Needle exchange programs and the heroin crisis

Despite public health research that supports needle exchanges, state law continues to say that distributing syringes for drug use is illegal. If you support or oppose a change in law, let your state senator and state representative know. If you want to know more about the Commonwealth’s response to the heroin crisis and increased risk for HIV and hepatitis C, contact the Department of Health and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

If you support or oppose executive action, contact Gov. Tom Wolf. For local changes, contact your city and county government. If you support or oppose federal funding for needle exchanges, contact your senator and representative.

State-funded resources for single parents

TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is meant to help single mothers and other low-income families find and maintain employment. SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can be used at grocery stores, convenience stores and some farmer’s markets and co-ops. PA WORKWEAR: For those on TANF, it provides professional attire for job interviews, employment and training. KEYS: The Keystone Education Yields Success program helps TANF and SNAP recipients attend community college. To sign up, visit

Big trucks, big bucks

Big rig crashes kill nearly 4,000 Americans each year and injure more than 85,000. Since 2009, fatalities involving large trucks have increased 17 percent. Injuries have gone up 28 percent.

Given these numbers, you might expect Congress to be agitating for tighter controls on big rigs. In fact, many members are pushing for the opposite — looser restrictions on the trucking industry and its drivers.

Pennsylvania gets an F in integrity investigation

The lack of legislative or executive accountability and the absence of effective ethics entities, as well as weak laws and lackluster oversight of lobbying, political finance, and elections, have combined to give Pennsylvania an F in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Pennsylvania's numerical score of 58 placed it tied for 44th among the 50 states.

Troubled kids, powerful drugs

PublicSource built a database of the medications ordered by the six state-operated youth correctional facilities from 2007 through 2013.

The high-security system has been shrinking over the last decade, but the facilities remain to take the state’s most chronic or violent juvenile offenders.

Use this tool to search through the psychotropic drugs prescribed to youth offenders in the state facilities.

Testing marijuana for contaminants debated

Jason Collinsworth travels more than three hours each way to Santa Cruz, California, once, sometimes twice, a month to buy the medical marijuana he smokes to help deal with his gastrointestinal disorder.

Even though there are dispensaries much closer to the Tuolumne County resident, he said they don’t test their marijuana for contaminants and potency. 

Collinsworth, 38, said one of those nearby dispensaries once sold him marijuana that was stripped of its “medicinal” THC component with butane, the same chemical found in lighter fluid.  

And the uncertainty isn’t worth it, he said. 

So he drives.

Parents drive national momentum for children and medical marijuana

PITTSBURGH - In room 716 of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, 12-year-old Hannah Pallas is motionless, but for an occasional turn of her head and the blink of her eyes, following a series of life-threatening seizures. On the same day, 5-year-old Sydney Michaels is down the hall in room 749, waiting to be discharged after 15 grand mal seizures within 36 hours.

Their mothers have known each other for years, though it’s a hapless coincidence caused by their daughters’ epilepsy that brings them to the pediatric unit on the same day.

The Daily Report: Aug. 22, 2015


Pittsburgh: Alleged embezzlement from charity for terminally-ill kids

Former high school baseball coach Steven Wetzel, 39, founded the Hero Program after the August 2008 death of an 18-year-old player who died of cancer. Facing federal charges, he apologized and said he’d plead guilty to some of the criminal counts he faces related to using $91,000 of the donations. Pittsburgh: Parkway congestion

Construction on inbound I-376 and the Fort Pitt Tunnel will cause the thoroughfares to close until about 10 a.m. today and again at 9 p.m. into tomorrow morning. Last time this happened, people were experiencing delays of three hours or more in surrounding areas. Check for detours.

Efforts to legalize marijuana continue to span the nation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advocacy groups have poured millions of dollars into legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana in states across the country.

One of the most powerful and influential groups – Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project – was behind successful recreational measures in Alaska and Colorado, two of four states that now allow recreational use. MPP organizers hope to replicate those efforts in five other states during the 2016 elections, an undertaking they say will – if successful – prove significant for the effort to end marijuana prohibition.