Politico reports that since the president seemingly has “no interest” in loosening federal drug laws, despite progress in some states, courts may ultimately have to force the issue. Other news on legal and illegal drugs is from Ohio, Colorado, Texas, and elsewhere.

Courts Could Throw State Marijuana Markets Into Disarray 

President Joe Biden is showing no interest in loosening federal restrictions that have left states in charge of developing how the multibillion-dollar U.S. cannabis industry grows. The nation’s courts may ultimately force the issue — in a chaotic fashion that could undermine efforts to diversify the industry and protect public health. (Zhang, 10/2)

Columbus Dispatch:
Ohio Medical Marijuana Patients Say Prices Too High, But Program Improving

Ohio medical marijuana patients are happier with the state’s program than they once were, but they continue to face high prices and a shortage of doctors who can recommend cannabis, according to a new study. The report from Ohio State University’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center found more than half of survey respondents reported some level of satisfaction with the medical cannabis program, including 15.3% who were “extremely satisfied.” About 35% of people were dissatisfied with the program, an improvement from 55% last year. (BeMiller, 10/29)

The Gazette:
New Hurdles In Obtaining Medical Marijuana Reignite Policy Debate 

Julie Richardson moved to Colorado from Louisiana in 2015, specifically to get the quality of cannabis-derived medicines available here — which were illegal or too expensive back home. Now Richardson, who suffered a spinal injury when she was 6 months old and who has gone through repeated reconstructive surgeries and a cancer battle, thinks she may need to move again. (Samuelson, 10/2)

The Courier-Journal:
3 Takeaways From Report By Andy Beshear’s Medical Marijuana Committee

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday that an overwhelming majority of Kentuckians apparently support legalizing medical marijuana in their state, based on feedback his weed-focused advisory committee received. The Democratic governor set up the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee in June, a couple of months after he said he’ll explore what executive actions he might be able to take since bipartisan efforts to pass a law legalizing medical marijuana stalled in the Republican-led Kentucky Senate. (Watkins, 10/1)

The New York Times:
Elias Theodorou, Pioneer Of Medical Marijuana In Sports, Dies At 34 

Elias Theodorou, a cerebral, charismatic mixed martial arts fighter who campaigned to change his sport’s drug rules and is widely believed to be the first professional athlete to receive a therapeutic exemption to use marijuana, died on Sept. 11 at his home in Woodbridge, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. He was 34.His brother, Michael, said the cause was colon cancer that had metastasized to his liver. (Risen, 10/2)

On the fentanyl crisis —

The New York Times:
Fentanyl Test Strips Highlight Rift In Nation’s Struggle To Combat Drug Deaths 

“You smoke weed?” Eufamia Lopez asked the half-dozen young men lounging on benches in a public housing courtyard in the South Bronx. The soft September air reeked of the obvious answer. Ms. Lopez, who works for a New York University health support program, plunged into her spiel. Street drugs — meth, coke, molly, Xanax, heroin and even marijuana — are being cut with fentanyl these days, she said, which can kill you. But you can test your supply before using it to see whether there’s any fentanyl in it. She was giving out free kits. (Hoffman, 10/1)

The Wall Street Journal:
Fentanyl’s Ubiquity Inflames America’s Drug Crisis 

Fentanyl, the potent opioid driving U.S. drug deaths to record highs, has infiltrated virtually every channel of the illicit drug supply and turned it more toxic than ever. In this city and across the U.S., traffickers are making fentanyl, primarily produced in Mexico, the dominant substance for opioid users craving a fix. The synthetic drug is killing users who fear its strength but can’t easily find alternatives, as well as those seeking it out to feed their rising tolerance to prescription painkillers or heroin. It also is claiming the lives of people who didn’t know they were taking it. (Campo-Flores and Kamp, 9/30)

Texas Families Share Emotional Fentanyl Stories

Family after family has lost loved ones to fentanyl overdoses in Hays County. Some of them shared their stories Sunday. It was part of a fentanyl awareness meeting led by the Hays County Sheriff’s Office. … Janet Zarate’s nephew was a Hays County teenager who died of a fentanyl overdose. “He took a Percocet … a fake Percocet and that was it. It was just one pill, and he was gone,” Zarate said. (Al-Shaikh, 10/3)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.


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