Father visits late son’s high school with marijuana message
Kent Osborn returned on March 20 to Arapahoe High School, which his son Tom had attended.
Kent brought along his write-up of Tom’s story, which concludes: “As far as I’m concerned, marijuana killed my son.”
Hundreds had gathered in the school auditorium for a community forum featuring Alex Berenson, the author of Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.
Berenson described how levels of THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive chemical, have increased from 1 or 2 percent in the 1960s and ’70s to nearly pure THC extracts today. “This truly is a different drug than it was 20 years ago,” Berenson said.
The event was co-sponsored by Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Politics and Smart Colorado. (Here’s a video of a Colorado Springs event with Berenson earlier in the day and coverage of his presentations from the Colorado Springs Gazette.)
Just before the Arapahoe High School forum, Kent had met with the parents of Marc Bullard. Like Tom, Marc was a young Colorado man full of potential who died by suicide after extensive use of high-potency marijuana.
After the forum, Kent recalled that he had been umpiring a baseball game when he spotted his brother in law and pastor down the third baseline and knew something had happened to Tom.
As hard as it is to repeat the details, Kent – like the Bullards – wants to educate other parents.
This is Tom’s story, as written by Kent:
My son, Thomas Osborn, took his own life on July 2, 2016. He probably started smoking pot sometimewhen he was attending the University of Utah and probably with his fraternity Brothers.
Tom was a high achieving student at Arapahoe High School, and at Utah where he was a top student in his Math and Calculus classes of 250+ students.
After two years of college, he dropped out of the University of Utah and returned to live at home in Colorado. He told me that he couldn’t continue as he was struggling with school and wanted to come home.
When he returned home, he started to smoke pot heavily, and eventually got in trouble with the law, getting a DWUI. He was put on a two-year probation and stayed clean for the duration.
He had a good job that he liked and we felt he was progressing. But when he got off probation, he quit his job and started smoking heavily again.
During this time, we took him to various counseling centers and doctors, but nothing seemed to help him. He was diagnosed as “schizophrenic while under the influence of marijuana” by one psychiatrist. He was also having anxiety, multiple personality disorder and started cutting himself.
He always bragged about that he used “top shelf” (high-THC) marijuana. But he always assured us that he was using no other drugs, and we believed him.
But he was soon arrested again. This time for trying to escape from the police, probably during a psychotic episode. He was attacked by the dogs of the K9 force, put in jail and was out on probation again.
Soon after this arrest, his psychotic episodes increased to a climax when my wife refused to give him money for him to buy his pot. He stabbed himself with a kitchen knife in front of my wife to end his own life.
When Tom didn’t smoke during his first probation he was a normal young man, had a good job and was a pleasure to be around. We did things a father and son would do together. But when he went back to smoking it destroyed him.
We were anxious to get the coroner’s report after his death to see if he was using anything other than pot. We really thought that he had to be doing some other kind of drugs as well as pot. But his report only showed very high levels of THC, but no trace of any other drugs in his system.
To read in the media and continue to hear that pot cannot kill anyone – and that it’s a “harmless wonder drug” – makes me angry at the very least.
As far as I’m concerned, marijuana killed my son.