Three die from ‘synthetic weed’ laced with rat poison, and I’m having a hard time seeing them as victims

You never want anyone to die. Of course. It’s a life lost and it’s a tragedy. It grieves God, so it must grieve me, or I won’t be aligned with Him.

At the same time, how can you escape the obvious lesson from this? If you’re not screwing around with mind-altering chemicals as your chosen form of “recreation,” you’re not dead – or in the hospital bleeding – like the people who freely and knowingly indulged in this garbage:

Three people in Illinois have died after experiencing severe bleeding linked to use of synthetic marijuana, health officials say, and a chemical used in rat poison has been detected in at least one of those cases. According to the Illinois Department of Health, 107 people have been treated for severe bleeding linked to the drug since March 7, mostly in the Chicago area.

Officials say one of the deaths was a 22-year-old man who died of excessive internal bleeding March 28, CBS Chicago reports.

Although an official cause of death has not yet been determined, an autopsy detected the presence of brodifacoum, a deadly anticoagulant used in rat poison, which has recently been found in several cases of synthetic marijuana use in Illinois. It can cause severe bleeding, which can be fatal.

“This poisoning is unique in that its effects can last weeks to months. Symptoms may range from unexplained bruising, bleeding from the nose or gums, blood in the urine or stools, coughing up or vomiting blood, to bleeding in the brain. Even without symptoms, the blood’s ability to clot is severely impaired and risk of bleeding is high,” Dr. Jenny Lu, a toxicologist and emergency medicine physician at Stroger Hospital, told CBS Chicago.

“As bleeding can be life-threatening,” she continued, “it is important that people who have used synthetic marijuana seek medical attention at the first sign of poisoning so we can begin treatment right away.”

Synthetic cannabis — often called Spice, K2, or fake weed — consists of man-made mind-altering chemicals either sprayed on dried shredded plant material, or sold as a liquid to be vaporized and inhaled. Foil packets of the drug are often sold over the counter at convenience stores, sometimes deceptively labeled as “herbal incense” or “potpourri.”

Most of the cases in the outbreak involved synthetic marijuana purchased from Chicago-area convenience stores, dealers, or friends, but officials warn the contaminated products could be in counties across the state or beyond.

I anticipate the following objections to my stance here:

  1. The problem was that people weren’t told what the synthetic weed was laced with, not the mere fact that they were using.
  2. If not for the stigma of illegality, the distribution of this product would be better regulated and safer.
  3. Dan! Jesus wouldn’t like you judging stoners!

Here are my responses:

  1. The problem is that when you insist on using mind-altering chemicals to achieve your desired recreational indulgences, you’re going to inevitably deal with people who are not honest, not competent or just not worthy of your association. Altering your brain chemistry in order to experience some sort of high is fundamentally unsafe. Ride a bike. Fly a kite. Go dancing. You will not end up dead or in the hospital bleeding. Ingest some sort of chemical to get you high? You should have known this could happen.
  2. Aren’t you the same people who tell me that prescription drugs and alcohol are just as dangerous? (And yes, they are.) They’re legal and their distribution is highly regulated. So tell me another one.
  3. Which is why I’m not judging them. Pointing out the obvious fact that stupid behavior is stupid is not the same thing as judging. I am also a sinner and in need of God’s grace, and I’m grateful to have it.  That does not require me to pretend I don’t notice when a societal behavior pattern is clearly stupid and self-destructive.

Look, if you’re familiar with my work at all, you know I’m a longtime anti-drug crusader and I always will be. Many of you think this is an antiquated point of view and it’s time to give up the war on drugs, because people will always seek some sort of high and there’s no changing human nature.

I will never agree with that. The Holy Spirit is God’s provision for us to experience heightened sensations, it involves no altering of your physiology – only an awakening of spiritual impulses God has already put in you. If you want a real high, look to Him.

If you reject what God offers and you seek to get high with chemicals of any kind (and yes, that includes alcohol), you’re liable to end up dead, hurt or irreversibly degraded.  I love you and I don’t want that for you. And I’m not going to make you feel better about it by failing to mention how stupid it is.

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