Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin in Illinois as Governor Pardons Over 11,000 Residents
Licensed dispensaries in Illinois started to sell recreational marijuana on New Year's Day when the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act took effect.
A man was pulled over during a traffic stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Berks County, PA. What began as a benign traffic stop led to some suspicion on the part of the police and the involvement of a K-9 unit. The search discovered a cardboard box in the New York man’s trunk full of fentanyl. The box held 10kg of fentanyl intended for delivery and later distribution. The driver, Eliesel Gutierrez, was arrested and charged with intent to deliver and his bail has been set at $150,000.
While 10kg (22lbs) of any drug constitutes quite the bust, 10kg of fentanyl is especially worrisome. It only takes 2 milligrams of fentanyl to constitute a lethal dose in most people. Some simple arithmetic reveals that Gutierrez was smuggling enough to make up 5 million lethal doses.
Because of the concentrated nature of fentanyl, it’s often cut into other drugs. Fentanyl offers more power for less money when compared to heroin, so it’s almost completely replaced heroin in the opioid epidemic. The low cost and high potency make fentanyl extremely popular among dealers trying to move opioids. It’s commonly cut into OxyContin and repackaged as normal OxyContin for purchase in illicit markets.
People also cut fentanyl into other types of drugs. Overdoses are common among people who think they’re taking ecstasy, cocaine, or Xanax. The lethal doses of these drugs are much larger than fentanyl, so if someone buys and takes cocaine unaware of its contents, they’re at high risk for triggering an overdose through their normal drug use.
Both the opioid epidemic and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic hit low-income people the hardest. Homeless populations have been hit especially hard by these 2 deadly events. While both epidemics affect all levels of society to some extent, those people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are especially vulnerable due to a concept known as “social determinants of health.”
These social determinants refer to the conditions in which people live, work, learn, and grow. Someone growing up in a poor inner-city area is much more likely to pick up a smoking habit and other drug habits when compared to someone living out in the suburbs. These habits both lead further down the path of drug use into addiction, exposing them to challenges like overdose and poverty that other groups of people face much less often.
When something like the COVID-19 pandemic occurs, disadvantaged people like the homeless are put at greater risk because of issues like:
These issues layered on top of the health issues caused by addiction, especially opioid addiction can be a lethal combination. And with people still trafficking 10kg of fentanyl around the country, it’s clear that the opioid trade hasn’t slowed for some.
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