Our sweet Joseph was barely 24 years old when we lost him.
When I got the call letting me know he “was gone”, my first response was, “Where did he go?”
The irony is that I asked the person on the other end if he had left for Colorado because that was a place he frequented. Not because of the beauty of the majestic mountains, but because he could fuel his marijuana habit there without fear of the law. When I heard the words “No, Mrs. D., he didn’t go to Colorado. He was found dead”, my life as I knew it ended at that very moment.
If I thought that the ten years we had battled with his marijuana addiction was hard, it didn’t compare to losing my precious child.
Joey was in and out of multiple rehabs and psych wards during those ten years. But it was the last five years that were the most difficult, as his drug use escalated to other street drugs. But it was the psychosis from marijuana that made this time particularly horrendous.
During the ten years, despite all the help he received, his addiction to marijuana never diminished. He told me multiple times about how much he loved marijuana. Then, during his rare sober times, he would admit it made him more depressed and anxious. I don’t think he ever understood it also made him psychotic.
His dad and I certainly didn’t recognize his actions as being psychotic. We would often say his behavior couldn’t be from “just marijuana”. We would drug test him, and he would be clean for everything but THC. We couldn’t figure out how that was even possible. How could marijuana cause such extreme and often violent behaviors?
We never saw our son smoke marijuana, and he never smelled of it. We had no knowledge of the likes of high-concentrate dabs, edibles, vapes, patches, oils, and other means of delivery. We naively thought current marijuana was the same pot we smoked in the ‘70s. We had no idea that the levels of THC had skyrocketed to the point of causing serious medical and mental health conditions, including the psychosis we were just starting to understand.
When we found dozens of empty butane cans, we were at a complete loss as to what that meant. Once we figured out the butane was for making his own shatter, we tried to find him help, but we quickly realized we were pretty much on our own. The rehabs we found were not acknowledging marijuana as a drug, particularly as our very own government was pushing hard to legalize it. How can something legal be bad, right?
Long story short, my son was fooled by the marijuana industry into thinking THC-laced candy bars or cute little gummy bears couldn’t be that bad. This is an industry of deception and greed, and it doesn’t care about the physical or mental health of our children. Parents are pretty much left on their own to navigate this problem that is being advanced by the very government that is supposed to protect its citizens
My son’s story doesn’t read much differently than that of thousands of others. Their stories are our story. Some end with their children in long-term recovery, but most aren’t that fortunate. School dropouts, job instability, family and relationship problems, homelessness, and legal issues are not uncommon among our children.
Marijuana hijacks brains and ruins lives. Some make it out, but others don’t. Many are condemned to a life of misery as their marijuana addiction turns to other substance use. And for many lost souls, death didn’t come from strokes, or CHS, or lung disease. Death comes from suicide.
To call it “just marijuana” IS the deception and to legalize it is a travesty.
My beautiful boy won’t ever grow into the man he was becoming. He won’t ever be the chef he aspired to be. He won’t ever be a husband or a daddy. My grandsons will never know their funny, smart, loyal, and special Uncle Joey. Our lives are forever changed without him. This didn’t have to end as it did. He deserved so, so much better.