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Dammit Bobby, You're a Prosecutor Not a Scientist!

For a quick laugh check out “Report Shows Marijuana Users Growing Older” from the Salem News in Ohio. (Update:  now removed, hopefully for the reasons listed below. Full article appears in the comments section of this post).

The story caught my attention because marijuana users are rarely studied in the U.S. I thought it odd that the Salem News would have the scoop on new marijuana research.

Turns out all they’ve got is the talkative County Prosecutor Robert Herron who read toxicology results from the coroner’s office and got upset that middle-aged dead people were testing positive for marijuana.

He thinks it’s a sign of moral decay:

"These are people who have kids, and I think that's significant," he said. Herron referred to a section in the recently released annual report of county Coroner Dr. William Graham which highlighted positive toxicology results by age. The report said 75 percent of cannabinoid (marijuana) users were males in their early 40's, and out of 17 positive tests for drugs, 16 cases involved people ranging in age from 20 years old to 48 years old.

But um…dead people are more likely to be old, silly. They’re also more likely to have been sick, in which case their marijuana use may have been medical.

I’m not surprised to see a drug warrior drawing asinine conclusions from an autopsy report. It’s happened before. But I’m disappointed that the reporter missed these obvious flaws in his logic.

Send your feedback here.

I think County Prosecutor Robert Herron is just pissed that he never got a chance to put these folks in jail.

Update:  The article was suddenly removed from the Salem News website 

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Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Report shows marijuana users growing older (redux)

The Salem News pulled the article (guessing a little mockingbirdie told them to). Here's the original text, pulled from marijuana.com:

By MARY ANN GREIER./Salem News staff writer

LISBON - An increase in drug-related deaths didn't surprise Columbiana County Prosecutor Robert Herron, but the age of marijuana users in the Coroner's annual report troubled him.

"These are people who have kids, and I think that's significant," he said.

Herron referred to a section in the recently released annual report of county Coroner Dr. William Graham which highlighted positive toxicology results by age.

The report said 75 percent of cannabinoid (marijuana) users were males in their early 40's, and out of 17 positive tests for drugs, 16 cases involved people ranging in age from 20 years old to 48 years old.

A pie chart showed people in the age groups 20 to 29 and 40 to 49 each with 35 percent of the positive toxicology reports, with 30 to 39 accounting for 24 percent and 6 percent in the 50 to 59 age group.

The people in the 40-something group are the ones using marijuana or still using marijuana.

"What type of example does that set?" Herron asked.

He acknowledged that some people don't believe marijuana causes any harm, but he said it's a gateway drug which can lead to the use of other drugs and a gateway the parents are creating for the kids. The problem is when they move on to something else.

"The mindset that parents have, it's creating a whole new culture in the next generation that it's okay to use drugs," Herron said.

One statistic he said the report doesn't include is the total number of survived drug overdoses, which considering it's a

report by the man who investigates death, it wouldn't include stats on the living.

"Obviously, there were a number of drug overdoses that didn't turn out to be fatals," Herron said.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have figures to show how many drug overdoses there were because hospitals don't report such information due to patient privacy laws. He was basing his observation on what investigators hear on the street in drug cases and what's he's informally substantiated.

Another interesting statistic he found regarding the positive toxicology reports was the distribution of drugs, with opiates (which would include heroin) at the same percentage as marijuana.

"For 2006, my prediction is that heroin will increase dramatically," he said, noting there's been an increase in it's usage according to drug investigations.

He said the number of deaths from heroin will increase. In the report for 2005, alcohol and cocaine were the most prominent drugs revealed in toxicology results.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at [email protected]

"First they ignore you,
then they ridicule you,
then they fight you,
then you win."

-- Mahatma Gandhi

If you want peace, work for justice.
If you want justice, seek the truth.
The truth is out there.

--writch

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