Heroin overdose deaths in the U.S. nearly tripled from 2010 to 2013, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The trend is worrisome — but there might be help in plain sight.
Medical marijuana could help heroin users uncouple themselves from addiction and the state of Massachusetts could be a proving ground.
This Week reports that Massachusetts has seen heroin overdoses rise dramatically in recent years. Four in five of those users started with prescription pain pills and moved over to the street drug, the magazine reported.
The rise in heroin use doesn't set Massachusetts apart — other parts of the country have seen that, too — but the state is just launching its medical marijuana program, which provides a good opportunity to see whether the application of medical weed can quell harmful addiction.
A safer choice (Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
The Week makes a good point: medical cannabis can be expensive, which might limit the impact of the program. In some cases, the city should consider providing cheaper pot to those in need.
"While opioid use is a nationwide epidemic, Massachusetts — long at the forefront of developing scientifically based public policy — has the opportunity to be at the forefront of cutting-edge, socially-informed drug policy," the magazine wrote.
Obama talks marijuana with VICE's Shane Smith
The president's approach to weed has always been measured: he believes it's no more dangerous than alcohol, but he's not advocating for outright legalization.
In an interview with VICE's Shane Smith on Monday, Obama walked that line again, saying that if enough states do away with the criminal penalties around marijuana, then the federal government may be able to remove the drug from its current designation as one of the most dangerous illicit drugs.
"We may be able to make some progress on the decriminalization side," Obama said. "At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, then Congress may then reschedule marijuana."
The president wasn't all "hope and change" during the interview. In a get-off-my-lawn moment, he chided young people for caring too much about marijuana legalization.
“First of all, it shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” he said. “Young people, I understand this is important to you. But you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe, way at the bottom, you should be thinking about marijuana.”
Translation: yes, we're still locking people up for marijuana. Stop caring about it so much.
Connecticut Supreme Court rules marijuana convictions can be erased
If Obama is waiting for the states to take the lead on marijuana policy, Connecticut could be a great example.
The State Supreme Court ruled on Monday that people with past convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana have the right to request those convictions be erased. Connecticut passed a law in 2011 decriminalizing possession of small amounts of weed.
A lawyer for the plaintiff in the case, Nicholas Menditto, told the Middletown Press the ruling will impact thousands of people with misdemeanor marijuana convictions in the state.
Get green on St. Patrick's Day
Irish eyes will be smiling…and maybe a little bloodshot, too.
IBAKE, a cannabis lounge and dispensary in Denver, will be serving marijuana-infused Irish meals Tuesday in a unique take on the holiday. We're not sure what they'll be whipping up in the kitchen, but it will be "a delicious menu of medicated Irish meals," according to Roadtrippers.
This is the second time they've hosted the St. Paddy's event. One rule remains the same — no alcohol.
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.