New Synthetic Opioids in Overdose Crisis, Jordanian Army Ambushes Drug Smugglers, More... (1/28/22)

Tennesseans could send their legislators a message on marijuana policy under a pair of bills just filed, Costa Rica's president vetoes a medical marijuana bill and demands changes, and more.

captagon molecule (wikimedia.org)
Marijuana Policy

Tennessee Odd Couple Lawmakers File Bill for Statewide Poll on Marijuana Legalization. Firebrand conservative Rep. Bruce Griffery (R-Paris) has paired with liberal Sen. Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) to file identical bills that would give state residents a chance to get their voices heard on the topic of marijuana legalization, Senate Bill 1973 and House Bill 1634. The bills would require county election commissions to put three non-binding questions related to marijuana legalization on the 2022 ballot and forward the results to the legislature.

The questions the bills pose are: 1) Should the state of Tennessee legalize medical marijuana? 2) Should the state decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana? and 3) Should the state legalize and regulate the commercial sales of recreational marijuana? While the results would be non-binding, strong popular support for marijuana reforms could end up moving the legislature, which for years has been resistant to them.

Opioids

Two Powerful, Little-Known Synthetic Opioids Show Up In Overdose Crisis. In a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers from the DEA, a toxicology lab at the University of California-San Francisco, and the Knox County (Tennessee) Regional Forensic Center are raising the alarm about two powerful synthetic opioids that are starting to show up in overdose deaths. The two drugs, Para-fluorofentanyl and metonitazene, are now being seen more often by medical examiners in overdose deaths and, increasingly, one of the two drugs is the sole drug used before the overdose.

These opioids are often mixed with fentanyl, which is implicated in about two-thirds of all overdose deaths. In Knoxville, of 770 fatal overdoses between November 2020 and August 2021, 562 featured fentanyl, with another 190 of those also testing positive for meth. But 48 But 48 involved para-fluorofentanyl, and 26 involved metonitazene, according to the report, and those numbers are on the rise, researchers said.

International

Costa Rican President Vetoes Medical Marijuana, Demands Changes. President Carlos Alvarado on Thursday vetoed a medical marijuana bill passed by the Congress, saying it needed changes before he would approve it. He said the bill needs to be changed to limit home cultivation and consumption. "I trust that they will be accepted, and the law will be in force soon," said Alvarado, whose term ends in May. Now, the bill goes back to Congress to see if it will make the changes Alvarado wants.

Jordanian Army Says It Killed 27 Armed Drug Smugglers. The Jordanian army said it killed 27 armed drug smugglers on Thursday, wounded others, and sent others "supported by other armed groups" retreating back across the border into Syria. The smugglers were carrying captagon, a popular Middle Eastern amphetamine. This is only the bloodiest of a growing number of such incidents in the past year, many involving shootouts, which has prompted the army to toughen its rules of engagement with smugglers.

"We will strike with an iron fist..those who dare think of tampering with our national security," the army statement said. Witnesses said as many as 80 armed smugglers crossed the border in dense fog, only to be ambushed by the Jordanian army. As many as 50 are missing and believed dead, another witness said.

Syria has become a hub of captagon manufacturing and smuggling during its decade-long civil war. Jordanian officials say the Lebanese militia/political party/social welfare organization Hezbollah is behind the surge in smuggling. Hezbollah denies it.

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