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Friday, February 27, 2015

Sex Trafficking Case in Athens County

Human Trafficking takes the form of many faces. Labor exploitation, bonded labor, involuntary servitude, and child sex trafficking occur in the United States. Trafficking crimes can be conducted by large-scale operations or by individuals.

Sex trafficking is so offensive. As many as two million children are lured, sold, or kidnapped for the purpose of sexual exploitation in hotels, night clubs, brothels, massage parlors, private residences, on sex tours, and online services. Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for minors, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possible death.

Read one story from 2014 that involved Athens County, Ohio, residents ...
An Athens County woman was sentenced for using a 16-year-old girl as a prostitute in exchange for money and drugs. Aileen M. Mays had been facing three indictments, with charges of compelling prostitution, trafficking in persons, aggravated drug possession and theft.

The prostitution and trafficking charges stemmed from an incident late last year in which she allegedly took money and drugs from a 69-year-old Athens man, who is a convicted sex offender, in exchange for a 16-year-old (and Mays herself, apparently) having sex with the man, Fred W. Kittle, Sr. The other charges stemmed from alleged shoplifting and being caught with prescription pills in her possession.
According to the Athens County Prosecutor's Office, Aileen Mays, age 27, the mother of two young girls, was sentenced to five years in prison for compelling prostitution.

Mays allegedly made arrangements for the 16-year-old female to have sex with this Kittle. She is said to have received "drugs and/or money" in exchange for the girl performing sex acts with him. At the time, Kittle was already a registered sex offender in Athens County, according to the sheriff's office. He was convicted of attempted rape in 1996.

In an exclusive interview with NBC4's Denise Alex-Bouzounis, Mays said she and the teen girl, who lived with her, walked to the home of Kittle on Rock Point Road to borrow money to buy drugs.

There, she says "she saw the 69-year-old man have sex with the 16-year-old girl."

"She never said 'no.' She never said 'stop.' I didn't force her. I never asked her. He did," said Mays.

But, Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said Mays apparently went to Kittle's home intending to rob him, but somehow ended up instead selling him sex in exchange for money and drugs. Kittle supposedly had sex once with Mays, and twice with the 16-year-old girl.
Blackburn said Mays "clearly has a drug problem," which helped lead to the criminal charges.

(Denise Yost. "Athens County Woman Sentenced To 5 Years For Using Teen As Prostitute." March 19, 2014)

Upon her release from prison, Mays will be subject to five years of mandatory post release control.

The 16-year-old girl has been placed in custody of children services.

In a plea agreement with the Athens County Prosecutor's Office, Fred Kittle pleaded guilty to one count of importuning. Judge L. Alan Goldsberry sentenced Kittle to the mandatory one-year prison term with five years post-release control and registration as a Tier I sex offender.

The complications of this trafficking make me sick at my stomach. Mays and Kittle conspired to ruin the life of an innocent young girl. After using her, they had no apparent remorse. I'm sure some will say, "A 16 year-old who consented to having sex in such circumstances deserves what she gets. After all, drugs and possibly robbery were involved." And, that kind of talk makes me violently ill.

Kittle's sentence of a one year prison term is particularly disturbing. How can a convicted sex offender -- one still openly preying upon children with lures of illegal drugs for sex -- receive such a slight sentence? I think the judgment must reflect the sad fact that a prevalent belief in society is that a teen who is physically able to have sex is understood to have sufficient thinking skills to resist evil sexual predators. This just is not so -- the consent (even if it is, indeed, that on the part of the minor) has been carefully manipulated by adults.

Young girls need maximum protection from those involved in trafficking and sex crimes. They are vulnerable victims at great risks to criminals like Mays and Kittle.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"The Hope and Terror of the Gospel" by Pastor Gary Chaffins

Pastor Gary Chaffins is a friend who stands firmly behind his beliefs. Gary and I have talked about concerns and patterns in our community. A gracious, patient man, I have learned to listen carefully to the pastor's words. We enjoy speaking freely about many subjects as they relate to a Christian's life, and I value his friendship and his advice so much.

Gary messaged me recently about a poem he had writen. He said, "I hope you sense the heart behind it. Please feel free to use it on your blog if you find it beneficial to your audience." Well, I do find it very beneficial. I want to share that poem with you today.

Gary Chaffins, is co-pastor at The Grace Community Church at Bigelow in Portsmouth, Ohio. Gary tells us he has a beautiful wife, two rotten kids, a big-white dog, and he carries a large NASB (New American Standard Bible).

Here is the verse:

The Hope and Terror of the Gospel
The Gospel, the message of hope.
Come, be washed by His cleansing soap.
His death, burial and resurrection
Made ours by His sovereign election.
From dead in sin, to born again.
Once the enemy, now made a friend.
Gracious forgiveness, life everlasting.
Justified freely, no more blame-casting.
The Gospel, the message of terror
In unbelief, you’re the sin bearer.
The result of His Holiness, justice and wrath
Made yours by the sin of your path.
In darkness you live, you smile and you laugh
Your days are passing away like windblown chaff.
Angry with the wicked, He is everyday.
His all-consuming fire will be yours to pay.
Will you turn, repent and confess?
Be washed clean, in His righteous dress.
Terror or Hope, which will you choose?
The responsibility is on you, you’ll have no excuse.
Whoever believes in the Son, eternal life He gains
Whoever does not, on him, the wrath of God remains.

--Gary Chaffins

The poet's use of opposition is clear in direct distinction between two choices: the eternal life versus the wrath of God. Gary does not mince words when he asks: "Will you turn, repent and confess?" We, in the human condition, are all sinners, and Gary reminds us that the "cleansing soap" available to all was provided through "a sovereign election" by Jesus's "death, burial and resurrection."

I cannot read these lines without thinking about the second verse of the Christian hymn "Amazing Grace."

"T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed."

The incredible message is that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins we have committed and that our souls can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God. Yes, this is simply divine "Amazing" grace. 

Of course, being wretched is a terrible obstacle to attaining the grace of God -- today people must overcome so many physical, social, and spiritual obstacles that many lose faith as they follow unfulfilled pathways. 

According to Steve Turner, author of Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song, when John Newton composed "Amazing Grace" in 1772, and put the internal rhyme "amazing grace" together, it wasn't purely for poetic reasons. Newton understood grace to mean God's unmerited favor to lost souls. Turner says it was a meaning Newton -- with his sordid history and personal tale of redemption -- could take to heart. He had been a slave trader full of wretchedness until ...

In 1747, as captain of the "Greyhound, a Liverpool ship on its homeward journey, Newton found himself and his vessel overtaken by an enormous storm. Newton then recalled a passage in Proverbs: "Because I have called and ye have refused, … I also will laugh at your calamity."

He converted during the storm, though Newton admitted later, "I cannot consider myself to have been a believer, in the full sense of the word."

Newton then served as a mate and then as captain of a number of slave ships, hoping as a Christian to restrain the worst excesses of the slave trade, "promoting the life of God in the soul" of both his crew and his African cargo.

After leaving the sea for an office job in 1755, Newton held Bible studies in his Liverpool home. Influenced by both the Wesleys and George Whitefield, he adopted mild Calvinist views and became increasingly disgusted with the slave trade and his role in it. He quit, was ordained into the Anglican ministry, and in 1764 took a parish in Olney in Buckinghamshire. His life became true to the gospel. 

In 1787 Newton wrote Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade to help William Wilberforce's campaign to end the practice—"a business at which my heart now shudders," he wrote. Recollection of that chapter in his life never left him, and in his old age, when it was suggested that the increasingly feeble Newton retire, he replied, "I cannot stop. What? Shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?"

("John Newton: Reformed Slave Trader. August 08, 2008)

Gary Chaffins reminds us of choices: terror or hope? We, vulnerable in a raging storm, must submit to the will of our maker. Only then will our imperfections be taken away as we believe in the Son. It's a wonderful promise for redemption, and everyone must face the fork in their lives where the decision is clearly up to them: Hope or Terror in the Gospel.

I want to thank Gary for his beautiful poem. He is a wonderful friend. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Legalization of Marijuana in Ohio: Fight for Profits

We can never learn too much about controversial issues, especially those that stir our emotions and awaken our bias. It seems the more I read about the attempts to legalize marijuana in Ohio, the more I feel I need to consider the logic and the motives behind the proposition. What seems to be a humanitarian move may be much, much more.

ResponsibleOhio's amendment to the Ohio Constitution would legalize pot for medical use (with proper certification by the person's doctor) and personal use in amounts of an ounce or less by people 21 and over.

The most controversial aspect of the ResponsibleOhio amendment is that it tightly regulates who can grow and sell marijuana, as well as conduct research on it, and hands over the keys to 10 Marijuana Growth, Cultivation and Extraction facilities across the state to wealthy investors.

ResponsibleOhio just recently released the names of key investors. The investors, along with other supporters, are members of the investment groups that will own and operate the 10 marijuana grow sites to be specified in the group's proposed constitutional amendment.

While Ian James, ResponsibleOhio's executive director, said in a press release, "The campaign is honored to have such well-respected businesswomen and men, as well as patient advocates supporting our effort to offer a common-sense solution to Ohio's failed drug policies," I wonder what part huge profits play in the mix.

The ResponsibleOhio plan would create a system where marijuana would be grown at only 10 locations and then sold to manufacturers to turn into candies and other products or consumers at retail shops and medical dispensaries. The proposal does not change Ohio's laws against individuals growing marijuana, either for sale or personal use, which marijuana advocates have criticized.

Here is a list of investors:
  • Oscar "The Big O" Robertson, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member, played for the Cincinnati Royals
  • Frostee Rucker, defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns
  • Nanette Lepore, fashion designer born in Youngstown
  • Rick Kirk, Columbus-area real estate developer
  • Frank Wood, CEO of Secret Communications, a radio company turned venture capital firm
  • Barbara Gould, Cincinnati philanthropist
  • Sir Alan Mooney, an investor and board member of the Ohio Council of Churches
  • William Foster, entrepreneur and philanthropist
  • William "Cheney" Pruett, president and CEO of DMP Investments, which specializes in providing products and consultative services in the area of consumer finance
  • John Humphrey, Chief Financial Officer of DMP Investments
  • Bobby George, real estate developer
ResponsibleOhio's scheme would tax marijuana at 15 percent from grower to manufacturer to retail store, with revenues funding public services in counties, townships and municipalities.

All five elected constitutional officers including Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and Treasurer Josh Mandel have opposed the plan, which they said would wrongly grant a constitutional monopoly on the marijuana industry in Ohio. And, of course, ResponsibleOhio has pushed back on these claims, noting the system allows thousands of entrepreneurs to manufacture marijuana products or sell the drug in stores and medical dispensaries.

ResponsibleOhio has yet to submit the actual language of its proposed constitutional amendment to the attorney general. Once the ballot language is cleared, the group will have until July 1 to collect more than 305,591 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters to put the issue on the November ballot.

At least three other plans are in the works to legalize marijuana use that do not limit where cannabis can be grown.

(Jackie Borchardt. "Ohio marijuana legalization investors include Frostee Rucker,
Oscar Robertson." January 30, 2015)

A leader in opposing efforts by ResponsibleOhio and a supporter of a competing amendment effort is Don Wirtshafter, an Athens area lawyer who has been involved in national cannabis legalization efforts for 40 years. He serves on the five-member committee representing petitioners for the Ohio Cannabis Right Amendment, which is already circulating petitions for a vote next November.

Although Wirtshafter has made it clear that he's not an official spokesperson for the Ohio Rights Group, he, when asked about James' plan, responded: "If ResponsibleOhio's amendment gets on the ballot, I would feel a responsibility to campaign against it, strongly. Nothing in it is geared toward what I would like to see in a reform of our laws. This is going in the wrong direction, locking up the plant rather than setting it free. We're trying to free the plant; they're trying to make it expensive."

James, asked about critics of ResponsibleOhio's planned petition drive, said: "What Don Wirtshafter wants is for hundreds of thousands of people across the state to grow (marijuana), unregulated. With it impossible to regulate, and without the funding to regulate it, Ohio will become the wild west of weed. Ohio voters flat out do not support that."

The proposed amendment by ResponsibleOhio lists 10 counties where "growing sites" for marijuana would be located. The counties are Butler, Clermont and Hamilton (all in the Cincinnati metro area), Licking and Franklin counties (Columbus metro area), Lucas (Toledo), Summit (Akron), Stark (Canton), Montgomery (Dayton-Springfield) and Lorain (Cleveland metro area).

Four other our proposed research sites -- called Marijuana Testing, Research and Development Facilities -- would be located in Lorain, Mahoning, Scioto and Wood counties -- all of which have colleges or universities -- in order, Oberlin, Youngstown State, Shawnee State and Bowling Green State University.

James noted having a Testing, Research and Development facility means the sites will be getting "white lab coat" jobs to test potency, chemical compounds of marijuana grown in the state of Ohio, as well as providing necessary research and development on strains of plants, and medical uses derived from the strains.

And, under the proposal, the Testing Facilities could "own and operate their own retail stores and manufacturing facilities as well as work within the emerging post-prohibition marijuana industry created by this Amendment."

Finally, James made the pitch that taxes generated from marijuana sales will be distributed back to each county, along with municipalities and townships, on a per capita basis. "That's new money for roads, bridges, economic development as well as safety services - all paid for through tight regulation and taxation of marijuana in a post-prohibition Ohio."

On the other hand, Wirtshafter explained that the Ohio Rights Group is focused on medical marijuana because "we think it's important to set down the rights of medical patients before those motivate for the big bucks come in with monopoly moves and roll over those people who need the herb for medicine."

"This is why the ORG petition all of a sudden is looking really good," he continued. "Medical initiatives are getting passé to the funders of these initiatives. But a real medical initiative to oppose the ResponsibleOhio publicity machine makes a lot of sense."

He repeatedly condemned the ResonsibleOhio amendment as something that's bad for the state and marijuana reform. "I think it's extremely divisive and clearly a monopoly power grab… It's exactly the opposite of what I want. The whole idea - calling these 'investors' - putting up something and placing it in the Ohio Constitution is repugnant to me."

(Terry Smith. "Pot players have Athens roots." The Athens News. February 11, 2015)

My Take

Legalization of marijuana in Ohio? Different motives for consumption, for growth, and for huge profits are pushing proponents in many directions. Make no mistake no matter the direction of any group supporting legalization, their self-interest is full of dollar signs and speculation of control. It is so with any consumable substance in America.

My guess is that the rich will get richer while the poor will remain exploited, no matter the outcome of the frenzied efforts to legalize weed. It is unfortunate because some real medical advantage may be buried deep in an amendment. Yet, the public pays exorbitant prices for drugs now, and why should anyone needing the possible medicinal benefits of cannabis expect anything new? Money and greed are part of the equation for any pain-relieving substance.

The cries of growing marijuana in the name of freedom and liberty are old, old battle cries of those who really just want to get high. In the recent drive for support of legislation, marijuana legalization is being touted as being so beneficial for health and for economic reasons when, in truth, most proponents merely want to employ a vehicle of pleasure and escape without being arrested or fined.

Let's be brutally realistic. Who will be spending all the money to indulge? My guess is mainly those who can ill afford the habit. Why? Profiteers care little about the true costs to the society or the true costs to the poor people who seek escape. The weed is a cash crop backed by wealthy individuals looking for more fortune. Whether the FDA, the state government, legalization groups, or private investors control the market, no one really expects great advantage for those who may need medical help -- any such help will come with a large price tag.

In the world of democratic pain killers, more is the key word. Damn it, people everywhere in Ohio are smoking pot now with very little risk. Here is Ohio law:

Possession of up to 100 grams (or up to five grams hashish) -- Ohio has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Violations are considered minor misdemeanors, which incur a $150 fine but no jail time, and do not become part of the defendant’s criminal record

Cultivation and sale of up to 20 grams without payment -- Like possession of small amounts of marijuana, Ohio has decriminalized giving someone up to 20 grams of marijuana. Violations are considered minor misdemeanors, which incur a $150 fine but no jail time, and do not become part of the defendant’s criminal record.

Trafficking of up to 200 grams (or up to ten grams hashish) -- Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both.

Thinking about all of the fallout from any state legalization, perhaps it would be better to forget about passing any bill in the State of Ohio and waiting on Federal legislation that would allow medicinal manufacture in all fifty of the United States. Those who want to smoke to get high are doing it now, and maybe now they are doing so cheaper than with proposed legislation. Meanwhile, lots of people here in Ohio are busy blowing cannabis smoke up voters' asses. Be careful not to get the fabled "contact buzz" in the fog.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Legalization? Growing and Consuming Weed in Ohio

With efforts like that of the pro-pot group ResponsibleOhio, legalization of marijuana is a hot topic in the Buckeye State. ResponsibleOhio is currently lobbying to allow adults age 21 and older to grow marijuana at home in a revised proposal to legalize the drug in Ohio for personal and medical use.

The group is pushing for retail customers to pay 5 percent tax on pot and edible pot products instead of the previously proposed rate of 15 percent.
"After extensive conversations with experts and concerned citizens across the state and nation, ResponsibleOhio has decided to include regulated and limited home growing as a part of our amendment," ResponsibleOhio Spokesperson Lydia Bolander said in a press release.

"Combined with a lower tax rate for consumers, these changes will make our communities safer by smothering the black market," she claimed.

Bolander said the revised amendment will follow Oregon's model, which allows adults over age 21 to obtain a license to grow up to four marijuana plants in a secure space.

If certified by the attorney general and deemed a single issue by the Ohio Ballot Board, petitioners must then collect more than 305,591 valid signatures by July 1 for the issue to appear on the November ballot.

(Jackie Borchardt. "ResponsibleOhio to revise marijuana legalization proposal to allow home grow." Plain Dealer Publishing. February 17, 2015)

Proponents of legalization in Ohio are pointing towards states like Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been legalized to exhort positive data about the impact of legalized, recreational marijuana.

But, Ohio citizens must remember the short history of such data as they read about the effects of legalization on public health, public safety, traffic safety, crime, and enforcement. The whole story is yet to come, and over time, we will have a better idea about the impact of legalized, recreational marijuana on key societal indicators.

Legalization has become a highly emotional, polarized issue, and people are prone to consider only data that agrees with their stand, which often is not based on solid, unbiased, empirical data collected over a sufficient period of time.

One certainty is that legalization will not stop criminal activity involving the substance or any other substance offering a quick "high." The black market crime will continue. Jason Tama, reporter and federal executive fellow of The Brookings Institution writes ...

"Assuming state-by-state commercial legalization continues, illicit marijuana markets will persist until legal and black market prices converge and interstate arbitrage opportunities disappear. Neither of these outcomes is likely in the near-term.

"States face the very difficult task of managing consumption levels via unique regulatory regimes that promote scarcity, while simultaneously trying to price out illicit suppliers. Further, with no regulatory harmonization among states – and no credible movement to legalize federally – interstate arbitrage opportunities persist and are ripe for exploitation by illicit traffickers.

"This is not necessarily an argument against experimenting with legalization, but rather an acknowledgement of market dynamics and the agility of modern criminal networks. The good news is marijuana traffickers should face shrinking profit margins in commercially regulated states that progress toward competitive pricing....

"Let’s also acknowledge that well-established illicit economies have staying power. If marijuana legalization sufficiently erodes market share for transnational criminal networks, they will migrate toward more profitable segments of the illicit market, not just drop out, and will continue to threaten stability in the Western Hemisphere. 

"For example, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines continue to cross our borders via robust networks, and in most cases, cocaine being the exception, consumption in the United States is on the rise."

(Jason Tama. "Despite Push to Legalize, 'War on Drugs' Still Matters."
Brookings. January 29, 2015) 

Drug cartels and drug dealers are in the business of addicting clients and making profits, not caring one iota about ill effects on society. If they can't make sufficient money on marijuana, they certainly will increase their efforts to sell other, more potent and dangerous illicit substances. There is no guarantee that legalization of marijuana will decrease the terrible toll of drug addiction. That, at the time, is mere speculation.

Some Ohioans choose to look at legalization as an economic issue, not a health concern. They claim the great benefits of taxing marijuana will improve state government. NBC News reports (January 2, 2014) on the first day of legal weed sales in Colorado retailers were selling top-shelf marijuana to recreational users at prices close to $400 per ounce, not including taxes. For comparison, medical marijuana users, who’ve been able to buy weed from Colorado dispensaries since 2010, were currently paying around $250 an ounce plus taxes.

And taxes? Prices were also increased by the new 25 percent tax -- 15 percent excise and 10 percent sales -- on all marijuana purchases in the state that voters approved, along with any other local jurisdictional taxes on top of that. Marijuana sales were expected to generate nearly $70 million in tax revenue annually for Colorado.

But, by the way, the 2014 figures are in, and recreational pot reportedly took in only $44 million, a figure lower than what was first predicted. "Everyone who thinks Colorado's rollin' in the dough because of marijuana? That's not true," said state Senator Pat Steadman, a Denver Democrat and one of the legislature's main budget-writers.

So, if you are arguing for legalization and increased revenue for Ohio, consider that the legitimate industry in Colorado may already be forced to slash taxes considering high prices and that consumption is not going to inflate state coffers.

Also, long-term tax money may further decline with decreased usage. One study's authors foresee a decline in the rate of growth of consumption as the ‘wow’ factor erodes over time, and any marijuana tourism begins to decline, particularly as other states follow Colorado and Washington and legalize marijuana.

Analysts for Time magazine (Brad Tuttle reporting May 20, 2013) did some speculative research and assumed each pot enthusiast in Colorado would smoke or otherwise use 3.53 oz. (100 g) of marijuana annually, for a total of 2,268,985 oz. (about 64,320 kg) per year. (That seems like pretty low consumption to me, by the way.)

(I wonder in Ohio how much welfare money designated for serious needs -- food, shelter, childcare -- would go towards buying legalized pot?)

Even if the retail price settled to $185 per oz. -- the total comes to $653 annually average per person spent on pot. An addiction to cigarettes is far more costly than that according to health officials, so much more tax money would be generated by encouraging people to smoke.

I know I'm being horribly facetious, but if money is your big argument for legalization of marijuana, the direction is clear. Tobacco, not marijuana, is what you want to see wrapped in the papers. Smoking a pack a day at $7 a pack will leave you $2,555 lighter in the wallet per year.

Governor Kasich has proposed increasing Ohio's cigarette tax from $1.25 to $1.85 per pack, more than double the tax on cigars and other tobacco products, and imposing the other tobacco product tax on electronic cigarettes over two years. Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols confirmed the governor will propose at least the same amount -- if not more -- this year.

Last year's proposed increases would have generated an estimated $635 million in additional revenue over two years, according to the Legislative Service Commission, which would have partially offset income tax cuts. And, believe it or not, Shelly Kiser, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio, said a $1-per-pack increase would cause an estimated 73,100 adult smokers to quit, prevent 65,000 youth from becoming smokers, and prevent 40,100 future deaths from smoking.

(Jacki Borchardt. "Cigarette tax increase to be proposed in Gov. John Kasich's state budget, reopening debate." Plain Dealer Publishing. January 30, 2015)

Here is the real "cost effective" question Ohio residents should consider about the legalization of marijuana: "Will the costs from health and mental wellness problems, accidents, and damage to the economic productivity far outstrip any tax obtained?"

Tama points out another problem to consider is that as more states legalize marijuana, the federal government’s continued prohibition posture will become increasingly problematic in the foreign policy arena, especially in Western Hemisphere nations with a history of supporting the fight against drugs.

How will these countries respond to the perceived softening in America? Tama believes the United States must be ready for difficult dialogue here, including acknowledging the historic costs borne by partner nations in the fight against illicit marijuana. Keeping the focus on criminal networks vice a specific commodity will be critical to sustaining productive engagement.

(Jason Tama. "Despite Push to Legalize, 'War on Drugs' Still Matters."
Brookings. January 29, 2015)

Finally, for a more opinionated approach, read what U.S. News and World Report contributor David Evans, special adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation, speculates about marijuana legalization ...

"Increased marijuana use will mean millions more damaged young people. Marijuana use can permanently impair brain development. Problem solving, concentration, motivation, and memory are negatively affected. Teens who use marijuana are more likely to engage in delinquent and dangerous behavior, and experience increased risk of schizophrenia and depression, including being three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Marijuana-using teens are more likely to have multiple sexual partners and engage in unsafe sex."

(David G. Evans. "Marijuana Legalization's Costs Outweigh Its Benefits."
U.S. News and World Report. October 30, 2012)
Still more negatives could become reality. Evans believes the following will result if legalization occurs:
* Marijuana use already accounts for tens of thousands of marijuana-related complaints at emergency rooms throughout the United States each year. This number would surely increase.
* Already, 13 percent of high school seniors said they drove after using marijuana while only 10 percent drove after having several drinks. Marijuana legalization means more drugged driving.
* Employees who test positive for marijuana had 55 percent more industrial accidents and 85 percent more injuries, and they had absenteeism rates 75 percent higher than those that tested negative. Legalization will increase these percentages.

The Bottom Line

Legalization in the Buckeye State is a matter that effects all citizens in Ohio. Merely considering private interests and generated profits is not enough for a proper perspective on the issue. So much false information and half-truths are being touted by people now that a real danger exists for voters to make a premature, emotional decision at the polling places.

I hear the words freedom and liberty being used to secure minds for legalization. Also proponents are quick to talk about increased revenue, decreased crime, and long historical reference to sway emotions of those still undecided. In fact, very little evidence -- sound, sufficient, and 360 degree -- exists to prove anything about what legalization will accomplish.

If legalization is all about getting high and recreational use, it must also be about paying the costs for this hedonistic pleasure and escape. Like alcohol, tobacco, gambling, prostitution, and many other artificial roads to so-called "happiness," the dues will remain, and, I suspect they will be costly. I, personally, am much more inclined to support the medicinal legalization of marijuana first before letting a weed lose in Ohio.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Coffee Drinkers Rejoice: "The Healthy Java"

Doesn't it seem everything we love is bad for our health? Well, I have some good news for coffee lovers like me.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies, just released a report that points to the health benefits and minimal risks of drinking three to five cups of coffee a day, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 Here is a brief summary of some findings:

"No previous DGACs have reported on coffee/caffeine consumption and health. Currently, strong evidence shows that consumption of coffee within the moderate range (3 to 5 cups per day or up to 400 mg/d caffeine) is not associated with increased long-term health risks among healthy individuals.

"In fact, consistent evidence indicates that coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in healthy adults. Moreover, moderate evidence shows a protective association between coffee/caffeine intake and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern, along with other healthful behaviors.

"However, it should be noted that coffee as it is normally consumed can contain added calories from cream, milk, and added sugars. Care should be taken to minimize the amount of calories from added sugars and high-fat dairy or dairy substitutes added to coffee.

"Unfortunately, only limited evidence is currently available to ascertain the safety of high caffeine intake (greater than 400 mg/day for adults and undetermined for children and adolescents), that may occur with rapid consumption of large-sized energy drinks. The limited data suggest adverse health outcomes, such as caffeine toxicity and cardiovascular events. Concern is heightened when caffeine is combined with alcoholic beverages.

"Limited or no consumption of high caffeine drinks, or other products with high amounts of caffeine, is advised for children and adolescents. Energy drinks with high levels of caffeine and alcoholic beverages should not be consumed together, either mixed together or consumed at the same sitting."

("Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee." Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. Office
of the Secretary. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of
Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. February 21, 2015)

I can hardly believe my eyes. One of my life's little pleasures seems to be helping control my type 2 diabetes and my heart concerns. This is cause for celebration! The Mayo Clinic reports coffee also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.

People used to say drinking coffee stunted your growth and even caused heart disease and cancer. Why the apparent reversal in the thinking about coffee? Earlier studies didn't always take into account that known high-risk behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity, tended to be more common among heavy coffee drinkers at that time.

When people think of coffee, they usually think of it just as a vehicle for caffeine. But scientists say it’s actually a very complex beverage with hundreds and hundreds of different compounds in it, many of which are health-promoting antioxidants. Since coffee contains so many different compounds, drinking coffee can lead to very diverse health outcomes.

Coffee can be good for some things and bad for some things, and that statement is not necessarily flip-flopping or inconsistent. Few foods are good for everything, and studies are still being conducted on the health effects of coffee. For example, drinking too much caffeinated coffee may raise blood pressure, and there has been quite a bit of controversy over whether high intake of coffee or caffeine may increase the risk of miscarriage. The jury is still out.

And, for my friends with diabetes who have trouble controlling their blood glucose, it may be beneficial for them to try switching from caffeinated to decaffeinated coffee. Making the switch from caffeinated to decaf may be better than quitting coffee altogether, because some research suggests that decaffeinated coffee actually reduces the glucose response.

But if it's brain power you want, researchers at the University of South Florida. Say skip the decaf and go for straight caffeine coffee. Coffee might help protect against Alzheimer’s disease -- as long as it’s the caffeine-loaded kind. The study found that the regular coffee increased the levels of a brain-boosting hormone -- which reduced symptoms of the disease.

This hormone, granulocyte colony stimulating factor, spurs the production of new neurons and creates connections between existing ones, says Gary Arendash, Ph.D., professor at the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and co-author of the study. Alzheimer’s patients are known to have low levels of the hormone.

(Andrew Katz. "The Best Coffee for Your Brain." Men's Health. July 12, 2011)       

Here is another caution: for people who have high cholesterol levels or who want to prevent having high cholesterol levels, it is better to choose paper filtered coffee or instant coffee, since they have much lower levels of cafestol, the oily fraction of coffee, than boiled or French press coffee. Espresso is somewhere in the middle; it has less cafestol than boiled or French press coffee, but more than paper filtered coffee.

(Dr. Rob van Dam. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Cited E. Lopez-Garcia E, R.M. van Dam, et al. "The Relationship of Coffee Consumption with Mortality."
Ann Intern Med. 2008: 148) 

What roast of coffee seems to be preferred for its health benefits? There is evidence that dark roast is better. Coffee roasting is actually a very complex art that requires the beans to be brought to high temperatures very quickly, and then cooled off just as fast when the desired roast is reached.

It's often the case that foods with the darkest pigments also offer the most robust benefits to health, and dark roast coffee, such as French Roast or that used to make espresso or Turkish coffee, may be no exception.

New research in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that dark roast coffee restored blood levels of the antioxidants vitamin E and glutathione (an important antioxidant) more effectively than light roast coffee. The dark roast also led to a significant body weight reduction in pre-obese volunteers, whereas the light roast did not.

Separate research also showed that dark roast coffee produces more of a chemical called N-methylpyridinium. This chemical is produced during the roasting process, and the darker the roast, the more N-methylpyridinium it contains. Interestingly, this chemical also appears to prevent your stomach cells from producing excess acid, which means dark roast coffee may be easier on the stomach, whereas lighter roasts might give drinkers the acid-like stomach irritation that coffee drinkers sometimes experience.

(C. Kotyczka, U. Boettler, et al. "Dark roast coffee is more effective than light roast coffee in reducing body weight, and in restoring red blood cell vitamin E and glutathione
concentrations in healthy volunteers." Mol Nutr Food Res. October, 2011:55)

So, java drinker, smile, enjoy, and indulge. But, don't take my word for it -- do some research about coffee yourself. If the benefits of drinking coffee outweigh the risks, you too have finally found something that tastes great and can be a beneficial part of your daily diet. Thank you, Lord.

To close, here is another tip or two for coffee lovers ...

* Cinnamon is a tasty herb that mixes particularly well with the flavor of your coffee. Studies show that cinnamon can lower blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides in diabetics.

(Alam Khan, MS. PhD. "Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes." American Diabetes Association)

* Cocoa is loaded with antioxidants and associated with all sorts of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease. To add some extra flavor to your coffee, try adding a little organic unsweetened cocoa to your cup.

(Eric L. Ding, et al. "Chocolate and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease:
A Systematic Review. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2006:3)

* Choose organic. Coffee beans are one of the most heavily sprayed crops with pesticides. So, you should select only coffee beans that are certified organic. Remember, you will obliterate ANY positive effects if you consume coffee that's been doused in pesticides or other chemicals.

* Whole Bean: You'll want to purchase whole bean coffee that smells and tastes fresh, not stale; if your coffee does not have a pleasant aroma, it is likely rancid. Grind it yourself to prevent rancidity as pre-ground coffee may be rancid by the time you get it home.

("Mounting Evidence Suggests Coffee May Actually Have Therapeutic Health Benefits." September 16, 2012)  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Want Bigger Boobs For a Day? Just Call InstaBreast

In the never-ending battle to boost the breast, now comes InstaBreast -- the one day breast enhancement. Yes, a minimally invasive procedure (according to creator Norman Rowe, M.D., a board-certified surgeon in New York City) is now an available option for women to try out their new breast augmentations before deciding whether or not to get implants.

"It’s not a getting-your-hair-blown-out-kind of thing," says Rowe. "I really designed this as a method to find out if breast implants are for you, what size you want, and what it’s going to feel like. I didn’t envision it as, 'Hey, I have a party tonight and I really want to fill out that dress' or 'I want to stick it to my old boyfriend.'"

(Tracey Ford. "Temporary Boob Jobs Now Exist -- Here's What You Need to Know."
MSN Women's Health. February 20, 2015)

Breast augmentations continue to be the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that close to 300,000 women in the United States had a boob job in 2013, which typically costs upwards of $10,000 a procedure. InstaBreast, the bigger boobs for a day treatment, is reported to cost from $2,500 to $3,500.

Tracey Ford of MSN reports ...

"InstaBreast takes around 15 to 20 minutes, during which a saline solution is injected directly into the breasts to immediately create bigger boobs that last for up to 24 hours. The solution is eventually absorbed—and wait for it… excreted from your body when you pee.

"The area is numbed before the injection, and Rowe says that while there shouldn't be any pain, some patients have experienced a little bruising (similar to when you've gotten a shot or had blood drawn), which goes away in about a day or so."

Rowe says InstaBreast takes the guesswork out of getting implants and prevents the buyer's remorse that some women experience after augmentation. He claims there are no short-term or long-term side effects to the procedure.

Still, other board-certified plastic surgeons claim "it's probably OK" but women shouldn't take chances with their breasts.

In fact, some surgeons claim pumped-up breasts wouldn't even feel the same as implants. Tracy Pfeifer, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City, says, "The problem with that is when you’re injecting fluid into the breast, it’s very amorphous -- whereas an implant has a shape."

Pfeifer also has concerns that InstaBreast downplays how serious any surgery is, whether it's an invasive procedure or not. All surgery is potentially high risk. “I just don’t see the point of it,” she says. Pfeifer continues, "So the benefit to have any risks at all needs to be very high. What is the benefit? Your breasts are a little bigger for a couple hours?"

Also worth noting: Macrolane, a compound used specifically as a breast injectable, was banned in the U.K. in 2012 because it was thought to cause lumps that made it hard to read mammograms. Rowe says the types of fillers he uses don't pose this risk.

And, ever the entrepreneur, Rowe is currently working on an extended version of InstaBreast, which he says has been dubbed "vacation breasts" by the media. This procedure would allow patients to test-run a bigger breast size for a longer period of time—weeks instead of a day—before they decide whether or not to get implants.

What The ??

I don't understand the insanity of the "bigger is better" body part mania. Bigger breasts, bigger penises, bigger butts -- what is the matter with being satisfied with what God gave you and then exercising, dieting, and employing other non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical measures to naturally enhance any part of your physique?

I get the whole "boost my confidence" argument; however, vanity is so unattractive and normally insatiable. I strongly believe, and I'm speaking from a man's point of view, all sizes of breasts are beautiful. And, anyway, many men are not overly enamored by ginormous, Egyptian-pyramid-size hooters. Many are hopelessly attracted to other feminine qualities. A confident woman who uses her best natural, physical attributes to sport her unique attractiveness is irresistible.

How in the hell can 24-hour bigger boob blowouts do anything to convince women to enhance their breasts? Instant gratification and then just "piss a few thousand dollars away"? This makes me angrier than a Republican on Obama care. I'd like to shoot Dr. Rowe with a gallon or two of his own medicine.

Seriously, I just think it's time to end "bigger" artificial adoration. If you must continue to swallow the "mine is bigger, therefore, better than yours" myth, fine. Befriend, date, mate, and marry those who share your views and leave the rest of us to marvel and enjoy beautiful reasonability.

InstaBreast, indeed. What is the next quick fix for narcissistic pleasure? You are thinking the same thing I am, aren't you? I'm sure some money-grabbing plastic surgeons are already devising both an InstaDong and an InstaVajayjay surgical enhancement for temporary employment. I'm sure these procedures would be just the thing for weekend flings in Vegas or South Beach.

Slow Poke Laws: "How About Just Getting Off My Bumper?"

First of all, let me establish that I live in Ohio, and today I'm discussing a law known as the Georgia "Slow Poke" law. Since I drive mainly in the Buckeye State, I am not required to follow this law in my area, but I deal with the scenario I will paint at least once or twice a week.

As I travel a long distance on a four-lane highway I often engage cruise control when I hit stretches of open road with minimum traffic. I set the cruise for the speed limit -- that is normally 60-55 mph. I am very conscious of my speed since I have had a ticket or two within the last year, and I do not want to pick up points on my license. I obey the law for good reason. I also believe in defensive driving.

Let me continue my scene. As I come upon a car in the "slow lane" that I occupy, I turn on my left blinker, check the mirrors, and prepare to pass the car ahead in order to maintain a safe distance between us. Many times as I enter the "fast lane," the car I am passing decides to speed up and play "race day" on the highway. I don't understand the logic, but I think some people just do not want another car to pass, so the driver speeds up and keeps abreast of my vehicle that is now in the left lane. I don't like the parallel situation, but it often happens.

Remember, I am running the speed limit. I do not want to exceed the limit and chance getting another citation. So, I continue driving in the passing lane aside or slightly behind the driver who just accelerated to prevent me from passing and returning to the right lane.

Usually, without fail, some other impatient driver pulls on my rear bumper -- cussing, giving me the bird, and flashing his lights. As he tailgates dangerously close to my car, I simply take my time and remain in the passing lane until Jeff Gordon Jr. to my right decides either to slow down and let me pass safely or to speed up in order to let the raging idiot off my tail.

I call this highway scene "Instantaneous Road Rage Insanity." It is caused by excessive speed. I am 64 years-old, and I don't have the reflexes of a young man anymore. I try to practice defensive driving and road courtesy, but it's all I can do to keep my blood pressure from exploding as this common occurrence develops. I believe traveling the speed limit dictates my right to be in the passing lane in such circumstances.

Well, Georgia now has the "Slow Poke" law. It requires drivers in the left lane of a four lane highway or interstate to merge into the right lane when a vehicle going faster comes up from behind -- even if they're driving at the speed limit. If they don't merge, they face a misdemeanor charge. The law is intended to reduce congestion and cut down on confrontations and road rage.

There are several provisions where drivers can remain in the left lane:

* When traffic conditions or congestion make it necessary to drive in the passing lane
* When inclement weather, obstructions, or hazards make it necessary to drive in the passing lane
* When compliance with a law of this state or with an official traffic control device makes it necessary to drive in the passing lane
* When a vehicle must be driven in the passing lane to exit or turn left
* On toll highways, when necessary to pay a toll or use a pass
* To authorized emergency vehicles engaged in official duties or
* To vehicles engaged in highway maintenance and construction operations.

Lollygagging drivers (pacing at the speed limit) face misdemeanor penalties of no more than $1,000 in fines and up to a year in prison. The crime is a 3-point violation.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Bill Hitchens, R-Rincon, who was a state trooper for 33 years and is the former head of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, says he expects much lower penalties.

Hitchens admitted the measure would be tough to enforce. He says he pushed it more for education purposes, over concerns that irate drivers stuck behind dawdlers might spur road rage incidents or cause crashes while trying to pass.

"I don't think a lot of people understand that on multi-lane highways with traffic going in the same direction, that slower traffic is supposed to keep right," Hitchens says.

My Take

Oh, just what we need, another law that is seemingly unenforceable considering all of the provisions for legal driving in the left lane! I understand it is not the right of a slower driver to enforce the speed limit on anyone else; however, failing to follow the speed limit is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents in the United States.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, speeding contributes to about a third of all car accidents in America. Reckless driving that most often involves speeding accounts for 33% of all deaths involving major car accidents.

In my scenario, two speeding drivers create a dangerous situation. Who in their right mind would blame a passing motorist for two other motorists' discretions? The blame should go to the following: (1) the driver who speeds up in order to stop a person from passing, and (2) the speeding driver who is in such a maniacal hurry to get to his destination that he does not keep a safe distance from the car ahead of him in the passing lane.

 Here is what the National Safety Council says:

"Speeding kills an average of 28 people per day for a total of 10,219 people a year. There is some social pressure from others who are speeding around us on the roads and changing the habit can be challenging. Slow down to save a life."

Mature, defensive drivers drive under or at the speed limit. They should not be blamed for road rage and forced to get out of the way when they don't wish to speed. Maybe Georgia troopers and safety officials should pay the fines of responsible drivers who are being ticketed and regarded as "offenders" for no good reason.

I'm sure many people in Ohio are clamoring for a law that penalizes "slow pokes," too. What a crock! I thought road manners, courtesy, and patience were virtues for good drivers. Is it any wonder teens speed when adults act as if they have no sense behind the driver's wheel? Sure, some people drive too slowly in certain conditions. But, a fine or jail time for driving the speed limit? Excuse my French, but this is fucking illogical, reverse thinking -- a law without proper warrant.

So, hey, state legislators, how about taking the cell phones out of the hands of drivers instead of worrying so much about slower drivers? Motor vehicle crashes involving cellphones are "vastly underreported" in national statistics on fatal automobile crashes, according to a new study (2013) by the National Safety Council. Even in fatal crashes where the driver admitted using a cellphone, only 50% of those crashes in 2011 were coded in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System data as involving a cellphone, NSC said.

The safety council estimates that 25% of all motor vehicle crashes involve cellphone use.

A Centers for Disease Control study analyzed 2011 data on distracted driving, including talking on a cell phone or reading or sending texts or emails behind the wheel. 69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed in the study.

I say drop your phone and get off of my ass when I am driving the speed limit. In my opinion, these two things would greatly improve road rage incidents and save innocent lives on our nation's highways.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ohio and Narcan: Saving Lives and Cost Gouging

If you cannot imagine the scope of drug overdose deaths in Ohio, consider the following information about naloxone, often known as Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids on the brain and can limit or stop an overdose when given to an individual overdosing on heroin or a prescription opioid.

"Ohio’s use of the drug is steadily growing, with naloxone having been administered an estimated 74,000 times in the state between 2003 and 2012. More than 10,500 of those doses were administered in 2012 alone.

"A poisoning death review by Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine, in collaboration with the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, showed that of 162 overdose deaths in that county in 2012, heroin or other opiates showed up in the systems of 146 who died of “unintentional” overdoses. A drug like Narcan could potentially have saved 41, researchers said in the study."

("DeWine wants rebate to state for high cost of Narcan." Journal-News.
Middletown. February 17, 2015)

Narcan has proven effective in reviving overdose victims if used promptly.

Following a 2014 law allowing Ohio law enforcement officers to carry and administer naloxone, Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy created a training video on the administration of the drug. To date, more than 1,400 law enforcement officers have completed the course.

The law also gave friends, family members or others who may be in the position to assist someone suffering from an opioid overdose the ability to administer naloxone as long as they receive the drug from a licensed health professional.

In addition, Ohio counties are giving blue nylon bags, containing two vials of the medication plus two nasal devices and instructions, to those with drug addiction histories who are being released from jail or treatment centers -- this is a pilot program known as Project DAWN for “Deaths Avoided with Narcan."

Click here for Project DAWN information and sites:

And, of course, Amphastar, the maker of the drug has already raised prices dramatically. They are rightly being accused of price gouging. Doesn't the greed of Big Pharma give you reason to suspicion their true intentions? Lives are in the balance, yet money always seems to drive the conscience (if they have one left) of the out-of-control pharmaceutical market. The public must demand change.

Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans is very skeptical of the price increase. While acknowledging demand is up, Evans said naloxone has been available for 30 years and its patent has expired, which should reduce costs.

“Why should the price go up all of a sudden just because we’re using it more?” Evans said. “It’s a generic drug that shouldn’t be that big of an expense.”

(Evan Goodenow. "Ohio attorney general contacts drug maker after Narcan price doubles."
The Chronicle-Telegram. Lorain. February 18, 2015)

Attorney General DeWine and Ohio are asking Amphastar to give rebates to police departments and other agencies after the company increased its prices. This month, Amphastar reached an agreement with the state of New York on the cost of naloxone, resulting in a $6 rebate per dose.

According to Cuyahoga County Project DAWN, the wholesale price of Amphastar naloxone varied with their hospital distributor between $12.78 and $14 a vial in 2013 and early 2014. By October 2014, the price jumped to $28.50 a vial.

Captain Todd Day of the Middletown Division of Fire said the price for the drug increased by 55 percent in three weeks. Day said the drug’s manufacturer gave fire officials advanced notice of the price hike but not a reason for it. Naturally, taxpayers are the ones who will have to pay the increase.

Middletown firefighters and paramedics said calls for possible drug overdoses were also up by 54 percent this last year with 165 in 2014 compared to 107 in 2013. Day said the fire department averages about one call per day for drug overdoses.

(Lot Tan. "Cost spikes for life-saving Narcan drug." Journal-News.
Middletown. November 21, 2014)

It is reported that naloxone saved at least 500 lives in Lorain County last year. Last year, 65 people fatally overdosed on opiates in Lorain County, just short of a record 67 in 2013. However, LifeCare Ambulance paramedics made 435 Narcan saves last year and police countywide made 63, including 44 by Lorain police. This year through February 16, Lorain police have made three saves, said police spokesman Capt. Roger Watkins.

On average, approximately five people die each day in Ohio due to drug overdose. This epidemic requires immediate actions such as the broad administration of Narcan. Yes, the program costs the taxpayers money. However, no pious individual should judge the worthlessness of a single life lost to overdose. And, no person should deny their responsibility to save lives. The means to do so is proven effective -- it must be used to help stop the terrible death toll. Can you even imagine the death statistics without Narcan?

We can argue the real causes of addiction and debate whether it is a disease or a conscious sinful action, but, in the meantime, people are dying of opiate drug overdoses. I must ask you, is a fellow Ohioan's life worth $28.50 to your pocketbook? Do you already know one casualty of drug abuse that you would have given an untold amount to save? I think you do. I certainly know many more than one.

God bless you, Attorney General DeWine. I support your kind, humanitarian actions.

Voluntary Sexual Contact Between Children: Do You Know the Law In Your State?

The Kentucky Supreme Court recently heard arguments about whether voluntary sexual conduct between children should be prosecuted as a crime.

"This case matters to any parent who has a teenage child, or will have a teenage child," assistant public advocate John Wampler, said in an interview. "The simple fact is that unfortunately, many young teens under 16 are having sex with each other and engaging in sexting."

The state's high court is expected to issue a ruling within a few months

(Andrew Wofson. "Teen sex a crime? Ky high court to hear case."
The Courier-Journal. Louisville. February 09, 2015)

The Case

An eighth-grade boy and his seventh-grade girlfriend had been dating about 1½ years when they decided to have sex. The boy, 15, also texted two nude pictures of himself to the girl, 13, who sent him one back.

The legal fallout was one-sided after the girl's mother spotted the nude pictures on her daughter's phone. She then allegedly ascertained that her daughter had sex with her eighth-grade boyfriend at her house.

When the girl's parents found the pictures on her phone, they took out a warrant in Woodford Circuit Court.

Although both teenagers could have been charged with the same offenses, Kentucky's law landed on the boy, who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors for having sex and exchanging the photos. The boy was charged with sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor, and possessing matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor, a felony. Then, despite his plea, a judge designated him a sex offender, removed him from his home and sent him to a juvenile detention center.

Although the boy (now known as B.H.)  was too young to consent to sex -- the minimum age is 16 in Kentucky -- he was charged with a crime for engaging in it. And even though the his parents could have gone to the county attorney's office and taken out charges against the girl (now known as C.W.) only B.H. was charged.

"If the Commonwealth's position is held to be correct, then approximately one third of all teenagers, according to recent statistics, could be charged with a felony sex offense," Wampler said. "That should strike fear in the hearts of every parent who has bought their child a smartphone.

The Kentucky attorney general's office, which is defending the prosecution, says that punishing only the boy was justified because B.H. initiated the acts and because he had a prior offense. He was already on probation for indecent exposure. In that case, B.H. had knocked on a neighbor's door dressed only in a towel and removed it to expose himself to the neighbor.

State Assistant Attorney General Gregory Fuchs argued that the since B.H. initiated the acts, the prosecution "fit within the parameters of the crime," and that if the defense argument holds sway, sexual activity between a 15-year-old and a 5-year-old could not be criminally prosecuted.

Fuchs said that B.H. gave up the right to challenge the constitutionality of his conviction by pleading guilty. "There was only one victim in this case," Fuchs said in a brief, "and it is just as illegal for appellant as a 15-year-old to possess that child pornography as it would be if he was 51 years old."

    15.0% had had sex with four or more people during their life
      Ohio Close-In-Age Exemption

      In Ohio, sexual intercourse with someone under 13 years of age is illegal regardless of the age of the defendant. However, if the victim is above this minimum age requirement (13) and below the age of consent (16), it is only illegal to engage in sexual intercourse with that individual if the defendant is at least 18 years of age.

      Statutory rape is prosecuted under Ohio’s rape and sex crime laws. Penalties depend on the ages of the defendant and victim, and the conduct that occurred, as described below.