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Drug Headlines across the U.S. December 11 Edition

On December 5, 2005 the ONDCP launched their "End Meth" ads in Lousiville KY. The ads are geared to show the impact of meth on unsuspecting individuals. Please take a moment to view the ads.
Professional wrestling is ready to take down drug and steroid use. World Wrestling Entertainment says it's starting random drug testing to detect illicit drugs, steroids and prescription drug abuse among its performers. The policy follows the death of one of pro wrestling's biggest stars, 38-year-old Eddie Guerrero, just before a show in Minneapolis. His widow says he was showing signs of heart disease that she blamed on drug and alcohol abuse and aggressive exercising.

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon says the random tests will be conducted by an independent agency and will be fair. More details of the new testing procedure will be released in the coming weeks. WWE's wrestling programming is among the highest-rated on cable television. Professional wrestling is ready to take down drug and steroid use.

World Wrestling Entertainment says it's starting random drug testing to detect illicit drugs, steroids and prescription drug abuse among its performers. The policy follows the death of one of pro wrestling's biggest stars, 38-year-old Eddie Guerrero, just before a show in Minneapolis. His widow says he was showing signs of heart disease that she blamed on drug and alcohol abuse and aggressive exercising.

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon says the random tests will be conducted by an independent agency and will be fair. More details of the new testing procedure will be released in the coming weeks. WWE's wrestling programming is among the highest-rated on cable television. http://www.startribune.com/stories/503/5763736.html

EYEWITNESS NEWS ARIZONA                                                                                                                 

A Pima County Inmate gets a pass, to go to his mother's funeral and, when he comes back to lockup, his stomach is full of drugs and needles.  

The images were captured through x-ray and now Joey Hernandez sits in the Pima County jail with more charges for drugs and probation violation.
Jail officials say the 31-year-old Hernandez used his mother's funeral as a way to bring in drugs into the Pima County jail. He reportedly took orders from cell mates before he left on an unsupervised release. He left Friday and returned on Sunday. The jail received info that Herenandez was smuggling in drugs.
Captain Greg Gearhart says, "We x-rayed him and it detected some syringes in his stomach cavity. He was placed in a dry cell where we waited for that to pass." What passed were 4 balloons; three are believed to contain heroin and meth. The long balloon has what's believed to be syringes and other drugs.
THE GUARDIAN                                                                                                                                           
AGE LIMIT ON CIGARETTES COULD BE INCREASED TO 18                                                                     
The minimum age at which people can buy cigarettes is to be raised from 16 to 18 years under plans being considered by the government. Department of Health sources have told The Observer that there is a case to be made for raising the age and is looking to consult on the issue, believing it could prove popular. An ICM poll carried out last year found evidence of public support for raising the minimum age. Of the 1,010 adults surveyed, 55 per cent said the minimum age should go up to 21. Nine out of ten supported increasing the penalties for selling tobacco to children.

But pro-smoking groups warned raising the age limit would bring as many problems as benefits. 'In principle we won't have a problem if they raise the age to 18,' said Simon Clark, director of the campaign group, Freedom of the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest). 'Smoking should be seen as an adult activity. Anything that can discourage children from smoking has to be a good thing. http://www.guardian.co.uk/smoking/Story/0,,1657369,00.html

NEW YORK TIMES                                                                                                                                                                     RIVAL DRUG GANGS TURN THE STREETS OF NUEVO LAREDO INTO A WAR ZONE
The lucrative drug trade on the Mexican border seemed up for grabs after Mexican authorities arrested the powerful leader of the Gulf Cartel nearly three years ago. The rival Sinaloa Cartel sent Edgar Valdéz Villarreal, a young upstart known as La Barbie, to do the grabbing.  
The wave of killings that followed has turned into an all-out drug war that has spread to almost every corner of Mexico, leaving about 1,000 people dead since March 2003 and bringing harsh criticisms from Washington about the failure of President Vicente Fox's government to end it.
The most spectacular gunfights began here last spring, federal law enforcement authorities said, and usually took place from 8 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon, on the elegant Avenida Colón. While the number of killings has gone down since Mr. Fox sent a battalion of federal officers to try to take back control of the city's streets, the violence has not ended but moved to other parts of Mexico, especially the central state of Michoacan and the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco.

THE MIAMI HERALD                                                                                                                           
To help substance abusers overcome their addictions, Dr. Matthew Hopkins keeps an unusually frenetic schedule: four jobs at three workplaces in two states. The 38-year-old psychiatrist loves working with patients other doctors can't stand: alcoholics and drug addicts prone to manipulation and lying. "I just look at it as a symptom of their disease and try to fix it," he said. "I see the person behind the addiction." He also sees himself.

When patients tell him, "Doctor, you have no idea how bad this is," Hopkins answers: "Actually, yes I do." A few years ago, Hopkins' schedule included covering up his own alcoholism and abuse of prescription drugs."It becomes a 24/7 job, fueling this addiction and creating an appearance of normality," he said. "I got very good at it, but eventually it all came crashing down and I started doing crazy stuff."

That "crazy stuff" included lying to his own psychiatrist to get prescriptions and writing fake ones when she eventually cut him off. He got caught when a pharmacist who worked at two drug stores noticed him filling prescriptions under different names. The day he was called to the legal office at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in May 2003, Hopkins was sure his life was over. He was going to lose his license, maybe even go to prison. His wife would leave him. His friends and colleagues would abandon him.

He confessed everything on the spot. "It wasn't me," he said. "I don't lie to people. In areas other than that, I don't lie. It made me hate myself." http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/living/health/13322188.htm

NEW YORK NEWSDAY                                                                                                                                

A teenage brain on pot looks frighteningly similar to the brains of adolescents with schizophrenia, according to a new study. While it's too early to prove a connection, scientists at North Shore University Hospital-Long Island Jewish Healthcare System caution that marijuana could be a match that ignites an underlying genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia.

Scientists have long debated whether drug abuse triggers schizophrenia, which in males usually appears in late adolescence, or whether the illness itself can lead to drug abuse."It is the story of nature vs. nurture," said Manzar Ashtari, an associate professor in radiology and psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and a scientist at LIJ's Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks. "If there are people who are vulnerable and smoke marijuana, they may be putting themselves at greater risk for developing severe mental illness."

Robert L. Balster, an endowed professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University, said while more research is needed, "studies such as this are very important in providing new leads for possible brain mechanisms that could be involved in drug abuse and its frequent association with mental illness."

BALTIMORE SUN                                                                                                                                        

There's no question that Michael Rabuck should have been institutionalized. People and their property in the city and Baltimore County were safer with him off the street. But this drug-addicted man ended up in a maximum-security prison, the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, where other inmates were eager to give him heroin - and willing to kill him if he did not get his family to pay for it.

So his family paid for it. Money his parents could have spent for something worthwhile - say, their son's drug rehabilitation - went instead to associates of Jessup prisoners who kept Rabuck, 29, supplied with the heroin that ultimately killed him.


NEW YORK TIMES                                                                                                                                                                                 

After pleading guilty to drunken driving, Joseph Tapia followed the judge's orders and showed up one night in November at a forum at Santa Fe Community College to hear from accident victims. The trouble was, Mr. Tapia appeared to be drunk.  "He was making sounds, staggering and swaying as he stood in line, telling people to hurry up," Sgt. Joseph O'Brien, a Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy, told the sentencing judge, Magistrate Pat Casados, after tracking her down at home while Mr. Tapia, a 51-year-old suspended lawyer and repeat offender, stood in handcuffs.

The episode highlights the intractability of the problem of drunken driving in New Mexico, which until the early 1990's regularly led the nation in the rate of alcohol-related road deaths. But the carnage stirred an outcry, leading to legislative measures that cut the toll and made New Mexico something of a model. Now experts worry that despite their best efforts, the gains are eroding.

New Mexico is still seeking solutions. It is the only state with a D.W.I. czar. A groundbreaking federal grant has put 10 full-time officers on patrol for drunken drivers in five problem counties.                                                                       http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/04/national/04drunk.html?hp&ex=1133672400&en=05b965a99e90e17d&ei=

The meth lab by the seminary was exceptional, even by narco-trafficker standards. Equipped with cylinders of acetone, ethanol and oxygen tanks, principal ingredients of meth production, the superlab was capable of producing at least 12 pounds of crystal methamphetamine — nearly 18,000 quarter-gram doses — a day, investigators estimate.
Its discovery surprised investigtors in Sinaloa, where a dose of crystal sells on the streets for 30 pesos, about $2.50. But across the border, federal and state officials believe a much more lucrative market has opened its doors: Arizona. Arizona has long been a distribution point for Mexican meth into the rest of the country.
The state has had a law since Nov. 1 limiting the purchase of pseudoephedrine to 9 grams and placing medicines containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter, to crack down on local labs that use the ingredient to "cook" meth. But few believe the restrictions will keep the drug out of Arizona, particularly when meth smuggling is growing along the border.
Officials fear the state may see what happened when Oklahoma passed a pseudoephedrine crackdown: an increase in Mexican meth. In Sinaloa, drug cartels have already begun adding meth to their illicit product line.                                                  http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/printDS/105384 

NEBRASKA REPORT CALLS FOR METHAMPHETAMINE TREATMENT                                                      
A Nebraska legislative panel on drug sentencing says the state needs to build a locked treatment facility for methamphetamine addicts involved in the criminal-justice system, the Associated Press reported Dec. 3.  The state Community Corrections Council, chaired by legislative Speaker Sen. Kermit Brashear, recommended spending approximately $17 million to construct a medium-security treatment center in Norfolk, Neb. The panel was tasked with determining how to ease prison crowding with alternative sentencing for drug offenders.

"We have to begin implementation now," said Brashear. Added Sen. Mike Flood: "Long term, it's a way to save money. It's either $100 million on a new Tecumseh (prison), or take a crack at treatment." Flood called the proposal a companion to a bill passed last year to control sales of cold medicines containing chemicals that can be used to make meth. "The issue left unanswered is what to do with the 80 percent of folks who get meth from other places, are addicted and go to prison," he said.

The Norfolk treatment facility also would complement Nebraska's plan to increase community-based treatment and corrections. "A group of offenders will always exist whose resistance to treatment and recovery will outpace even the most complete system of intervention services ... prior to incarceration with the Department of Correctional Services," the panel's report noted.

After being fingerprinted and photographed, 87-year-old Dottie Neeley sat quietly in the local jail, imprisoned as much by the tubing from her oxygen tank as the concrete and steel surrounding her. Neeley, who sometimes uses a wheelchair, is among a growing number of senior citizens charged in a crackdown on the illegal trade of prescription drugs, a crime that authorities say is rampant in the mountains of central Appalachia.
Floyd County jailer Roger Webb said seniors have a ready market for their prescription pills, especially painkillers, and some may be giving in to the temptation of illegally selling their medications. "When a person is on Social Security, drawing $500 a month, and they can sell their pain pills for $10 apiece, they'll take half of them for themselves and sell the other half to pay their electric bills or buy groceries," Webb said.
Since April last year, the anti-drug task force Operation UNITE has charged more than 40 people 60 or older with selling drugs in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. It's a trend that Webb said has been growing over the past five years, since police began their crackdown on illegal sales of prescription drugs.

DUTHCH MAY ALLOW POT TO BE GHROWN LIKE TOBACCO                                                                                   
A broad coalition of political parties unveiled a pilot program yesterday to regulate marijuana farming on the model of tobacco, which opponents say would be tantamount to legalizing growing the drug. Under the test program, to be conducted in the southern city of Maastricht, existing health and safety standards will apply to growers, but they would no longer be the target of police raids or prosecution.

Coffee shops permitted to sell marijuana would be required to provide consumers with information about the health hazards of smoking - similar to those for tobacco companies - and the chemical content of the marijuana. The shops would also have to say where they bought the marijuana they sell, which proponents say will deter growers from operating dangerous underground greenhouses.

Under current Dutch policy, marijuana and hashish are illegal but police do not prosecute for possession of less than 1 ounce. Authorities also look the other way regarding the open sale of cannabis in designated coffee shops. But commercial growing is outlawed, giving rise to a contradictory system in which shop owners have no legal way to purchase their best-selling product 

The Patriot Act deal could clear the way for major anti-methamphetamine legislation, which was attached to bill last month. The meth provisions would place cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, the key meth ingredient, behind store counters nationwide. Customers would have to show identification and sign a log book, and they could buy no more than 9 grams -- the equivalent of 300 typical cold tablets -- in 30 days.
The meth bill also would enable U.S. officials to examine sales records from overseas manufacturers of pseudoephedrine, set quotas on U.S. imports of pseudoephedrine based on legitimate need, and allow the withdrawal of U.S. aid to countries that import excessive amounts of the chemical. House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on domestic and international pseudoephedrine controls last month and were prepared to move the legislation before the Thanksgiving break.
Since then, industry lobbyists and opponents of the foreign aid provisions mounted a new push for amendments that would blunt the impact on sellers of pseudoephedrine products and countries that trade in the chemical, according to Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind.
The flow of methamphetamine into Wisconsin continues apace even while seizures of local "mom and pop" labs producing the addictive stimulant are on the decline. So said Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, who used a series of news conferences Thursday to highlight the progress of the state's initiative to combat the drug.
Speaking in Milwaukee and joined by Jim Copple, a national meth enforcement expert contracted by the state, she also cautioned against local ambivalence about the drug, which up to now has been most prevalent in northern and western Wisconsin. In a statement she released, Lautenschlager pointed as an example to the October arrests of Milwaukee Latin Kings street gang members in which meth was the only drug seized.

Lautenschlager introduced figures showing that the number of meth cases referred to the State Crime Laboratory jumped from 409 in 2003 to 545 in 2004. The projected figure for 2005 is 734. On the upside, she said, the projected number of clandestine labs seized in the state was not expected to top 60. That compares with 91 in 2004 and 101 in 2003.

Methamphetamine Alert!!!

Quick News Reference Guide

1.   Mexico Takes Action Against the Pseudoephedrine Trade

2.   PA Pharmacies Voluntarily Impose Restrictions on Pseudoephedrine Products

3.   Status of House Bill 1311 to Mandate Restrictions on Pseudoephedrine Products

4.   Status of House Bill 1327 Regarding Anhydrous Ammonia and Chemical Precursors

5.   Nine Receive Federal Charges in Methamphetamine Production & Trafficking

6.   Drug Buproprion Studied for Possible Use in Meth Treatment

7.   Anhydrous Ammonia Theft on New York's Farms

8.   Meth is Spreading to Communities Nationwide

9.   Ottawa, Canada Police Prepare First Responders for the Meth Epidemic

10.   Amphetamine Family of Drugs

11.   Meth Recycled Via Urine Extraction

12.   American Journal of Psychiatry Study Suggests Changes in Brain Structure with HIV and Meth Dependence

Congratulations to our lister, Jay Dagenhart of the Philadelphia Crystal Meth Task Force, for his informative, moving and courageous interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show that was broadcasted on Monday, November 28, 2005.  For those of you who missed the show but would like to learn more about Jay's organization, you may visit the website at: http://www.meth2death.org/aboutus.html.

1.  This article published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was shared by lister Laura Vogl, Community Engagement Specialist at the Bucks County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. It reflects new measures taken by the Mexican government to reduce the amount of pseudoephedrine imported into the country, and to restrict access to meth-making ingredients.   http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1102AP_Mexico_Meth_Crackdown.html

2.  From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, this article discusses the voluntary efforts of pharmacies in Pennsylvania to limit access and quantity of pseudoephedrine products:                                                                                                                                        http://pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/trib/newssummary/s_398982.html

3.  From Sayre Evening Times, the House Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 1311, sponsored by Representative Tina Pickett, requiring vendors to limit purchase of products containing meth precursors (ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine) to a total of (3) packages or 9 grams per transaction. This bill would also require these products to be placed behind the counter or armed with a theft-deterrent. The bill must still be approved by the House of Representatives.     http://www.eveningtimes.com/articles/2005/11/29/news/news1.txt         

A link to the bill's history and description may be viewed on the Pennsylvania General Assembly's website via this link:   http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/ALL/2005/0/HB1311.HTM

4.  House Bill 1327 was also reviewed by the Judiciary Committee on 11/22/05; details are available through the following link to the PA General Assembly website. This bill would amend section 13.1 of the Drug Act to make technical corrections and to also allow the Secretary of Health to add substances to the definition of "precursor substances." These include ephedrine and pseudoephedrine as well as red phosphorus, lithium and other chemicals, which would be illegal to possess with intention to utilize for meth production. The complete list of these revised precursors may be viewed here:                                                                                                              http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/DSU/view_bill.cfm?syear=2005&sind=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1327&theType=A

5.  From the Towanda Daily Review, nine people receive federal charges for "conspiracy to manufacture and distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine in Bradford County between January 2000 and November 22, 2005."                       http://www.thedailyreview.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15670288&BRD=2276&PAG=461&dept_id=465049&rfi=6

An update today in the Towanda Daily Review about the outcome of their U.S. District Court appearance: http://www.thedailyreview.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15685658&BRD=2276&PAG=461&dept_id=465049&rfi=6

6.  From Join Together Online, this brief describes a recent study indicating that the antidepressant drug buproprion (brand name: Wellbutrin) may reduce cravings for meth addicts:                                                                     http://www.jointogether.org/sa/news/summaries/reader/0%2C1854%2C578657%2C00.html

7.  From WROC-TV 8, the following article discusses the meth scourge that has attacked the rural countryside of New York state, specifically manifesting via the theft of anhydrous ammonia from farmers' land. The article mentions that many of the thieves cross the border into NY from Bradford County, PA.                                                                                                                                                     http://www.wroctv.com/news/story.asp?id=20734

8.  Lister Ken Dickinson shared the following piece from from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information, reflecting the spread of methamphetamine through the country, penetrating communities indiscriminately; luring teenagers, students, mothers and fathers. There are also website links referenced for additional resources. http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/newsroom/articles/articleDetails.aspx?ID=48

9.  The following link was shared by lister Lara Ruesch, Manager of the Bucks County Council's Juvenile Alcohol and Other Drug Awareness Program. From the Ottawa Sun, police in Ottawa, Canada prepare for the growing meth epidemic by training first responders on the properties of meth labs, hazards of meth and secondary issues resulting from meth such as violence and sexual assaults. http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/OttawaAndRegion/2005/11/23/1318870-sun.html

10.  All the way from Jamaica, this piece published in the Jamaica Gleaner, describes the amphetamine family of drugs, including methamphetamine.                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20051123/health/health4.html

11.   Louise Kennedy, Community Engagement Specialist at the Bucks County Council, shared the following brief from the Claremont Institute Center for Local Government blog, Local Liberty, regarding the extraction of methamphetamine from urine: http://www.claremont.org/localliberty/archives/004317.html

12.   Louise Kennedy also shared the following from the American Journal of Psychiatry:

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Dr. Nora D. Volkow, M.D. has made HIV/AIDS a major priority as cited in her address in the American Journal of Psychiatry, August, 2005, 1401-02. Dr. Volkow cites important research by Jernigan et al. (p. 1461, Am J Psychiatry 162:8, August 2005) on the consequences of comorbid HIV infection and methamphetamine dependence on brain morphological abnormalities. Although there are significant findings and associations in this study, much more research is needed, as stated by Dr. Volkow, in providing more information about the specific mechanisms leading to methamphetamine’s effects on the brain, namely, glial activation or neuritic growth. All in all, the study by Jernigan et al., “The Effects of Methamphetamine Dependence and HIV Infection on Cerebral Morphology” suggests that there are significant brain structure alterations associated with both HIV infection and methamphetamine dependence. Below is a link to the abstract. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/162/8/1461

Melanie Swanson, M.Ed.
Prevention Specialist

Bucks County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.
252 West Swamp Road, Unit 12
Doylestown, PA 18901
Phone 215-230-7739
Voicemail  215-230-8715, ext. 3123
Fax 215-230-8205