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Reefer Madness Surrounds Fatal Colorado Shooting Case

The trademark red and yellow Reefer Madness poster.

Joint Opinions

Reefer Madness Surrounds Fatal Colorado Shooting Case

Contributing to a refreshing new form of mass media propelled Reefer Madness, Denver police say Richard Kirk smoked and ate marijuana products just hours before shooting his wife. He has been charged with first-degree murder, because police say Kirk has admitted that he shot and killed his wife in the home while she was on the phone with 911.

According to 911 records, one of the first things Kristine Kirk told emergency personnel was that her husband had been using marijuana. She told dispatchers her husband ate cannabis infused candy and then started hallucinating and frightening their three young children.

Kristine Kirk hysterically told 911 that her husband was getting a gun from a safe before a gunshot sounded about 12 minutes into her call and the line went quiet.

Police say the receipt as well as a surveillance video from Nutritional Elements, a dispensary on Colorado Blvd in Denver, confirm that Richard Kirk purchased “Karma Kandy Orange Ginger,” a cannabis infused candy, and “Pre-98 Bubba Kush,” pre-rolled joint, the day of his wife’s murder. The shop has since removed all edibles from their shelves in response to the story.

Only lightly being reported is the fact that Richard Kirk was also under the influence of pain medication for an injured back, the same reason he was using cannabis. This tragedy is being spun to instill a renewed fear of cannabis, and its psychoactive effects spawning from the first states to legalize the use of cannabis not only medicinally but also recreationally.

This is not the first of the pot infused horror stories to break headlines from Colorado, as in the case of Levy Thamba, a 19-year-old exchange student at Northwest College who fell to his death while under the influence of a pot-infused edible.

These stories are sensational in the media, because our culture is being absorbed into the mainstream. Cannabis is a hot topic and the stigma surrounding it has only faded slightly, so the stories are very biased. As many more people seek to get high on pot while in the nation’s greenest state, many more irresponsible decisions are being made, and these irresponsible decisions are a one-way ticket to headline news.

These types of behaviors and stories are expected when it comes to being under the influence of alcohol, and they rarely make news beyond regional publications. This is because alcohol prohibition has ended long ago, and acceptance is mainstream.

People are tolerant of irresponsible behaviors while drinking. Cannabis prohibition is still alive; our movement is still proving itself in the eyes of the public. In order for medicinal and recreational use to be legalized and prohibition to end, we need to bring everyone together under the common cause. Stories like this scare people away and make them say the inevitable, “I told you so!”

Providers need to do a better job of educating their clients about the products they are about to consume. It cannot be assumed that every person that walks through the door are enlightened ganja gurus. Many people do not even understand the basics about this plant due to prohibition. Business owners must take the time to educate themselves on how to properly educate others.

Producers should work to create different grades of potencies, not always shooting for “the strongest” many people underestimate this plant, and over medicate with edibles often.

It is a necessity to create infused treats that are geared for novice users and pot tourists, lower in THC with more moderate levels of the other cannabinoids. Medical cannabis is one thing, recreational is another, and the expected results quite often differ. Testing laboratories should strive to give accurate information back to the producers, and should take the time to work with them to produce a stable and properly labeled product line.

Above all else, patrons and patients need to be just that, patient—give the initial dose time to work its magic before jumping into another, work on getting yourself right where you need to be, instead of ending up too high, where euphoria turns to dysphoria.

Should there be tighter regulations on marijuana edibles? Tell us in the comments below!

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