The Flower Mound Area Republican Club (FMARC) organizes many important events to help educate and inform the surrounding communities on the issues that resonate close to home. The monthly meetings at 9 Social in Highland Village might feature a guest from the political field to talk about local and state government, or, it might welcome a representative of academia, commerce, or any other field of endeavor that impacts our lives.
At its November 17th meeting FMARC sponsored a panel discussion billed as “Marijuana – Meltdown of America.” Panelists included Denton County Sheriff Will Travis, Flower Mound Police Chief Andy Kancel, Juvenile Court Judge Kimberly McCary, and Winning the Fight founder Kathy O’Keefe. The focus of the program was to illustrate that marijuana use is an entry to harder drugs. Sheriff Travis opened up the symposium with a PowerPoint demonstration indicating various methods used to inhale or ingest the cannabis plant, and the level of toxicity in the current strain of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that causes most of marijuana’s psychological effects.
Chief Kancel talked about the fact that drug use is no longer exclusive to large inner cities; it has infected upper-income suburbs and rural areas that many people once believed immunized them from such despicable behavior. According to Chief Kancel, the Flower Mound PD makes about 100 arrests annually involving marijuana. In response to a question about the gender of users, the chief said it was about equal for males and females. Judge McCary, who has been part of the criminal justice system for 22 years, said, “Marijuana scares me to death!” She said it makes kids lazy, tired, lacking in drive, and it hampers their future success. “Marijuana is definitely a gateway drug,” she stated unequivocally.
Moreover, the judge made it clear that marijuana usage brings criminals (drug dealers) into our communities. It should go without saying that drug pushers are in it for the money; hence, they will do what it takes to sell their deadly products in a competitive market. Judge McCary offered an example of drug dealer “A” on one corner and drug dealer “B” on another. “A” wants to outsell “B,” so he’ll lace his marijuana with other chemicals, making it more addictive, which makes his “customers” choose him over his competitor. When “B” discovers he’s losing money, he’ll add even more lethal substances in order to get his revenue-producers to fall back in line. While these sinister sewer-dwellers are competing for cash, they have absolutely no compunction about the number of deaths they cause, or the misery suffered by the families of their victims.
Kathy O’Keefe can personally attest to that, and she wants to save other parents from the heartache she endured when her 18 year-old son Brett died from a heroin overdose in 2010. In an attempt to prevent the same tragedy from happening to others, Ms. O’Keefe started “Winning the Fight” (WTF), a 501c3 organization www.wtf-winningthefight.org dedicated to educating parents and children about the insidious epidemic of dangerous drugs that has invaded every city and town in the country. Recently, Ms. O’Keefe became an executive producer of a documentary entitled “Not Me,” which premiered at the Flower Mound Moviehouse & Eatery on November 1st. As one of the speakers at the FMARC meeting, she spoke with authority and passion about how important it is for parents to know what their kids are involved in. She spoke tearfully about underestimating her son’s moods and his lack of self-esteem. In addition, she talked about the potential for fatality in the marijuana of today.
“The pot that Brett started his journey with was nowhere near the pot that I grew up with in the 70’s. We underestimated that Brett would just never think twice about doing drugs. We underestimated that anti-drug education was taught to our kids in school,” she said, as her voice quivered. “We underestimated that our boundaries were not enough for Brett, and that what little enabling we may have done, we did not empower him with his own consequences when he stumbled,” she added. Ms. O’Keefe also stressed the need for parents to drug test their children. Her message was to set a family drug policy in place so that everyone knows the consequences. Most importantly, parents must follow through and drug test their kids, because when they feel the peer pressure to try drugs, it gives them an excuse if they can say their parents are testing them.
Ms. O’Keefe wants parents to be educated about the substances (which can often change) that are being introduced to our communities. Families should know how to deal with it and should also know they are not alone. “We must not judge; we must eliminate the stigma so that others who are battling this disease have a better chance than Brett did,” she said.
Participants at the packed-house symposium were provided with a packet of information and a urine drug test cup. Perhaps the question is; how many parents will actually get involved in what their kids are doing? One thing’s certain; drug dealers will continue to be involved in selling drugs to our kids, so we can’t say we weren’t warned.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.