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posted by martyb on Saturday October 28 2017, @05:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the we-need-a-heroin dept.

"The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don't start, they won't have a problem." – President Donald J. Trump

President Trump has declared the "Opioid Crisis" a nationwide public health emergency. This action will allow for "expanded access to telemedicine services" to remotely prescribe medicines for substance abuse, allow the Department of Health and Human Services to "more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the tools and talent needed to respond effectively to our Nation's ongoing public health emergency", allow the Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants for those "displaced from the workforce" due to the Opioid Crisis, and will help people with HIV/AIDS to receive substance abuse treatment. The press release lists several actions that the Trump Administration has taken to respond to the Opioid Crisis, including the July 2017 law enforcement action against AlphaBay.

The declaration has been criticized for not requesting any funds to respond to the Crisis. The "nationwide public health emergency" declaration is also distinct from a promised "national emergency declaration", which would have freed up money from the Disaster Relief Fund to be spent on the Crisis. 14 Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would authorize $45 billion to address the Opioid Crisis. The Obama Administration called on Congress last year to pass just over $1 billion in funding for opioid treatment programs nationwide. This funding was included in the 21st Century Cures Act.

The Department of Justice has arrested and charged the founder and majority owner of Insys Therapeutics Inc., John Kapoor, along with other executives from his company. Kapoor is accused with leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors and illegally distribute the company's fentanyl spray, intended for cancer patients, so that it could be prescribed for non-cancer patients. Kapoor stepped down as CEO of Insys in January. Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb said, "Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit. Today's arrest and charges reflect our ongoing efforts to attack the opioid crisis from all angles. We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable - just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer." Six former Insys executives and managers were charged in December.

[takyon: a262 would like you to know that Insys Therapeutics donated $500,000 to help defeat Arizona's 2016 ballot initiative that would have legalized recreational use of cannabis.]

Walgreens has announced that it will stock Narcan® (naloxone) nasal spray in all of its over 8,000 pharmacies nationwide. Naloxone is a life-saving essential medicine that can reverse opioid overdoses and treat opioid withdrawal. Naloxone is available over-the-counter in 45 states, but still requires a prescription in Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, and Wyoming. Delaware recently allowed over-the-counter sales of naloxone. Laws in Hawaii and Missouri are pending, and Montana has agreed to grant CVS wider access to the drug.

Maybe banning kratom was a mistake.

Nationwide Public Health Emergency: Also at NYT, BBC, Reuters, and Fox News.

Insys Therapeutics Inc.: Also at NPR and Bloomberg.

Walgreens Narcan: Also at NPR, ABC, and CBS.

Previously: 4/20: The Third Time's Not the Charm
Jeff Sessions Reboots the Drug War
Development of a Heroin Vaccine
Goal of US's First Opioid Court: Keep People Alive
Chicago Jail Handing Out Naloxone to Inmates Upon Release


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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @07:15PM (23 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @07:15PM (#588757)

    Disclaimer: Posting anonymously as I could lose my job.

    Are we sure that free access to Cannabis is the answer? Many years ago I smoked a lot of that shit and the long term effects were not good. I went from being a "normal", fully functioning member of society to a complete drop out within a very short period of time (couple of years). I loved the weed, being stoned was amazing, granting me true freedom of mind, sometimes just laughing for hours, other times exploring the real deep meanings of life and the universe with like minded friends.

    But then the dark side... unnerving paranoia, inability to maintain relationships even with the stoner "friends" and no hope of a job because I was way too wasted all the time. Endless cannabis means you will spiral down - even if each individual session seems fantastic your life will start to unravel. And worst of all, once you're in that state of mind and while you're constantly wasted you probably won't notice how bad things are getting.

    And then the depression sets in. Hard. I've never experienced a down like it and I hope never get to that same place again. Got to the point where I was seriously considering making the last exit... to the point where I was working through a list of suicide methods and trying to work out which would be "best" (I know, sounds screwy now, thinking that jumping off a skyscraper would at least give a couple of minutes of free fall).

    Luckily I met my anchor and I was pulled back from that abyss but it was a close thing. I cut down the weed and eventually gave it up altogether. Now I'm so "normal" my ex stoner friends wouldn't recognise me but I'm alive with a family who genuinely don't know anything about any of this. Well, obviously my partner knows I'm an ex-smoker but not how close to the edge I was when we met.

    We need something better than cannabis to replace the opioids - hang on, isn't cannabis just another opioid itself?

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @07:25PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @07:25PM (#588758)

    Use a strain that has a minium of 5% CBD and you will avoid most of the negative effect you describe.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by takyon on Saturday October 28 2017, @07:39PM (16 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Saturday October 28 2017, @07:39PM (#588763) Journal

    Cannabis is not considered an opioid, although it can affect opioid receptors [wikipedia.org].

    States with legalized cannabis have seen lower opioid overdoses:

    https://drugabuse.com/legalizing-marijuana-decreases-fatal-opiate-overdoses/ [drugabuse.com]
    https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/medical-marijuana-opioid-pain-relief-substitute [leafly.com]

    Cannabis overdoses are non-existent. Cannabis while driving (potentially leading to a higher frequency of car crashes) is illegal, and could be made moot to a degree by self-driving cars when they land (or today's Uber and yesterday's taxis).

    The other AC suggests a strain with more CBD instead of THC in it. Now that states are allowing legal/medical cannabis, many new strains have been developed with precise labeling of chemical components. You can have an idea of what you're getting, unlike the dime bags of yore. And you have greater choice. Although some strains are pushing THC to ridiculous heights, you can just avoid those.

    Kratom [soylentnews.org] may be an alternative to cannabis and opioids.

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    • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Snospar on Saturday October 28 2017, @08:14PM (15 children)

      by Snospar (5366) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 28 2017, @08:14PM (#588779)

      My wife watches a lot of those Camera Cops shows and it seems like every single car they stop has "a strong smell of cannabis". Those drivers must know that driving on cannabis is illegal because here in the UK any cannabis use is still illegal. Well, sort of, there are very strange rules depending on the amount you are caught with (self use, but you can't buy it legally or carry it in public, more than a small amount is 'attempt to supply' I think and above that who knows).

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Saturday October 28 2017, @08:24PM (14 children)

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Saturday October 28 2017, @08:24PM (#588782) Journal

        When/where cannabis becomes legal, the problem is not the "smell" of cannabis (often used as justification for a search). Unless it's illegal for passengers to use or even carry cannabis in the car (compare to state open alcohol container laws), the main question becomes "Is the driver driving while intoxicated?" That question is not necessarily easy to answer [npr.org].

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        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday October 28 2017, @11:28PM (6 children)

          by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday October 28 2017, @11:28PM (#588835) Homepage

          I like to think that, when it comes to driving, small amounts of cannabis or alcohol actually make people better, safer drivers. Obviously too much of either will reverse the effect and make them retarded drivers, like a distant family member who while drunk crashed his car into the front of a pet store, or like my friend's then-fiancee who while stoned took us right off the edge of a freeway off-ramp.

          • (Score: 3, Funny) by takyon on Saturday October 28 2017, @11:44PM

            by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Saturday October 28 2017, @11:44PM (#588837) Journal

            "I only had one Bud, occifer."

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          • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday October 29 2017, @01:55AM (4 children)

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday October 29 2017, @01:55AM (#588872) Homepage Journal

            You do realize that "I like to think" isn't an argument for or against any position.

            But, just how "small" an amount of alcohol or cannabis are you talking about? With alcohol, I'd like to stick to pretty well established facts. A single drink doesn't impair the average adult. Two drinks begin to impair. Three drinks impair the driver a bit more. By the fourth drink many people are acting downright stupid. You metabolize a drink per hour, so two drinks over the course of two hours is pretty much equivalent to one drink when you leave the bar. Before the laws got stupid, it was pretty routine for me to nurse three or four drinks over the course of three or four hours, then drive home.

            Today - sniffing a beer cap is just about enough to get you arrested for drunk driving.

            You take your chances with your ideas on becoming a better driver. I'll pass.

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            • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday October 29 2017, @04:08PM (3 children)

              by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Sunday October 29 2017, @04:08PM (#589071) Homepage

              " By the fourth drink many people are acting downright stupid. "

              Lightweight. It takes me at least a 12-pack -- of strong beer like Natty Ice or Stone -- to start acting stupid.

              • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday October 29 2017, @08:51PM (2 children)

                by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday October 29 2017, @08:51PM (#589204) Homepage Journal

                We're talking people in general. The masses. Unless you have a tour bus of booze hounds, then the average tour bus has people starting to get stupid on just three or four beers. Ethanol Fueled is not the average American. Ethanol Fueled is the standard by which insecure rednecks judge their own performance. Some of my neighbors and work mates have proudly proclaimed "I bought a 30 pack on the way home Friday night, and then bought another one Saturday so that I'd have some beer for Sunday."

                I don't like beer enough to buy a thirty pack - I prefer some kind of spirit, preferably Scotch whiskey. But then, I feel no need to drink a bottle on the weekend to prove how manly I am.

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                • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday October 29 2017, @09:11PM (1 child)

                  by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Sunday October 29 2017, @09:11PM (#589212) Homepage

                  Both Scotch and Scots Whiskey or Whisky are for tryhard pretenders. Even the shit that's been aged 15 years. But you've already admitted that you're not a hardcore drinker, so could I suggest something more to your taste?

                  Like, Boones Farm Stawberry Hill? Maybe other Wine-coolers that come in 4-packs. Perhaps some Michelob Ultra?

                  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday October 30 2017, @09:49AM

                    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday October 30 2017, @09:49AM (#589390) Homepage Journal

                    To my taste, you say? Scotch works just fine. Long ago, when I was more adventurous, I'd go for almost anything - rum, gin, vodka, almost anything with a bunch of fruit in it, anything with sloe, Jaegameister (sp?) tequila. I seldom demanded the best stuff, but I never drank the crap, either. Beer never was really my thing, especially not pilsener. I do enjoy a good ale, preferably a nice dark one, with some body to it. Wine coolers mostly suck - though I have bought a few for women who liked them. Andre' Cold Duck was probably the best of all that stuff.

                    Surprised you didn't offer some of those putrid flavored beers. The wife stuck a bottle in my face some years back, "Here, try this - you don't need to read it, just taste it." Well - it didn't exactly "taste" like anything. After I drank, I was allowed to read it. Some stupid name, like Uncle Elmer's hard lemonade. Or, Ebenezer's kettle cleaning brew - it's hard to remember now. The bunch of women she was with at the time had at least 9 different drinks, with various silly names, but ALL of them were pilsener beers, with various flavorings added in. That's the kind of thing that can give a man nightmares, I tell you. The label says "strawberry flavored beer", but my shoe probably tastes more like strawberries.

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        • (Score: 2) by sjames on Sunday October 29 2017, @02:49AM (6 children)

          by sjames (2882) on Sunday October 29 2017, @02:49AM (#588887) Journal

          I have seem a few studies that suggest that stoned driving tends not to be a problem since stoned drivers tend to drive slower and more carefully in proportion to their impairment.

          It's interesting that the complaint is that they can't tell you're stoned but they still worry about it.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 29 2017, @03:03AM (5 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 29 2017, @03:03AM (#588894)

            The complaint isn't that they can't tell that people are stoned, the issue is that it's more difficult to enforce the rules than it is with alcohol. Same goes for prescription medications and anything else that might effect how people drive and their reaction time.

            Bottom line is that anybody that's driving impaired ought to be pulled over and arrested. I have no particular issue with people being drunk or high at home, but the moment they get in their cars and risk other people's lives is the moment they completely lose any of my support in the matter. Just because they tend not to speed doesn't mean that they're cool to drive, it just means that they're going to be driving slower when they run people over and the like.

            • (Score: 2) by sjames on Sunday October 29 2017, @03:36AM (4 children)

              by sjames (2882) on Sunday October 29 2017, @03:36AM (#588906) Journal
              >p>If it's adversely affecting their driving, then you can tell they're on something.
              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday October 29 2017, @03:45AM (1 child)

                by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday October 29 2017, @03:45AM (#588910) Journal

                "This person sucks at driving or is tired" usually results in much less punishment than "this person failed a field sobriety test".

                "This person hit the bong an hour ago" = ???

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                • (Score: 2) by sjames on Sunday October 29 2017, @05:27AM

                  by sjames (2882) on Sunday October 29 2017, @05:27AM (#588939) Journal

                  Sure, but not zero. The goal is to correct the bad behavior, not maximize punishment (at least that is supposedly the goal). We managed w/ alcohol before the breathalyzer. If the person demonstrates coordination, balance, good orientation, and reasonable reaction time, it's a bit silly to whine that they might have smoked pot. Honestly, is it REALLY worse if someone habitually drives intoxicated than if they habitually drive while impaired by fatigue? Impaired is impaired.

                  Of course, if we are going to make things illegal just because something may be hard to enforce, we'll have to ban tomatoes. It seems pot growers have been known to hang red Christmas balls on their plants (I'm not kidding!).

              • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 29 2017, @04:34AM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 29 2017, @04:34AM (#588925)

                You have to have probable cause that they've done something illegal in order to get the blood draw necessary to make that determination in general. Pot is a particular problem because nobody really knows how to adequately determine if somebody is too impaired to drive.

                Determining whether or not somebody is too drunk to drive is relatively straightforward, there's a field sobriety test and breathalyzer that can be used to establish the probable cause necessary for an arrest and more invasive testing. With pot and most other drugs, the limits aren't as well established, which makes it really tough to set the rules, you can't just say that you can't have more than X in your system because nobody really knows what that value should be and it seems to vary significantly more than for alcohol.

                As it stands a lot of the impairment comes from just being tired, hungry or sleepy, none of which are currently illegal. There also isn't a legal standard of how focused and attentive you need to be in order to operate a motor vehicle in any country that I know of.

                • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Sunday October 29 2017, @06:24AM

                  by sjames (2882) on Sunday October 29 2017, @06:24AM (#588954) Journal

                  We managed DUI enforcement before there even was a breathalyser. Close your eyes and touch your nose. Walk the line heel to toe. Recite the alphabet, etc. If you flunk, there's your probable cause.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @08:30PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @08:30PM (#588784)

    > ...Endless cannabis means you will spiral down ...

    While it was interesting reading your story, you are being very presumptuous to use "you will" instead of "I did". Your experience may or may not be common, but it is not the only possible experience with dope.

    For just one counter-example, a brilliant friend got a job doing extremely complex mathematical analysis (nonlinear fluid dynamics). He found that when he was high he had more focus and was more productive -- and he was a star at that job. He mostly quit smoking pot after that job was over.

  • (Score: 5, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @08:46PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @08:46PM (#588791)

    You've got unlimited access to alcohol. Did that make you an alcoholic? I've got access to pretty much everything and yet I sit here sober.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @10:37PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 28 2017, @10:37PM (#588818)

    Alcohol is the solution.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Sunday October 29 2017, @02:36AM

    by sjames (2882) on Sunday October 29 2017, @02:36AM (#588883) Journal

    It sounds like you abused pot hard. But I'm betting despite that that spending a year or two in jail and coming out with a scarlet letter saying nothing but menial jobs for you for the rest of your life would not have helped. In fact, it might have more or less stuck you there until you took that exit.

    Our answer to controlling cannabis is so bad that free access is actually better, even for those who refuse to use moderation. At least it leaves them some chance to get it together.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 29 2017, @05:29AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 29 2017, @05:29AM (#588941)

    Sounds like you had more problems than just weed. Smoking, for me, made my life complete. I have never been happier, more succesful, had more friends and better relationships, than when I spent almost 100% of my waking hours high. Being sober is a pitiful existence being crushed by daily drudgery, depression, and an inability to connect or communicate with others.