war on drugs

When Jack O'Connor was 19, he was so desperate to beat his addictions to alcohol and opioids that he took a really rash step. He joined the Marines.

"This will fix me," O'Connor thought as he went to boot camp. "It better fix me or I'm screwed."

After 13 weeks of sobriety and exercise and discipline, O'Connor completed basic training, but he started using again immediately.

"Same thing," he says. "Percocet, like, off the street. Pills."

Three stories of the drug war are woven into a beautifully shot, well made documentary called Kingdom of Shadows. Grieving families, aging former traffickers, undercover law enforcement and crusading activists are all highlighted in a brutal war that has taken many lives. The movie charts the evolution of the illicit drug industry and the raging violence that has hit Mexico with full force. 

It screened at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Nov 10th at 7:30 PM.

A federal inspection station on Interstate 10 in the West Texas desert earned the nickname "checkpoint of the stars" for all the entertainers who kept getting busted there. In the past six years, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Nelly and Fiona Apple were all arrested for possession of marijuana.

These days, though, after a decision by a local lawman, everyone from personal pot smokers to medium-size marijuana traffickers can avoid jail.

From Texas Standard:

It's been called the checkpoint of the stars: Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Fiona Apple have all been snagged at the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol checkpoint.

Musicians and other celebrities have been booked and charged for marijuana possession by Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West. But West now seems to be saying his days of cracking down on every joint and baggie may be over.

NPR Southwest Correspondent John Burnett just returned to Austin from West Texas, where he checked out that checkpoint.

"I wasn't holding. They passed me right through," Burnett says, for the record.

But what if Burnett had been carrying a personal amount of marijuana?

The explosion in pain pill prescription has the country hungry for something more powerful, more illicit, and in some ways easier to access, heroin.  The use of heroin has exploded across the United States, with incidences  of overdoses triple what they were just 5 years ago.

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