsCan report comes out every year, Sudbury police chart the stats every month.
“So we knew that the numbers, overall, were really good,” Lekun said Tuesday. “We've noticed this trend, obviously, for the last five or six years.”
Cases like Louis Street show the effectiveness of the new policing model used in Sudbury that not only deals with enforcement, but with crime prevention, intervention, education and awareness.
“I think there is an impact, by virtue of the partnerships that we have with community agencies, with organizations and individuals,” Lekun said. “It's a reflection of the work our front-line officers do on a day-to-day basis, not only on enforcement, but on prevention and intervention.”
Other factors play an important role, he said, such as the fact we have an older population less likely to commit crimes, as well as a stronger economy.
“That leads to better education, more employment, demographic factors, and so on and so forth,” he said. “So overall, our community is safer. But when you look at the multitude of factors that contribute to the declining rates, I think it shows we have a very health community.”
Lekun said police are working to redefine how they operate, building closer relationships with social service agencies and focusing more on heading off problems before they become crimes.
Crime may be down, but police are receiving more calls from the public than ever, with only a fraction directly related to a crime.
In fact, he said about 75 per cent of them are “disorder” calls – disputes between people, noise complaints, loitering, etc.
“Only about 25 per cent of those calls for service are really crime-related calls, where a Criminal Code offence has been committed and we have to investigate,” he said. “That's where different skills ... our problem-solving abilities really are important. Because we are there as mediators to address conflict.”
Greater Sudbury's Crime Severity index in 2012 was 71.7, compared to the national rate of 75. The lowest rate among major cities was 47.8 in Quebec City, while the highest was in Regina, at 116. Access the full report at www.statcan.gc.ca.
City police host Citizens Academy Class
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis will host a Citizens Academy Class September 4 through November 20, meeting Wednesday nights from 6-9 p.m. There is no fee.
Parking is provided.
Citizens will gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the department through instruction in the department's history and structure, predicting and analyzing crime patterns, gang intelligence, homicide investigations and community policing techniques. Nearly all instruction is provided by commissioned police officers.
Participants will have the opportunity to meet Chief Sam Dotson and interact with police canines, the police bomb robot, tour the 911 call center and use the driving and shooting simulators.
Applicants must be St. Louis city residents or business owners, must be at least 18 years of age, must have no outstanding arrest warrants and must agree to a criminal background check.
Applications for the program can be found at www.slmpd.org and will be available online until August 3. Citizens who have questions about the Academy can contact the department at
314-444-5638 or by e-mailing email@example.com.