First Person Stories

Daughter Claims Synthetic Marijuana Killed her Mother

This is an incredible tragedy.

Another death.  Another grieving family.  Another beautiful life cut short because of synthetic marijuana.

We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Kathleen Gaspar’s family, and pray that justice will be done.

Thank you, Shannon Sheehan, for coming forward, for sharing your story, and for helping us to fight synthetic marijuana.

Your courage and inspiration may have already saved lives.


Fake pot, real risks: Daughter blames synthetic drugs for mother’s death

03/16/2012, 7:53 pm

Steve Stout,, 815-431-4082

Following a family tragedy last fall, Shannon Sheehan of Ottawa is on a crusade.

“My mother, Kathleen Gaspar, died last September following a fall inside her Marseilles home,” said Sheehan. “And, although her death certificate says she died of massive head injuries, I am sure it was fake, synthetic pot that took her life.”

Sheehan, 31, a mother of two, wants to spread the word about the “little known dangers of synthetic pot and other drugs” gaining popularity across the state and nation.

Holding a photograph of her mother, 53, Sheehan explained it is her belief her mother smoked synthetic marijuana purchased from a local convenience store, became disoriented (“possibly delusional”) and stumbled around into walls and furniture around the house before finally falling, fatally striking her head. Continue reading

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16 Year Old Georgia Teen Dies After Smoking Synthetic Marijuana

Click for video.

This morning is a somber one, as we read of the death of another teen.  Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends.  We know what you are going through.  We have been there too.

There are probably a lot more teens that are dying because of synthetic marijuana than we know because, at this point, most of the coroners are not checking for it–and even if they were checking, they have to know EXACTLY what they are looking for.

In this case, concerned teens let the authorities know what happened to Chase Burnett.  Hopefully his family has samples of the synthetic marijuana he smoked, or his friends know what brand-name he used.  Without this information, the autopsy will probably show no traces of drugs that the coroner would test for.  The product needs to be tested first, then the chemicals in that product must be tested against his blood. Continue reading

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Karen Dobner Interviews with Batavia Access TV

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The Horror No Parent Should Face

On June 14, 2011 I got the call that all mothers fear. It was a beautiful day and I was at my friend’s house when my cell phone rang. A police officer told me that Max had a car accident and he had died. My whole world changed in that moment.

Nothing about my life is the same. There’s nothing that could be worse. But, I remember the police officer, who was at my home looking for me, telling me that all of my doors at the house were open and the animals were out.

Max was extremely responsible and conscientious, and I told him that something must have happened. But all I cared about was that my Max was gone.

My friend drove me to the hospital. The officer was in the ER, outside of Max’s ER room. He told me that Max had driven 100 miles an hour into a house. In the moment, I knew that my instincts were right, something had happened. Max would never drive 100 miles and hour and fly 80 feet through the air into someone’s home.

When I went into the ER room, I saw my lifeless son. He still had a breathing tube. They said they couldn’t remove it yet, for some reason. It didn’t feel like it was Max. He was already far gone.

I didn’t feel his spirit.It wasn’t him. All the beauty was gone. I didn’t want to touch him because he was already hard. It wasn’t Max. I didn’t want to look at him because it was too painful. Family and friends arrived at the hospital. I was in shock, but I remember everything. Continue reading

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Karen Dobner becomes of of the “Faces of 2011”

Faces of 2011: Grieving Aurora mom leads war on fake pot

By Denise Linke For The Beacon-News December 28, 2011 1:24PM

Story ImageKaren Dobner, mother of Max Dobner who was killed when his car crossed Route 31 at Mooseheart road and hit a home, speaks out against the product her son and smoked prior to his accident. Dobner has created the To the Maximus Foundation in her sons honor and announces the creation of its executive board at Mooseheart school on Tuesday, August 9, 2011 . | Brian Powers~ Sun-Times Media

Aurora resident Karen Dobner has become a media regular in the past six months. NBC flew her to New York to appear on The Today Show. She’s given many TV and radio interviews on Chicago-area news stations. Reporters from around the world ask her for quotes.

She hates every minute of it.

Continue reading

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Karen Dobner Radio Interview

Karen talks about her crusade against synthetic marijuana and The The Maximus Foundation in this interview with WGN Radio:

Click Image to Listen to Interview with Karen Dobner

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Karen Dobner Reports Back on Emergency Summit

Thank you for being patient while waiting to hear about our trip to the Illinois Emergency Summit on Synthetic Drugs.

After 12 hours sleep, I’m back to work and ready to get to our “Foundation for the Foundation.”

Foundation for the Foundation

We are planning on keeping our activities to a minimum as we focus on a business plan and set a foundation for our foundation.

As part of that effort we have contacted an organization called SCORE to help us make an organized plan for the future, including an educational program, media package, and Public Service Announcement.

The Summit

The Summit was a great meeting of the minds in an effort to formulate a coordinated response to fight back against these dangerous drugs.  I spoke at length about the dangers of synthetic marijuana and how we may address these issues regarding “fake pot” within education and law enforcement to an audience made up of medical professionals, law enforcement, legislators, and the concerned public.

We heard from Scott Albrecht, DEA Special Agent, who was a treasure trove of information on the issue.

He spoke to the DEA’s response to synthetic drugs, enforcement and regulatory challenges.  He gave us a break down on the current situation and how fast it is growing.

Some of the new information he gave us:  there are 400-500 minimum chemicals used in synthetic marijuana.  This is the challenge.

There has never been a drug like synthetic marijuana before.  Of the 400+ chemicals used to produce fake pot, there are only tests for 14 by blood and 5 by urine.  This makes it very difficult to enforce the laws designed to ban these products.

DEA had enforced an emergency ban in March, but they don’t even see 2 of the 5 chemicals they banned.

Some of those who produce these drugs are actually suing each other for trademark infringement.

The chemicals used to produce synthetic marijuana are produced in China and occasionally shipped to a second country, then into the U.S.

My thoughts:  Maybe we need to start addressing this issue at it’s source…China.  There are no other uses for synthetic canabinoids and cathinones other than for the purpose of making these drugs.

Tom McNamara, Commander of the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group, spoke about their successful efforts to fight the meth problem and how it may relate to the synthetic drug issue. They were very successful in getting Meth out of Southern Illinois.  They have a lot of experience in that.

The Synthetic Marijuana problem is similar because, like Meth, synthetic marijuana is a “do it yourself” drug.

The drug dealers are buying the chemicals from China, and they use acetone to “cut” the chemicals.  Then they spray the chemicals onto Damiana leaves, mallow leaves, or other herbs, and “manufacture” the drug in their garages.

Dr. Michael Wahl, Medical Director, Illinois Poison Control, spoke with enthusiasm about the chemical structures of the various analogs.

The doctor gave us the scientific breakdown of the chemicals used to make these “designer drugs.”  We learned new things about the effects of  these drugs.

In particular, we learned about the dopamine causes paranoia in high doses.  We also learned about the bodies inability to control temperature when under the influence of some of these chemicals.  Temperatures can increase to ranges of 107 and above, causing death and/or brain damage.

Joe Bruscato, Winnebego County States’ Attorney, spoke about how they conducted the recent busts in Rockford.  

He spearheaded a recent sting operation against Rockford (Winnebago County) gas stations and convenience stores.  He spoke about what law enforcement can do.

He recommended they send letters that their liquor licenses may be in jeopardy.  In the most recent sting, they got lucky because the drug dealers were selling a product that was recently outlawed in Illinois, and they were charged for selling a schedule I substance.

Overall, Sandy McKinney, Vice President of TO THE MAXIMUS foundation, and I were able to make some valuable connections and gained some new insight into the synthetic drug industry and the challenges facing law enforcement.

Categories: Action Needed, First Person Stories, Information about Synthetic Marijuana, State Law | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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