AZ Rep: “Druggies” like Carrie Fisher “dropping like flies” in 2016

Rep Kelly Townsend Header

What do David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Keith EmersonMerle Haggard, Prince, Bernie Worrell, Shawty Lo, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, and George Michael have in common?

That’s easy: they’re all beloved musicians who passed away in 2016.

What do Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty, Denise “Vanity” Matthews, Patty Duke, Joan “Chyna” LaurerRobert Vaughn, and Carrie Fisher have in common?

Easy again: they’re all stars of stage and screen who also died in 2016.

But a member of Arizona’s legislature from the 16th district, the co-founder of the Greater Phoenix-area Tea Party named Kelly Townsend, doesn’t see a list of seventeen creative artists who were taken from us in the same calendar year.

State Rep. Kelly Townsend just sees a list of dead “druggies”.

Tweet by @KellyTownsend11, Arizona State Representative.

2016, just know that even though everyone is blaming you, I thought you were brilliant. And I know the real reason that many of these people are dropping like flies is because they were druggies. We used to call them stoners or tweakers. Not idols. So when people keep blaming you, just don’t listen. And know that you are loved. 🙂

Rep. Townsend’s Twitter account – @KellyTownsend11, is protected, so we can’t get you the link to the original tweet, which was forwarded to us as a .jpg from a fan. Maybe you can send her a follow request in order to help us verify the tweet (I think she’d probably reject one from us)?

Most Celebrity Drug Users Who Died in 2016 Outlived Their Life Expectancy

The problem with Rep. Townsend’s analysis, besides the dispassionate bigotry, is that 2016 had few celebrity drug overdose deaths. Whether or not drugs had a contributing effect on ending most of these acknowledged drug users’ lives is dubious at best, unless you think drug use leads to heart attacks and cancer many decades later.

  1. Robert Vaughn – age 83, leukemia;
  2. Leonard Cohen – age 82, a fall;
  3. Merle Haggard – age 79, pneumonia;
  4. Paul Kantner – age 74, heart attack;
  5. Leon Russell – age 74, natural causes post-heart attack;
  6. Dan Haggerty – age 73, spinal cancer;
  7. Bernie Worrell – age 72, prostate, liver, & lung cancer;
  8. Keith Emerson – age 71, suicide from depression over failing hands, inability to play;
  9. David Bowie – age 69, liver cancer;
  10. Patty Duke – age 69, ruptured intestine;
  11. Glenn Frey – age 67, complications from numerous conditions;
  12. Carrie Fisher – age 60, heart attack;
  13. Prince – age 57, overdose of fentanyl;
  14. Vanity – age 57, renal failure from drug use;
  15. George Michael – age 53, heart attack;
  16. Chyna – age 46, alcohol and painkiller overdose;
  17. Shawty Lo – age 40, car crash, suspected alcohol and opiate use involved;

For white men born in the 1930’s, the average life expectancy is 60 years old. So hard-drinkin’ and druggin’ Vaughn, Cohen, and Haggard outlasted the Grim Reaper by about two decades longer than the average.

For white men born in the 1940’s, they could expect to live to be 62. So cocaine-snortin’ or acid-trippin’ Kantner, Russell, Haggerty, Emerson, Bowie, and Frey all beat their expiration date by five to a dozen years. Black men in the 40s lived to be 52 on average and white women made it to 67, so P-Funkin’ partier Worrell got a couple of extra decades and druggie Duke made it two years longer.

So out of a list of seventeen drug-using celebrities who passed in 2016, we’ve got almost two-thirds who lived longer than the average life expectancy.

As for the third who died too young, with four of six of them succumbing to directly-drug-related deaths, we should understand that death from drug use is as natural and tragic as deaths from plastic surgery, skydiving accidents, and AIDS.

Rep. Townsend Wants State to Seize Medical Marijuana Patients’ Children

People like Rep. Townsend think people who are “druggies, stoners, and tweakers” deserve to be “dropping like flies”. But that same logic would be considered abhorrent if applied to surgery, accidents, and STDs.

  • “Well, people with low self-esteem regarding their looks, why, they deserve to die in botched plastic surgeries!”
  • “Well, people who seek dangerous thrills to get a physical rush, why, they deserve to die in skydiving accidents!”
  • “Well, people who use their bodies in risky ways to have a good time, why, they deserve to die from HIV/AIDS!”

You can email Rep. Kelly Townsend at ktownsend@azleg.gov or call her office at (602) 926-4467, though I fear your attempt to convince her to be compassionate toward those who use drugs will be for naught. This is a woman who authored amendments to Arizona’s medical marijuana law to frighten cannabis-using mothers with loss of their children.

Frightened by their dispensary:

THE DEPARTMENT SHALL ADOPT RULES THAT REQUIRE EACH NONPROFIT MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY TO DISPLAY IN A CONSPICUOUS LOCATION A SIGN THAT WARNS PREGNANT WOMEN ABOUT THE POTENTIAL DANGERS TO FETUSES CAUSED BY SMOKING OR INGESTING MARIJUANA WHILE PREGNANT OR TO INFANTS WHILE BREASTFEEDING AND THE RISK OF BEING REPORTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY DURING PREGNANCY OR AT THE BIRTH OF THE CHILD BY PERSONS WHO ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT.

Frightened by their doctor:

THE RULES SHALL ALSO REQUIRE EACH CERTIFYING PHYSICIAN TO ATTEST THAT THE PHYSICIAN HAS PROVIDED INFORMATION TO EACH QUALIFYING FEMALE PATIENT THAT WARNS ABOUT THE POTENTIAL DANGERS TO FETUSES CAUSED BY SMOKING OR INGESTING MARIJUANA WHILE PREGNANT OR TO INFANTS WHILE BREASTFEEDING AND THE RISK OF BEING REPORTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY DURING PREGNANCY OR AT THE BIRTH OF THE CHILD BY PERSONS WHO ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT.

Frightened by the government:

THE DEPARTMENT SHALL POST PROMINENTLY ON ITS PUBLIC WEBSITE A WARNING ABOUT THE POTENTIAL DANGERS TO FETUSES CAUSED BY SMOKING OR INGESTING MARIJUANA WHILE PREGNANT OR TO INFANTS WHILE BREASTFEEDING AND THE RISK OF BEING REPORTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY DURING PREGNANCY OR AT THE BIRTH OF THE CHILD BY PERSONS WHO ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT.

Even on their medical marijuana card:

Registry identification cards for qualifying patients and designated caregivers shall contain… A WARNING TO PREGNANT WOMEN ABOUT THE POTENTIAL DANGERS TO FETUSES CAUSED BY SMOKING OR INGESTING MARIJUANA WHILE PREGNANT OR TO INFANTS WHILE BREASTFEEDING AND THE RISK OF BEING REPORTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY DURING PREGNANCY OR AT THE BIRTH OF THE CHILD BY PERSONS WHO ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT.

Rep. Townsend Chose Her Political Career Over Protecting Poor Women

It’s not just the moms who are using medical marijuana for whom Rep. Townsend lacks compassion. Last year, she voted to make Arizona the only state in the nation that limits welfare assistance to poor families with children to just one year. Her vote cut TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) assistance of an average $275 a month to 2,500 recipients, 60 percent of them were children.

Why would this widowed single mother do such a thing? Because she couldn’t stand up to bullying from the male state Senate president who sponsored the bill, choosing to protect her political career over protecting 1,500 kids:

When asked further why she voted for the bill, Townsend said she was conflicted.  She also criticized former Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert.

“I think it’s important to remember whose bill this was. This was our senate president’s bill,”  Townsend said. “Part of that decision is the fact that [Biggs] has very well trained us. He’s punitive in his nature, and if we didn’t follow along, we would suffer the consequences.”

I was going to close by writing that Rep. Townsend may no longer listen to Bowie, Eagles, Jefferson Airplane, ELP, Prince, P-Funk, Wham!, or any other “druggies” on her iPod ever again, but after researching her, I doubt she’s got musical taste that refined. I’m betting there are a whole lot of booze-swilling and beer-shilling country artists on her playlists, though. Maybe even some Merle Haggard… you don’t get to play Merle anymore, either!

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 199 Articles
Russ Belville - or "Radical" Russ, as he is known on-air - hosts The Marijuana Agenda, a live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on MJAgenda.com.  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but "Radical" Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 70 North American cities.