war on drugs

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.

Heroin, today, is killing more and more people in rural America.

One Mexican cartel has seeded low-cost heroin around rural towns in the Southwest and Midwest, selling it cheap and easy, almost like pizza.

Madison, Neb. — population 2,500 — is just a speck of a town, a two-hour drive from the big-city bustle of Omaha. But it's not far enough away to avoid the growing impact of heroin.

"The world's gotten smaller," says Police Chief Rod Waterbury. "If drugs can make it to Chicago, they can make it here."

Sundar1 / Wikimedia Commons

A Texas senate committee has been tasked with finding a legal loophole so that the state can drug-test people receiving unemployment. Committee members have been told to find a way the state can bypass the adoption of federal regulations.

Senate Bill 21 was passed during the 2013 legislative session set to take effect at the beginning of 2014. But the U.S. Department of Labor still hasn’t approved a new set of rules regarding unemployment drug-testing. 

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