Drug & Alcohol Headline Week in Review from MOMSTELL.COM

September 19, 2004 Edition

 

1.  LONG TERM IN DRUG CASE FUELS DEBATE ON SENTENCING
2.  TERRORISTS SAID TO TAP INTO ILLICIT-DRUG TRADE
3.  EDITORIAL: DRUG USE SHIFTS
4.  TASK-FORCE TARGET NOT JUST DRUGS, CRITICS FEAR
5.  EXPANDING MEDICAL-MARIJUANA LAW WOULD
6.  CREATE DRUG HAVEN, CZAR SAYS
7.
  DUI CONVICT SUES OVER BREATH MACHINE KENTUCKY'S PAIN
8.  COURT CHOOSES PRIVACY OVER POT
9.  GOODBYE TO THE BINGE: THE RECOVERY HOUSE
10. ONCE A PARTY DRUG, METH MOVES INTO THE WORKPLACE
11. DISAPPEARANCE" NEW WEAPON IN MEXICO DRUG WARS
12. STATE OPENS 'METH WATCH' PROGRAM
13. RESEARCHERS LIST WARNING SIGNS OF TEEN MARIJUANA USE
14. FEDERAL COURT RULES AGAINST NEVADA MARIJUANA PETITION
15. U.S. NATIONAL DRUG TRENDS

NEW YORK TIMES  
LONG TERM IN DRUG CASE FUELS DEBATE ON SENTENCING
Weldon H. Angelos, a 25-year-old producer of rap records, will be sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Salt Lake City for selling several hundred dollars in marijuana on each of three occasions, his first offenses. He faces 63 years in prison.
 
Laws that set mandatory minimum sentences require 55 of the 63 years because Mr. Angelos carried a gun while he sold the drugs.
 
The Angelos case may provide a glimpse of the future. The constitutionality of federal sentencing guidelines was called into doubt by a Supreme Court decision in June, but that thinking does not extend to laws that set mandatory minimum sentences.
 
If the court strikes down the guidelines this fall, as many expect, judges will have much greater discretion, to the dismay of many prosecutors and politicians who worry that judges are not tough enough on crime.
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/12/national/12sentence.html?pagewanted=all


WASHINGTON TIMES 
TERRORISTS SAID TO TAP INTO ILLICIT-DRUG TRADE
U.S. soldiers have seized large quantities of opium in raids on militants' hide-outs in Afghanistan in what government officials say is proof that terrorists have tapped into the illicit-drug trade to finance operations.

The Washington Times has acquired U.S. military photographs of Taliban-al Qaeda sanctuaries that show stashes of mines, rifles and bags identified as holding hundreds of pounds of opium gum.

Publicly, the Bush administration is reluctant to say that the Taliban-al Qaeda axis is directly involved in the drug trade. Instead, officials often say drug smugglers run the trade, with al Qaeda and Taliban fighters benefiting by using the supply routes to transport weapons and explosives.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20040913-123749-6001r 
 
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR 
EDITORIAL: DRUG USE SHIFTS
A new government report shows fewer young people in America using drugs like marijuana, Ecstasy, and LSD - good news indeed, and some evidence that antidrug campaigns continue to work.
 
The study also confirms a troubling trend - a rise in the abuse of prescription drugs. In fact, 32.1 million Americans over age 12 reported using a prescription drug for a non-medical (read: recreational) use - up from 29.6 million the year before.
 
Society must sound greater warnings about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs, and work to develop more effective education and drug-treatment programs for youths and adults. States also can create better ways of monitoring pharmacies that dispense controlled substances.
http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0913/p08s03-comv.htm 
 
SEATTLE TIMES  
TASK-FORCE TARGET NOT JUST DRUGS, CRITICS FEAR
The matter on the table was simple enough; the meeting should have been routine.
Since October, King County sheriff's deputies had incurred more than $3,000 in overtime working on a narcotics task force set up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a unit of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
 
A Metropolitan King County Council subcommittee was asked to authorize a new agreement that would simply allow the county to be reimbursed by the feds.
 
But subcommittee members last month didn't count on hearing from immigrants-rights advocates still angry about what they say were ongoing ICE efforts to round up and deport some immigrants.
 
So a routine matter that would have been dispensed with in minutes has spilled over into a debate about whether local police can coordinate law enforcement with immigration authorities without alienating some immigrant groups.
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/PrintStory.pl?document_id=2002034013&zsection_id=2001780260&slug=icecops13m&date=20040913
 
SALEM STATESMAN JOURNAL  
EXPANDING MEDICAL-MARIJUANA LAW WOULD CREATE DRUG HAVEN, CZAR SAYS
A measure on Oregon's Nov. 2 ballot to expand the medical use of marijuana is drawing criticism from the White House drug czar, who says it would turn Oregon into a "safe haven for drug trafficking."
Measure 33 would make it easier for ailing people to obtain marijuana and allow them to possess more of it.

But White House drug czar John Walters, echoing the criticism of Oregon's district attorneys, calls Measure 33 a "fraud" against Oregon voters and a backdoor attempt to legalize marijuana.
Measure 33 would represent a significant expansion of Oregon's medical-marijuana program, which the state's voters approved in November 1998. Oregon is among nine states with medical-marijuana laws.

Under Oregon's current law, qualified patients are allowed to grow and use small amounts of marijuana without fear of prosecution as long as a doctor says it might help their condition.

The measure on the Nov. 2 ballot would create state-regulated dispensaries authorized to supply up to six pounds of marijuana per year to qualified patients, although they could possess only one pound at any given time.
http://news.statesmanjournal.com/article_print.cfm?i=86630
 
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES  
DUI CONVICT SUES OVER BREATH MACHINE
A lawsuit filed by a two-time drunken driving convict claims a dashboard device intended to stop people from driving while intoxicated can actually be a safety hazard.
Jason Reali, 29, said he passed out and crashed his car after blowing into an ignition interlock, a small machine that measures alcohol on the breath and won't allow a car to start if the driver has been drinking.
 
Forty-five states have laws requiring some drunken driving offenders to install the devices, which also require a series of sober breath samples to continue driving. In Pennsylvania alone last year, interlocks stopped would-be drunken drivers from turning on their cars nearly 34,000 times.
 
A heavy smoker, Reali said he blew so hard during one test while he was driving that he fell unconscious and crashed into a tree, severely injuring his hand. He was sober at the time.
 
Reali's lawsuit names the state and an interlock manufacturer as defendants.
Other drivers have had similar complaints.
http://www.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/print.cgi

NEWSWEEK  
KENTUCKY'S PAIN
Three years into the war on OxyContin abuse, the casualties continue. But there's hope where it all began.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5972112/site/newsweek/
 
FAIRBANKS DAILY NEWS-MINER (AK)  
COURT CHOOSES PRIVACY OVER POT
The Alaska Supreme Court denied on Thursday a petition by the state attorney general's office seeking reconsideration of a decision allowing personal marijuana in the home.
 
The Supreme Court upheld last year's Court of Appeal unanimous ruling in Noy v. State of Alaska that solidified the argument a person's constitutional right to privacy is greater than a voter initiative making marijuana illegal.
 
The Court of Appeals decision was based largely upon a controversial 1975 Alaska Supreme Court opinion handed down in Ravin v. State allowing adults to possess marijuana for personal use in their home.
http://www.news-miner.com/Stories/0,1413,113~7244~2400558,00.html 
 
TIME  
GOODBYE TO THE BINGE: THE RECOVERY HOUSE
Most colleges offer substance-abuse prevention programs that warn about the dangers of binge drinking and illicit drugs. Many urge students who develop chemical dependencies to leave school and get treatment. But when those former abusers straighten themselves out and try to finish their education, they often encounter the same social situations that got them into trouble in the first place. Now a small but growing number of colleges are setting up on-campus recovery programs, and a few even have housing specifically for former substance abusers.
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/printout/0,8816,1101040920-695849,00.html

LA TIMES
ONCE A PARTY DRUG, METH MOVES INTO THE WORKPLACE
Lawyers use it to deal with grueling workloads. Movie executives say they like how the buzz keeps them focused as they multi-task throughout the day. It's most popular, researchers say, on construction sites and in manufacturing plants where workers need to stay alert during long hours of repetitive work. And the cost — as little as $100 a month — makes it affordable to many.

While methamphetamines have long been a bane to law enforcement, and treatment experts say the number of meth addicts has been increasing for years, the drugs have graduated into a formidable problem in the workplace.

The illegal drug, also known as "ice," "Tina" or "crystal," is a powerful stimulant: A single dose can keep users high for up to 14 hours. At least initially, people say it makes them feel like a superhero — confident, untouchable and able to accomplish a day's work in a few hours.
http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-meth13sep13,1,1897206.story?coll=la-headlines-health 
 
WIRE SERVICES REPORTS  
DISAPPEARANCE" NEW WEAPON IN MEXICO DRUG WARS
The incident is one of a rising number of forcible abductions in crime-ridden towns and cities flanking the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) U.S. border. They have become so common that local residents have coined a name for the phenomenon: the "levanton" or "big pickup."
 
Almost unheard of a decade ago, analysts and rights groups say the number of disappearances orchestrated by powerful, well-armed and remorseless drug-trafficking cartels operating across the border region is above 500 in the last 10 years and could be much higher, as the drug trade has boomed.
 
Mexican prosecutors can claim some spectacular victories in the drug war, including the arrests of major kingpins in recent years. But the clampdown has led to more bloodletting as second-tier gangs fight for control of the market and the levanton is one of the latest forms of drug violence.
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N03437995.htm 
 
BILLINGS GAZETTE (MT)  
STATE OPENS 'METH WATCH' PROGRAM
The governor's office launched a statewide campaign Tuesday aimed at curtailing suspicious sales and thefts of products used to make methamphetamine.
 
Posters and decals marked "Meth Watch" will be distributed to stores in 12 pilot cities starting in October under the program, which is funded by a $67,000 grant from the Consumer Health Care Products Association, said Jean Branscum of the governor's office.
 
Participating stores will display Meth Watch posters and mark meth ingredients with Meth Watch decals. Employees will also be required to limit the number of packages on shelves, impose purchase limits, learn more about meth and report suspicious purchases to police.
 
Products used to make methamphetamine include cold and asthma tablets containing pseudoephedrine, acetone, gas additives, matchbooks, aluminum foil, coffee filters and propane tanks.
http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/2004/09/15/build/state/78-meth-watch.inc
 
THE TIMES (NJ)  
SYRINGE BILLS FACING HEARING
Anyone over the age of 18 would be able to walk into a New Jersey pharmacy and buy up to 10 syringes without a prescription or get free needles at exchange programs under a pair of bills aimed at stopping the spread of AIDS among drug addicts, their lovers and their newborn babies.
 
Debate on the controversial measures is expected to start Monday at an Assembly Health Committee hearing.
the legislation to the governor's desk, said the measures will need bipartisan support. http://www.nj.com/news/times/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1095235538269201.xml 
 

WASHINGTON POST
RESEARCHERS LIST WARNING SIGNS OF TEEN MARIJUANA USE

The University of Maryland's Center for Substance Abuse Research has unveiled a list of warning signs that can help determine whether teens are using marijuana, the Washington Post reported Sept. 2.

The nine warning signs can be used by parents, educators, and law-enforcement authorities -- all of whom, the study found, play a key role in identifying and preventing teens from using drugs.

"This is important because it's the first time we've been able to scientifically determine the signs and what can result from marijuana use," said Erin Artigiani, a spokeswoman for the center. "We found that teenagers really do rely on their parents to shape their attitudes on drugs. We encourage parents to talk to their kids about drugs, to understand that drug use is a mistake, and to be prepared for their responses."

Among the warning signs are: the use of cigarettes and alcohol before age 15, arrests for alcohol or other drugs, 20 or more unexcused absences from school, and the attitude that smoking cigarettes and marijuana is safe.

"A lot of this is, yes, common sense, but there's the perpetual denial factor. Parents never want to believe that it's their kid," said Milt McKenna, a Maryland Department of Education specialist on safe and drug-free schools. "What this report does is it tells us that these are no longer the things that we think and believe. Now we can say: 'Here are the facts. This comes from what your kids are telling us.'"

The study was based on data collected in the 2002 Maryland Adolescent Survey, which questioned 34,000 sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th-graders about their experiences with alcohol and other drugs.

FEDERAL COURT RULES AGAINST NEVADA MARIJUANA PETITION
9/15/2004

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower-court ruling that declared invalid more than 2,000 signatures gathered for a petition to legalize marijuana in Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reported Sept. 9.

According to the court, the signatures in question were not of officially registered voters. Some people registered to vote at the same time they signed the petition, but the law states that petition signers are not considered registered voters until their registrations are received and recorded by their counties' election departments.

"This requirement does not restrict speech," Judges Thomas Nelson and Andrew Kleinfeld wrote for the court. "What it restricts is the power of persons not registered to vote to change the laws passed by the voters' duly elected representatives."

The ruling could put an end to a ballot initiative that sought to legalize small amounts of marijuana. "We haven't exhausted our legal options, but this puts the initiative in great peril," said Jennifer Knight, spokeswoman for the initiative group, the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana.

U.S. NATIONAL DRUG TRENDS
Information provided as a benefit and service of the Arizona H.I.D.T.A., Demand-Reduction Program, Drug-Free Workplaces, Communities and Schools

NATIONAL
Adult marijuana abuse and dependence increased during the 1990s
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health compared marijuana use in the U.S. adult population in 1991-92 and 2001-02 and found that the number of people reporting use of the drug remained substantially the same in both time periods, but the prevalence of marijuana abuse or dependence increased markedly.  In the first study (published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, May 2004) to assess long-term trends in marijuana abuse and dependence, as classified in the DSM-IV, researchers found that the most notable increases were among young African-American men and women and young Hispanic men.  Marijuana abuse or dependence rose by 22% between 1991-92  and 2001-02, but within that increase, 224% was attributed to young African-Americans aged 18-29 and 148% among Hispanic men aged 18-29.

Patterns of Club Drug Use in the U.S. 2004
From the Center for Excellence in Drug Epidemiology, The Gulf Coast Addiction Technology Transfer Center at the University of Texas at Austin.  Lead researcher Jane Carlisle Maxwell, Ph.D.
Dr. Maxwell has brought together data from the major drug use data sources in the U.S. (CEWG, DAWN, Monitoring the Future Survey, NHSDA, NFLIS) to examine the patterns of the use of drugs such as MDMA, GHB, ketamine, LSD, methamphetamine, and Rohypnol®.
Some highlights of the report:
Ecstasy (MDMA) use is spreading from raves and the dance scene to other venues. Ecstasy users are among the youngest of club drug users, and cite the psychic effects and dependence as reasons for using the drug.  The drugs MDMA, GHB, ketamine, LSD, methamphetamine, and Rohypnol® are often referred to collectively as club drugs, due to their popularity at raves and dance parties. This distinction, however, fails to take into account that "each of these drugs has very different pharmacological, psychological, and physiological properties" and "that there are important differences in the characteristics of people who use each of these drugs and the patterns of their use" (p. 1), according to a recent report from the Center for Excellence in Drug Epidemiology. Using qualitative and quantitative information from five national substance abuse data sources, * the report provides a summary of current patterns of club drug use in the U.S. Following are highlights from the report, which is available online at
http//www.utexas.edu/research/cswr/gcattc/Trends/ClubDrug-2004-web.pdf.
* Ecstasy (MDMA) While ecstasy use is now decreasing after a period of rapid increase, use is spreading into neighborhoods and other venues.

* GHB  While GHB use is decreasing, users "are the most likely of all club drug users to use other drugs at the same time, especially alcohol" (p. 4). GHB users are typically older than other club drug users and use the drug for its psychic effects.

* Ketamine  Levels of ketamine use have historically been low. Ketamine users are likely to use multiple drugs, including cocaine and heroin. The primary motive for using ketamine is the psychic effects of the drug.
* LSD  The highest number of new LSD users ever was reported in 2000, but then dropped in 2001, and is declining sharply in most areas today. LSD users are the youngest of all club drug users and report using the drug for the psychic effects and because of dependence.

* Methamphetamine  Methamphetamine use is one of the largest drug problems in the U.S. Initially popular on the west coast, use of methamphetamine is spreading eastward. While use in the urban party scene is most typical, it is also becoming popular in rural areas. Methamphetamine users are the oldest of all club drug users and the least likely to use multiple drugs. The primary reason for using methamphetamine is dependence, followed by psychic effects.

* Rohypnol®  Since becoming illegal to import into the U.S., use of this drug has declined. However it still remains popular among Hispanic populations on the Mexico border and in Miami (68% of Rohypnol® users are Hispanic), and is more likely than any other club drug to be used for its psychic effects.

Inhalant Abuse in the U.S.
According to data from the American Association of Poison Control Systems, between 1996 and 2001, the top five inhalants (beginning with the most commonly used) causing death were: gasoline and other hydrocarbons; air fresheners; propane/butane and other gases; formalin; and paint.  Gasoline, air fresheners and propane/butane accounted for 53% of the inhalant abuse cases, yet accounted for 82% of deaths.  The highest percentage of abusers were seen in youth aged 6-19 years. The data has been published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
30(1):155-165, 2004.

Greatest drug threats to the U.S.
According to the most recent (2003) National Threat Survey compiled by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), state and local law enforcement agencies have identified powder or crack cocaine and methamphetamine as the greatest U.S. drug threats. Marijuana and heroin followed.  There were regional variances such as the cocaine threat was perceived as greatest in the Great Lakes, Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions of the country.  Methamphetamine was reported as a greater problem in the Pacific, West Central and Southwest regions.

Treatment Data
According to the  Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (2002) admissions for treatment in 2002 as compared to 1992 are up for the abuse of narcotic prescription medications (2%), heroin (15%), marijuana (15%) and methamphetamine (7%), while admissions for cocaine treatment (13%) have declined.  The average age at admission was 34 years while the average age of admission for primary marijuana abuse was 23 years of age.  Alcohol abuse accounted for 43% of 2002 admissions, down from 59% in 1992. However, 45% of the primary alcohol abuse admissions reported secondary drug abuse as well. There were a total of 1.9 million annual admissions to treatment reported to state administrative data systems.

REGIONAL U. S.
Northeast
Greenwich CT narcotics detectives are finding an increase in the amount of marijuana mixed with heroin and PCP.  In July of this year, the unit seized 19.2 grams of marijuana laced with heroin as compared to only 3.25 grams of the same mixture seized between March 2002 and April 2003.  Heroin powder is sprinkled on marijuana or a liquid form of PCP is being used to soak the marijuana before it is sold.  Also being seized is "illy", a mixture of marijuana and formaldehyde which induces effects similar to PCP use. New York and other Connecticut police departments report marijuana being laced with addictive narcotics in the Northeast. (See also 'Massachusetts' below)

Washington, D.C.
The Marijuana Policy Project attempted, without success, to attach an amendment to this year's Department of Justice Appropriation bill that would have prohibited the DOJ from using its funds to prevent laws allowing marijuana use as a 'medicine' from being implemented in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai'i, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.  Sponsor of the amendment was Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (NY). There were no co-sponsors of the amendment.  The amendment failed by a wider margin than last year's failed attempt.

Rep. Brad Carson introduced a bill in the house (HR 4395) entitled the Ephedrine Alkaloids Regulation Act of 2004 intended to amend the CSA  to authorize ephedrine alkaloids, including ephedrine and pseudoephedrine to be listed in schedule V. The bill also revises the definition of 'regulated transaction' for the purposes of establishing and regulating a threshold level for sales of the drugs. The bill excepts pseudoephedrine when contained in a drug that is in liquid or gel form marketed/distributed lawfully under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.  The bill currently is in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security (since June 28, 2004).

California
An update on how Proposition 36 is working for California (The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, a legalization tactic) [Note: UCLA will be issuing its report on Proposition 36 in September 2004]
This voter initiative (funded by G. Soros and other drug-legalization advocates) was passed under the guise of offering a program that put drug offenders into treatment in lieu of prison.  Now, less than four years after passage, a 93-page report of the program has been released by the Ventura County Grand Jury.  The report states that the program has been managed poorly, with the result being that the program has "compromised public safety and health."  Law enforcement officials have stated that Proposition 36 may have contributed to an increase in crime observed over the past year.  The Grand Jury report criticizes the program for failing to do enough random testing; refusing to provided law enforcement agencies with the test results; failing to compile reliable data. Without reliable data, the Proposition mandate that offenders testing positive three times are required to be sent to prison, is difficult to act upon in a timely manner.

Colorado
A drug trend: an increase in calls about cough and cold medicine abuse in 2003 has been observed by the Rocky Mountain Poison Center.  The Center noted a 20% increase in such calls in 2003. It was also reported that only calls about sleeping pills and painkillers topped calls about cough and cold medicine abuse.  In May of 2004, a 20-year-old Westminster man died while attempting to get high on Coricidin HBP, an over-the-counter tablet form of cough medicine.  The active ingredient in Coricidin is dextromethorphan, or DXM or Dex, which can cause fanciful hallucinations but also seizures, as well as permanent kidney and liver damage.  Coricidin also contains a few milligrams of chlorpheniramine maleate, which is metabolized by the same liver enzyme as DXM, which creates a dangerous combination when DXM is also present.  In the Center's 2003 report, it was also noted that there was an increase in calls (over the number of calls in 2002) relating to marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, dextromethorphan, painkillers/oxycodone, methadone, and other drugs.  The only decrease in calls related to a substance were calls relating to ethyl alcohol.  It was also noted that the total number of calls in 2003 decreased from the number of calls in 2002.

Iowa
Iowa has the dubious distinction of seizing the most meth labs and manufacturing equipment  during the first half of 2004 than any other state in the U.S.  During the first half of 2004, seizures were up 23% from the same period in 2003.  The incidents of labs found between Jan. 1 and July 1 also placed Iowa first, per capita, followed by Arkansas and North Dakota.  In 2003, Missouri had more meth-related seizures per capita than Iowa.  Iowa's 'meth incident' numbers vary from the federal statistics due to the fact that a few police departments fail to report 'meth incidents' to both the State and Federal agencies. 

As reported in a February (2004) National  Drug News Technical Advisory, Iowa drug policy makers sought passage of a law placing restrictions on the sale of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine.  Passage was successful and that new law recently went into effect. It restricts the sale of certain cold medicines to two packages at a time and restricts store placement of any medicine that contains only one active ingredient - pseudoephedrine.

Maryland
Methadone deaths triple between 1998 and 2002
According to the recent report, DEWS Investigates: What Is Behind the Rise in Methadone Deaths in Maryland?, DEWS researchers analyzed demographic data for 225 methadone-caused deaths reported by the Maryland State Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) during the five-year period.
In addition, researchers, using a subset of 64 cases, also tried to determine changes over time in how the methadone was obtained and the decedents reasons for using it.  While more information was needed to answer those questions, researchers did find that 16% of decedents in the period 2000 to 2002 were known to be in a methadone treatment program (MTP) at the time of death.  They also found that the proportion of decedents who were known to be enrolled in MTPs at the time of death decreased markedly (from 50% in 1998 to 1999 to 16% in 2000 to 2002), while the proportion known to have a legal prescription for methadone increased slightly (from 0% to 5%). This suggests that "many methadone-caused deaths in Maryland have not involved addicts.  Researchers also found that the 2000-2002 decedents were more likely to have more than one drug in their system (89%) than the 1998-1999 group (63%).  Most commonly found in addition to methadone were: antidepressants, antihistamines, cocaine and antipsychotics.

Massachusetts
Heroin use among suburban middle- and high-school youth increasing
Heroin use is no longer an inner-city problem for MA, with the drug being readily available in places such as Natick, an upper-class, rich neighborhood involving high school students.  According to the Norfolk district attorney's office, the average age of initial heroin use in the state is now 17 years of age. The cost of the drug is at an all-time low of $5 per dose in some areas. Purity has risen from about 16% to more than 80%.  According to the MA Department of Public Health, there has been a 25% increase in the number of people seeking treatment for heroin abuse since 1995, with Middlesex and Worcester districts seeing an 85% increase in those seeking treatment.  Heroin cases in Framingham District Court are up about 40% from 4 years ago.  In the past year, 4 middle school students (6th-8th grade) were arrested on heroin charges in Norfolk.  Use of heroin as part of a 'weight reduction' plan has also been reported amongst middle-school girls in Medfield where heroin is injected just under the skin to induce vomiting.  The practice is called 'skin popping'.   There are also suggestions that marijuana is being laced with heroin.

Minnesota
As follow up to the Drug Legalization technical advisory of August 5, 2004, the supporters of a ballot initiative to amend the city charter for Minneapolis have turned in almost double the needed number of signatures to get the measure on the November 2004 ballot.  Signatures are currently being verified but it is anticipated the measure will be qualified for the November ballot.  The amendment would require the city council to license marijuana distribution centers.

Nevada
Update on the ballot question regarding legalization of marijuana The ACLU filed suit when the Secretary of State ruled there were not enough signatures based upon Nevada's "13-County" rule.  Readers will also remember that the supporters of the ballot question somehow forgot to turn in a stack of petitions containing 6,000 signatures.  A federal judge ruled August 13th that Nevada's process for putting initiative petitions on the ballot was unconstitutional  and issued a permanent injunction that prohibits the Secretary of State from nullifying votes based on those rules. Judge Mahan also denied a claim in the lawsuit, filed by the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, that called into question whether someone who signs a petition can register to vote after signing.  According to the ACLU, that issue will be appealed to the 9th Circuit.  In the meantime, 100% of the signatures must be verified by Sept. 2nd when the absentee ballots must be printed.

Oklahoma
Follow-up to April 2004 Drug News Technical Advisory
It has been reported by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control that methamphetamine lab busts in Oklahoma have dropped more than 70 percent since the "Trooper Green Act"  law took effect. The law restricts purchases of pseudoephedrine tablets and blister packs. This dramatic decline in lab busts in Oklahoma has fueled fears that producers of meth will move across the Red River into Texas.


C. E. Edwards
Demand Reduction Office
AZ HIDTA
Drug-Free Workplaces, Communities and Schools
520-547-8845 (Tucson, AZ) or 877-817-6809 (toll-free)
fax: 520-547-8776

 

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