Smoked Salmon Recalled for Botulism Risk

Nov. 8, 2019 — A company in Maine has recalled packages of smoked salmon sold in 23 states for fears it may be contaminated with botulism, a dangerous and potentially deadly form of food poisoning.

Mill Stream Corp., which does business as Sullivan Harbor Farm of Hancock, ME, recalled the 10 lots of smoked salmon that was marketed as safe to be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. But a review of lab reports showed the fish™s salt content was too low for it to be safely refrigerated, making it susceptible to Clostridiumbotulinum, or botulism.

The salmon was sold between March 6 and Sept. 17 in vacuum-sealed packages as whole salmon side, and in 2-pound, 1-pound, 8-ounce, and 4-ounce packages with lot numbers: 7049, 7050, 7051, 7052, 7054, 7056, 7058, 7060, 7062, and 7066.

The recalled products were sold in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Botulism poisoning may cause general weakness, dizziness, double vision, and trouble speaking or swallowing. Having a hard time breathing, muscle weakness, belly pain, and constipation are also common symptoms. People who have these problems should seek medical help.

No illnesses have been connected to the recalled products.

This is not the first time Mill Stream ran afoul of FDA regulations. The company agreed to shut down its manufacturing in 2016 after the U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of the FDA. The complaint said Mill Stream failed œto plan for and control the presence of bacteria and neurotoxins commonly found in seafood-processing facilities,” according to a Department of Justice news release.

It said Mill Stream™s products were œadulterated in that they have been prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby the products may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.”

The company spent the next 3 years working to gain FDA approval to begin selling smoked fish and other products. It reopened in August 2019, according to a blog post on the Sullivan Harbor Farm website.

œWe spent 3 years going through a relicensing ordeal with the FDA, which oversees and licenses all seafood in the US,” the blog post says. œWe stuck to our guns with our artisanal approach to curing and smoking. Going forward our customers can expect the same level of quality and tastes from our products while maintaining high foods safety standards.”


WebMD Health

Study: As More Kids Vaped, Teens Smoked Less

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 20, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The advent of the e-cigarette appears to have spurred a huge drop in tobacco smoking rates among teenagers and young adults, a new study claims.

Previous research has argued that vaping could prove to be a gateway drug for smoking, by getting youngsters hooked on nicotine and used to the physical actions associated with smoking.

Instead, smoking among teens dropped off dramatically after e-cigarette use became more widespread in 2013, said lead researcher David Levy. He is a professor with the Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Washington, D.C.

“The rate of decline in cigarette use tripled,” said Levy.

The new findings come days after U.S. regulators pledged to strengthen policies that prevent the sale of flavored vaping products to minors.

“I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration statement. “We won’t let this pool of kids, a pool of future potential smokers, of future disease and death, to continue to build.”

For the new study, Levy and his colleagues analyzed responses to five different national surveys that track tobacco use.

The surveys showed that, prior to 2013, cigarette smoking was gradually declining among young people between the ages of 15 and 25, the researchers reported.

But after 2013, that gradual decline turned into a steep decline. The annual relative reduction in smoking tripled among 10th and 12th graders, the investigators found.

Why? Levy and his colleagues suggested that, in part, it’s because vaping became popular.

Past 30-day vaping among high school students increased from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 4.5 percent in 2013, and to 13.4 percent in 2014.

“When e-cigarette use came in, smoking rates dropped between 25 and 40 percent,” Levy said. “Smoking rates in young adults have dropped by almost 50 percent, and most of that [has been] since 2013.”

Levy said he’s worried that tough e-cigarette regulations could reverse those trends.

Continued

“My concern is if we have very strict policies on e-cigarettes, it’s kind of like throwing out the baby with the bathwater,” Levy said. “We might see more smoking.”

But Patricia Folan, director of the Northwell Health Center for Tobacco Control in Great Neck, N.Y., said the new report gives vaping too much credit for the decline in tobacco use among young people.

“Anti-tobacco media campaigns, increasing taxes on cigarettes, tobacco-free environments, the removal of cigarettes and other tobacco products from some pharmacies and other retail stores, as well as efforts to restrict and reduce point-of-sale advertising have all contributed to a reduction of smoking among teens and adults,” Folan said.

Levy agreed that these measures have played a part, but argued that “of the between 25 and 50 percent drop in smoking rates, maybe 10 percent might be explained by other policies.”

In fact, the availability of e-cigarettes might make other anti-smoking efforts more effective, Levy added.

“Those other policies probably have become a lot more powerful as a result of e-cigarettes being there as a substitute for cigarettes,” he said.

But Folan noted that even if young people are vaping rather than smoking, they’re still being exposed to nicotine.

“Vaping is often perceived as a healthy alternative for teens and adults,” she said. “However, for teens the exposure to nicotine can have an adverse effect on the developing brain and lead to lifelong addiction.”

It also shouldn’t be assumed that e-cigarettes are harmless, said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. The vapor inhaled by users contains a wide array of chemicals.

“This is not a non-toxic thing to do, just because it’s not burning paper and burning tobacco,” Horovitz said. “There’s nothing OK about vaping.”

The study was published online Nov. 20 in the journal Tobacco Control.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: David Levy, Ph.D., professor, Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Washington, D.C.;  Patricia Folan, RN, DNP, director,  Northwell Health Center for Tobacco Control, Great Neck, N.Y.; Len Horovitz, M.D.,  pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Nov. 20, 2018,Tobacco Control, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


WebMD Health

Smoked, Vaped, Eaten: Teens Use Pot in Many Ways

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 28, 2018 (HealthDay News) — American teens are partaking of pot in any way they can, from smoking to vaping to eating marijuana edibles, new research shows.

The study, of Los Angeles-area high school students, found that about one-third had ever used marijuana. And most of them had used it in more than one way.

Smoking was most popular, but many kids also took the drug via “edibles” or “vaping” — where cannabis aerosol is inhaled, smoke-free, with the help of electronic cigarettes.

There are a few reasons the findings are concerning, said senior researcher Adam Leventhal, a professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, in Los Angeles.

Smoking has traditionally deterred some kids from trying marijuana,” Leventhal said. “They don’t like the way it tastes, or the way it burns their throat.”

In contrast, he said, kids may be readily attracted to the “alternative” ways of using the drug — like gummy bears spiked with cannabis extracts, or via vaping liquids that are flavored like bubblegum.

Leventhal pointed to another potential worry: If teens are using multiple forms of marijuana — and having greater exposure to its active ingredient — could that increase the odds of chronic, problem use?

Past studies have found that teenagers who use marijuana are at greater risk of marijuana use disorders in adulthood, Leventhal said. Some research has also suggested they may have somewhat lower IQ scores or poorer memory and attention.

It’s not clear, though, whether using multiple types of marijuana might exacerbate any effects, according to Leventhal.

The findings were based on a survey of nearly 3,200 10th graders at 10 Los Angeles-area schools.

Overall, 34 percent said they’d ever used marijuana. Smoking was the most popular method, but almost 62 percent had taken the drug in at least two forms.

About 8 percent of all kids who’d used marijuana had tried all three methods the survey asked about: smoking, vaping and edibles.

The findings were published online Sept. 28 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Continued

The study leaves some unanswered questions, according to Joseph Palamar, an associate professor of population health at NYU Langone Health, in New York City.

Palamar noted that the survey was done before California legalized recreational marijuana — and it’s not clear whether and how that might relate to teenagers’ use of different products.

“It would be interesting to see how use of different products shifts over time as policy changes,” said Palamar, who was not involved in the research.

Similarly, it’s not clear whether the patterns seen at LA high schools reflect other areas of the country, he added.

Both researchers said similar surveys in other states would be useful — particularly as the trend toward legalization grows.

Recreational use is not legal for minors. But, Leventhal explained, legalization may give some kids the impression marijuana is harmless.

That is not the case, however. Palamar cautioned on edibles, in particular, since it’s easy for kids to ingest large amounts of the drug.

“A lot of people eat too much, especially when the effects take time to kick in,” Palamar said. “If you eat too much, there’s no turning back and you’re stuck with the full effects — unlike smoking weed, where users can at least titrate their doses.”

The bad news for parents, Leventhal said, is that it’s harder to tell when their kids are using edibles or vaping, versus smoking pot.

“With smoking, you can smell it. Or you might find the bag of weed,” he pointed out. “But gummy bears with cannabis extracts look like gummy bears.”

Palamar agreed. “Parents and teachers can no longer rely on the ‘smell test.'”

Leventhal suggested that parents talk to their kids about marijuana use in all its forms — including the fact that edibles and vaping should not be presumed “safe.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Adam Leventhal, Ph.D., professor, preventive medicine and psychology, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles; Joseph Palamar, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor, population health, NYU Langone Health, New York City; Sept. 28, 2018,JAMA Network Open, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

Smoked, Vaped, Eaten: U.S. Teens Use Pot in Many Ways

FRIDAY, Sept. 28, 2018 — American teens are partaking of pot in any way they can, from smoking to vaping to eating marijuana edibles, new research shows.

The study, of Los Angeles-area high school students, found that about one-third had ever used marijuana. And most of them had used it in more than one way.

Smoking was most popular, but many kids also took the drug via “edibles” or “vaping” — where cannabis aerosol is inhaled, smoke-free, with the help of electronic cigarettes.

There are a few reasons the findings are concerning, said senior researcher Adam Leventhal, a professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, in Los Angeles.

“Smoking has traditionally deterred some kids from trying marijuana,” Leventhal said. “They don’t like the way it tastes, or the way it burns their throat.”

In contrast, he said, kids may be readily attracted to the “alternative” ways of using the drug — like gummy bears spiked with cannabis extracts, or via vaping liquids that are flavored like bubblegum.

Leventhal pointed to another potential worry: If teens are using multiple forms of marijuana — and having greater exposure to its active ingredient — could that increase the odds of chronic, problem use?

Past studies have found that teenagers who use marijuana are at greater risk of marijuana use disorders in adulthood, Leventhal said. Some research has also suggested they may have somewhat lower IQ scores or poorer memory and attention.

It’s not clear, though, whether using multiple types of marijuana might exacerbate any effects, according to Leventhal.

The findings were based on a survey of nearly 3,200 10th graders at 10 Los Angeles-area schools.

Overall, 34 percent said they’d ever used marijuana. Smoking was the most popular method, but almost 62 percent had taken the drug in at least two forms.

About 8 percent of all kids who’d used marijuana had tried all three methods the survey asked about: smoking, vaping and edibles.

The findings were published online Sept. 28 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The study leaves some unanswered questions, according to Joseph Palamar, an associate professor of population health at NYU Langone Health, in New York City.

Palamar noted that the survey was done before California legalized recreational marijuana — and it’s not clear whether and how that might relate to teenagers’ use of different products.

“It would be interesting to see how use of different products shifts over time as policy changes,” said Palamar, who was not involved in the research.

Similarly, it’s not clear whether the patterns seen at LA high schools reflect other areas of the country, he added.

Both researchers said similar surveys in other states would be useful — particularly as the trend toward legalization grows.

Recreational use is not legal for minors. But, Leventhal explained, legalization may give some kids the impression marijuana is harmless.

That is not the case, however. Palamar cautioned on edibles, in particular, since it’s easy for kids to ingest large amounts of the drug.

“A lot of people eat too much, especially when the effects take time to kick in,” Palamar said. “If you eat too much, there’s no turning back and you’re stuck with the full effects — unlike smoking weed, where users can at least titrate their doses.”

The bad news for parents, Leventhal said, is that it’s harder to tell when their kids are using edibles or vaping, versus smoking pot.

“With smoking, you can smell it. Or you might find the bag of weed,” he pointed out. “But gummy bears with cannabis extracts look like gummy bears.”

Palamar agreed. “Parents and teachers can no longer rely on the ‘smell test.'”

Leventhal suggested that parents talk to their kids about marijuana use in all its forms — including the fact that edibles and vaping should not be presumed “safe.”

More information

For facts on marijuana geared for teenagers, visit the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2018

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

State of Emergency Declared in Nevada: They Smoked All the Weed

Nevada is currently in a state of emergency. No, it’s not a zombie apocalypse, a nuclear meltdown or a massive sandstorm. The state is nearly out of recreational marijuana to sell only about two weeks after it started selling recreational weed.

Nevada’s Department of Taxation called for a state of emergency over this issue, and Gov. Brian Sandoval endorsed their call. That doesn’t mean what you think it does, most likely, it just means that the state is going to start allowing more producers to get licensed so there will be more cannabis available for sale.

“Based on reports of adult-use marijuana sales already far exceeding the industry’s expectations at the state’s 47 licensed retail marijuana stores, and the reality that many stores are running out of inventory, the Department must address the lack of distributors immediately. Some establishments report the need for delivery within the next several days,” taxation department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said in a statement to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

As Newsweek has noted, it’s pretty common for a state to start running low on marijuana shortly after it starts selling it, based on what we’ve seen in other recreational states. The Las Vegas Sun reports that in only four days, Nevada made half a million dollars in tax revenue from marijuana out of the roughly $ 3 million it sold in that time. There were reportedly over 40,000 marijuana sales in the state’s retail stores in the first weekend.

Considering Las Vegas and Reno are known as places where people tend to indulge in mind altering substances, including alcohol, it shouldn’t be too surprising that there was a lot of demand for recreational marijuana. With all those sales happening and all that tax money coming in, it looks like the cannabis industry in the state is going to have a major impact on its economy and its ability to invest in its communities. In the mean time, I have to imagine those looking for marijuana while there isn’t much around will be experiencing some fear and loathing.

[Photo via KOMUnews/Flickr]

The 420 Times

Marijuana and the GOP Debate: ‘Sorry Mom, I Smoked Marijuana, and I Admit It’

Good. That’s at least an honest starting point for the discussion.

GOP Presidential candidate Jeb Bush confessed last night during the nationally televised debate that he’d smoked marijuana when he was in high school.

It all happened when moderator Jake Tapper asked a question that was high on many viewers’ list of concerns: “Many people on social media wanted us to ask about marijuana legalization. Senator Paul, Governor Christie recently said, quote, ‘if you’re getting high in Colorado today,’ where marijuana was legalized in 2012, ‘enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana.’ Will you?”

That’s when Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, insinuated that “somebody on stage” had smoked weed as a young man. Feeling outed, Bush confessed:

“Forty years ago, I smoked marijuana, and I admit it.”

Explaining to the viewing audience the obvious: “I’m sure that others (Read: presidential candidates) might have done it, and may not want to say it in front of 25 million people,” Bush solemnly explained. “My mom’s not happy that I just did.”

Not amused, Paul pointed out to the national audience that Jeb had campaigned against medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, reciting the heart-wrenching story of a Florida child being unable to medicate her illness with cannabis oil.

“And if they attempt to do that in Florida, they will take the child away, they will put the parents in jail, and that’s what that means: If you’re against allowing people to use medical marijuana you’ll actually put them in jail,” complained Paul.

“Under the current circumstances, kids who have privilege, like you do, don’t go to jail, but the poor kids in our inner cities go to jail,” Paul chided Bush.

Sen. Paul then attacked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who panders to the hard right, claiming that Gov. Christie would ignore the 10th amendment and enforce the federal law on states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, which have all legalized recreational marijuana.


Marijuana

Bill Maher Explains the Hypocrisy of Politicians That Smoked Pot

When it comes to people that held (ahem, or currently holding) the position of POTUS that puffed the sticky stuff, the list is pretty long. But when you think about it, if any one of them had actually been ensnared in the legal system for being dirty little dopers they’d most likely never have held a political position, let alone that of POTUS.

So, when you consider the fact that most of those same pot-consuming politicians pompously uphold our nation’s failed drug policy, you’d have to agree that our last three POTUS’ and several of the prospective candidates for 2016 personify two-facedness to the fullest.

Bill Maher elegantly explains in the attached video clip how it’s time for these hypocrites to lighten up on those of us that choose to light up and bring an end to the colossal failure that is marijuana prohibition.

Bill believes that it’s “time to declare that the media ritual of asking presidential candidates if they’ve ever smoked pot can be put to rest, because the answer is always ‘yes’ and nobody cares.”

We couldn’t agree more.

One of our favorite moments from the video is when Bill points out what a hypocritical, “cynical turd” Jeb Bush truly is.

And Jeb wants us to believe he’s somehow different from his dad and brother who both previously failed as POTUS?.? Sorry, Jeb. You’ll need to try and sell that BS somewhere else.

We wonder if we’ll ever see a president that wasn’t bought off by powerful lobbyists in order to initiate their secret political agendas. Maybe if the Koch brothers ever go bankrupt?.? And only then.

Bill Maher for president?!?

Be sure to check out our exclusive interview with Bill Maher by following this link!

The 420 Times

4 US Presidents That Smoked Weed

There’s been plenty of speculation as to which of our nation’s leaders have actually partaken in a puff of the sticky stuff but there’s only a select few who have admitted to actually doing so.

1- Current POTUS Obama:

Even though Obama has a history of laughing off the majority of the nation’s support to legalize marijuana for any dedication we see fit, he has been exceedingly clear in regards to his own marijuana consumption in the past, even being quoted saying: “I inhaled frequently. That was the point.”


2- Former POTUS Bill Clinton:

Not only was Clinton’s administration not cool with weed during his reign as POTUS, he himself was the personification of “not cool” regarding marijuana, which was proven when he was asked if he’d ever consumed marijuana and replied with, “When I was in England….I experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didn’t like it. And didn’t inhale and never tried it again.” How one can claim they’ve in reality “experimented” but “didn’t inhale” is beyond anyone here on The 420 Times’ staff to decode. But let’s face it, we’re talking about the same guy that “did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Ya, right, Billy boy. Have another fake puff.


3- Former POTUS George W. Bush:

Here’s someone we wish would’ve never scammed his way into the White House at all! At first, Bush publicly refused to answer the marijuana question. But he was later caught admitting he refused to talk about it by saying, “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.” I think he meant he didn’t want little kids trying to pretend to possess intelligence and swindle their way into the Oval Office only to all but destroy the economy while involving our country in a pointless war. We’re so glad that reign is over! But I digress.

4- Former POTUS John F. Kennedy:

Kennedy was said to have consumed marijuana on the regular in order to control his back pain (even during his term) and in fact planned on legalizing marijuana during his second term, according to a few written accounts and those individuals close to him, including John F. Kennedy: A Biography, which described this White House scene:

On the evening of July 16, 1962, according to [Washington Postexecutive] Jim Truitt, Kennedy and Mary Meyer smoked marijuana together. … The president smoked three of the six joints Mary brought to him. At first he felt no effects. Then he closed his eyes and refused a fourth joint. ‘Suppose the Russians did something now,’ he said.

So, will the next person that’s elected into the POTUS position elect to keep their pot-consuming past a secret? Or will they take into account that the majority of Americans want to see the laws regarding marijuana consumption undergo major reform and be willing to admit the truth about their past?

I guess only time will tell.

The 420 Times

President’s Day: 4 US Presidents That Smoked Weed

There’s been plenty of speculation as to which of our nation’s leaders have actually partaken in a puff of the sticky stuff but there’s only a select few who have admitted to actually doing so.

1- Current POTUS Obama:

Even though Obama has a history of laughing off the majority of the nation’s support to legalize marijuana for any dedication we see fit, he has been exceedingly clear in regards to his own marijuana consumption in the past, even being quoted saying: “I inhaled frequently. That was the point.”


2- Former POTUS Bill Clinton:

Not only was Clinton’s administration not cool with weed during his reign as POTUS, he himself was the personification of “not cool” regarding marijuana, which was proven when he was asked if he’d ever consumed marijuana and replied with, “When I was in England….I experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didn’t like it. And didn’t inhale and never tried it again.” How one can claim they’ve in reality “experimented” but “didn’t inhale” is beyond anyone here on The 420 Times’ staff to decode. But let’s face it, we’re talking about the same guy that “did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Ya, right, Billy boy. Have another fake puff.


3- Former POTUS George W. Bush:

Here’s someone we wish would’ve never scammed his way into the White House at all! At first, Bush publicly refused to answer the marijuana question. But he was later caught admitting he refused to talk about it by saying, “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.” I think he meant he didn’t want little kids trying to pretend to possess intelligence and swindle their way into the Oval Office only to all but destroy the economy while involving our country in a pointless war. We’re so glad that reign is over! But I digress.

4- Former POTUS John F. Kennedy:

Kennedy was said to have consumed marijuana on the regular in order to control his back pain (even during his term) and in fact planned on legalizing marijuana during his second term, according to a few written accounts and those individuals close to him, including John F. Kennedy: A Biography, which described this White House scene:

On the evening of July 16, 1962, according to [Washington Postexecutive] Jim Truitt, Kennedy and Mary Meyer smoked marijuana together. … The president smoked three of the six joints Mary brought to him. At first he felt no effects. Then he closed his eyes and refused a fourth joint. ‘Suppose the Russians did something now,’ he said.

So, will the next person that’s elected into the POTUS position elect to keep their pot-consuming past a secret? Or will they take into account that the majority of Americans want to see the laws regarding marijuana consumption undergo major reform and be willing to admit the truth about their past?

I guess only time will tell.

The 420 Times

Texas Girl Was Taken Away From Parents Because They Smoked Pot, Only to Be Killed in Foster Care


alexhill-thumb-560x241.jpg

Little Alex Hill would have been turned four-years-old last month. But rather than celebrating their child’s birthday, the toddler’s parents have only the bitter consolation of seeing a judge in Milam County hand Alex’s foster mother a life sentence for murder.

The life sentence is a small victory in the case of two-year-old Alex, whose July 2013 death was caused by devastating injuries at the hands of her foster mother, 52-year old Sherill Small.

Alex was placed in Small’s care in early 2013, after her father admitted to child welfare investigators that he had smoked marijuana while the child was tucked away in bed at night.

By all accounts, towheaded Alexandria “Alex” Hill, was a healthy and happy toddler, living with her parents, Joshua Hill and Mary Sweeny, in Cameron, Texas in late 2012. But in Texas, using cannabis goes against child welfare policy, and Hill, who told investigators he’d been smoking pot at night, was in violation of those laws.

“Mr. Hill admitted to smoking marijuana in the house when his daughter has been upstairs sleeping,” the caseworker representing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services noted in court records.

The CPS caseworker ultimately determined that Alex’s mother’s frequent seizures (a medical condition), coupled with that pesky marijuana use, warranted removal from the home, and Alex was placed with a foster family.

But Alex’s parents immediately began to notice red flags about the conditions in the first home during visitations with their daughter, according to Hill. Alex had noticeable bruises, and the couple also found mold & mildew in the little girl’s bag.

Fearing for her safety, Hill refused to give Alex back, despite the threat of jail time, unless the state placed her in a different home. The placement agency ultimately gave in, and Alex was placed in her second foster home, this time with Sherill Small, who had one other child in her care.

Small had been approved as a foster parent by Texas Mentor, a third party private agency who provides foster homes to the Texas Child Protective Services system. No mention was made of Texas Mentor’s shady track record — they had racked up over 15 violations by this point, according to the Dallas Morning News.

One hundred fourteen more violations would ultimately follow, but none of this information was shared with Hill. The first time he heard it, he was sitting in the courtroom listening to testimony on Alex’s beating death.

On July 29, 2013 — just four months before Joshua Hill was set to regain custody of his daughter — he received an urgent call requesting that he rush to the Scott and White Children’s Emergency Hospital in Temple.

When Hill arrived, he found his daughter attached to machines, with Alex’s tiny body kept alive on life support. Her father had no choice but to say good-bye.

Ultimately, Small admitted to Rockdale police that Alex’s injuries came from her slamming the toddler onto the floor of the home where she lived with her husband, Clemons Small III.

But it was an accident, Small said, one that happened when she was “playing a game” with the child. Still, she admitted to being “frustrated” with the girl because the the toddler had woken up early that morning to get herself food and water.

While the idea of removing a toddler from her parents’ care not for abuse, but for simple marijuana use, is puzzling at best, what’s even more disconcerting is that the same rules didn’t apply to her foster family.

Turns out Sherill Small’s third husband, Clemon Small, had a pretty legit criminal history, including multiple drug charges for marijuana.

During the home study portion of the couple’s foster application, Clemon described himself as a recovering crack cocaine addict, and admitted to multiple drug charges. Small also admitted to the home study investigator that she had also been out of work for months. Rather, she made a living by keeping foster children.

Still, the report from the home study concluded that “the family is capable of providing a safe home environment,” and Small was given the go ahead to provide foster care.

That “safe environment” is where Alex died. A medical examiner found that her head hit the floor so violently that she was found to have “subdural hemorrhaging, subarachnoid hemorrhaging, and retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes,” according to court testimony.

Alex’s autopsy also revealed several bruises and injuries on her cheek, arms, legs, and behind her ear, he said. The most severe bruising was found on top of the head and around Alexandria’s lower back and buttocks.

Court testimony in the case stated that Alex had also lost about a third of her total blood volume from her liver, preventing oxygen from reaching her brain and causing liver function to fail.

Not only is it stunning the state would allow kids to be placed with such foster parents, but Alex’s case also begs the question as to why investigators must remove a child whose parents smoked pot — while she was tucked a way in bed upstairs — in the first place.

While the state of Texas may still have antiquated marijuana policies on the books, other states sure don’t. Recreational and medicinal pot is, as of Tuesday’s election, legal in four states — Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado — along with the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C., and one city, South Portland, Maine.

Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, there is pending legislation in two more — Ohio and Pennsylvania — and 14 other states tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to pass medical marijuana legislation in 2014.

Alex died a brutal, untimely death because she was placed in a dangerous foster home. But she put in foster care in the first place because the state of Texas deemed it reasonable to remove her from a loving home because her father smoked pot while she was asleep.

That seems like too high a price to pay for pot prohibition.

This story by writer Angelica Leicht originally ran last month in our sister paper, The Houston Press.

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Toke of the Town

The Daily Bake: Here’s What The Internet Smoked On Today

Another day, another dime bag. In 2014, it’s tough to open up Google News without marijuana popping up…over and over again. Fortunately, we’re here to sift though the schwag and find what’s really dank in the World Wide Weed.

We do our best to keep you toasted here, but here’s what else you should be smoking on:

Denver Post: Denver asks Colorado Symphony to call off bring-your-own-pot concerts

The Los Angels Times: Marijuana Boom Spawns Entrepreneurs

The Weed Blog: Marijuana Raid Assisted By Homeland Security, Border Patrol, Customs

Golf Digest: When There’s Smoke–As attitudes–and laws–on marijuana shift, weed-loving golfers are stepping out of the shadows and onto the tee

Star Tribune: Minnesota Senate passes medical marijuana bill; could become only state the bans smoking

draft

And players can make millions to damage their brains, but still can’t legally smoke up in the NFL:

 

MARIJUANA

Washington Smoked About 170 Metric Tons of Marijuana in 2013

Americans smoke tons of weed a year, perhaps, some might say, in excess (compared to those classy Amsterdam spliff smokers). But a new study from RAND suggests that Americans–especially in Washington state–smoke even more weed than we could have ever imagined:

While the Washington Office of Financial Management projected that 85 metric tons (MT) of marijuana would be consumed in the state in 2013, this report suggests that estimate is probably too low, perhaps by a factor of two. There is inevitable uncertainty surrounding estimates of illegal and quasi-illegal activities, so it is better to think in terms of a range of possible sizes, rather than a point estimate. Analyses suggest a range of 135–225 MT, which might loosely be thought of as a 90-percent confidence interval, with a median estimate close to 175 MT. [RAND]

That translates to 374,787 pounds of cannabis. And THAT’S A LOT OF DOPE. If you multiply that 170 tons by 50 states, that would Americans smoke 8,500 Metric Tons of Cannabis a year. When you consider how big California is, that number is definitely over 10,000 Tons (and that’s a conservative estimate).

Conclusion: people like getting really, really high. And we can’t blame them.

Marijuana.com