| Crime |

Parents Accused of Leaving Kids in Hot Car While High on Kush

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Parents have been charged this week with felony endangerment of a child after keeping kids in a hot car while high on kush.

Ashlea Jones, 26, and Christopher Alexander, 27, apparently were found napping with their two-year-old daughter and three-year-old son in a car that had no air conditioning on. A maintenance man at the apartment complex where the car was parked alerted the Harris County Sheriff's Office, as KTRK reported, and the deputies who responded also found baggies of kush — a dangerous drug that the Drug Enforcement Administration says can cause seizures, psychotic episodes and hallucinations. 

According to the criminal complaint, the sleeping parents also left the tykes unsupervised in a "high-crime, high-traffic area." 

As Press reporter Leif Reigstad wrote about extensively this week in our cover story, "Kush City: Houston Has Become a Major Hub for the Latest Drug of Choice," the drug these parents were purportedly using has become a pervasive problem among not only homeless people, but everyone from inner-city dwellers to suburban teenagers. It has led city, county and state officials to file lawsuits against the smokeshops and gas stations selling the stuff under the counter in bright, cartoon-like packages with flavors like "Klimax" and "Scooby Snax," though with warnings such as "not for human consumption" and misleading labels such as "potpourri" or "incense" tacked on the front.

The drug is also known to cause people to act erratically and irrationally, according to the DEA. Our own reporter witnessed firsthand a homeless man stumble into the street, almost get hit by a bus and flail his limbs around before collapsing in the road, tearing off his shirt and screaming before passing out for half an hour. He was told stories about severe strokes that led a 16-year-old girl to lose the ability to walk, about a man who attacked ambulance personnel trying to treat him for an overdose, and about another who had a seizure and woke up in his mother's arms, covered in his own vomit. 

Neither Jones nor Alexander is charged with possession of the drug — it is not yet a criminal offense in Texas. As our feature story explores, for now, kush is difficult to criminalize given the large number of chemical variations that exist. The criminal complaint instead acknowledges the drug by asserting that Jones and Alexander were criminally negligent by placing the children in danger of death, injury or mental impairment, "namely, by getting high on synthetic marijuana and not having the mental capacity to supervise" the kids.

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