New, dangerous drugs make way to US

Monday, January 8, 2018

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to let federal prosecutors enforce marijuana laws has been the leading topic of drug discussions in recent days.

That’s especially true since recreational marijuana became legal in California last week, as well as a number of other states.

Some observers predict Sessions’ decision to reverse President Obama’s directive could have the opposite effect the attorney general intended — perhaps even the legalization of marijuana nationwide.

That debate is far from being settled, but there are other drugs that should involve no debate, and which deserve the full attention of law enforcement officials.

And, yes, they’re appearing right here in Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas.

One of them is flakka, a hallucinogenic, amphetamine-like drug that is similar to an ingredient found in bath salts.

The Narcanon Arrowhead rehabilitation center of Oklahoma passed along some frightening stories.

Last April, a man was arrested after attacking a police officer and attempting to have sex with a tree. The officer’s taser failed to subdue the 41-year-old man, but he continued to punch the officer and even tried to stab him with his own badge.

Finally subdued, he declared he was the mythical god Thor.

A Florida man told police he’d smoked flakka, then made a mad dash or the fence surrounding the police department.

He fell on one of the spikes, impaling himself through his thigh near his groin and out the other side of his buttocks. He dangled there 20 minutes until a fire rescue team could cut away the fence and transport him to the emergency room to have the spike removed and bleeding stopped.

Another drug, fentanyl, was designed to be a powerful painkiller — 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Brought in from China, the drug is cheap and is finding its way into everything from heroin to cocaine, meth and even marijuana.

The CDC says fentanyl helped contribute to making the current drug epidemic the deadliest in U.S. history — 64,000 drug overdose deaths were reported last year, most involving opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet. About 56 percent of the opioid deaths in 10 states studied involved fentanyl.

And there are even scarier drugs on the horizon.

Carfentanil is similar to fentanyl, but because it was designed as a sedative for elephants, is estimated to be about 10,000 times more potent than morphine. The CDC warns it could markedly increase the number of fatal overdoses.

Whether or not recreational marijuana ever becomes legal nationwide, determined efforts to keep new more dangerous drugs off the streets need to continue.

Narcanon Arrowhead can be reached at 1-844-468-2604.

A list of drug abuse treatment centers in Nebraska is available at http://bit.ly/2mdjHpU

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