Attention Hollywood: Mom could use your help fighting fake pot

By Denise Crosby
It’s not like Karen Dobner wants to go Hollywood. But she’d really like to get in touch with Demi Moore’s people. You know the folks I mean: Her agent. Her publicist. Her manager.

Dobner has already reached out to all three. And she’d do the same to the troubled actress’ hairdresser if it would get a message to Moore — who made national headlines last week when she was rushed to the hospital after suffering seizures in her Hollywood home.

Karen Dobner holds a photo of her son, Max. Jeff Cagle / For Sun-Times Media

The reason for those convulsions is what has Dobner interested — and concerned.

According to the 911 tape released after the incident, the 49-year-old Moore used something frightfully similar to what Dobner’s 19-year-old son Max smoked in June before killing himself by driving 100 mph down Mooseheart Road and crashing into a North Aurora home.

You probably know Max’s tragic story well because Dobner’s made it a point of putting it out there ever since toxicology reports confirmed her son had synthetic drugs in his system known for causing hallucinations, paranoia, respiratory problems and convulsions.

Even before those lab reports were back, Dobner was on “The Today Show” talking about his death, and how this so-called fake pot was being sold legally as incense or potpourri in cigarette shops and gas stations all across the country.

Within months, she was holding a press conference with the mayor of Aurora, announcing the city’s ban on the substance. By the end of 2011, dozens of other towns — including Sugar Grove, North Aurora, Yorkville, Montgomery, Oswego and Chicago — passed their own versions of the ban.

In the meantime, the foundation she created in memory of her son — To the Maximus — worked with state and federal legislators to make these products illegal. In January, “Max’s Law” went into affect in Illinois; and Dobner hopes a similar bill winding its way through Congress will be passed within the next few weeks.

However, her work is far from over.

“These bills give us a lot of bite, but the criminals who make this stuff are not going to give up their $10 billion industry,” Dobner insists. “Local ordinances must fill the gap in state and federal bans.”

Which is why Dobner will be in front of the Naperville City Council on Feb. 21, asking members to do the same thing neighboring cities have done. It’s why she’s planning to meet with Aurora officials again — to request an amendment to the city’s ordinance that was considered the most comprehensive in the nation.

Why go to Aurora again? Because since the city’s ban went into affect last September, the makers of these synthetic drugs have come up with another 15 chemicals not covered under current laws.

“It takes days to change a local ordinance,” Dobner says, whereas “state and federal laws can take a year or more. Local bans must be part of the solution.”

So is education. Dobner — who has given up her job to devote to this campaign — will be in classrooms at Plainfield East High on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Monday she will take part in a community forum on heroin and other drugs at the Naperville Library; two days later, she will do the same at Oswego High School. On Feb. 22 she’ll be in the Glenbard School District; a couple days after that, Jefferson Middle School in Aurora.

Next Thursday, she’s also filming a segment for an episode of CNBC’s “Crime Inc.”

Whether it’s local, state or national level, Dobner is determined to get the word out.

Which brings us back to Demi Moore. What would be better, she asks, than to get a headline-making celeb as a spokesman for the fight against synthetic marijuana?

According to Dobner, a student at Oswego East recently suffered a seizure after smoking the substance; and three teen deaths in the Chicago area have been linked to the product.

“(Moore) has a message that will save lives, If she smoked it and had this horrible reaction, she needs to tell people how dangerous it is,” Dobner says.

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