In 1994, voters in Oregon passed the Death with Dignity Act, making the Pacific northwestern state the first in the US to allow doctor assisted suicide. An injunction held up the implementation of the act until 1997 when it went into effect.
This has made a lot of headlines this past week with the assisted suicide death of 29 year old Brittany Maynard. She was suffering from stage four brain cancer known as a glioblastoma. Maynard and her husband moved to Oregon so she could choose the time of her death instead of allowing the cancer to ravage her body before killing her.
Maynard’s death has sparked a renewed debate on assisted suicide that I won’t go into now, but I will say that I personally believe any form of suicide is wrong and anyone assisting with a person’s suicide should be charged with first degree murder.
On Tuesday, Oregon’s liberal voters again returned to the polls and voted to legalize the private cultivation and use of marijuana starting next July. This makes Oregon the third state to legalize pot as they join Colorado and Washington. Florida voters defeated a similar measure on Tuesday, but voters in the US territory of Guam did vote to legalize marijuana for medical use only.
Voters in the nation’s capital also voted to legalize the private cultivation and use of marijuana. I don’t think this will have a huge impact on Congress except to make it legal with what some of them have been doing behind closed doors. As liberal as the Obamas are, I have expected to see marijuana being grown in Michelle’s vegetable garden at the White House.
Within a year of legalizing marijuana in Colorado, there have been reports of deaths that were a direct result of the new law. In one case, Levy Thamba, a 19 year old exchange student from the Republic of Congo ate a marijuana laced cookie. He became agitated and upset then ran out of the hotel room onto the balcony and fell four stories to his death.
In another Colorado incident, 47 year old Richard Kirk purchased some pot laced candy and after eating some of it, became agitated and started threatening his wife and three children. His wife called 9-1-1 telling them that her husband was demanding that she get their gun from the safe and shoot him. While still on the phone, Kristine Kirk refused to retrieve the gun and then she told the dispatcher that he was getting the gun. Twelve minutes into the phone call, the dispatcher heard a shot. When police arrived, 44 year old Kristine was dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
I’m sure that there have been other incidents of marijuana related deaths in Colorado and Washington. I suspect that the number of DUIs have increased and possibly DUI deaths due to the use of marijuana. Now residents in Oregon will have the same legal right get high and possibly die a tragic death. If they don’t die from effects of the pot, they’ll always have the choice to take their own lives if their medical conditions allow it. Once the new law goes into effect next July, perhaps the state of Oregon should change their signs at the state border to read ‘Welcome to Oregon where it is now legal to get high and die.’