ALBANY -- New York is looking for industrial hemp growers.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that an application period is
open to participate in the state's Industrial Hemp Agricultural
Research Pilot Program.
The program is open to researchers, farmers and businesses who wish to
research, grow, manufacture and produce industrial hemp in New York.
"By expanding industrial hemp research, we are opening the doors to
innovative ideas that could provide a major boost to our farms and
communities, creating new jobs, and laying the foundation for future
economic growth," Cuomo said in a statement.
[continues 143 words]
Prosecutors say the false compartments in Harinder Dhaliwal's tractor
trailers was the innovation that allowed more than 3 tons of cocaine
to move through Buffalo.
By Dhaliwal's own admission, the 6,600 pounds of cocaine he and others
smuggled into Canada had a street value of $120 million.
A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the 47-year old Brampton, Ont.,
man to 20 years in prison.
"There is no other case like this," said Assistant U.S. Attorney
Timothy C. Lynch. "We've never seen this amount of drugs before."
[continues 327 words]
Whether you love it or hate it, it's a fact that 29 states so far have
some form of marijuana decriminalization or legalization, with more
considering the possibility. People have strong opinions about the
legalization of marijuana -- but how often are those opinions based on
science and an understanding of evolving best practices?
It's high time we have a national conversation that is rational,
science-based and open-minded around the many public health
implications. Substance use disorders, youth prevention, drugged
driving, health effects, pesticides -- the list is long, and these
questions make it a complex process for states working to translate
policy and legislation into reasonable regulation.
[continues 412 words]
ALBANY - New York will allow ointments, lozenges and chewable tablets
as part of its medical marijuana program while the state's training
program for doctors will be cut in half, the Department of Health
Health regulators on Thursday proposed a new set of regulations that
would further expand the state's medical marijuana program, which the
state has tried to broaden as it faced criticism from patient
advocates and marijuana companies for its restrictiveness.
The new rules, which can take effect as soon as late September, ease
the state's restrictions on the type of marijuana products available
to certified patients by allowing lotions, ointments, patches, certain
chewables and lozenges.
[continues 404 words]
NEW YORK -- A safe haven where drug users inject themselves with
heroin and other drugs has been quietly operating in the United States
for the past three years, a report reveals.
None were known to exist in the US until the disclosure in a medical
journal, although several states and cities are pushing to establish
these so-called supervised injection sites, where users can shoot up
under the care of trained staff who can treat an overdose if necessary.
In the report released Tuesday, two researchers said they've been
evaluating an underground safe place that opened in 2014. As a
condition of their research, they didn't disclose the location of the
facility -- which is unsanctioned and potentially illegal -- or the
social service agency running it.
[continues 547 words]
NEW YORK (AP) - AlphaBay, the now-shuttered online marketplace that
authorities say traded in illegal drugs, firearms and counterfeit
goods, wasn't all that different from any other e-commerce site, court
Not only did it work hard to match buyers and sellers and to stamp out
fraud, it offered dispute-resolution services when things went awry
and kept a public-relations manager to promote the site to new users.
This screen grab provided by the U.S. Department of Justice shows a
hidden website that has been seized as part of a law enforcement
operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement
Administration and European law enforcement agencies acting through
Europol. On Thursday, July 20, 2017, authorities announced that two of
the world's most notorious "darknet" marketplaces, AlphaBay and Hansa,
have been knocked out in a one-two punch that officials say yielded a
trove of new intelligence about drugs and weapons merchants that
operate from hidden corners of the internet. (U.S. Department of
Justice via AP)
[continues 504 words]
A special legislative task force formed to examine the effect of the
opioid addiction scourge on Long Island and elsewhere throughout the
state is scheduled to meet Wednesday in Mineola.
The State Senate's Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction
meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the NYU Winthrop Hospital Research
and Academic Center in Mineola, a hospital spokesman said.
Similar meetings have been held around the state as the task force
seeks to understand how the increase in overdoses and addiction
connected to heroin and other opioids is impacting
[continues 135 words]
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has compared cannabis to heroin.
NEW YORK - In a national vote widely viewed as a victory for
conservatives, last year's elections also yielded a win for liberals
in eight states that legalized marijuana for medical or recreational
But the growing industry is facing a federal crackdown under Attorney
General Jeff Sessions, who has compared cannabis to heroin.
A task force Sessions appointed to, in part, review links between
violent crimes and marijuana is scheduled to release its findings by
the end of the month. But he has already asked Senate leaders to roll
back rules that block the Justice Department from bypassing state laws
to enforce a federal ban on medical marijuana.
[continues 650 words]
Now the state is taking steps to increase the crop.
"We want to be the nation's leader in hemp production,'' Gov. Andrew
Cuomo said Wednesday shortly before signing legislation intended to
boost the commercialization of industrial hemp, which is used in some
25,000 products from cosmetics and animal feed to clothing and biofuels.
The state is also pumping $10 million into research for the
now-fledgling industry, State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball
said, after the federal government in 2014 relaxed rules governing the
growing of the crop. Industrial hemp, unlike its marijuana cousin,
contains no or minimal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the ingredient
that gets users high.
[continues 325 words]
ALBANY - Veterans groups are pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow those
with post-traumatic stress disorder to use medical marijuana, urging
him to sign a bill that will soon head to his desk.
The state Senate voted late last month to add PTSD to the list of
illnesses and ailments eligible for the state's medical-marijuana
program, about six weeks after the Assembly voted to do the same.
It remains unclear, however, whether Cuomo will sign the bill that
could significantly expand the number of eligible patients in New
York's medical-marijuana program, which is among the more restrictive
in the nation.
[continues 517 words]
School districts on Long Island and statewide are stocking naloxone
onsite in school buildings to have the opioid antidote at the ready
because of the growing issue of abuse of the deadly drugs, educators
and health officials said.
At least 340 schools across the state, including dozens on Long
Island, have provided training for school nurses or other personnel
about how to administer naloxone, according to the state Education
The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, based in
Westbury, also has seen interest grow in instructing school personnel
about the antidote, said Reisa Berg, director of education and prevention.
[continues 1060 words]
A Wilson man said Friday that he was under the influence of marijuana
when he caused a fatal crash last summer in Porter.
Michael A. Buchalski II, 22, of Randall Road, pleaded guilty to
criminally negligent homicide and driving while impaired by drugs, in
exchange for a two-year sentence - one year on each count - in the
Niagara County Jail.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. scheduled sentencing
for Aug. 11. The judge also revoked Buchalski's bail and sent him to
jail immediately to begin serving his time for causing the death of
Michael G. Willimott Jr., 38, of Niagara Falls.
[continues 389 words]
ALBANY - When the State of New York approved the use of medical
marijuana in 2014, the applicants to dispense the drug were vetted and
reviewed by a panel of experts said to have deep backgrounds in
The identities of the panel's members had been a mystery since. By
July 2015, the panel had chosen five companies that would receive
exclusive statewide medical marijuana licenses, a potentially
lucrative award in a state with nearly 20 million residents and
hundreds of thousands of potential patients.
[continues 927 words]
At every school in New Rochelle, just north of the Bronx, in
Westchester, there is a locked medicine cabinet in the nurse's office,
stocked with things like EpiPens for allergic reactions, inhalers for
asthma, Tylenol for aches and pains.
Now, those cabinets also include naloxone, an antidote for people who
are overdosing on opioids like heroin. Given as an injection or a
nasal spray, naloxone can quickly revive someone who is not breathing.
The city keeps it in every nurse's office, including in its elementary
[continues 1160 words]
[photo] Kate Hintz of North Salem, with her daughter, Morgan Jones,
diagnosed with Dravet syndrome. Hintz, director of Compassionate Care New
York, says the state must expand access with more dispensaries.(Photo:
COURTESY/Jennifer Tonetti Spellman.)
The problems with New York's medical marijuana program are well documented.
From the day the Compassionate Care Act was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo,
patient advocates knew that the law -- a compromise born of a nearly 20
year struggle -- was seriously flawed.
Those flaws are numerous, and they all work against patients: a very
limited number of eligible conditions, restricting patient certification
only to physicians, severely restricting the number of producers and
dispensaries, limiting to five the number of products a company could
sell, and prohibiting forms of the medicine that have proved popular and
effective in other states.
[continues 649 words]
Mom guilt is here to stay. The stress of trying to be a calm, nurturing
parent while also trying to keep our jobs, stay on top of school notices
and remain married isn't going away. Not to mention the feeling that we're
doing none of them particularly well.
But that won't stop some people from trying anything. Author Ayelet
Waldman, for instance, tried LSD. In her new book, "A Really Good Day,"
she documents her experiment with "microdosing," taking very small
quantities of LSD -- enough to make you calmer, more aware of your
environment, more able to focus on your work, but without all those wacky
[continues 684 words]
[photo] The state senator wants more drug disposal sites and access to
medication to treat addiction.
NEW CITY - Opioid deaths, including fatal heroin overdoses, are on the
rise in Rockland County, where state Sen. David Carlucci is pushing a pair
of proposals to help addicts.
There were 37 opioid deaths in Rockland last year, up from 25 in 2015,
according to a report from the Rockland County Medical Examiner's Office.
That's compared to 36 opioid deaths in total between 2003 and 2009 in
Rockland, according to Carlucci's office.
[continues 192 words]
Even as more and more states allow their residents to use marijuana, the
federal government is continuing to obstruct scientists from studying
whether the drug is good or bad for people's health.
A report published last week by the National Academies of Sciences,
Engineering and Medicine points out that scientists who want to study
cannabis have to seek approvals from federal, state and local agencies and
depend on just one lab, at the University of Mississippi, for samples. As
a result, far too little is known about the health effects of a substance
that 28 states have decided can be used as medicine and eight states and
the District of Columbia have approved for recreational use.
[continues 408 words]
Nineteen suspected opiate deaths in the first 19 days of January have Erie
County on pace for 365 deaths in 2017.
It could be worse. Last year started more deadly.
During the early weeks and months of 2016, the epidemic was claiming so
many lives that county officials projected more than 500 people would die
that year. The pace, however, slowed as the county took aggressive steps,
including promotion of the widespread use of the opiate antidote Naloxone.
By year's end, 247 people had died in confirmed overdoses, with 77 more
suspected deaths, officials said Thursday.
[continues 671 words]
Women can blame their cocaine addictions on their biology, according to a
new study that claims that ladies are more susceptible to the drug's
Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, specifically spikes in
estrogen, intensify the drug's pleasurable effects, according to
researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai on The Upper East
"Our study will change the way we think about addiction research to
emphasize the need to further understand female subjects, as most research
on addiction has been conducted in male subjects," the study's lead
author, Dr. Erin Calipari, said in a statement.
[continues 313 words]
Joseph Tigano III is spending 20 years in prison for growing marijuana.
He grew a lot of it. No one disputes that. And this was his second felony
conviction. So no one, not even Tigano's lawyers, suggests the Cattaraugus
County man should go unpunished.
But 20 years?
Even the federal judge who sentenced Tigano in 2015 thought it was too
heavy a price to pay.
"It is much greater than necessary," U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A.
Wolford said at the time, "but I do not have a choice."
[continues 1120 words]
ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making another pitch for the state to
decriminalize possession of some marijuana.
Cuomo quietly included the proposal in a 380-page State of the State
message that he provided late Wednesday to the state Legislature.
"The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New
York state, but data consistently show that recreational users of
marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety," is on Page 191 of
The idea will again stoke a debate in Albany after the issue gained
prominence in 2012 -- when the Democratic governor first made the push to
decriminalize possession of marijuana.
[continues 341 words]
A bill that would expedite patients' access to medical marijuana has been
sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk.
Cuomo will have until Nov. 11 to either sign or veto the bill, which the
state Legislature passed in late June.
The Medical Marijuana Expedited Access bill comes after a state
medical-marijuana program was passed in 2014 and is set to be up and
running by January. It allows for medical marijuana in non-smokeable forms
for patients suffering from severe illnesses, particularly children is
[continues 252 words]
ALBANY -- State regulators want to double the number of companies growing
and selling medical marijuana in New York to keep pace with patient
The state Department of Health issued a report this week with 12
recommendations to improve the state's medical marijuana program, which
launched in January and has faced criticism from patient advocates who say
there are too many barriers to getting the drug.
Among them were proposals to increase the number of marijuana companies
who can operate in New York from five to 10, which would increase the
number of allowed dispensaries in New York from 20 to 40.
[continues 694 words]
A Brooklyn Republican who has his sights set on a City Council seat
slammed the lawmaking body Sunday for bankrolling a feasibility study
on whether to open injection facilities for heroin addicts.
"It's basically a taxpayer-funded shooting gallery for heroin junkies
to allow them to legally shoot up," Bob Capano told John Catsimatidis
on his 970 AM talk show Sunday.
"Any funds spent on this issue should be focused on breaking the
addicts' dependency on drugs, not taking a step that basically
decriminalizes the use of heroin."
[continues 140 words]
The opioid epidemic ripping throughout the nation and our own backyard
will not be stopped without the multi-pronged approach that is thankfully
occurring on all levels of government.
Local, state and national leaders have stepped up to provide assistance.
Police, fire departments, ambulance crews, hospital staffs and others are
on the front lines of this fight.
Last month proved deadly in Erie County, with public officials reporting
at least 42 suspected opioid overdose deaths, half of them since Dec. 19
and six alone on Dec. 27.
[continues 451 words]
Helicopter rides, a Cobra sports car and a bikini model girlfriend were
all part of the glamorous life caught on Instagram of one of the alleged
members of Australia's largest cocaine cartel.
Tattooed muscleman Darren Mohr's glittering lifestyle, which he documented
on social media, shows him sunning himself in exclusive locations, flying
around in a helicopter, at a yacht club during the Monaco Grand Prix, and
posing with luxury cars, his girlfriend and his pet dog and macaw.
But Mohr's high life all came to an end Tuesday when the 42-year-old was
arrested and handcuffed on a footpath in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
[continues 403 words]
A new year brings new laws in New York, including stronger treatment
options for opioid addiction and increasing the state's minimum wage.
New York's minimum wage increases Dec. 31, 2016.
ALBANY -- A new year brings new laws in New York, including stronger
treatment options for opioid addiction and increasing the state's
Many of the state's new laws each year are pegged to the start of the
calendar year, and in the case of the higher minimum wage, it starts
Saturday, Dec. 31.
[continues 286 words]
Several dozen people who lost loved ones to heroin and opiate addiction
gathered at Canalside Saturday to mourn and to raise awareness. (Maki
Kelly Taylor couldn't talk publicly about the fact that two of her sons
died of heroin overdoses.
It wasn't just grief.
She knew people judged her. Self-doubt silenced her.
But Taylor and others who have endured the agony of losing loved ones to
the opiate epidemic say there is no longer room for shame and silence.
[continues 714 words]
On Nov. 8, 2016 voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada
approved ballot measures to legalize recreational cannabis. It is now
legal in a total of eight states. And this creates potential problems for
road safety. How do we determine who's impaired and who's not?
The effects of alcohol vary based on a person's size and weight,
metabolism rate, related food intake and the type and amount of beverage
consumed. Even so, alcohol consumption produces fairly straightforward
results: The more you drink, the worse you drive. Factors like body size
and drinking experience can shift the correlation slightly, but the
relationship is still pretty linear, enough to be able to confidently
develop a blood alcohol content scale for legally determining drunk
driving. Not so with marijuana.
[continues 833 words]
NEW YORK - Health officials say the synthetic opioid fentanyl has
surpassed heroin as the leading cause of overdose deaths on Long Island.
The New York Times reports that fentanyl killed at least 220 people on
Long Island in 2016.
Fentanyl can be 100 times as potent as heroin and is much cheaper because
it can be made in a lab.
The numbers from Long Island are part of a national pattern. Fentanyl
fatalities have surpassed those from heroin in other parts of the country
including New England.
The medical examiners of Long Island's two counties, Nassau and Suffolk,
compiled the overdose statistics there.
Suffolk County Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Caplan said the influx of
illegally manufactured fentanyl from overseas requires "a
multidisciplinary intervention from all levels of government."
There is a place in city of Rochester where people from all walks of
life have been gathering. About half of them come from the city, the
other half drive in from the suburbs, or even farther, to get here
every day. It is a hub of diversity, unlike any other in the Finger
Lakes region. Men and women, young and old, business executives,
soccer moms, students. They drive shiny BMWs, family minivans, and
pickup trucks with antlers mounted on the hood.
[continues 505 words]
The state Department of Health has proposed amending its regulations to
allow hospitals to develop procedures under which patients could take
medical marijuana and other medications brought from home.
While not specifically outlawed now by department regulations, the
amendment would give explicit permission for hospitals to formulate their
own rules about patient use of medical marijuana, Jill Montag, a Health
Department spokeswoman, said in an email.
Hospitals that want to permit self-administration of medical marijuana or
other medications "must develop and follow policies and procedures to
ensure the safe self-administration and security of the medication,"
according to the Health Department's proposed amendment to the state's
Medical Marijuana Program.
[continues 501 words]
Arrests for possessing small amounts of marijuana exceeded those for all
violent crimes last year, a new study has found, even as social
attitudes toward the drug have changed and a number of cities and states
have legalized its use or decriminalized small quantities.
And a disproportionate number of those arrested are African-Americans,
who smoke marijuana at rates similar to whites but are arrested and
prosecuted far more often for having small amounts for personal use,
according to the study. The arrests can overwhelm court systems.
[continues 831 words]
They are not like other mourners. They are raw. "Hysterical crying,"
said Jackie Berger, a florist.
Some arrive at the other extreme, showing quiet resignation, even
"They knew this day was coming," said Frank Lettera, a funeral
They are the parents and relatives of young men and women who died on
Staten Island after overdosing on heroin. The grieving families are
passing through the rituals of death in numbers never seen before: a
record 72 suspected overdoses so far this year. That number far
surpasses the previous record of 41, in 2014.
[continues 805 words]
The man entered the Red Robin restaurant inside the Staten Island Mall
two minutes after 6 p.m. on a Friday. He walked straight past the
booths and tables and entered the men's room.
A manager would find him there seven minutes later, lying on the floor
with a needle and foaming at the mouth.
His name was Jonathan Ayers, 27, and he was declared dead within the
hour that evening, Sept. 9, apparently of a heroin overdose.
Mr. Ayers's fatal overdose was the latest addition to a body count
without precedent. So far in 2016, there have been 71 deaths that
appear to be from heroin overdoses on the island, the Richmond County
district attorney's office said, already on pace to more than double
the record set two years ago. Nine people died of heroin overdoses in
a recent 10-day period, prosecutors said.
[continues 1789 words]
To the Editor:
Re "Safer Alternatives to Opioids" (editorial, Aug. 30):
As an anesthesiologist and president of the American Society for
Enhanced Recovery, I applaud the surgeon general's campaign
addressing the overprescribing and misuse of opioids.
While I agree that minimizing opioid use will take a concerted effort
by all those involved in the health care system, hospitals, in
particular, have a critical role. Although often overlooked in the
opioid discussion, hospitals have become an inadvertent gateway to
opioid use in America. A recent survey found that one in 10 patients
became addicted or dependent on opioids following a surgical
procedure, and 91 percent of surgeons felt pressure to prescribe more
opioids than a patient needed, in part because of the need to score
well on patient satisfaction evaluations.
[continues 86 words]
To the Editor:
As a physician who specializes in pain management, I agree that we
are overusing opioids and underusing other treatments. Certainly, the
lack of insurance coverage for many of these other treatments is a
There is an even more important factor, however, that hinders patient
access to them. Most physicians receive little education on pain
management in medical school and in postgraduate training. It is
unrealistic to expect physicians to recommend treatments about which
they possess little knowledge.
If the surgeon general really wants to have an impact on how we treat
pain in this country, he needs to address this.
About half of opioid overdose deaths involve prescription drugs. With
that stark fact in mind, the surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, sent
an unusually direct plea last week to 2.3 million doctors and other
health care workers to help fight the opioid epidemic by treating
pain "safely and effectively." A website for his "Turn the Tide"
campaign highlights alternative, nonaddictive treatments for pain.
Not only doctors but also policy makers, insurance companies and
other players in the health care system should pay attention.
[continues 334 words]
ALBANY - Moving to address complaints about New York's new medical
marijuana program, the state's Health Department is making
substantial changes to expand access to the drug, including allowing
home delivery, quite likely by the end of September.
The program, which saw its first dispensaries open in January, has
struggled to gain broad traction in the medical community and with
potential patients. Advocates for the medical use of marijuana have
said the program, allowed by a 2014 law signed by Gov. Andrew M.
Cuomo, was too restrictive, and its regulations too cumbersome to
fulfill its mandate.
[continues 972 words]
On a Sunday morning in late July, in a small town in southwest
Alabama, Barbara Moore Knight gave her fellow church members news
that brought spontaneous applause and murmurs of "Amen!" She told
them that her son, James LaRon Knight, was among the drug felons
whose sentences had been commuted by President Barack Obama the week before.
In 2004, Knight was convicted of conspiracy to sell cocaine. Although
the crime was nonviolent, he was sentenced to more than 24 years in a
federal prison. The sentence was a travesty, an unduly harsh
punishment for a family man never accused of running a substantial
[continues 507 words]
Washington - As a college student in Virginia, Corey Jacobs started
selling drugs with the help of a group of friends to make some extra
money. A Bronx native, Mr. Jacobs was no kingpin, and no aspect of
their drug conspiracy involved violence. Now age 46, Mr. Jacobs has
served 16 years of a sentence of life without parole in the federal system.
No question, Corey Jacobs should have gone to prison for his felony.
But does he deserve to die there?
[continues 1176 words]
Supporters of a saner marijuana policy scored a small victory this
week when the Obama administration said it would authorize more
institutions to grow marijuana for medical research. But the
government passed up an opportunity to make a more significant change.
The Drug Enforcement Administration on Thursday turned down two
petitions - one from the governors of Rhode Island and Washington and
the other from a resident of New Mexico - requesting that marijuana
be removed from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. Drugs on
that list, which include heroin and LSD, are deemed to have no
medical use; possession is illegal under federal law, and researchers
have to jump through many hoops to obtain permission to study them
and obtain samples to study. Having marijuana on that list is deeply
misguided since many scientists and President Obama have said that it
is no more dangerous than alcohol.
[continues 485 words]
Naloxone saves lives after a heroin overdose, but does it also
To the Editor: In an effort to be balanced, the article notes that
critics' opposition to naloxone is based on the premise that it gives
drug users a safety net, allowing them to take more risks and seek
higher highs, resulting in multiple overdoses. These claims are
refuted by studies in New York, San Francisco and here in Connecticut
of overdose risks, undertaken before widespread availability of
naloxone, in which a strong predictor of an overdose was a previous
nonfatal overdose. To date, no evidence has been presented that
naloxone availability or use in response to overdoses increases
risk-taking or overdose frequency. Instead, there is plenty of
evidence that it saves lives and provides those individuals an
opportunity to seek treatment. The critics' disparaging of the
lifesaving benefits of naloxone is just another example of the
stigmatization of those with the chronic disorder of opioid abuse
that brands such individuals as unworthy of efforts to reduce their mortality.
The writer is a professor at the Yale University School of Public Health.
Naloxone saves lives after a heroin overdose, but does it also
To the Editor: The same arguments about encouraging more risk taking
were made earlier about needle exchange programs to fight H.I.V.,
delaying their implementation by years. But when New York State
stopped heeding the naysayers and did expand access to clean needles,
H.I.V. infection rates in drug users, which had stood at 54 percent
in 1990, fell to only 3 percent by 2012. Now state health officials
call the formerly contentious practice "the one intervention which
could be described as the gold standard of H.I.V. prevention." Let's
not make the same mistake by spreading similarly baseless fears about naloxone.
The writer is the author of "Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way
of Understanding Addiction."
President Obama last week commuted the prison terms of 214 federal
inmates who were sent to prison under draconian, '80s-era laws that
have since been revised. Among them were 67 people serving life
sentences, nearly all of them for nonviolent drug offenses.
Mercy was granted in these cases. But the federal clemency system -
which moves far too slowly and is too often blocked by politics in
both the Justice Department and the White House - was never intended
to manage miscarriages of justice that happen on a vast scale, as was
the case when so many Americans were sent to prison under the "tough
on crime" policies of the 1980s.
[continues 378 words]
Naloxone saves lives after a heroin overdose, but does it also
To the Editor: You say naloxone "carries no health risk; it cannot be
abused and, if given mistakenly to someone who has not overdosed on
opioids, does no harm." In fact, like most drugs, naloxone can have
adverse effects, most of which are mild, but some, such as severe
hypertension, decreased platelet function, coma and death, are very
significant. Severe hypertension and tachycardia can likely be
exacerbated in patients who have taken amphetamines or cocaine in
addition to opioids, causing heart attack or stroke. Fortunately,
most overdoses treated with naloxone occur in young patients who
tolerate side effects. However, I am concerned about propagating the
myth that this drug is completely safe and thereby inadvertently
adding a new game to the highs of addiction - get high, push the
experience to near death, make sure naloxone is handy for reversal,
and repeat. We may indeed see more complications if patients are
using multiple rounds of opioids and naloxone.
The writer is an anesthesiologist.
Naloxone saves lives after a heroin overdose, but does it also
To the Editor: Re "A Lifesaver for Heroin Users, but No Cure for an
Epidemic" (news article, July 31):
As an emergency physician, I have personally administered naloxone
and seen patients who would otherwise die from an opioid overdose be
revived within seconds. Those who say that saving someone's life with
naloxone will only foster addiction are being unscientific, inhumane
and ill informed. We would never refuse an EpiPen to someone
experiencing a peanut allergy for fear that it would encourage him to
eat peanut butter. In Baltimore, we believe that naloxone should be
part of everyone's medicine cabinet and everyone's first aid kit.
That is why I issued a standing order that has made this medication
available to all of the 620,000 residents in our city. We must make
policy decisions based on science, not stigma. Addiction is a
disease. We must treat it with the same urgency, humanity and
compassion as we treat all diseases.
The writer is the Baltimore city health commissioner.
Naloxone saves lives after a heroin overdose, but does it also
To the Editor: Some of those you interview make the case that people
use naloxone to continue their pattern of pleasure-seeking behaviors,
even to their own detriment. However, abuse of opioids is not an act
of free will; it is an agonizing compulsion. A person with a
substance abuse disorder is compelled to use even when he or she no
longer feels pleasure from the act. I volunteer with the Needle
Exchange Emergency Distribution to distribute naloxone, clean
syringes and other harm reduction supplies to clients in the East Bay
area. Tellingly, the article quotes Gov. Paul LePage of Maine saying
that "naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them
until the next overdose." Perhaps if Governor LePage met our clients
he would see that people with substance abuse disorders are as worthy
of compassionate care as anyone with a chronic disease.
The writer is pursuing a master's of public health degree at the
University of California Berkeley School of Public Health.
Naloxone saves lives after a heroin overdose, but does it also
To the Editor: Your article discusses two interpretations of the
effect of Narcan, the brand name of naloxone. The moral hazard
interpretation is that Narcan gives drug users a safety net, allowing
some to overdose numerous times in safety. Advocates of Narcan, on
the other hand, say it allows people to get into treatment, and there
is no evidence that Narcan increases opiate use. Given this
uncertainty, I find it difficult to understand how you can write:
"There is no question that the nation's death toll from heroin and
prescription opioids would be significantly higher without naloxone."
It is at least logically possible that Narcan will eventually be seen
to have been a wholesale mistake.
WILLIAM VAUGHAN Jr.
Chebeague Island, Me.