Utah Teenager Turns Parents in for Drug Use and Child Endangerment

A Utah teenager has started her family down a safer path after turning her parents in for drug use, theft and child endangerment.

Kids are watching

Photo by: Samuel Johnson

A 15 year old Santaquin, Utah teenager who had been watching her parents engage in illegal behavior for some time decided to alert a relative to the situation. The teen told the relative and later authorities in great detail how her parents and their friends had done drugs in front of the teen at home. She also informed police of a theft-based business her father and a friend were running out of the garage. The parents were arrested and the teen will likely be staying with more responsible family members while her parents face criminal charges.

Child endangerment

The teen’s parents, Eric and Jamie Taylor, were arrested after their daughter’s confession of their illegal activity. The charges against them are expected to include drug possession, theft, and child endangerment. Utah Code 76-5-112.5 states regarding child endangerment that “. . . a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if the person knowingly or intentionally causes or permits a child or a vulnerable adult to be exposed to, inhale, ingest, or have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia”. By doing drugs in front of their daughter and having those illicit items and accompanying paraphernalia in areas where she could access it, Eric and Jamie Taylor were putting their child’s health and even her life in danger.

Needed steps to reunite a family

It is understandable that the teenager daughter did not want to be around her parent’s illegal and dangerous activity anymore, regardless of her familial feelings for them. Fortunately it sounds as though she has extended family members she can trust to care for her while her parents pay their penance to society. Hopefully her parents use this time to get the treatment needed to end their dependence on drugs while also learning to how to be better parents to such a responsible and courageous child.

Safe Injection Sites

Safe injection sites have been popping up around the world since the early 70’s and while the United States has considered the move to be controversial, there are some cities giving the idea a chance.

Heroin use in America

Photo by: Kiril pipo

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Heroin use has been increasing in recent years among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. . . During 2015, around 828,000 persons in the United States (12 years or older) used heroin in the past year, which is an estimated rate of 0.3 per 100 persons. And in 2014, more than 11,000 hospitalizations occurred for unintentional, heroin-related poisonings.” These statistics account for heroin use, not for other illicit drugs and do not include those persons who were untruthful or who did not participate when the gathering of this information occured.

Spread of disease

With drugs like heroin that are taken via injection comes an increase in disease spread by unsanitary conditions and dirty needles. The CDC estimates that “about 1 in 10 new HIV diagnoses in the United States are attributed to injection drug use or male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use.” While diseases are spreading rampantly through the drug community, the general public is also at an increased risk in contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and viral hepatitis. Although some inject drugs at home, other use drugs such as heroin in public places including parks, bathrooms, public transportation, homeless camps, or discreet areas near businesses. Any member of the general public, including children, may come across used needles and other drug paraphernalia left out in these areas. Almost 40 states have implemented needle exchange programs in an effort to stop the spread of disease, but this may not be enough if users are too high to transport their dirty needles to these facilities.

Safe injection sites

Safe injection sites, otherwise known as supervised injection sites are areas set aside for users to use illegal drugs such as heroin. These safe injection sites offer access to clean needles and medical supervision as well as educational information regarding drug abuse. Safe injection sites have been gaining in popularity throughout Europe since the 1970’s with countries such as the Netherlands having more than 30 facilities in operation. The United States however has been slow to accept the idea of safe injection sites with authorities worried it will encourage drug use or appear as though state and government officials are endorsing the illegal activity.

Overdose Prevention

Photo by: Todd Huffman

While safe injection sites could help prevent the spread of disease, one of the most beneficial reasons for these facilities is reducing drug overdoses. The CDC has estimated that over the last year, at least 70,000 people have died from drug overdoses. Over just the last month, several cities throughout the country have experienced spikes of drug overdoses from illegal substances such as heroin to even marijuana which is legal in many areas throughout the country. These overdoses as of late have not been caused by users ingesting a greater quantity of the drugs, but from the drug itself being different from what they are used to. Some drug users may think they have an idea as to what their limits are when it comes to how much of a certain drug they can handle safely. Unfortunately, not all drugs are created equal, with some having a higher potency while others are might be cut with other harmful substances that can quickly cause a user to overdose. These other substances may include synthetic drugs such as Fentanyl or chemical fillers with unknown reactions when ingested. With medical staff standing by at safe injection sites, users can rest assured there will be someone there to render aid and overdose reversal drugs if needed.

Protection for users and the public

Fortunately a handful of cities throughout the United States including Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, and Philadelphia that are finally seeing the health benefits safe injections sites can offer to the public as well as drug users. Hopefully more areas of the country will accept these facilities but until then, friends and family of drug users are encouraged to keep drug reversal drugs on hand and to help their loved ones locate safe needle disposal locations in their area.

Marijuana Cultivation, Other Felony Charges for Spanish Fork Couple

marijuana cultivation for Spanish Fork couple

Photo: A7nubis/Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, Feb. 26, a husband and wife in Spanish Fork were arrested on suspicion of marijuana cultivation for an operation set up in a shed on their property. The couple was booked into the Utah County Jail and is being investigated for numerous other felony and misdemeanor offenses.

That’s Why You Buy an RV

In the popular AMC television drama “Breaking Bad,” the main characters obtain a large RV which they drive to the middle of the desert and produce methamphetamines. One of the reasons they do this is the smell produced by the chemical reactions required to manufacture the drug. Edwin and Valerie Steward of Spanish Fork would’ve been wise to heed this bit of plot.

According to a report from KSL News, detectives performed a walk-by of the Steward residence on Saturday, Feb. 21, after receiving a tip that the couple was growing marijuana on their property. According to a probable cause statement, detectives picked up “the distinct odor of marijuana.”

Detectives returned Thursday with the Department of Child and Family Services on what KSL is calling “an unrelated case.” They asked for permission to search the Steward’s shed, but Valerie Steward refused to give consent. Not long after the visit, detectives observed the Stewards loading boxes into a truck “very rapid(ly).”

After the Stewards left the residence in the truck, officers performed a traffic stop and found numerous marijuana plants, soil, fertilizers, horticulture lights, and various other items used for marijuana cultivation.

Edwin Steward claimed the marijuana was for personal use. Both Stewards tested positive for THC, and Valerie Steward also tested positive for PCP. After Edwin signed a consent form, detectives found the shed to be “equipped for the cultivation of marijuana including a ventilation system.”

Apparently not a good enough one.

Two firearms were also located on the premises. When all was said and done, the couple is being investigated on suspicion of drug paraphernalia, marijuana cultivation, obstruction of justice, and possession of a firearm by a restricted person. All of the drug charges have the additional penalty dealing with the fact that the Steward’s lived in a Utah designated drug-free zone.

Marijuana Cultivation is a Felony

According to the Utah Criminal Code 57-37-8 of the Utah Controlled Substances Act as applies to the Stewards, it is “unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally; produce, manufacture, or dispense, or to possess with intent to produce, manufacture, or dispense, a controlled or counterfeit substance.” The Utah Code lists marijuana cultivation with Schedule III or IV substances as a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

However, again, the Steward’s lived in a drug-free zone. A first degree felony is punishable by five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Either way, marijuana cultivation is a very serious charge. If you or someone you know has been charged with marijuana cultivation—or any other charge—be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Don’t leave your future—or potential lack of one—in the hands of a public defender.