A new study finds some of the nation’s areas with high rates of drug overdose deaths do not have a corresponding high rate of drug trafficking. This suggests drugs are passing through counties with high rates of drug trafficking without affecting the death rates of people in those regions, the researchers said. Instead, those drugs are causing overdose deaths in other parts of the country, CBS News reports.
Some cities are using Medicaid funds to provide addiction treatment for repeat low-level drug offenders, the Associated Press reports. Many are mentally ill or homeless and have never had coverage for addiction treatment before.
Europeans spend more than $27 billion annually on illicit drugs, according to a new report by the European Union. Marijuana accounts $10.6 billion, while heroin accounts for $7.7 billion, Reuters reports.
President Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of 61 federal prisoners incarcerated for drug offenses. He has now commuted the sentences of 248 prisoners, more than the total commuted by the last six presidents combined.
Members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging are seeking help for a retired pastor from Maine who is imprisoned in Spain for smuggling drugs. The New York Times reports the pastor was tricked into carrying contraband.
A growing number of police departments are trying new approaches to battling the heroin epidemic, the Associated Press reports. Instead of simply arresting people, they are helping steer people into treatment.
Drug traffickers are moving to Colorado to grow marijuana and ship it to other states, the Associated Press reports. Their findings come from interviews with law enforcement officials and a review of court records.
Vermont is starting a pilot program this month that will offer the opioid addiction treatment Vivitrol to departing inmates at one correctional facility. If it is successful, the state plans to expand it to all seven of the state’s prisons, CBS News reports.
An analysis of news coverage of opioid abuse finds the media is more likely to focus on criminal justice than on health issues. The study found 64 percent of news stories about opioids mentioned law enforcement, compared with 41 percent that mentioned prevention, and 3 percent that mentioned expanding treatment.
Some prosecutors and law enforcement officials oppose changes to mandatory minimum sentences for some drug charges, according to The Washington Post. They say the changes will make it more difficult for them to go after criminal organizations or uncover other crimes.
The Justice Department has announced it will release about 6,000 nonviolent drug offenders from federal prisons starting at the end of October. The government hopes to ease prison overcrowding and roll back stiff penalties given to nonviolent drug offenders in the 1980s and 1990s, The New York Times reports.
A growing number of states are allowing people convicted of drug crimes to qualify for welfare and food stamps, according to The Wall Street Journal. Alabama and Texas lifted restrictions on food stamps for ex-offenders this year. California and Missouri eliminated their bans last year.
Some patients with chronic pain say they are having increasing trouble obtaining prescription painkillers. This trend may be an unintended consequence of the government’s attempts to reduce illicit use of prescription drugs, PBS NewsHour reports.
Drones are being used to smuggle drugs and other contraband into prisons, according to The Christian Science Monitor. Last week, inmates started fighting at a correctional facility in Ohio after a drone dropped more than seven ounces of heroin, marijuana and tobacco into the prison yard.
Federal legislators and officials say there is an alarming increase in the amount of heroin being brought into the United States, The Washington Times reports. At a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, legislators called for solutions to this public health crisis.
The Bureau of Prisons, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, is proposing revisions to residential drug abuse treatment program regulations to allow greater inmate participation in the program, The Hill reports.
President Obama is commuting the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders, the White House announced Monday. Most of the offenders had been sentenced to at least 20 years, and 14 were given life sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has arrested 280 people in a four-state crackdown of illegal distribution of prescription pills, named “Operation Pilluted,” Reuters reports. The arrests took place in Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi.