The Victims of Marijuana
In 2008 Jeffrey’s son Justin died after snorting heroin. Although Justin’s story ended with heroin, it started with marijuana.
Justin Veatch was a talented young musician and songwriter. When he was 14, he began experimenting with marijuana. His parents were concerned and took him to a counselor to get help. Jeffrey says the counselor didn’t seem too concerned with Justin’s marijuana use and so they let it slide.
Justin’s marijuana use coincided with anxieties he did not discuss with his parents. Instead, Justin self-medicated by adding other recreational drugs and ultimately prescription opiates. He became dependent upon the opiates and when he could no longer access strong enough pills, he turned to snorting street heroin.
Jeffrey Veatch agrees that not all young people who use marijuana will end up using other drugs. But he knows in his son’s case, marijuana was the trigger that caused him to lose his inhibitions and experiment with other, more dangerous drugs that ultimately lead to his death.
Jeffrey Veatch was a network news writer for more than 40 years and won a National Writers’ Guild Award in 2007. But in September 2008, his life was forever changed when Justin died.
Today, Jeffrey Veatch goes to high schools across the country, telling his son’s story. He says that in every place he visits, he is told there are a handful of young people who have been impacted by marijuana in much the same way Justin was. Justin Veatch’s story must be heard by lawmakers considering expanded use and access to this drug as our nation is in the grips of an addiction epidemic.
To learn more about Justin’s story, visit https://thejustinveatchfund.org
On October 6, 2017, 16-year-old Henry MacDougall was with a 19-year-old friend “dabbing” marijuana, using an inhaler to breath in the smoke of highly potent marijuana concentrates that are up to 99% THC.
The older teen took videos of Henry dabbing the concentrates and again after he passed out. The older teen allowed Henry to get in his car and drive home shortly after this. On the way home, Henry passed out again, but this time he was behind the wheel. He drove through a stop sign and was hit by an on-coming semi-truck. Henry died a few hours later.
In an effort to honor the legacy of his son, Gordon has become a vocal opponent of marijuana legalization in the hopes that no other parent suffers the grief of losing their child because of marijuana use.
Corinne LaMarca Gasper
Corinne LaMarca Gasper’s daughter Jennifer Hrobuchak was killed by a driver under the influence of marijuana. The 22 year old recent college graduate had plans for a career, marriage, and family. On July 24th, 2012, Jennifer was on her way to work. In the early morning hours Jennifer drove through a green light. Another driver high on marijuana raced through a red light going 82 miles an hour. He t-boned Jennifer’s car and sent it careening into a Lube Stop that then collapsed on top of her. Jennifer died. The man who hit her had two previous DUI convictions and had driven to a neighboring state to buy his marijuana where it was available commercially. He walked away from the crash unharmed and served only 17 months in jail.
Corinne now dedicates her life to educating parents, youth and elected officials about the danger of driving under the influence of marijuana, advocating for victims’ rights and justice for families. She is also a vocal advocate against legalizing marijuana, knowing that state lines can’t block marijuana from taking its toll somewhere else.
Gasper shares her story and so no other parent has to experience this horrible and preventable loss. She has appeared on numerous media outlets. She has been an ambassador, speaker and advocate for both regional and national organizations.
Johnny Stack was born on February 7, 2000, in Colorado. Johnny was happy, funny, handsome, talented, and extremely intelligent (he got a perfect score on the math portion of the SAT). He loved animals, video games, school, the beach, his friends, and his family. He had a 4.0 GPA (until his last semester of high school) and a scholarship to college. In other words, he was a perfectly normal boy with a wonderful life and a bright future. And he killed himself when he was 19 years old.
In 2014, when he was 14 years old, recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado, and suddenly, it was everywhere and easy to get. He started smoking with friends to get high and later “dabbing” marijuana (a very potent 90% high-THC wax extract), which triggered bizarre episodes of marijuana-induced psychosis, and eventually, full-blown schizophrenia. He suffered from persecutory and delusional thinking (the FBI wanted him for terrorism, the world “knew about him,” the mob had it in for him, his parents were “in on it,” etc.).
Three days before he died, he told his mother, “I need to tell you that you were right…about the marijuana and the drugs. You told me weed would hurt my brain, and it’s ruined my mind and my life. I’m sorry, and I love you.”
He died by suicide three days later.
Now, Johnny’s parents, Laura and John, have started a nonprofit 501c3, Johnny’s Ambassadors, to educate parents and teens about the dangers of today’s high-THC marijuana on the developing adolescent mind
To become an Ambassador, visit www.JohnnysAmbassadors.org.
Andy Zorn was a young man with a happy upbringing. He was a class clown and helped good friends with mental health and substance abuse issues. But when Andy became a teen he began drinking and taking drugs to fit in. For a time, he functioned at a high level. He held down jobs, earned an Associate’s Degree, and completed three years of active duty in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, including a tour of duty in Iraq.
Over the course of five years, Andy suffered a downward spiral in life due to his addiction to marijuana. The years were punctuated by calls to suicide hotlines, hospitalizations in at least five different mental health facilities, and two sentences of court ordered mental health treatment.
In 2014, at the age of 31, Andy tragically died by suicide. He left a note that said, “My soul is already dead. Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain.” During the last week of his life, he told his parents and a social worker that he had to quit using marijuana, but he was addicted and was unable. He stated that when he tried to quit, he had horrible nightmares.
Prior to Andy’s heavy use of marijuana, he did not suffer from any mental health issues. After his marijuana use, Andy suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, as well as Severe Cannabis Use Disorder.
Now, Andy’s mother, Sally, spends her time sharing Andy’s story in the hopes others will heed his cautionary tale. She has been an extremely vocal opponent of commercializing marijuana. To learn more about Andy and others who have been harmed by marijuana, please visit www.momsstrong.org.