drugs

Flickr User Sharyn Morrow

Recently, you may have heard a startling statistic: drug overdoses now kill more Americans than car accidents. For some years, the same holds true here in the San Joaquin Valley. The lion’s share of those overdoses are from opioids—street drugs and heavy-duty painkillers either derived from opium or made in a lab. Now, health officials are trying to prevent the problem from becoming worse.

California Endowment

New data from an on-going study about mortality rates in Central California reveals that alcohol, drugs and suicide are fueling significant increases in the mortality rate among white residents. The data are staggering: deaths from accidental drug poisoning in Fresno County are up over 200 percent since 1990, while suicides by hanging and strangulation are up over 120 percent in the region.

It’s been over two years now since California voters approved Proposition 47, a measure which categorized many drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It's led to a reduction in the state's prison population. But it's also led to other issues, like the many former felons who are now out of jail, but lacking support services to transition to freedom. That's the key finding from a new investigative report called Freed But Forgotten.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Earlier this summer, we told you about the public health benefits of the Fresno Needle Exchange, which makes clean syringes available to drug users. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, here’s one of those users—a 56-year-old man named Michael, interviewed at the needle exchange.

“I run my own business, paint addresses on curbs. I worked as a social worker for years, for ten years, and I got burned out on that. I have a daughter. She's 19, she's grown. She's in Dinuba.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

The last time we reported about the Fresno Needle Exchange, it was an illegal program, operating without support from policymakers and under threat of police intervention. It became legal in 2012 under a state law. Now, the program is more popular than ever, and new research suggests it’s making the community safer.

Michael lives in north Fresno. He’s 56. He studied social work and he’s now self-employed. He has a daughter in nearby Dinuba. 

Fresno Deputy Police Chief Arrested For Dealing Drugs

Mar 26, 2015
Fresno Police Department

One of Fresno's highest ranking law enforcement officers was arrested Thursday on drug charges. Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster is charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, marijuana and oxycodone.

Five other Fresno residents were also charged in the case, including two men the FBI believes are related to Foster. 

Foster has been placed on administrative leave by the department. The arrests are part of an on-going, year-long investigation by the FBI and ATF.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the arrest is totally unexpected...

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council is moving forward with a plan to modify the city's medical marijuana law. But as FM89's Joe Moore reports, the change could be short lived. 

The new law would amend another passed last year by the council that banned all marijuana cultivation in the city. If the new proposal becomes law, residents would be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants indoors, for their personal medicinal use.

Federal and Local Law Enforcement Break Central Valley Mail Theft Rings

Jan 15, 2014
Capital Public Radio

Federal and local law enforcement officials have announced arrests and prosecutions in a flurry of mail theft cases.  As Max Pringle reports, Sacramento, Bakersfield and Fresno were the focus of months of investigations.

Last year, U.S. Postal Service inspectors from around the country came to the Central Valley to help local police investigate an upswing in mail theft. Greg Campbell with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says mail theft and drug abuse usually go hand-in-hand.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

A California lawmaker wants to create a “zero tolerance” law for driving under the influence of drugs.

Democratic State Senator Lou Correa says his bill would expand the current law against drunk driving to cover drug use as well. 

“It took us decades to pound into people that you should not drink and drive.  Then, we started talking about texting and talking on the phone and driving.  And today, this is about being drugged and driving.” 

Valley fever vaccine stalls after early promise

Oct 7, 2012
Photo by Brian Baer/Special To The Sacramento Bee

Just eight years ago, a vaccine to stop valley fever seemed within reach.

Ambitious scientists at five universities had brought in millions of dollars since 1997 from private donations and government funding to develop a way to beat the fungus before it ever had a chance to lodge in a person’s lungs and wreak havoc on his or her organs.

In 2004, they announced they had selected a pathway to pursue a vaccine.

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