And yet another dramatic news story.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago

At 5 p.m. one day last week, ambulance attendants came out of Phoenix Baptist Hospital at 20th Avenue and Bethany Home Road with a patient on a gurney, but guess what? The ambulance, which had been left running in front of the hospital as the attendants went inside to get a patient, was gone!


But then the wayward ambulance was spotted by an on-duty reserve officer, who spotted the ambulance near 35th Avenue and Bethany Home Road and tried to stop the driver, a female.

A police helicopter and several patrol cars became involved as the woman led police in a pursuit through the West Valley.

Then someone had an idea: The ambulance had a radio and it was left on hen it was parked. So why not get on the radio and negotiate with the woman while they were chasing her around and trying to get her to pull over?

Patrol cars pulled back as two officers began to negotiate with the woman on the ambulance radio and the police helicopter followed overhead.

No soap. The woman was not going to give up her new-found form of transportation.

The negotiations failed, but while the woman was distracted by all the talk on the radio some sneaky cops from the Special Assignments Unit blocked the vehicle from all directions at the intersection of 27th Avenue and Beardsley Road.

The woman, Joni Marie Sweet, 26, crunched things up a bit trying push through the barricade but she didn't make a life-or-death try at it, so she was taken into custody and was booked into jail for....

C'mon, take a guess!

"...motor vehicle theft, criminal damage, and a prescription drug violation."

There were no injuries during the incident and the only damage was to the ambulance, but the patient, who tired of waiting outside the hospital in the hot sun for someone to take him home after his three hour hernia operation, began to walk home, crutches, bandages and all, and was picked up sixteen blocks from the hospital on a charge of hitchhiking within Phoenix city limits, defacing a city street with blood, and depositing potentially dangerous bodily fluids on a public thoroughfare.

PS: Okay, I was only kidding about that the stuff in that last paragraph, but since nothing surprises us these days I thought you might enjoy reading it, finding out it wasn't true, and then stopping to think how ready we are to believe anything--because "anything" seems to happen these days.

Proving that....?


Pat Randall 4 years, 3 months ago

Tom, The last part you wrote may be more true than you wrote. It wouldn't surpise me a bit if the man was ticketed later. I have read of dumber things.


frederick franz 4 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, Pat, the last paragraph sounded convincing! Tom is a good writer! I hope that the woman was charged for the damage to the ambulance.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago


Having sat at this machine looking at the news across the nation and the world for more than seven years now, nothing would surprise me--except logic and justice. Ever since I heard a juror say that she voted to convict a man of homicide because the gun he was carrying in the woods was so big I've been ready to believe anything.

Thanks, Fred.

I talked to my son David about this last night. Like me, he could not understand why anyone would swipe an ambulance. Then it occurred to me. Probably in hopes of finding some kind of drugs in it. The woman probably intended to take it some distance away and dig around inside in hopes of finding something.

I think that part about them contacting her on the radio is surreal.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago

Every time I come across another one of these bizarre stories about druggies I ask myself the same two questions:

  1. Since drugs were readily available, and dirt cheap, in the early 1900's until "prohibition" thinking came along, is it prohibition legislation which is the central cause of our present drug problems? I would include laws which restrict or impose special taxes on the use of tobacco and alcohol in that question. I would also point out that prohibition-style legislation was on the agenda of many do-gooder organizations as far back as the 17th century, including here in this country even before we became a country.

  2. The other question is, of course, would the first step in solving the genuine problem we have now be getting rid of do-gooder legislation? And the question that goes with it: Would the problem get worse for a while before it got better, or would much of the problem go away once there was no profit in pushing drugs?

PS: I am NOT pushing either side of this question. I'd like to hear someone else's thinking. In fact, I think we all would.


Bernice Winandy 4 years, 3 months ago

You ask an interesting question -- if illegal drugs were made legal would the drug problem go away?

I don't think you can answer that question factually. However, I would like to take the example of cigarettes. Cigarettes have always been legal for anyone over the age of 18. When you look at old movies, the actors and actresses usually smoke during the course of the picture. Smoking was glamorous and practically everyone smoked. I think of the bridge group I was in some 30 to 40 years ago and all of the players smoked several cigarettes during the play. In fact the hostess would usually have to go around emptying ash trays at least once during the game.

Today I am in a bridge group and no one currently smokes although quite a few admit that they kicked the habit because of education about the dangers of smoking.

Why do some people become alcoholics. Liquor is legal.

I do not think making drugs legal would end the problem. Perhaps education would help. I am in favor of substance abuse education in schools. My children had a very good substance abuse program. They would talk to me about smoking and I finally listened.


Pat Randall 4 years, 3 months ago

Mesa taught substance abuse in the grade school in the 60's where my daughter went. The parents had to sign a consent for the students to take the class. Parents were shown a movie first which they were going to use about all the drugs, what they looked like and what effect they had. I said NO. It seemed more like an advertisement to use them. You had to be there to understand what I am saying. My husband nor I ever tried them. I smoke and my husband did for about 10 years between the age of 30 and 40 then quit. My daughter was 57 in July and has never used illegal drugs.
I have 2 sons one tried them and the other wouldn't get near them at gunpoint.

Stop the back packs being taken to school and that will cut down on some of the drug use.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago


I probably should not have included alcohol and tobacco in this discussion. They tend to confuse the issue. It is drugs that are in question here, but since I brought up tobacco and alcohol I'll enter an opinion.

I don't have to ask anyone why he or she quit smoking. My eighty years span the years between the time when the dangers of smoking were hardly known to the present time. What we know about smoking now was unknown when I was a kid. We called cigarettes "coffin nails" and cheerfully chuckled over it. However, present day knowledge clearly shows that smoking is like pointing a gun at your head. As a boy I saw virtually everyone smoking. A non-smoker was a rarity. I myself smoked, starting at age 14, but as the statistics began to accumulate and our knowledge began to grow, both Lolly and I quit. That was almost 50 years ago, before most of the really bad stuff was known. The evidence is quite clear, by the way. None of the laws that interfere with smoking, or the taxes that raise the cost, are effective. They are, one and all, a bust. When people quit it is almost always voluntarily, and as the result of their own desire to be more healthy.

I think we'd be wise to leave tobacco out of the discussion, and I apologize for even mentioning it.

As to drugs, the real issue, I guess my primary question is this" Since the number of people using drugs only began to increase AFTER we had prohibition style laws against their use, and since I believe the statistics show that something like one quarter of all people in prison today are there because of drug laws, is it possible that we are doing more harm with SOME of our drugs laws than we are doing good?

One example: Laws against indiscriminate use of medicines make sense. They are artificial substances created to do specific things, are very powerful, and are exceedingly dangerous to use for any other reason.

However, I have lived in more than one country where drugs like pot were perfectly legal, were more or less ignored by most people, and were so unimportant no one gave them any notice. Could it perhaps be true that when people are not able to get natural substances like that, which while they may not be the best thing to be putting into your body are not particularly harmful, they turn to whatever they can find, and start doing idiotic things like sniffing glue and eating bath salts? Is it possible that by legalizing the natural drug substances we would be better off?

Just a question.


Bernice Winandy 4 years, 3 months ago

I thought bath salts were being legally sold. I saw protesters outside a gas station/convenience store in Payson saying that the store sold bath salts. As I understand it, as soon as ingredients in one form of bath salts are made illegal, the producers are able to come up with different ingredients that are OK under the current law.

Let's face it. No one really knows what the effect of legalizing heroin would be. Your idea that it would become less profitable for drug pushers, and therefore would get out of the "business: if drugs were available legally is interesting and a real possibility. However, I maintain that we would still have addicts. I don't think we have the information to answer accurately whether the number of addicts would go down. Would addicts still perform criminal acts in order to support their habit? What drugs other than heroin and marijuana would be legal?

Would meth users turn to heroin for their high? Or would meth, bath salts, etc. still find a market? I assume that you are not suggesting that meth, bath salts, etc. be made legal.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago

I decided to go dig up the the real facts about drug prohibition. I no idea how much useless laws are costing us, but I do now. And now I have answers to things that were questions a few days ago.

"I thought bath salts were being legally sold."

Right, Bernice, some of them are, though most have now been banned. All that proves is that as long as we have laws against drugs we will provide a living for warped people who make a living out of it.

"However, I maintain that we would still have addicts."

So do I. If we have people who are addicted to tobacco, we are bound to have people addicted to other things.

"Would meth users turn to heroin for their high?"

I can tell you with great confidence, having talked to some of them, that they would NOT. I say that because it's what THEY say. The attractiveness of meth is that it can be made and its very quick high. The trap is that once you get hooked you can't get unhooked, and so you die because the stuff is so destructive. The idea is to go back to a time when less destructive drugs were available, people used them, and still functioned in society.

"Would addicts still perform criminal acts in order to support their habit?"

Why bother? Pot is dirt cheap. You can grow enough in your backyard to treat the whole block all year. So is opium. Why steal to get something you can either grow for nothing or buy dirt cheap?

"Would meth users turn to heroin for their high?"

Why would anyone use heroin, which requires an injection when they can get the same high with a mary jane cigarette? Or a few grains of opium, which is a natural derivative of poppies?

"I assume that you are not suggesting that meth, bath salts, etc. be made legal."

Meth, bath salts, and the like are destructive and unnatural. They are manufactured, the cost of making them is not low, and the safety requirements for their manufacture would place their cost far above the cost of natural drugs. So who would want them? Anyway, why would some take something which costs more, does no more for him, and destroys his mind and body?

The idea is to decriminalize the use of "harmless" drugs, "harmless" being those which are physically dangerous and so debilitating that they prevent users from being useful, productive members of society.

Look at it this way: We have millions upon millions of people in this country who now drink, some of them get higher than a kite at times. But those same people go to work, do their jobs and do them well, pay taxes, vote, and contribute to society. Our jails are not filled with alcohol addicts and alcohol pushers as they started to be before we regained out sanity and dumped prohibition. The very same people who make a living now off illegal drugs are those who made a living off illegal alcohol. And all the dire warnings about what would happen if prohibition were done away with have never materialized.

I'll put up a post with the numbers I turned up. Wit till you see them!


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago

These numbers will blow your mind!

• The federal budget for drug control: $15 billion per year.

• Cost of keeping drug users or sellers in prison: $17 billion per year (only counting the non-violent ones).

• We have 2 million Americans locked up because of drug laws; that's 1 out of every 60 potential wage earners.

• The state budgets for drug control equals $30.7 billion per year.

• We spend $6.5 billion in Mexico alone each year on illegal drugs.

• One fifth of all people in state prisons are there for drug offenses.

• One HALF of all people in federal prisons are there for drug offenses.

• Four out of five people in ANY prison for drug offenses are there only for using.

• In 2010, 1.6 million people were arrested for drug violations, and nearly half of then were for an amount of marijuana that would barely cover the bottom of a thimble.

Can you see how ridiculous all this is? The do-gooders have got us spending $1,000 apiece every year to support prohibition, and we have many times more people using drugs than we had before all the dumb laws were passed. That's ridiculous!

I have never tried a drug in my life. Never had the slightest interest in them. Nor has Lolly or anyone in my great family, including either of my two kids. So when I say I am now for legalizing drugs it comes from someone who is looking at the benefit to society, not someone who has a personal axe to grind.

A 2008 study by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron shows that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy.

You know what I suspect? I am no conspiracy theorist, but I think the pushers, the booze manufacturers, the overseas drug manufacturers, and the do-gooders are all pulling together to make fools out of us.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago

I'd like to submit a thought to you for your consideration.

It is simply this: For whatever reason, some humans will always stretch the envelope where "adventure" is concerned, and that includes getting a "high."

I could give you dozens of examples from my reading, but I think that just this one will do. It is taken from Peter Freuchen's "Arctic Adventure" written in 1935. It is true. It takes place in the far north, on or near Greenland. He is speaking of Eskimos.

FYI, "Angudluck's son" is 13 years old.

"A favorite pastime of the children is to hang themselves by their hoods. When the hoods tighten about their necks blood is kept from their heads and they eventually lose consciousness. The other children take them down as soon as their faces turn purple."

The state of unconsciousness is so delightful, the children say, that they play this game at every opportunity, over and over again. They played it the day that Angudluck and his wife were gone away."

"Angudluck's son was the largest child in the group. One after another he hung the smaller children up and lifted them down when they were purple, and laid them on the ledge to recover. When all of them had had their turn he helped them to hang him up. Eventually he grew purple and kicked his legs as the signal to be taken down. The children tried to lift him off the hook, but he was too heavy. They made every effort and still could not lift him, and, as he soon stopped kicking and threshing about, the children forgot about him and ran out-of-doors to play, leaving him hanging in front of the window over the door."

As I said, I could give you dozens of examples of instances where humans, living in a pure state of nature, eat things or drink things, or do things to themselves, even today, to achieve the same kind of feeling that comes from one marijuana cigarette.

So that you won't think this only happens in uncivilized people, or only in wild places, or is done by people of low intelligence, in my own high school graduating class I had a friend with an IQ of 162 who delighted in doing this: He squatted down, did some kind of grunt breathing, suddenly stood up, and passed out from lack of oxygen. He did it many times as kids watched, and as many times as they liked. Some of them tried it. I never did, of course. I knew some of the kids who did, and ten years later they were still doing it once in a while.

I sincerely do not believe that laws of any kind will stop people from being people.


Pat Randall 4 years, 3 months ago

Would there be an age limit on drug users or growers? Would they get tickets for using the drugs while driving? To me one marijuana cigarette makes you just as guilty of drug crime as a hundred lbs of it.

Prescription drugs are making more addicts and doing more harm than sales of illegal drugs.

Who and how does law enforcement decide which prescription drugs you get tickets for while driving and which ones are ok? I know they test your blood, I am asking which drugs and how do they determine how they effect different people?

If given a shot of morphine for pain I stay awake for about 30 hours. When the dr. gave my husband the same dose he was out for 24 hours. Every person is different. I know Tom I added more to the mix.. Sorry


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago

"Would there be an age limit on drug users or growers?"


"Would they get tickets for using the drugs while driving?"


"To me one marijuana cigarette makes you just as guilty of drug crime as a hundred lbs of it."

That's the law.

"Prescription drugs are making more addicts and doing more harm than sales of illegal drugs."

Because they are easier to obtain as a result of the drug laws. No drug laws, no prescription drug abuse. Why take a chance on something dangerous and expensive when you have something safe and cheap?

"Who and how does law enforcement decide which prescription drugs you get tickets for while driving and which ones are ok?"

I know of no rules.

"I know Tom I added more to the mix."

Add away. Now that I have taken the time to study this issue and think about it in depth, an issue I have ignored for years because it in no way touched my life, I can see what it really is, an effort by do-gooders to control people who want to do things that the do-gooders don't want to do. As far as I am concerned, taking away a person's liberty by imprisoning him for something he does which harms no one but himself is no different from burning people at the stake because they don't practice the correct religion. It is not a moral issue; it is question of where the right of the government to interfere in the private lives of individuals begins and ends.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago

PS: In light of why people do things in the name of "adventure," including getting high, I'm waiting for people to comment on the Eskimo children and what they were doing.

Is there no lesson to be had from that?


Pat Randall 4 years, 3 months ago

Tom, There are laws of which prescription drugs you can have in your blood test if stopped for a traffic violation.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago

Does that mean that we aren't allowed to go to the doctor, get a prescription, and take it anymore?


Bernice Winandy 4 years, 3 months ago

Tom, please clarify. When you are talking about legalizing drugs, what drugs are you talking about? It is evident that you favor legalizing marijuana. What other drugs?


Bernice Winandy 4 years, 3 months ago

As far as the Eskimo story -- kids as well as adults can do stupid things.

I find it hard to believe that you could actually hang yourself and cause death by parka hood. They must tie the parka very tight??????????and the tie must go around the neck?????????? My kids' parkas ties went up and through the hood. And if I remember correctly the parkas really weren't that tight around the neck.

Maybe Eskimos have different parkas. (-:


Tom Garrett 4 years, 3 months ago


That's not an easy question to answer without getting into many fine points and details which I would rather leave to those who actually eliminate the current laws, or write a new blanket law to replace them.

Let me say just this: I believe that all humans have an innate right to do as they will with their own bodies. I also believe that it is a tragedy when people do unwise things which harm them. I feel that the choice must be individual. I also feel that there are some times when it is appropriate to help people avoid self-harm, but that our current laws go too far.

Having said that, I think you can see where I am headed--basically no "prohibition-type" laws, none at. In other words, we do what we can to keep dangerous things out of the hands of those who might use them in a way for which they were not intended, but we do NOT write laws which punish people for doing things which only involve themselves. The trick is finding the place to draw the line.

Let's take prescription drugs as an example. They are not a natural substance which can be obtained by individuals in simple ways. They must be manufactured and have no other legitimately profitable use than as medicine. They are now controlled in a way to keep them out of the hands of those who do not need them. That should continue. It should also remain illegal to sell or distribute them to those who intend to use them for non-medical purposes. Those who have such things in their houses should be strongly advised to safeguard them from theft or use by those who should not have them. End.

I am not aware of how eskimo parkas are made. However, I have read in several places of them being used that way, so I presume that they are made of soft leather which would gather tightly around a neck. I know nothing more.

Eskimos--in the time of which I have recently read (1935), and perhaps even now for all I know--also killed bad children by tying a leather noose around their necks and hanging them. They also hanged children in times of starvation to "stop their suffering." They also killed each other in a variety of ways for insults and other things which they felt were wrong.

I have no knowledge of how things are now. Those things are not much different from what you can read about concerning all "primitive" peoples. I know that back in the 18th and 19th centuries it was popular to think of a "state of nature" as being a wonderful thing, but I suspect that those who felt that way did not have the knowledge of primitive peoples that we now have.

A small example of the sliding scale between "primitive" and "civilized:" During Vietnam many of our troops were shocked to see how Vietnamese carried part of their food supplies--in the form of chicken or other small animals, live, with their feathers plucked out, hung upside down by their feet from a belt.

Being over-controlled by civilization is not an entirely bad thing. It all depends upon where the line is drawn.


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