drugs

Law enforcement officers in Kansas and across the country will be collecting unused, expired and leftover medications on Saturday.

It’s an initiative called the National Drug Take-Back Day.

The drug collection events are a way to safely dispose of leftover and expired medications to prevent accidental or intentional misuse.

Studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

respectable_photography / flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill lowering penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Republican Rep. Blaine Finch says lawmakers lowered penalties for first-time marijuana possession last year, but didn’t lower penalties for paraphernalia. That means people could face harsher sentences for possession of a pipe than for possession of marijuana.

“It does keep it at a crime. There is a potential jail sentence," he says. "It just makes it proportional with the possession of the underlying drug."

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

A recent increase in heroin-related deaths prompted Sedgwick County officials on Thursday to warn residents about the dangers of some of the drugs they’re starting to see in the community.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said he hasn’t seen a major increase in the number of heroin possession or distribution cases in recent years.

“You don’t really see a huge spike in the past few years, but the toxicity, I don't know if I'm using the right word here, but lethality of the stuff that is on the streets is concerning," he said.

Oliver Morrison / The Wichita Eagle

On his last full day in office, President Barack Obama granted clemency to 330 drug offenders. That brings the total number of prisoners whose sentences were commuted under Obama to nearly 1700 -- more than the 11 previous presidents combined.

Richard Reser is one of those 1700. He returned to Topeka in December and recently spoke to Wichita Eagle reporter Oliver Morrison about how he's adjusting to life after prison.

Abigail Beckman / KMUW

A local non-profit coalition hoping to curtail prescription and illicit drug and alcohol abuse came together Tuesday to spread the word about prevention and renew their efforts.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

A doctor handed Melissa Morris her first opioid prescription when she was 20 years old.

She had a cesarean section to deliver her daughter, and to relieve post-surgical pain her doctor sent her home with Percocet. On an empty stomach, she took one pill and laid down on her bed.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh my god. Is this legal? How can this feel so good?’” Morris recalls.

Neil Conway, flickr Creative Commons

A huge majority of Kansans say that the penalties for most nonviolent drug possession crimes should be reduced.

The ACLU poll shows that 86 percent of Kansans either strongly support, or somewhat support, reducing all nonviolent drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors as a way to reduce the prison population in the state.

Kansas prisons are at about 101 percent capacity, and six out of ten respondents say they would rather reduce the population rather than build new prisons.

Wikipedia

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is warning Kansans of a growing threat from a synthetic opioid that may have caused a number of overdose deaths in the past month.

The drug's name is U-47700 and was derived by the pharmaceutical firm Upjohn in the 1970s. The drug can be as potent as ten times that of a similar dose of morphine. The drug is not controlled in Kansas.

A bill that opponents say infringes on patient and doctor relationships will be heard in the Kansas Senate.

The practice is called step therapy, which requires patients to try older and often generic medications before doctors can prescribe newer and more expensive ones.

Senate Bill 341 would require it for KanCare recipients.

Proponents say it can save the state’s Medicaid program money, and protect patients from newer medications that might have unknown side effects.

The Kansas Board of Pharmacy wants an ingredient used in prescription cough syrup to be tracked by the state because it’s being abused.

Debra Billingsley is executive secretary of the board of pharmacy, she told lawmakers Monday that promethazine with codeine syrup is being increasingly abused as a recreational drug, particularly by high school students. She says when it’s mixed with soda or candy the mixture is often called by several slang names, including "purple drank" and "sizzurp."

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