[First off — welcome to post number 1,000 at Drug WarRant. What a ride! When I started this blog just under two years ago, I expected to be posting once or twice a week. Obviously I got a little more involved than that.]
Now, on to Mark Souder. Why is he the scum of the earth? Because he’s using the death of a 14-year-old girl for his cheap drug war theatrics. Today on the floor of the House, he invoked the death of Irma Perez as an indictment against the entire medical marijuana movement. He also did so last year when this amendment came up. He did it on his website for awhile, and he did it in the Washington Times last week.
Here’s what Souder said in the Times:
The consequences of this kind of quackery are real and tragic. Last year, 14-year-old Irma Perez was laid to rest in California after dying from an ecstasy overdose at a party. Her friends, having recognized that Irma felt unwell after taking the MDMA pill, attempted to give her marijuana because they believed “that drug is sometimes used to treat cancer patients.” Had she received early — and real — treatment, Irma likely would have survived the overdose.
Now here’s the full story as reported at the time:
According to several sources close to the investigation, Perez had a strong negative reaction April 23 after taking a blue pill presumed to be MDMA, known on the street as ecstasy. Toxicological tests are still pending to show whether the pill was contaminated with other substances.
Perez complained of feeling awful and said she felt like she was “going to die,” the sources said. In response, her friends gave her water and helped her take a bath.
She also was given ibuprofen and possibly marijuana, apparently because the friends knew that drug is sometimes used to treat cancer patients, sources said.
The two girls also contacted a 17-year-old boy who allegedly supplied them with the drug and asked him for advice, the sources said. He has since been arrested on the same charges as the two girls.
[Note: Toxicology tests later confirmed the ecstasy, but there have been no further public reports as to why Irma died from that dose. Ecstasy overdose deaths are extremely rare and usually require 48 tablets or more. There are, however, rare liver conditions that prevent the body from breaking down Ecstacy. None of these questions were ever answered publicly.]
The real point is — this had absolutely nothing to do with medical marijuana. The friends also thought to give her ibuprofen. Would Mark Souder outlaw that? These friends were searching, grasping at any straw to do something, except the one thing that they very clearly knew — contact adults for help. Why didn’t they? Because they were scared. Because they had been made more afraid of getting help than of letting their friend die.
Marsha Rosenbaum had the right response to this tragedy.
Missing from our educational efforts is a fallback strategy of harm reduction for those teens who, like Perez and her friends, say “yes” despite our efforts.
In addition to providing sound information about alcohol and other drugs, young people should learn to recognize signs of distress and know that they can and must get help. This was not what happened in Perez’s case. For five hours her friends tried on their own to help, using makeshift methods, such as giving her a bath. Perez finally lapsed into the coma from which she never recovered. …
Many in law enforcement, such as Commander Trisha Sanchez of the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force, agree that the message we send our teens should be clear. The use of alcohol and other drugs is a poor choice, but if you do experiment and there is a problem, you will not be punished by calling for help.
But what does Mark Souder say about harm reduction? He has attacked the notion of harm reduction as even being valid. So he is opposed to letting kids know that they can get help.
If anybody is responsible for the death of Irma Perez (and many like her), it is people just like U.S. Congressman Mark Souder, who put the drug war above the lives of the citizens.
For him to attempt to pawn off his own guilt as a contributor to mass murder on those who are trying to help the sick is the lowest of the low. And yes, Mark Souder is the scum of the earth.
[Note: The DEA’s Karen Tandy also used this story to cravenly promote the fiction that medical marijuana is a myth that kills. So Mark will have some company.]