The Drug Report

Facts about what can go wrong when people use drugs

  • The Best Drug Info Ever?

    A big part of my inspiration for The Drug Report was Beth Pearce's amazing film, VOICE OF THE VICTIMS: TRUE STORIES OF ECSTASY AND KETAMINE. The film simply lets the victims of drug tragedies tell their stories. It's real life, it's undeniable, and it's incredibly powerful. I'm sure Beth has saved many, many lives, and it is my hope that this blog will do so as well. To learn more about her film, go to Voice Of The Victims.

    FACTS ARE FACTS

    A friend of mine likes to say, "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

    When it comes to drugs, there are lots of opinions out there: Some think drugs are safe and fun, some think they're dangerous and frightening, and many think everything in between.

    But facts are facts, and when someone dies from drugs, or someone is murdered by a person who is on drugs, or is raped by someone who has given them drugs, that's just a fact. Drug users who actively promote drug use rail against these facts, and I expect they'll be commenting regularly on The Drug Report. But they can't change the facts.

Archive for May, 2006

Ecstasy Search Upheld

Posted by Childress on May 31, 2006

The Seventh Circuit has ruled that a police search of a suspicious character — who turned out to be carrying a dealer-sized stash of Ecstasy — was legal.

Police were justified in seizing the ecstasy-filled bags of a train passenger who had a one-way ticket bought with cash just moments before departure and a flimsy story about a lost key to the luggage, the Seventh Circuit held Wednesday in U.S. v. Goodwin (No. 05-1809).

Goodwin
falls in a line of cases that deal with the coercive nature of a police stop in an enclosed space like a bus or a train. In this case, the defendant was detained for a fairly long time, his bags were seized (after he initially refused to let police open then), he was taken off the train (which then left without him), and he was told that a drug-sniffing dog was going to be brought to sniff his luggage — at which point he apparently gave up and handed the cops the key.

Read more about the bust and the case at The Drug Law Blog.

Posted in Charges & Trials, Ecstasy, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Two More Lives Ruined by Meth

Posted by Childress on May 31, 2006

Here's a shocking, but classic, good kid turned bad story — and not surprisingly, it all focuses around meth.  From the Regina (Canada) Leader.

Drug addiction led a former high school athlete, volunteer and Big Brother into a terrible downward spiral that culminated in him setting fire to another man during a crystal meth-induced rage, a Regina Court of Queen's Bench judge heard Tuesday.

Justice Ellen Gunn said William Henry White, 23, had once been what every mother could hope for in a son: A bright, ambitious student who participated in numerous sports and was editor of his school paper before going on to join the Big Brother program to help youths in need. Court heard White was to begin training as a volunteer in the palliative care unit of a Saskatoon hospital, but drugs got in the way.

It started with cocaine in 2001, escalating to a crystal-meth addiction that remained with him until Sept. 21, 2005, when he doused Tommy Dykes, now 26, with gasoline and set fire to him at the door of the victim's Regina home.

White, who had no previous criminal record, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault Tuesday and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Crown prosecutor Constance Hottinger said the two men, each of whom used crystal meth, were involved in a conflict sometime on Sept. 20 at Dykes's home in the 2700 block of Argyle Street.

Following the altercation, White left with a friend. He returned just after midnight on Sept. 21, high on crystal meth and armed with gasoline he'd gotten from an acquaintance.

When Dykes answered the door, White immediately threw the gas on him, then used a lighter to set the man on fire. White fled, leaving a screaming Dykes and someone else at the house to try to put out the fire.

Neighbours who were awakened by the agonized screams called 9-1-1. Dykes's injuries were considered life-threatening and he spent several months in an Edmonton burn unit, undergoing numerous surgeries, including skin grafts, to treat the third-degree burns that covered more than half of his body.

"He will suffer permanently from these injuries …," said Hottinger in court. "He will be disfigured to some extent forever."

Defence lawyer Pat Reis outlined his client's past and the situation that led to the September incident while White and several supporters listened solemnly. Reis said White was concerned for the family he was staying with, worried that Dykes was planning on harming them.

At the time of the incident, White was heavily under the influence of crystal meth, said Reis, using as much as three to five grams per day.

Dykes' sentence is permanent disfigurement.  White's is four years.  It doesn't seem fair.

Posted in Charges & Trials, Meth | 1 Comment »

Drug Use not a Murder Excuse

Posted by Childress on May 31, 2006

California Highway Patrol officer Thomas Steiner was gunned down in broad daylight last year by a gang wannabe who wanted to impress gang higher-ups.

Steiner's assassin will spend the rest of his life in prison, thanks to some clear-headed thinking by the courts:

A Superior Court judge acted properly when he sentenced a teenager to life in prison without the possibility of parole after the boy admitted to killing a California Highway Patrol officer outside a Pomona courthouse to impress a street gang, a state appeals court ruled.

The three-justice panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld Pomona Superior Court Judge Philip Gutierrez's decision to impose the maximum sentence on Valentino Mitchell Arenas.

The teen's attorney had argued that the judge should have imposed a straight life sentence and considered Arenas' low IQ and heavy drug use in the days before the April 2004 shooting of Officer Thomas Steiner as factors for a more lenient sentence.

The panel ruled that Gutierrez appropriately considered the circumstances of the crime.

"Officer Steiner was shot and killed, not in a traffic stop or in a confrontation with a suspect where he would be on his guard, but in a most cold-blooded and cowardly manner," the judges wrote. "(Arenas) chose Officer Steiner at random because of the uniform he wore."

Arenas, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, exhibited "a clear-headed ability to plan and carry out his crime."

Arenas was sentenced last March after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. He was not eligible for the death penalty because of his age.

Thanks to AP for this report.

Posted in Charges & Trials, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Some Good Drug News

Posted by Childress on May 31, 2006

Some great news out of the Netherlands, courtesy of AP:

Dutch investigators cleared Lance Armstrong of doping in the 1999 Tour de France on Wednesday, and blamed anti-doping authorities for misconduct in dealing with the American cyclist.

A 132-page report recommended convening a tribunal to discuss possible legal and ethical violations by the World Anti-Doping Agency and to consider "appropriate sanctions to remedy the violations."

The French sports daily L'Equipe reported in August that six of Armstrong's urine samples from 1999, when he won the first of his record seven-straight Tour titles, came back positive for the endurance-boosting hormone EPO when they were retested in 2004.

Armstrong has repeatedly denied using banned substances.

A hero remains a hero, untainted by false allegations. Now, what's appropriate punishment for the bum doping officials?

Posted in Charges & Trials, Steroids, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Drug Cocktail Brings Dealer Freedom

Posted by Childress on May 30, 2006

Most states now have laws that allow a dealer to be charged if someone they sell drugs to dies from those drugs.  Here's a case where the user's extremely bad decisions regarding drugs resulted in the dealer getting a walk.

LAFAYETTE (LA) – An appeal court has overturned the manslaughter conviction of a Lafayette man accused of supplying a fatal dose of OxyContin to an Erath teenager. Roland Chambers, 37, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in the March 2003 death of 17-year-old Ryan Cassidy.

Vermilion Parish prosecutors alleged that Chambers sold an 80 milligram tablet of the painkiller to another man who gave it to Cassidy and a friend, but the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal ruled this week that there was insufficient evidence to show that the tablet Chambers sold was directly responsible for Cassidy's death.

Under state law, a person who sells drugs to another person who dies from an overdose can face homicide charges. Prosecutors, however, must prove that the drugs in question were the direct cause of death.

The 10-page appeals court opinion noted that Cassidy's autopsy revealed the presence of several other drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, Ecstasy and valium.

Quite a lot of drugs to have your system at one time, eh? Cassidy's drug-greed not only cost him his life, it set free the person who very well may have given him the drug that put him over the top … and into his grave.

Posted in Charges & Trials, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Prescription drugs, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

“I Undid Everything Good”

Posted by Childress on May 30, 2006

Barbara Dehl was once famous for her crusade against dating violence, a worthy cause if ever there was one.  She was spurred in the effort by the death of her daughter, who died in a car driven by her drunk boyfriend.  So this is the story of a good woman gone bad.

By her own admission, it was meth that caused the change:  "In a matter of a two-week period, I undid everything good in my life and I feel terrible about that," she said in an Idaho court, hoping for a lenient sentence in a case involving meth distribution, kidnapping and murder (she wasn't charged in the murder).

Dehl was sentenced to 15 years, more than double what was expected.  It's a complex story; here's a summary:

Friday's sentencing was the culmination of a seven-hour hearing that lasted two days and included detailed testimony from Dehl about her role in the kidnapping and violent interrogation of two teenagers suspected of a theft of jewelry, money and drugs that prosecutors now say Dehl fabricated.

During the interrogation, in which the teens were threatened with a gun and hacksaw, suspicion shifted to 22-year-old John Schmeichel, who [Dehl's boyfriend Larry] Hanslovan and Ronald Huntsman later picked up in Dehl's car before Huntsman fatally shot Schmeichel in the face while Hanslovan drove the car down Interstate 84.

Huntsman has been found guilty of first-degree murder and is scheduled to be sentenced in August. Hanslovan was sentenced Tuesday to 18 years in prison for selling drugs and for his role in the teens' kidnapping.

Dehl pled guilty to drug and kidnapping charges.  Read the entire account at The Idaho Statesman

Posted in Charges & Trials, Meth | 1 Comment »

One Bad Decision

Posted by Childress on May 29, 2006

Unintended consequences. A little Ecstasy dealing never hurt anyone, right? How one mistake can lead to tragedy!

THE graduate who fell four storeys to his death at Liverpool’s World Museum was four days away from appearing in court on drugs charges, the Daily Post has learned.

Scientist Alexander Dutton, 24, was due in court for possessing ecstasy with intent to supply when he apparently killed himself.

The former Wirral Grammar School pupil had no previous convictions and had vowed never to have anything to do with the drug again.

Last night, his father, Richmond Dutton, said he did not believe his son killed himself because he could not face the shame of a conviction.

Dr Dutton, from Prenton, said he remained mystified by his son’s death.

Posted in Ecstasy, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

GHB: Don’t Do It Yourself

Posted by Childress on May 29, 2006

So some numb-brained reporter included in a report that recipies for GHB are available on line, and some equally numb-brained young man thought he'd give it a try, and several equally brain-numb friends thought they'd join him in trying it.

Here's the story, from The Western Mail in England:

A man who tried to make the date rape drug GHB using an internet recipe has been sentenced to youth detention for 16 months. David Platt, 20, from Wrexham, admitted trying to make gammahydroxybuty- rate, a class C drug, in his kitchen. But … he ended up making drain cleaner instead.The court was told Platt, who never intended to use the drug on women, was lucky to be alive after he and friends drank the poison while they were drunk. Platt became interested in GHB after watching a television documentary which highlighted the fact DIY recipes were readily available on the internet, the court heard.

He then downloaded a step-by-step guide and tried to make the drug in his kitchen. … Platt had wanted to create a drug with a similar effect to Ecstasy. But he missed out a vital ingredient, bleach, which meant he ended up producing a form of industrial- strength drain cleaner. He then nearly killed himself and three friends when they drank the poison. Platt stopped breathing and was rushed to Wrexham Maelor Hospital after he and a friend drank four glasses each.The friend ended up in a coma while his wife, who also drank a glass, temporarily lost the ability to walk. Another man also needed hospital treatment after becoming seriously ill. The court heard Platt still needed daily medical attention.

The reporter and network that aired the story were irresponsible, Platt was irresponsible and his friends were irresponsible.  Note that they took the drug while drinking alcohol, a drug known for leading to bad decisions.

Posted in Alcohol, Charges & Trials, GHB, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Two Sentenced in GHB Death

Posted by Childress on May 29, 2006

From the U.S. Attorney's office in Alaska:

Acting U.S. Attorney Deborah M. Smith announced that Glade Lusk, 22, and Matthew O 'Connor, 26, were sentenced today in federal court for their role in the drug overdose death of a 16-year-old Eagle River girl in June 2003. U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline sentenced Lusk to 160 months, and O'Connor to 121 months in prison.

Both men were indicted in July, 2005 …. O'Connor pled guilty to one count of distribution of a controlled substance causing the death of another person. On January 11, 2006, Lusk pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and accessory after the fact to distribution of a controlled substance causing death. A codefendant, Thairon Hawk, previously pled guilty to accessory after the fact and was sentenced to a term of 35 months in federal prison.

O'Connor admitted in court that he distributed 1,4 Butanediol ("BD"), causing the death of Meagan Maroney and the illness of others, including himself. BD has a substantially similar chemical structure and effect on the central nervous system as gamma hydroxybutyric acid ("GHB"). As such, BD is a "controlled substance analogue" of GHB under federal law according to court records. Lusk admitted that he possessed the drug with intent to distribute it, and that after the victim died, he arranged for and assisted in the destruction of the remaining drugs.

Posted in Charges & Trials, GHB, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Drug-Assisted Rape

Posted by Childress on May 29, 2006

"Date rape" is not the best word for the crime it describes, because the victim is more often a stranger, not a date.  "Drug-assisted rape" is the preferred name.

I found an excellent summary of the cautions those who frequent bars and parties should take to avoid this crime in the Daily Mustang, the student paper at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  An excerpt:

Date-rape drugs cause victims to become physically helpless, unable to refuse sex or consent to it and unable to remember what happened. The drugs are hard to detect in drinks because they have no color, taste or smell and can easily be added without the victim’s knowledge.

Here's a link to the complete article.  It makes the mistake of classifying drug-assisted rape as only a crime against women.  Many men have also been victims of the crime.

Posted in Alcohol, GHB, Ketamine | 1 Comment »

Don’t Trust Your Drug Dealer

Posted by Childress on May 29, 2006

The details of Belinda Davey's death are depressingly familiar. In a single night, the young clubber took drug after drug — ecstasy, GHB, speed — and died from simply exposing her body to more than it could stand. What stands out in this story is the behavior of Belinda's drug dealer, who kept dealing while she died, and her friends, who stood by and did nothing.  From The Australian

BELINDA Davey had partied past dawn but she was in no mood to go home. At 7am, the 21-year-old nurse left the Bass Station Rave Club in St Kilda and drove her friends to the Pure Hard Dance Recovery Club, a favourite haunt hidden off a city laneway. Inside the club, Davey met Abraham Welly Wong, a drug dealer who sold GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), known as grievous bodily harm, in a nearby basement car park.Friends say Davey had only started taking illicit drugs a few weeks before. But within hours of arriving at the club on February 19 last year, she was dead.

Yesterday, a coroner criticised friends and patrons for failing to call an ambulance when they saw her unconscious in Wong's car.

During her first visit to Wong's car, Davey consumed GHB and ecstasy (she had earlier taken ecstasy at Bass Station).

At 12.35pm, she returned to his car and took speed before going back to the club. An hour later, Davey was back in his front passenger seat.

Davey drank from a bottle containing GHB, a clear, odourless liquid, which police believe she mistakenly thought was water.

She reacted badly, spitting out the liquid. ''You didn't drink from that bottle, did you?'' Wong said, suggesting she take speed to ''neutralise'' the effect. After smoking speed from a ''crack pipe'', Davey subsequently passed out.

Wong, who later insisted he was monitoring her breathing and pulse, gave her more speed by rubbing 1g inside her mouth and around her gums. Nine patrons stood and watched him.

Throughout the afternoon, Davey was left in the car while Wong continued to sell drugs and socialise with friends. Rubin Bevan, a friend of Wong's who was in the car at the time of Davey's collapse, left the carpark and went shopping.

Several patrons suggested Wong call an ambulance but he refused. At 3.15pm, Davey's friend Steven Gibson saw that ''her eyes were half open, and her mouth was half open''.

Another person checked to see if Davey was alive.

''She barely was,'' Mr Gibson later told Victorian Coroner Graeme Johnstone.

''Lee (Wong) said: 'Don't worry, she'll be fine. I've already put half a gram of speed in her mouth.' ''I said, 'No, call an ambulance'. He said, 'No, because it will be all right; I've just spent 300 bucks on this stuff; I've already put in two lots'.''

Gibson said he ''was afraid she was going to die, so I left by myself in a taxi and went home''.

Mr Johnstone said Gibson ''took no positive action to save his friend''.

At 6pm, an off-duty police officer found Davey and called an ambulance crew, who attempted resuscitation. Davey remained in cardiac arrest and, at 6.46pm, was declared dead.  

As one should expect from a drug dealer, Wong saw drugs as the answer to everything. He was wrong.  Had he been more concerned about the fate of Belinda and less concerned about selling drugs, he might have taken her to a hospital where she might have been saved. Also to blame are those who watched.  What gave Wong all the authority in this scene?  Couldn't one of them have placed a call to the police and requested an ambulance? The biggest crime?  Wong's sentence for letting Davies die was just three months. 

Posted in Charges & Trials, Ecstasy, GHB, Meth | 1 Comment »

Canada Studies Cost of Drug Use

Posted by Childress on May 29, 2006

$40 billion.  That's what drugs cost Canada annually — and it's about double what it was ten years ago, according to a comprehensive study just published by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

The study included tobacco and alcohol, which were found to be far more costly than illegal drugs:  tobacco was the most expensive, costing $17 billion for the year studied while alcohol cost $14.6 billion and illegal drugs $8.2 billion. This seems to be a pretty solid argument for keeping illegal drugs illegal, eh?

More on the report:

A report by a national addiction agency says the use of a variety of drugs, legal and illegal, batter [the Canadian] economy and the users of alcohol and tobacco incur the vast majority of total costs. The use of illegal drugs results in about 20 per cent of the total amount.Loss of productivity jumped out at the research team. In 2002, the last year a full study was done, it was estimated at $24.3 billion, followed by $8.8 billion in health care costs. Statistics show that alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs account for 20 per cent of all acute care hospital beds in Canada today. Law enforcement costs of legal and illegal drugs was set at $5.4 billion, which represents roughly half the cost of the entire criminal justice system.

The study, by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, takes into account any cost to society caused by drug use, so it includes a wide range of people, not just hard core addicts.

Jurgen Rhem, the study's principal investigator, said about 80 per cent of people who drink alcohol cause no social cost, but that leaves a large number of people causing huge costs. He said the cost of substance abuse in Canada is significant and is on the rise. A similar study a decade ago set the cost at about half what it is today.

"This is a wake-up call," Rhem said.

The largest component of the cost was linked to disability and premature death, which accounted for 61 per cent of the total. In terms of specific drug costs, tobacco was the most expensive, costing $17 billion for the year studied while alcohol cost us $14.6 billion and illegal drugs a further $8.2 billion. The study did not include the private costs incurred by users of drugs in purchasing them or revenue generated by the purchase of alcohol and tobacco which are heavily taxed by government.

Posted in Alcohol, Ecstasy, GHB, Ketamine, Marijuana, Meth | Leave a Comment »

Study Probes Ecstasy, Heart Disease

Posted by Childress on May 28, 2006

Emory University med school has released a new study which found that Ecstasy users may face the same heart attack risks as meth users. 

The  report focused on ecstasy-related myocardial hypertrophy, which the report says is a well-recognized complication of cocaine and methamphetamine abuse and is a strong independent risk factor for sudden death, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and congestive heart failure.

The study, lead by M.M. Patel, sought to determine if use of MDMA (methylenedioxyamphetamine or 'ecstasy') is associated with myocardial hypertrophy at death."  The study was a matched, retrospective study using medical examiner (ME) death reports in 10 states and one county in the Emory area. "The findings of this study suggest that MDMA users might also be at risk for myocardial hypertrophy and possible cardiac toxicity, similar to other stimulants," the authors concluded.

Posted in Ecstasy, Meth | Leave a Comment »

Facts Are Facts

Posted by Childress on May 27, 2006

A friend of mine likes to say, "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

When it comes to drugs, there are lots of opinions out there:  Some think drugs are safe and fun, some think they're dangerous and frightening, and many think everything in between.

But facts are facts, and when someone dies from drugs, or someone is murdered by a person who is on drugs, or is raped by someone who has given them drugs, that's just a fact.  Drug users who actively promote drug use rail against these facts, and I expect they'll be commenting regularly on The Drug Report.  But they can't change the facts.

I am presenting these facts, gleaned primarily from newspaper sources, so people can consider them when thinking about using drugs or use them when talking to others about drugs.

I look forward to your comments.  Thanks!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Ecstasy Not Dangerous? Hmmmm.

Posted by Childress on May 27, 2006

The belief that Ecstasy isn't dangerous is so widely held that many users may think there's vitually no risk involved in using the drug.

In Australia, where Ecstasy uSandra Kanckse has been climbing dramatically, one elected official, Sandra Kanck (that's her on the right), recently said in her state legislature that Ecstasy is not a dangerous drug.

Fortunately, her comments were quickly countered by a report from Australia's National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, which revealed there were 112 ecstasy-related deaths in Australia from 2001 to 2004 — that's one death every two weeks in a country with a relatively small population of 20 million.

There's a big surprise in the study: 28 per cent of Australian Ecstasy deaths due to road crashes. Much of the attention on Ecstasy comes from deaths caused by high body temperature, or from drinking so much water that critical minerals are leached from the body. But Ecstasy is a mild hallucigen, which helps explain the high number of driving deaths.

Posted in Ecstasy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »