At seventeen years of age Griffin Robertson Brooks, my oldest son, died in my arms after a two week intensive care struggle from ingesting Jimsomweed.

Most likely you have never heard of Jimsomweed, and even as I type this, the spell check program is yelling at me in red underline that the word Jimsomweed is not recognized as real. But let me assure you Jimsomweed is very real and very much a danger to young and old alike.

All parts of Jimsonweed are poisonous. Leaves and seeds are the usual source of poisoning.   Poisoning can occur when hungry animals are on sparse pasture with Jimsonweed infestation. Most animal poisoning results from feed contamination. Jimsonweed can be harvested with hay or silage, and subsequently poisoning occurs upon feeding the forage. Seeds can contaminate grains and is the most common poisoning which occurs in chickens.

Poisoning, however, is far more common in humans than in animals. Children can be attracted by flowers and consume Jimsonweed accidentally. In small quantities, Jimsonweed can have medicinal or hallucinogenic properties, but poisoning readily occurs because of misuse. Ingestion of Jimsonweed caused the mass poisoning of soldiers in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1676.

Jimsonweed toxicity is caused by tropane alkaloids as researched by Cheeke & Shull in 1985 . The total alkaloid content in the plant can be as high as 0.7%. The toxic chemicals are atropine, hyoscine (also called scopolamine), and hyoscyamine in Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants.

Jimsomweed grows worldwide and is arguably the fourth most deadly botanical on the planet and according to the Drug Enforcement Administration,  “Neither Jimson weed nor any of its constituents are controlled under the CSA. Several states such as Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee have enacted legislation placing regulatory controls on Datura stramonium and/or its alkaloids.”   While it is true that my passion to eradicate this weed began as a father grieving the loss of his first born, it became more important when I realized that the greater need was to unite a heretofore unquantifiable number of people called to stand for those initiatives that impact all of us and can cause infinitesimal pain by the death of a child.

As a people, we in the United States have experienced inexplicable pain due to gun violence.  Our global community fights to end violence against women and children, or over religions. Our Leaders both at home and abroad struggle to find that single masterful piece of language on which to agree so that all may save face and appeal to their base.

I submit that we no longer stand against anything – not gun manufacturers, political policy makers, global warming contributors nor even the proliferators of nuclear weapons.  Rather we stand together and direct our collective energy, wealth and resources toward chosen critical initiatives using the power that we wield as the largest manufacturing entity in the world…..Parents.

The Hug Your Kids Foundation was developed as a 501(c)3 using the theory of positive psychology not to fight against those who we hate or fear, but rather to fight for that which is most precious and irreplaceable – our kids.

This is daunting task but I believe Warren Buffet said it best in the October 2012 edition of Forbes magazine: “You should be doing things that change lots of lives. And you should be doing things that have some real chance of failing.” Together we can and need to change our world in order to ensure that tonight and every night you can Hug Your Kids.  We can’t afford to fail.

I love you Griffin

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