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Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Author: Justin Mckibben

The elections held this past Tuesday may not have directly addressed the status of marijuana, but voters in multiple states did elect officials who are adamant about making legal marijuana more available.

Next Year in New Jersey

One of those states is New Jersey, who’s outgoing governor is Chris Christie, chairman of the White House commission on opioids.

Last week Democrat Phil Murphy, who made legal marijuana one of the cornerstones of his campaign, won the state over. This creates a radical change for the state. For years Chris Christie has blocked attempts to legalize cannabis, and even maintains his opposition to it while fighting to help the country get a grip on the opioid epidemic.

Phil Murphy has been pretty open about his support for marijuana legalization. According to Forbes, Murphy even talked about it during his primary night victory speech saying,

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,”

“And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

Apparently, it isn’t just Murphy in the state that is looking forward to pushing this legislation along. The Democratically-controlled state Senate is expecting to bring up legal marijuana as early as next year. In regards to the topic, earlier this year Senate President Stephen Sweeney said,

“We are going to have a new governor in January 2018. As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it.”

Voters in Virginia

Voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia also elected an official who advocates for loosening restrictions on marijuana. Current lieutenant governor Ralph Northam is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession. While it may not be as liberal a stance as Murphy, it is still a big step in a lot of people’s minds. Northam writes,

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana. African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia.”

But it isn’t just about the individuals. Northam also points out the resources going to this issue. He has written to the Virginia State Crime Commission as part of its review of the effects of marijuana decriminalization.

“Virginia spends $67 million on marijuana enforcement—enough to open up another 13,000 pre-K spots for children,”

Again, not that he is pushing for complete legalization, but to stop stiff penalties for those with small amounts of marijuana. Northam also advocates for research into the medicinal uses of marijuana. According to Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has stated,

“As a doctor, I like to make the point to people, over 100 of the medicines that we use on a daily basis come from plants,” he said in an interview Monday. “So I think we need to be open-minded about using marijuana for medical purposes.”

He isn’t alone in Virginia either. Even the Republican state Senate leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. questioned whether or not small amounts of marijuana should remain a crime.

Marijuana in More Areas

But it isn’t just these two offices that indicate there may be more change coming for marijuana policy. In other areas around the country, there are other notable shifts that may dramatically impact marijuana policy.

  • Athens, Ohio

77% of voters in the college town eliminated fines and court costs for possessing or growing up to 200 grams of marijuana.

  • Wayne County, Michigan

In an area that includes Detroit, voters now allow cannabis businesses to operate in more areas and to stay open longer. Michigan is expected to have a marijuana legalization bill on the 2018 ballot.

  • Philadelphia

Lawrence Krasner won the election for District Attorney. Krasner has been outspoken about the benefits of marijuana reform. According to Krasner,

“One of the things we see in other jurisdictions is that, where marijuana is readily available, there’s a 25% reduction in opiate/opioid overdose deaths.”

“So if Philadelphia is looking at 500 opiate/opioid overdose deaths a year, a district attorney, by choosing not to enforce against marijuana usage, can potentially save 125 lives. That’s what a district attorney should exercise his or her discretion to do.”

It seems between lightening the punishments for possession, expanding programs for legal marijuana, and electing officials that will advocate for its use, marijuana may have already seen some real change this November.

What to Remember about Legal Marijuana

It is important to note for anyone who has a history of substance use disorder that the legal status of a substance does not make it safer. You could argue that marijuana is much safer than opioids like prescription drugs or heroin. While marijuana is not as lethal concerning overdose deaths, it still should not ignore the risks.

Marijuana reform has the potential for some positive and negative outcomes. Ultimately voters will have to consider weighing the pros and cons of reform. Either way, it is important to remember that any substance, legal or not, can be addictive. While marijuana may become more accepted on a legal level, it is still unhealthy to abuse this drug. If you find yourself abusing this or any drug it is very important that you seek safe and effective treatment resources.

Because drug abuse is always destructive, marijuana abuse is no exception. If you or someone you love are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seek help. Regardless of whether a drug is legalized or not, losing control of your use can lead to something much worse. We want to help. You are not alone. Call toll-free now. 

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15 Dead in 24 Hours from Pure Heroin

15 Dead in 24 Hours from Pure Heroin

Author: Justin Mckibben

As if you haven’t heard about this before, and if you haven’t I’d hate to be the one to show you the writing on the wall, the heroin and opiate epidemic in America has claimed an insurmountable number of lives. Towards the end of 2015 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the entire nation had reached a devastating point in the drug addiction issue and with the overdose death outbreak in America, stating that 47,000 people died from drug overdose– 28,647 were opiate related deaths.

The state of New Jersey is no stranger to the inevitable pain and destruction caused by heroin. As a well-populated and thriving suburban area some of the communities of New Jersey have experienced frequent spikes in heroin related deaths, and in some an analysis of the state medical examiner data showed that heroin has been named in more than 5,267 deaths in New Jersey since 2004- half of which took place since 2011! But with the events of this week, that number may get bigger before anything gets better.

Bigger Body Counts

Bringing with it a wave of devastation, a new form of heroin has hit the streets of Camden, New Jersey and in just 24 hours killed 15 people! Heroin in its purest form has hit suburban New Jersey hard and now police are struggling to fight back. Emergency responders and law enforcement are troubled about the potential of more deaths, and the community is in shock.

Camden Metro Police Chief Scott Thompson was reached for comment in regards to this sudden string of tragic deaths, and in his statement to members of the press Thompson stated:

“Right now we know that there is something out there that’s putting people in near death situations,”

These 15 overdoses occurred in several surrounding towns since Tuesday, March 22 and of the 15 cases 14 of the victims were young individuals. Thompson described the situation and the victims as in their younger 20’s and named the some of the impacted areas as:

  • Washington Township
  • Cherry Hill
  • Haddonfield

The Chief emphasized to the public that this is a drug that knows no social or economic barriers, and that heroin does not discriminate against who it hooks, or who it kills.

Stronger Heroin on NJ Streets

According to authorities directly involved in the investigation these bags of potent and potentially lethal heroin doses are marked in specifically labeled bags. Chief Thompson further explained,

“The bags are branded. That’s part of the marketing scheme of the drug dealer. If you were to walk into the community of drug users and start to talk about bags, you’re talking about locations.”

What some would hope is that this connection would help law enforcement follow the trail back to the supplier, and local police are currently stepping up patrols. Authorities have even put Cooper University Hospital on alert in case of additional incidences.

With the escalating intensity of heroin related overdoses and deaths, the state is trying to take aggressive action towards tracking down the source of this pure heroin product that has been flooding the Camden County area, while keeping first responders on stand-by and expecting the worst while hoping for the best.

15 dead in 24 hours is a staggering and horrifying measurement of mortalities in any state under any circumstance.

Think about that. 1 day… 15 people gone, 14 under the age of 30… that is the grim reality, and it seems to get worse every time we write about it.

Heroin continues to destroy lives and desolate families and homes to an alarming and disastrous degree, while politicians and law enforcement clamor to find a method of effectively fighting back and curbing the calamity that has resulted from this poison clogging the streets. One can only hope that beyond putting a stop to this pure heroin from taking more lives that more heroin abusers and addicts are getting the help they need before it is too late.

A story like this just shows how much we need to share that there is a way out. There are thousands of people who have recovered and there are thousands still who may die without the chance. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Jay from “Jay and Silent Bob” Speaks Up about Addiction

Jay from "Jay and Silent Bob" Not-So-Silent about Sobriety

Photo Via: http://commons.wikimedia.org

Author: Justin Mckibben

Have you ever seen a movie with the characters Jay and Silent Bob? If not, go watch one right now… don’t worry, I’ll wait…  RIGHT?! How awesome was that?!

“Ladies, Ladies, Ladies, Jay and Silent Bob are in the hizzouse!” 

All jokes aside, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the hysterically funny actor Jason Mewes, he has a face that is synonymous with pop culture. The man is a comedic cinema icon, and has been part of a lengthy list of films and media including:

  • Clerks
  • Mallrats
  • Chasing Amy
  • Dogma

He has been a feature in all films made by Kevin Smith, who plays the other half of his dynamic duo ‘Bob’, while Jason himself plays ‘Jay’. As the more vocal half in the Jay and Silent Bob partnership, he has come to define the fast-talking and all imaginative “marijuana-enthusiast” character known for snatching the spotlight in every scene he was in.

Jason is not only a 20-year film veteran with 81 acting credits in his filmography, he is also a man committed to his craft… and his recovery.

Jays Sober Journey

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is infamous as a cult classic, and Jason’s first movie, Clerks, set the standard for independently produced films. Besides doing voice-work for cartoons and video games he is on the road continuing the successful podcast he started with Kevin Smith called “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.”

He is also very honest and open about his struggles with drugs, admitting that when bored comes his cravings can set in, and now-a-days it seems he as busy as a guy could take.

The irony here is Jason made his name as an actor playing a stereotypical “stoner!” The character of Jay is a drug dealing clown who hangs outside malls and fast-food spots all day selling weed to kids, but the man behind the funny guy is actually clean and sober.

Jason has been pretty public since his recovery about his struggles with heroin addiction and in a recent interview with The Fix, Jason admitted:

“Right around 21 is when I tried opioids for the first time. It’s in my family, I was born addicted to heroin. My mom was a heroin addict. My sister is a drug addict, my brother is a drug addict. It’s in the blood and in the genes.”

“I tried the opioids when I knew it was bad news. At that point, I had done ClerksMallrats, and Drawing Flies which is an independent film, and Chasing Amy. That’s what I wanted to do at that point and I feel like the drugs really hindered me.”

Kevin Smith entered Mewes into the first of a series of drug rehabilitation clinics in 1997, which would be the beginning of a back and forth battle with substance abuse.

In 1999 Mewes was arrested in New Jersey for heroin possession, and was sentenced to probation including:

  • Community service
  • Drug counseling
  • Regular court appearances in New Jersey

In late 2001, after he failed to make a court appearance, a warrant was issued for his arrest. After the death of his mother in 2002 as a result of AIDS, he surrendered himself at a Freehold, New Jersey court and pleaded guilty to probation violation charges in April of 2003. He was ordered to enter a six-month rehab program, but that was also not his last stay in treatment. He ended up going back and forth for a few more years, even bumping into an old friend Ben Affleck who at the time was in rehab for alcoholism.

Further on during the interview when discussing his history with drug use, Jason talked about how drugs had hinders the normalcy of life that was supposed to come with growing up, and about how at one point he didn’t like what he did, and was just doing movies to get up and go in the morning.

Later in that interview when asked about maintaining his sobriety over time, Jason stated:

“To me, it’s really just about being honest and surrounding myself with people.”

“I didn’t want to share with people, or let people know, even though people did know. In my head, and being all messed up, I thought people didn’t know because I thought it would mess up my chances of working. Again, it was obvious, I was like 140 pounds and I was a mess, but every day the podcast is a big help. Surrounding myself with people that are good and just being honest with myself.”

In the past Jason reportedly recounted his bottom hitting after waking up on Christmas morning 2003 to find that he had started a fire after falling asleep near a lit candle while on heroin. Mewes returned to New Jersey, where he was given the choice of attending 6 months of court-mandated rehab or a year in jail.

In a July 2006 interview he reported that he was sober, and harbored no urges to drink or use drugs, but he relapsed in 2009 after having surgery.

Jason expressed that keeping himself accountable to others is a huge part of his program, and that he is tempted at times so he resorts to sharing his thoughts and feelings with those closest to him and telling on himself before anything happens to stay accountable to those around him.

Beyond that he spoke about how his work was a big part of his sobriety, and how important it was that he commit to it. When talking about his podcast and the roll it played in his sobriety, he said:

“I just feel like that has been a big difference for me being honest with everyone who listens to the podcast. I’ve been really accountable. I go into a Starbucks and someone will be like, “Hey man, I listen to your podcast. How many days do you have sober?” I’m literally accountable to all these people and out of the blue someone could ask me.”

However he has apparently been clean since June 28th, 2010.

Asked in a recent interview how long he was clean Jay responded with a resounding 1785 days! That is huge for a guy who got famous playing a guy who seemed like he was stuck on drugs for life. Sometimes you hear the term ‘chronic relapser’ and think ‘how hopeless can it get?’ Well the fact that a guy who plays one of the world’s biggest pot-heads in movies has been sober nearly 5 years is amazing, and if you’re wondering if it’s possible, ask this dude!

Zoinks, yo!”

-Jay

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Sometimes the people you least expect can carry a powerful and positive message about how even though addiction held them back, recovery changed their life. A life in sobriety can be far more fulfilling and exciting than people assume, and it starts with choosing to make a change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

New Jersey Study on Internet Gambling Addiction

New Jersey Study on Internet Gambling Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Addiction is not a word that is limited to drugs and alcohol. Addiction is a powerful and illusive illness that comes in several forms, which include behavioral health issues that sometimes can fly under the radar as a result of being more socially acceptable.

Gambling addiction is an impulse-control disorder, because there is a complete lack of control over the urge to gamble once it takes hold. Those who struggle with gambling addiction are in the grips of a progressive illness, and a recent study is being done in New Jersey that hopefully can make some notable conclusions regarding the way it affects the general public.

New Money in New Jersey

Since November 25th 2013, internet gambling has become legalized in the state of New Jersey. With internet gambling in the state of New Jersey beginning to generate a considerable amount of discussion, not to mention a lavish payout of more than $102 million in increased tax revenues. The new gambling income has shown a significant amount, though also considered less than the $200 million predicted by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury and Gov. Chris Christie.

Eight other states have legislation pending that would allow Internet gambling. Delaware and Nevada began offering some online gambling this year, but New Jersey is considered the first true test case because it allows a full range of casino games, not just poker, and its much larger population allows for a more in-depth look at how the internet gambling market will be able to flourish.

This new industry has created a growing community of Internet gambling in New Jersey, and that community was launched by the state as a means of aiding the state’s faltering casino industry, which has been in decline since 2006.

Four casinos in Atlantic City, including the Trump Plaza, have actually been closed for business this year. Internet gambling is also legal in Delaware and New Jersey, though neither state has launched any studies to determine the impact of the decision, positive or otherwise, of increased access to betting on its constitutes.

New Study in New Jersey

Rutgers University is now making a considerable attempt to measure the impact of Internet gambling on addictive behaviors. Funded by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement and health department, the three-year study will generate an estimated cost of around $1.2 million, but Lia Nower, professor and director from the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers’ School of Social Work, says it will allow researchers to,

“identify what type of person chooses this very private form of gambling, who develops problems, and how those problems are different from other forms of gambling,” 

The survey will initially interview:

  • 1,500 adult New Jersey residents by phone
  • 2,000 residents via the Internet

The interviews will collect information from the citizens about their personal gambling behavior and Internet gambling. After which the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers’ School of Social Work will then provide four yearly reports to Governor Christie based on statistical analysis of betting behaviors.

The Underlying Issues

With the results of this new study still pending, and the market not making as much money as initially anticipated, the question may be does this new internet gambling industry have a potential to create a surge in gambling addiction, and if not, what about internet addiction?

Even if the revenue is not there on the books of these online casinos, is this new wave of internet gambling going to help contribute to the growth of the underlying issues here, which are not only gambling addiction, but internet addiction as two separate behavioral health problems that in this capacity can feed off of each other.

More is being done elsewhere so that internet addiction is being taken more seriously while ‘Generation D’ texts, tweets and tags its way through social media and online entities. With gambling addiction already being taken into consideration, what more will be discovered about the developing habits attached to these from the New Jersey statistics?

Impulse-control disorders like compulsive gambling addiction usually go hand in hand with other addictions or compulsions, and it is a wonder if online gambling will also contribute to internet addiction. Often times those who have a gambling addiction can also abuse alcohol and other substances, all to deal with more personal issues. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 

The True Cost of the Heroin Epidemic

The True Cost of the Heroin Epidemic

When we discuss the ‘true cost of the heroin epidemic,’ we’re not talking about fiscal dollars, although that is a factor in this latest chapter of American tragic history.

We’ve reported on the toll heroin is taking all over the country: from New Jersey, to Vermont, to Ohio, and now Oregon, Colorado, and who-knows-where else.

Heroin is spreading like wildfire across America. And the toll on our communities is evident. Indeed we are paying some steep prices for the heroin epidemic.

In Butler County, Ohio, 911 calls for heroin overdose are so common that the seasoned EMS coordinator compares the situation to “coming in and eating breakfast — you just kind of expect it to occur.” And the resources just aren’t available: a local rehab facility has a six-month wait.

Butler County’s Sherriff Richard Jones admits, “There are so many residual effects. And we’re all paying for it.”

Besides the more obvious problem: the spike in heroin-related overdoses and fatal overdoses, the heroin epidemic has all kinds of tragic fall-out. Families are being torn apart as more and more children are being forced into the already overloaded foster care system. Crime is on the rise as the desperate drug-addicted people are turning to criminal acts – shoplifting is particularly popular – to support their insatiable habit.

The Heroin Epidemic: Shocking Statistics

It’s true, there are other drugs out there being abused but, heroin’s rapid escalation is, to say the least, troubling. Just last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said of the 45% increase in heroin-related overdose deaths between 2006 and 2010 that it’s an “urgent and growing public health crisis.”

In 2007, an estimated 373,000 people were using heroin in the U.S. By 2012, that number was 669,000, with the 18 to 25 age bracket seeing the greatest increase in users. Astonishingly, the number of first-time heroin users nearly doubled in a six-year period, from 90,000 to 156,000 people.

We know why this is happening: experts note that many opiate users turned to heroin after the “pill mill” crackdown, making painkillers like OxyContin harder to find and much more expensive. For example, on the street, a gram of prescription opiates might cost upwards of $1,000 whereas that same gram of heroin will sell for $100.

Heroin is More Powerful Today

Heroin today is more fatal because it’s either extremely pure or laced with other powerful narcotics, such as the latest batch of deadly heroin, known to be cut with fentanyl – an equally powerful opiate. That, coupled with a low tolerance once people start using again after treatment, is what oftentimes leads to the fatal overdoses in fresh from treatment addicts.

Heroin Epidemic: Users are Getting Younger and Younger

One Butler County school recently referred an 11-year-old boy who was shooting up heroin intravenously.

Portland, OR’s Central City Concern, a mentor program in Portland, OR says of its clients that, in 2008, 25% of them were younger than 35. Last year that shot up to 40%.

“I thought my suburban, middle-class family was immune to drugs such as this,” says Valerie Pap, who lost her son, Tanner, at age 21 to heroin in 2012 in Anoka County, MI, and speaks out to help others. “I’ve come to realize that we are not immune. … Heroin will welcome anyone into its grasp.”

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Source:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/05/heroin-us-spreads-misery_n_5096774.html

 

 

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