Pubdate: Thu, 01 Oct 2015
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2015 Boulder Weekly
Author: Leland Rucker


A week ago Friday, lawyers for Richard Kirk, a Denver man who is 
charged with the murder of his wife after eating a cannabis edible 
during a domestic disturbance in April 2014, changed his original 
plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity.

The pot made him do it. Had he not ingested a marijuana edible, he 
wouldn't have murdered his wife, Kristine, who was on the phone with 
911 when she was shot.

It's a horrible story. Police reports indicate that the incident took 
place at home while their three sons were present. According to a 
police affidavit for a search warrant, Richard Kirk bought a Bubba 
Kush joint and a 100-milligram piece of Karma Kandy Orange Ginger 
taffy at a store on South Colorado Boulevard. He apparently ate some 
or all of the candy, came home, began arguing with his wife and 
acting irrationally, cutting his legs on broken glass, before 
unlocking the gun safe and shooting his wife in the head.

That's pretty much been the way this story has played out in the 
media, with special emphasis on the marijuana consumption. The 
incident happened just four months after legalization, and the story 
went worldwide, mostly because of the phone call, in which Kristine 
Kirk describes drunken behavior by her husband before the shooting.

The resultant outcry, along with the death of a young man who jumped 
or fell to his death from a hotel window after eating an edible, is 
among the reasons that the state legislature is looking again at 
edibles rules and regulations. Final changes are due at the end of the year.

As the Kirk case winds through the court system, we keep learning 
more. It wasn't the first time police had been called to the home. A 
police detective told investigators that the couple had been involved 
in domestic disputes in the weeks leading up to the shooting. There 
were big credit card and tax debts. THC was the only drug found in 
Kirk's system, but the concentration of 2.3 nanograms per milliliter 
is lower than the level required for impairment in Colorado. (It's 
not known when the blood was drawn, and THC levels can rise or drop 
dramatically after ingestion.)

It's hard to say what the defense is planning. In Colorado, if you 
willingly use drugs or alcohol, you can't use that as a qualification 
for an insanity plea. His lawyers will have to prove he has mental 
problems that render him incapable of decisionmaking.

Kirk will be evaluated at the Colorado Mental Health Institution and 
a hearing on his mental state is scheduled for Dec. 17.

In other news, a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee in South 
Carolina voted to advance a bill that would legalize marijuana for 
certain medical conditions. The bill's main sponsor, Sen. Thom Davis, 
feels that the general assembly is supportive of efforts to allow 
cancer, glaucoma and AIDS patients in the state to use cannabis.

According to a story in The State in Columbia, South Carolina, Law 
Enforcement Division head Mark Keel indicated his displeasure by 
testifying that allowing medical marijuana would make it easier for 
teens to obtain it. He also claimed, incorrectly, that in states that 
have legalized medical marijuana, more teens are users.

The panel was immediately onto his bullshit. One co-sponsor said the 
only thing currently limiting high school students from buying 
marijuana is their pocketbook. Another said, "Any system that we come 
up with is going to be abused."

The bill passed over Keel's objections and now goes to the full 
Senate Medical Affairs Committee early next year. If it passes, it 
heads for the full Senate and then the South Carolina House.

Finally, some really depressing news from the Uniform Crime Report 
prepared by the FBI and released this month. There were 700,993 
arrests in 2014 for marijuana violations in the U.S. That's 7,511 
more than in 2013, and it's the first time that the number of arrests 
has gone up since 2009.

More than 88 percent of those were for possession alone. Arrests for 
marijuana account for almost 45 percent of all drug arrests, which, 
incidentally, is the largest category of offenses for which people 
are arrested. And all this despite the fact that four states have 
legalized recreational use and more states are allowing medical 
exceptions every month. Such a waste.

You can hear Leland discuss his most recent column and Colorado 
cannabis issues each Thursday morning on KGNU.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom