Homeless across country fall victim to synthetic marijuana ” Pot Zombies”

St. Louis, Missouri –

The nation’s homeless are proving to be especially susceptible to a new, dirt-cheap version of synthetic marijuana, which leaves users glassy-eyed, aimless, sprawled on streets and sidewalks oblivious to their surroundings or wandering into traffic.

Nearly 300 homeless people became ill last month in St. Louis due to the man-made hallucinogen that experts believe is far more dangerous and unpredictable than the real thing. Other outbreaks have occurred in New York City, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.

“It was common for us to see reactions where they were violent, incoherent, sometimes catatonic on the ground,” Austin police Lt. Kurt Thomas said.

The homeless are easy targets in a confined area, experts say. The drug is cheap – as little as $1 or $2 for a joint – more difficult to detect in drug tests and is a fast escape from a harsh reality.

Things got so bad in St. Louis last month that the region’s largest provider of homeless services urged people to stop giving the homeless handouts, because they were worried the money would be used to buy the drug.

The Rev. Larry Rice saw the odd behaviors from several homeless people in the streets outside his New Life Evangelistic Center shelter in downtown St. Louis.

“They told me, ‘You get so low, you get such a sense of hopelessness. Somebody wants to sell this for a dollar and you take it,'” Rice said. “People are desperate out there.”

Synthetic marijuana has been around since the late 2000s, packaged under names like K2, Darkness and Mr. Happy. The Drug Enforcement Administration says it is usually a mixture of herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana. It is typically manufactured in China and sold in places like head shops, but it’s also on the street and over the internet.

State legislatures have outlawed it based on its chemical makeup, but the makers tweak the formula enough that it escapes the provisions of the law. So far in St. Louis, only one charge has been filed – a homeless man accused of selling to others on the street.

“You factor in some of the despair or difficult circumstances that these folks are going through, and they often fall prey to the suppliers offering an outlet to deal with their unfortunate situation,” Thomas said.

The medical dangers are real with synthetic marijuana, which can be up to 100 times more potent than real marijuana, said Dr. Anthony Scalzo, director of toxicology for the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Users often experience rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety and hallucinations, he said.

Research published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that 20 deaths from August 2011 through April 2015 were blamed on synthetic marijuana, though that doesn’t account for overdose deaths of undetermined or multiple causes. Scalzo said those who survive can suffer permanent kidney failure and brain damage.

“We have no idea how the body is going to react to the next wave of chemicals,” Scalzo said. “It’s like Russian roulette. You just don’t know what you’re getting.”

During one outbreak in Brooklyn in July, 130 people were hospitalized. Witnesses said many of users were shaking or leaning aimlessly against trees and fire hydrants.

In emergency room interviews, users said they would prefer to smoke real marijuana but took the synthetic drug to avoid detection in urine tests typically mandated for probation and parole issues and other reasons, according to Michelle Nolan of the New York City Health Department.

“For individuals still using a psychoactive substance, this afforded them, criminally speaking, fewer risks,” Nolan said.

The Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles saw the scourge over a few days in August, when 36 people were treated for overdoses. Some had seizures, others staggered through traffic or collapsed on curbs.

Around 150 homeless people have overdosed on synthetic marijuana since August in Austin, and one death was blamed on the drug, Thomas said. Police and homeless advocates in Austin are warning those on the street to avoid the temptation to use, but know it’s an uphill battle.

“Being realistic, we’re always going to have a group of folks who are willing to engage in self-destructive behavior,” Thomas said.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Tustin officer gave man less than a second to raise his hands before fatally shooting him, court says in ruling – Officer Osvaldo Villarreal couldn’t reasonably have feared for his safety when he shot 31-year-old Benny Herrera

Tustin, California

Tustin officer gave man less than a second to raise his hands before fatally shooting him, court says in ruling

A Southern California police officer gave a man less than a second to raise his hands before opening fire and killing him, a federal appeals court noted Friday in rejecting the officer’s request to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Tustin Police Officer Osvaldo Villarreal couldn’t reasonably have feared for his safety when he shot 31-year-old Benny Herrera after responding to a domestic dispute call in December 2011.

That determination ran counter to the Orange County district attorney’s office, which said in 2013 that the shooting was reasonable and justified because Villarreal fired after Herrera ignored orders to show his hands.

A video captured by a police dashboard camera shows otherwise, according to the 9th Circuit judges who cited the footage.

“Less than a second elapsed between Villarreal commanding Herrera to take his hand from his pocket and Villarreal shooting him,” the court wrote. “Just as Herrera’s hand came out of his pocket, Villarreal fired two shots in rapid succession … The command and the shots were almost simultaneous.”

The video has not been made public and is under a court seal.

The seven-page review of the case by Orange County prosecutors does not mention the existence of a video and appears to rely heavily on Villarreal’s own statements.

Sonia Balleste, the senior deputy district attorney who wrote the review, said Friday that she didn’t immediately recall the case or why the review didn’t mention the video but that she was sure she “looked at all the evidence that was available.”

“As a general practice it wasn’t my custom and habit to write down everything I looked at,” she said, adding that her office has since changed how such reviews are written to include more information.

Attorneys for Herrera’s parents and four children, all under 7 years old, filed a civil lawsuit against Villarreal and Tustin in 2012. Friday’s ruling allows that lawsuit to move forward to trial and upholds a lower court’s order declining to toss it out.

Tustin City Atty. David Kendig, speaking on behalf of Villarreal and the city, noted that the 9th Circuit was looking at the case in the light most favorable to Herrera’s family.

He said the city provided the district attorney’s office with video of the shooting but didn’t know why it didn’t make it into their review of the case.

Dale Galipo, who represents Herrera’s family, criticized the district attorney’s review as a “farce.”

“Are they not getting all the information from the agency? Did they not get the video, or are they just ignoring facts that support that the shooting was excessive?” Galipo said. “The whole process is flawed. It really is a joke.”


Jan Crouch, co-founder of one of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting networks, died early Tuesday of a massive stroke at 78 – before a truce could be called in her family’s painfully public civil war

‎Editorial –

The God Business‬ was Very Very Good to Them – Because Nothing Says ‪‎Jesus Loves You‬ Better than ‪Money ‎Expensive Cars‬ Rape Incest and ‪‎Uber‬ ‪‎Fabulous‬ ‎Gay Sex‬ at ‪‎Church‬ –

Tustin, California –

Jan Crouch, co-founder of one of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting networks, died early Tuesday of a massive stroke at 78 – before a truce could be called in her family’s painfully public civil war.

Alongside her late husband, Paul, Crouch built Orange County-based Trinity Broadcasting Network from a vision Paul had while tooling down MacArthur Boulevard into a religious empire spanning the globe with nearly $1 billion in net assets.

Trinity’s religious programming – designed to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, and built on the “Have a need? Plant a seed” philosophy – can be seen throughout Europe, Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific islands, among many other locations.

Crouch’s death leaves the prosperity-gospel empire in the hands of her younger son, Matthew Crouch. Cut out of the picture almost entirely was her eldest son, Paul Crouch Jr., and his family. Members of the Crouch Jr. clan hadn’t seen Jan Crouch for years, and learned of her passing through news reports, family members said.

In a statement on Trinity Broadcasting’s web site, son Matthew and his wife Laurie said they “just watched the transition of our precious Mother from this world to the next; watched her step into the presence of Jesus and into her heavenly reward.

“Those who battled for the Kingdom of God knew her as a fighter — someone who didn’t give up, someone who fought relentlessly to get the Gospel around the world,” it continued. “ She has taken a piece of our hearts with her, but it’s so wonderful to know that Paul and Jan Crouch are together again, in the arms of Jesus.”

For those on Paul Crouch Jr.’s side of the family, the news was devastating.

“Today was a day I never thought would happen,” said Brandon Crouch, Paul Jr.’s son, on Instagram. “I can still hear her voice as she tells the heart-wrenching story. Grandma: ‘Brannie, what would you like for Christmas this year?’ Me: ‘For my grandma to live forever.’

“Your legacy will be in me forever… I love you grammie,” Brandon Crouch wrote. “Wish my son would have had a chance to meet you, and wish I could have seen you at least once in the last six years.”

Brandon Crouch and his sisters, Brittany Crouch Koper and Carra Crouch, hadn’t seen Jan Crouch because of the family’s brutal infighting. Both sisters are suing Trinity.

Brittany Crouch Koper has accused the mighty Christian broadcaster of playing fast and loose with the ministry’s millions, and provided internal documents to back up her claims.

Carra Crouch alleges that she was plied with alcohol and raped by a TBN employee in Atlanta when she was just 13 – and that her family covered up the incident rather than report it to authorities, to protect TBN’s reputation.

Trinity says it’s all untrue. It accused the Kopers of engaging in an inflammatory smear campaign to divert attention from their own financial sins against Trinity.

Trinity has filed a half-dozen suits against Brittany Crouch Koper and her husband Michael Koper, charging them with stealing some $1.3 million during their years of employ with Trinity, as well as a trove of privileged documents that they’ve inserted into the court record in “dribs and drabs” in an attempt to blackmail and destroy the network. The Kopers said they just want the ship of Trinity’s mission righted and set back on course.

On the rape allegation, Trinity has argued that many adults with a more direct line of authority over Carra Crouch apparently failed to take her to a doctor or to call police after the alleged incident. Those adults would be far more culpable than anyone at Trinity if, indeed, the facts she claims are true, an attorney for Trinity said at Carra Crouch’s deposition in 2014.

The ongoing legal battles with Trinity have bankrupted Brittany Koper Crouch, who went from beloved granddaughter to exiled accuser.

Brittany Koper Crouch and her grandmother grew very close when Brittany was in high school in Irvine. “She was every girl’s dream come true,” Koper told the Register in 2012. “She has a funny sense of humor – really different from what you see on TV. We’d talk about boys, gossip, get magazines and look through at the celebrities. It was a teenage-girl type of relationship. She’s the one who encouraged me to dye my hair blonde, wear blue contacts and go on a diet. When she lived in the mansion in Newport Beach, I’d go over and she’d do my make up and put her wigs on me. We’d go to movies together; she’d take me on shopping sprees for clothes, and when I went away to college, I was very homesick. She’s the first person I would call to talk to.”

After Brittany Koper Crouch made her accusations against Trinity, “it’s like I’m dead to them,” Koper Crouch said. Jan Crouch didn’t answer calls. On a recent Christmas day, Crouch Koper sent Jan Crouch a text that said, ‘Grandmom, I love you so much no matter what. Thank you so much for teaching me about Jesus.’”

She didn’t hear back.


Trinity Broadcasting Network
Television Station
Address: 2442 Michelle Dr, Tustin, CA 92780




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