Pubdate: Sun, 28 Jul 2013
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Times-Herald
Author: Marie F. Estrada


Two minutes after taking a five-second hit from a vaporizer, Josh 
felt the effects of the earwax marijuana rushing over him.

"I felt like I was gonna die," the 17-year-old recalled. "The movie 
we were watching started to look 3-D. I kept seeing lights."

What the others in the group Josh was with had failed to tell him 
when they offered the drug to him, was that earwax marijuana can 
include up to 90 percent THC.

In short, it's highly hallucinogenic. And, knowledgeable sources say, 
it can be very dangerous to certain people.

Officials on Solano County's Alcohol and Drug Advisory board, say 
they know little about earwax marijuana -- its nickname derived from 
its appearance -- or its potential dangers.

The night Josh was under the drug's influence, someone telephoned 
Rhonda, Josh's grandmother. She picked him up and drove him to the 
hospital -- where his hands were handcuffed to the bed rails and he 
was later arrested.

(Josh and Rhonda agreed to be interviewed for this article under the 
condition that certain details of Josh's experience the night he 
tried earwax be excluded.)

The effects of the drug didn't end with Josh's arrest. The earwax was 
so intense that Josh's high lasted three days, all of which he spent 
in juvenile hall.

A year of probation and $7,000 in fines later, Josh is just beginning 
to get over the experience.

But he isn't the first -- and won't be the last -- teenager who has 
tried a modified form of marijuana. Even former Vallejo dispensary 
employees said that earwax marijuana is a common concentrate to have in stock.

Despite this, most teenagers are unaware that a high THC content in 
their bodies can have short- and long-lasting detrimental effects on 
their bodies and their lives.

And what's worse, say some experts, the cannabis plant itself, 
whether as an earwax variety or other type, is now bred to be 
increasingly potent.

Christie DeClue, a Solano County Alcohol and Drug Advisory board 
member, said marijuana has come a long way from the days of hippies and disco.

"In the 1970s, (people) were primarily smoking the leaves of the 
plant," DeClue said "Now users are smoking (the more potent) buds of 
the plant."

DeClue is also concerned that the starting age for many marijuana 
smokers also has changed.

Where most in the 1960s might have started while in college, today, 
children as young as

12 are experimenting, which can result in long-term damage.

Andy Williamson, a substance abuse administrator in Solano County, 
said using marijuana before age 25 can lower a person's IQ by up to

8 points since a young individual's brain is still developing.

Robert Lunch, a former volunteer for the Highway 29 Health Care 
dispensary in Vallejo, said many local dispensaries have earwax in 
stock. It is for patients with a high tolerance and need the high 
potency medication, he said.

Lunch said the earwax marijuana, which gets its name from its 
yellow-brown appearance, ranges in potency from 50 to 90 percent THC 
- -- depending on the source.

Regardless, juveniles don't have to wait around for a friend with a 
marijuana card to pick up some earwax -- they can make it themselves.

After officials confirmed that it was earwax that Josh smoked, Rhonda 
Googled the substance and found numerous "how-to" Youtube videos.

What disturbed Rhonda the most was not that the earwax exists -- but 
that the recipes are so easy to find -- and not one video explains 
the high THC content or potential risks.

Donald Poston, Josh's former counselor, said the substance is fairly 
easy to make, but can be incredibly dangerous.

"The earwax is made with aerosol butane and the resin of the leaves 
and buds of the female plants. The result is a yellow-green waxy 
material," Poston said.

A substance abuse counselor for Youth and Family Services of Solano 
County in Fairfield, Poston said Josh was the first person he met who 
had tried the drug.

Since then, it has been coming up more in group meetings with other juveniles.

The consensus? It is too strong.

On June 17, CBS Detroit reported two people have been sent to the 
hospital in Detroit after using earwax.

In the article, reporter Sandra McNeill wrote the two 36-year-olds -- 
both medical marijuana patients -- suffered episodes of psychosis.

Director Susan Smolinske, of the Children's Hospital of Michigan 
Regional Poison Control Center, told McNeill the two, "needed to be 
sedated because they were so agitated that they could not be controlled."

Josh can relate.

After an intense year of fines, probation, weekly meetings and anger 
management, Josh said he thinks back to his decision and wishes it 
were different.

"I think what if I hadn't stayed (with the group) and what if I had 
just called my (grandparents)," he said.

But for the most part, he just had to stop thinking about it and move on.

All he can do now is discourage his younger brother from trying drugs 
and start to pay his grandparents back for his fees.

"I paid when I could, but they'll get all of their money back one 
day," Josh said. "I'm not gonna let them lose all of that money for 
one deed that I did."

In August, Josh will turn 18 and his advice to others is to take 
marijuana more seriously.

"What people are telling me is that (marijuana) is not a drug, that 
it's just an herb," Josh said. "That's bullsh--! If it gets you high, 
it's a drug, so don't do it."

The reality of it all, Rhonda said, is that it this could happen to anyone.

While there are groups that people might think are more at risk, many 
juveniles are unaware of the potency differences, she said.

"(Josh) is not, 'that kind' of kid. And I'll tell you, I don't think 
half of them are," Rhonda said. "I think it could be any kind of kid 
because marijuana is so downplayed. They just get caught up."
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