drugs

“The programs we offer are the ones that (veterans) desire,” says Garland Williams, the University of  Phoenix’s vice president for military affairs.
Carlos A. Moreno / CIR

Update 10:30 p.m.

The showed has already aired on Michigan Radio. If you missed it, you can catch it again here.

Original post- 11:30 a.m.

Who’s really benefiting from the GI Bill? Why does the U.S. Coast Guard have some explaining to do? How much arsenic in our water is actually safe? There’s always more to the story.

“Reveal,” the radio show dedicated to investigative reporting, is back. Brought to you by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, the third pilot episode examines the value of a degree from a for-profit colleges reaping millions of dollars from GI Bill funds, explores the Coast Guard’s shaky safety record, exposes the backroom deals over arsenic in our water and delves into the secrecy around lethal injection drugs.

Catch Reveal tonight on Michigan Radio at 7 p.m.!

Here’s a rundown of the stories you’ll hear:

www.retreat-lc.com

Michigan is part of a big national crackdown on illegal synthetic drug trafficking.

This week, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies arrested more than 150 people in more than two dozen states on charges they imported and sold illegal synthetic drugs. More than 20 of those arrests took place in southeast Michigan.

micropterus_dolomieu / Wikimedia commons

So you know the saying, right? Stuff flows downhill? Myron Erickson knows a lot about that "stuff."

He heads up the sewage treatment plant that sits along the Grand River in Wyoming, Michigan (right next to Grand Rapids).

The screening room is where they take out the "grit." Erickson calls them "knick knacks."

"It's a small particle like sand, and also all things that come to us in sewage, like peas, and corn, and peanuts," says Erickson.

Heroin abuse in Michigan is on the rise. Felix Sharpe of Michigan's Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services says that 680 people died from heroin overdoses in Michigan last year.
United Nations Photo

How many of our teens actually smoke, drink, and take drugs? And what kinds of drugs and tobacco products are they using?

That's what the University of Michigan and the National Institute on Drug Abuse seek to learn in their annual surveys of 40,000 to 50,000 teens in grades 8, 10, and 12.

The latest Monitoring The Future survey was released today.

Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator for the project, joined us today. He’s with the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Jobseekers who refuse or fail an employer drug test would put their unemployment benefits at risk under legislation that has cleared the state House.

The measure would create a one-year pilot project to try out the idea. Employers would not have to participate, but could choose to report to the state if a job applicant either refuses to take a drug test, or fails one.

State Representative Frank Foster (R-Petoskey) says this would help ensure jobless benefits go to people who are serious about looking for work.

UM Photo

A huge Connecticut-based hedge fund owned by an embattled billionaire is facing insider-trading charges.    And a former University of Michigan professor may have played a part. 

user Robertv! / Flickr

Did a law aimed at reducing methamphetamine use in Michigan produce results?

In 2011, Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that curbed the amount of pseudoephedrine Michiganders can buy. An active ingredient in some cold and allergy medications, pseudoephedrine is also a critical component to meth production.

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We've been following a bill that's now working its way through the State Legislature.

The House has already said "yes" and passed it. Now it's on to the Senate.

In short: the legislation would require people getting welfare to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits.

The substance abuse screening would be required if there's "reasonable suspicion" that the person is using illegal drugs.

Representative Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) sponsored the bill in the House saying the government should not pay for people's drug habits.

"People are tired of applicants getting welfare payments when they're using them for illegal drug use," said Farrington. "We want to make sure that they get on the right track, they receive their treatment going forward and they get on the right path to success."

Supporters of the bill say only people who test positive would have to pay for the cost of the drug test.

Critics say suspicion-based drug testing demonizes the poor and unfairly hurts children of addicts.

Melissa Smith is a senior policy analyst with the Michigan League for Human Services. She researched the effectiveness of these welfare drug testing programs and she joins us now from Lansing.

She analyzed how "suspicion-based drug testing" is working in other states and shares what she found with us.

What she found?

A lot of money is wasted on these programs and not a lot is accomplished.

Listen to the full-interview above.

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This week, police in Grand Rapids began a pilot program to treat marijuana possession as a civil infraction. This comes six months after voters approved an amendment to decriminalize pot.

In Michigan, if you've got an aching back or live in Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor, there’s less reason to feel like marijuana will get you into trouble.

For better or worse, pot is gaining acceptance. Our state is one of 20 in the U.S. where marijuana is either OK for medical use or decriminalized. In Washington state and Colorado, recreational use is legal. Increasingly, there are American communities like Grand Rapids where voters don’t want to spend time and money prosecuting offenders caught with a bag of weed.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A pair of bills that would revoke welfare benefits from some Michigan families has cleared the state House. The legislation has support on both sides of the aisle.

One bill would let the state cut cash assistance payments to families with kids who persistently miss school.

The state Department of Human Services is already doing this – the bill would make the policy state law.

Many Republicans and Democrats say it’s a good way to promote school attendance in poor areas.

But Democratic Representative Jeff Irwin is worried some abusive parents might be keeping their kids out of school to avoid getting turned in to the authorities.

Drugsonline.com

University of Michigan researchers say more than forty percent of parents are making a serious mistake when they try to treat their toddlers for a cough or cold.

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be used in children under age of four. The drugs have not been proven effective for young children and may cause serious side effects.

But a new poll by U of M researchers says more than 40% of parents are using the medicine to treat their toddlers.

Michigan State Police

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Criminal justice agencies across Michigan are getting $1.2 million in federal grants to strengthen anti-drug and crime-fighting efforts.

The funding was announced Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan State Police. The grants come from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and are focused on technology enhancements.

Agencies receiving funding have until July 31 to spend the money. A list of awards is posted online.

Tom Varco / Wikimedia commons

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is asking, "Got Drugs?"

As part of a "National Prescription Drug Take Back Day" the Michigan State Police and the DEA will collect accumulated unwanted, or unused prescription drugs. The goal is to safely dispose of the medications.

State police say the service is free and anonymous, and drugs may be dropped off without questions.

Drop spots will include 29 state police posts.

You can find the drop off locations here.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The DEA says this is the fifth "Take Back Day" they have organized. Last April, the agency says "a record-breaking 552,161 pounds (276 tons)" of unwanted or expired medications were turned in for disposal.

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart says the effort is part of the fight against prescription drug abuse.

"While a uniform system for prescription drug disposal is being finalized, we will continue to sponsor these important take-back opportunities as a service to our communities. Our take-back events highlight the problems related to prescription drug abuse and give our citizens an opportunity to contribute to the solution."

Heroin abuse in Michigan is on the rise. Felix Sharpe of Michigan's Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services says that 680 people died from heroin overdoses in Michigan last year.
United Nations Photo

Heroin abuse is increasing in Michigan and so is the number of fatal overdoses.

Felix Sharpe of Michigan's Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services says that 680 people died from heroin overdoses in Michigan last year.

Many abusers of prescription painkillers have moved to heroin because of its price. Drugs like Oxycontin sell for up to $40 dollars a pill on the street, while heroin sells for about $10.

Sharpe says that many of the victims are young people whose first contact with opiates came through painkillers prescribed to parents and grandparents. He says parents need to lock up prescriptions or dispose of them if they're no longer being used.

According to The Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services' 2011 annual report,  the number of people receiving treatment for heroin abuse in the state jumped from 7,857 in 2001 to 10,924 last year.

Tyler Nickerson / Decriminalize GR

A group that’s trying to make marijuana possession in the City of Grand Rapids only a civil infraction turned in more than enough signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot.

The group modeled the proposed changes to Grand Rapids’ city charter after Ann Arbor’s. In Ann Arbor, fines for marijuana possession start at just $25 and are not more $100.

Tyler Nickerson is with the group known as Decriminalize GR. It collected more than 10,000 signatures during the petition drive.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new Michigan State University study finds the peak of teen misuse of prescription drugs comes earlier than previously believed.

MSU researchers say teen misuse of prescription drugs peaks at age 16, not the later teens as previously believed.   Many children start using pain killers and other prescription drugs to get high in their tweens.   

The MSU study shows about 1 in 60 young people between 12 and 21 years old starts abusing prescription pain relievers each year.    That ratio rises to roughly 1 in 30 at age 16.  

Jim Anthony is a professor of Epidemiology at MSU.    He says the study shows it’s important to get the public health message against misusing prescription drugs to children when they are in middle school.

“We don’t want to delay public health programs…until the high school years or college years," says Anthony,   "We want to begin to think about them as early as 12 and 13.”

Anthony says it may also be a good idea for doctors to write some pain killer prescriptions for just a few day supply instead of the more common one or two week supply.   He says that might reduce the number of prescription drugs that sit unused in the family medicine cabinet.  

Anthony says parents need to pay close attention to their teenager and their medicine cabinet and properly dispose of unneeded painkillers and other prescription drugs.

The MSU study appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

State lawmakers are taking testimony on legislation to require some state welfare recipients to undergo drug testing.

Michigan tried before to require drug testing of welfare recipients.    That law mandated random drug testing.    But the courts stopped that program a decade ago.

The state Department of Human Services is developing a policy to screen for drug use among applicants for cash assistance welfare benefits, and to drug-test those deemed likely to be substance abusers.

DHS officials say they want the new policy to be part of an overhaul of the state’s welfare-to-work program in the spring of next year.  The department submitted a report with its recommendations to the Legislature earlier this month.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A new national survey shows more teens are using pot and see it as less of a risk, while alcohol use among that age group has dropped to historic lows.

The findings released Wednesday were based on an annual survey of 47,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders conducted by the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

One of every 15 high school seniors reported smoking pot on a daily or near daily basis, the highest rate since 1981. Researchers also noted one of every nine high school seniors reported using synthetic marijuana within the previous 12 months.

Researchers say use of a particular drug drops when teens consider it dangerous. The percentage of teens who see "great risk" in using marijuana generally has dropped in recent years.

COTTRELLVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Federal authorities say they caught a suspected marijuana smuggler after a boat from Canada was spotted on video surveillance making a brief stop in Michigan.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Wednesday that the bust was made Friday.

The agency says the boat was spotted entering U.S. waters on the St. Clair River and landed in St. Clair County's Cottrellville Township, about 40 miles northeast of Detroit. Border Patrol agents then spotted and stopped a van seen leaving the area.

Inside the van they found a hockey bag containing more than 33 pounds of marijuana. One arrest was made.

Federal authorities have video surveillance in operation along the St. Clair River to help monitor water traffic between Canada and the U.S.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan’s pharmacists are encouraging people to clean out their medicine cabinets.    

Paul Jensen is the president of the Michigan Pharmacists Association. He says  old, out of date, unused prescription drugs are increasingly being abused by teenagers.  

“The majority of people who abuse a medication…a prescription medication…it comes from somebody they know.   Quite often out of the medicine cabinet in their own home."

Michigan pharmacies collected more than a thousand pounds of prescription drugs in the first year of their ‘drug disposal’ program. Jensen is hopeful that amount will increase this year.

User: Almond Butterscotch / Flickr

Death from prescription drug overdose is on the rise in Michigan.

More Michiganders are dying from prescription drug abuse than from heroin and cocaine combined. In 2009, almost 460 Michiganders died of overdoses from one or more prescription drugs, up from nearly 410 deaths the year before. Data from 2010 is still being collected.

Larry Scott is with the Michigan Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services. He says there is one way to prevent the rise of prescription drug abuse.

user brother o'mara / Flickr

Increasing rates of prescription drug deaths in Michigan

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise across the nation, and Michigan is no exception.

Detroit Free Press medical writer Patricia Anstett has a piece highlighting the problems in the state. From the article:

In Michigan, more residents now die from prescription drug abuse than from heroin and cocaine combined, a federal registry shows. In 2009, the latest year data are available, 457 Michiganders died of overdoses from one or more prescription drugs, up from 409 deaths the year before.

"We're seeing an alarming trend that continues to increase," said Larry Scott, manager of the prevention section of Michigan's Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction.

One in four people seeking emergency care for prescription drug abuse were younger than 25.

Michigan legislature working on proposal to cap welfare benefits

Under a proposal being considered in the Michigan legislature, there would be a four-year life limit on welfare benefits in Michigan.

From the Saginaw News:

The state Senate this week is expected to consider its version of bill sponsored by state Rep. Kenneth B. Horn that could end some poor Michigan families’ welfare benefits as soon as October.

Horn, R-Frankenmuth, wrote the proposed legislation that creates a 48-month, retroactive limit on direct cash assistance. People who have been receiving assistance since 2007 would be the first affected.

House bills 4409 and 4410 are expected to go before the Michigan Senate on Wednesday. The bill's sponsor expects them to pass.

HUD secretary to make announcement this morning on reviving urban centers

Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, is expected to unveil an economic plan in Detroit this morning.

From the Associated Press:

Donovan is scheduled to announce the initiative Monday morning in Detroit alongside Mayor Dave Bing and other government leaders at a loft development near downtown. He also is to speak at noon to the Detroit Economic Club at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel.

The department says Donovan is to discuss a new Obama administration approach to strengthening cities that involves working with them. He also plans to outline challenges facing those cities as well steps the administration already is taking at the local and national levels.

Clean Works Project

Jun 27, 2011
Robert Scales / Flickr

All year, Michigan Radio has been talking with people about projects and efforts that are having a positive effect on the state. Today, we hear from Ruth Olsson, a long-time volunteer for the Clean Works project in Grand Rapids.  The main goal of the project is to reduce the rate of HIV.  To do that, it runs a needle exchange program where drug users can turn in used syringes, and pick up a clean one.

hitthatswitch / Creative Commons

Clean Works Needle Exchange began ten years ago. At the time it was very controversial for Grand Rapids city commissioners to adopt local laws that would give drug users access to clean syringes.

Tami VandenBerg leads the non-profit that runs the Clean Works Needle Exchange. She says they provide clean needles for about 600 people a year.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Kalamazoo authorities have developed a partnership to deal with the hazardous waste left behind by illegal methamphetamine production.

The Department of Public Safety says in a statement Monday that it worked with state officials and the city's Public Services Department to develop a methamphetamine remediation program that's modeled after one developed by Kentucky State Police.

Authorities collect the waste and it's transferred to a central location where the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration takes over disposal responsibility.

Kalamazoo says it's the first such Occupational Safety and Health Administration-compliant program in the state.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Congresswoman Candice Miller is chairing a hearing this week  on the need for greater coordination of law enforcement resources on America’s borders.   Miller says Mexico’s expanding drug war poses a growing threat to border states.

user ka_tate / Flickr

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they will announce arrests in a "major internal drug smuggling conspiracy investigation" at Detroit Metro Airport.

They plan to hold a press conference this afternoon at 3:30 at the Homeland Security Investigations Office.

In the meantime, the Detroit Free Press is reporting 12 people were arrested:

Federal agents this morning arrested 12 individuals in an international drug smuggling investigation at Detroit Metro Airport, according to the U.S. Immigrations Customs and Enforcements.

All 12 arrestees are currently in federal custody. Of the 12, 10 are from Michigan; one is from Houston; another is from California, according to ICE officials.

The Detroit News reports that 10 of the 12 were baggage handlers who worked for Delta Airlines.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Joseph Cassias once stocked shelves at the Walmart in Battle Creek. He was fired after he tested positive for marijuana. Cassias has an inoperable brain tumor and qualifies as a patient under Michigan’s medical marijuana act.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A federal judge in Grand Rapids heard arguments Tuesday in a case involving who has access to patient information under Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act.

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