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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Powers and Principalities (2009): Twenty years ago, Clay Bender saw the face of spiritual evil with the naked eye while attending a party. Now, Clay’s terrifying spiritual gift returns, showing him that a supernatural threat is looming – one that could threaten everyone in Royal Oak. As the community grapples with bizarre electrical disturbances and a horrible train derailment, only Clay can recognize the true nature of the strange events, and he and his two closest friends have little time to battle the city’s demons – even as all three are forced to face their own. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)




Pharmakeia (2010): Kyla Spears is being warned – in terrifying dreams – of grisly and violent tragedies looming for young people in Royal Oak. But her spiritually gifted friend Clay Bender is reluctant to help, and her feelings for one charming young man threaten her newfound spiritual integrity and her ability to face the truth about what’s really behind the threat. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)



 

Dark Matter (2011): The miraculous resurrection of a young man is caught on video and broadcast to the nation, bringing the spotlight to Murphy Soles and a group of people who claim to be able to heal using a mysterious spiritual force they call the Dark Matter.  But Clay Bender can see that the phenomenon is demonic, and he is forced to race against time and battle his best friend to expose the deception and save the lives of thousands. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)



Backstop (2017): Darius Wilson’s preacher father has always envisioned his son as his successor in the pulpit. Darius has another passion, though – baseball. And when the Detroit Tigers draft him, Darius defies his father and heads to Lakeland, Florida to pursue his dream. But what Darius has learned since childhood about the spiritual forces of evil comes into play when he realizes that Lakeland is home to a very dark presence. And without his father’s help, Darius may not have what it takes to fend off a threat that could bring tragedy to the entire Tigers organization. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)




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When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear. Though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me. – Psalm 27:2-6