A new, peer-reviewed in the contradicts the White House claim that the huge increase in heroin overdose deaths--440 percent in the past seven years--is directly related to prescription pain killers and changes in prescribing policies aimed at making them harder to obtain and abuse.
The article, authored by some of the federal government's leading addiction researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, surveys dozens of recent, peer-reviewed studies on heroin use, initiation patterns, overdose deaths, and the effects of policy changes in prescribing opioids. Ultimately, they find "there is no consistent evidence of an association between the implementation of policies related to prescription opioids and increases in the rates of heroin use or deaths." Instead, the authors conclude that "heroin market forces, including increased accessibility, reduced price, and high purity of heroin appear to be major drivers of the recent increases in rates of heroin use."
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A man who made millions operating a half a dozen pill mills in South Florida wants his prison sentence reduced.
The attorney for Vincent Colangelo has asked a Miami judge to reduce his sentence from 20 years to 16 years. Attorney Alvin Entin says a retroactive change in federal sentencing guidelines justifies the reduction.
Colangelo was sentenced in 2012 after pleading guilty to federal drug, money-laundering and tax charges. Court show he operated six pain clinics that made an estimated $22 million in profits through illegal sale of oxycodone and other drugs.
Six other people were charged in the case. South Florida was once the nation's pill mill leader, but new laws and tougher law enforcement has all but eliminated them.
That last sentence is particularly interesting. New laws and tougher enforcement have helped take down one source of a huge amount of human misery. But now we propose -- through federal sentencing "reform" -- to turn away from this success and re-embrace failure. And pay for all of it with hefty amounts of taxpayer dollars.
A bipartisan group of seven lawmakers today called on the president to fire the acting leader of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg. They join nearly 100,000 people who've signed an online petition similarly calling for Rosenberg's removal after he infuriated patients and advocates by dismissing medical marijuana as "a joke" earlier this month.
Rosenberg's statements are "indicative of a throwback ideology rooted in a failed War on Drugs," the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D.-Or.), begins.
One might forgive a fellow who was appointed to lead the Congressionally-mandated effort to suppress drug use for not sharing the view that the effort has failed, especially since we have no way of knowing what levels of drug use would be but for that effort. Still, you get the point. You either agree with the views of the 1.3% of legislators who signed the letter, or you are unfit for office.
I am pleased to see this important issue getting attention. However, there is a big difference between saying this is something candidates must address and coming to a consensus on how to address it. One thing we don't need is vague, boundless faith in "treatment" without an awareness of how difficult it is to keep addicts in treatment.
Voters rejected the measure with 64 percent opposed and only 36 percent in favor. It was defeated in every single one of Ohio's 88 counties, some of which voted against the bill by huge margins, according to preliminary numbers: 55 percentage points in Holmes County. 60 in Mercer. 65 in Putnam.
The bill was likely doomed to fail from the get-go for a variety of reasons. It was an off-off election year, where voters are older and more conservative. Ohio has never exactly been a bastion of marijuana culture. And most crucially, the bill would have created a state-mandated oligopoly on the production of marijuana, with a handful of the measure's wealthy backers as the primary beneficiaries.* * *
Issue 3 would create a marijuana "monopoly" (actually, an oligopoly) consisting of 10 producers who would have their exclusive rights to engage in the commercial production of marijuana enshrined in the state constitution. The campaign in support of Issue 3 -- so-called Responsible Ohio -- is predictably supported by those who would hold these exclusive rights. This is crony capitalism at its worst.As I have mentioned on this blog before, I see a legalized marijuana industry as a greater threat than legalization as such. Legal producers with a First Amendment right to promote their product will increase consumption considerably above and beyond what legalization alone will do, as we have seen so disastrously with tobacco, and that is not good.
My solution, given that I think legalization is inevitable, is for the government to monopolize the business itself, as some states do with liquor at the retail level and many states do with the numbers racket at the wholesale level. Few seem to be interested in that, though. Some people are dead set against legalization in any form despite the seeming inevitability, and some are gung ho for maximizing consumption despite the medical evidence of ill effects and the slim-to-none benefits.
The legislature has put another proposition on the same ballot forbidding putting monopolies in the state constitution. What happens if they both pass? In California we have a nice, clear rule. If two contradictory measures pass on the same ballot, the one that gets more votes prevails. (Article II § 10(b).) Apparently Ohio has no clear answer.
[Contrary to President] Obama, the state prison population (which accounts for 87 percent of the nation's prisoners) is dominated by violent criminals and serial thieves. In 2013, drug offenders made up less than 16 percent of the state prison population, whereas violent felons were 54 percent of the rolls and property offenders, 19 percent. (See graph below.) Reducing drug admissions to 15 large state penitentiaries by half would lower those states' prison count by only 7 percent, according to the Urban Institute.
[The Post reporter] is quite right to highlight the statistical reality that lots more imprisoned offenders are behind bars for violent offenses than for drug crimes. But he fails to acknowledge that a considerable amount of violent crime is related to black market turf wars and that the failure to treat effectively drug addictions and related woes often drive property crimes. American legal and social history should provide a ready reminder of these realities: violent and property crimes (and incarceration rates) spiked considerably during alcohol Prohibition not because of greater alcohol use but due to enhanced incentives for otherwise law-abiding people to profit in the black market from others' desire for a drink.