U.S. More Likely toLegalizeMarijuana than Tennessee, Says Memphis Congressman

Congressman Steve Cohen hasn’t smoked pot in awhile — several decades, he estimates. However, that hasn’t stopped the Memphis representative from being an advocate for marijuana reform at the federal level. Cohen said Friday he expects federal marijuana reform to outpace Tennessee, though he said he doubts the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement) Act, which cleared his House Judiciary Committee this week, will be taken up by the U.S. Senate in 2019. The bill decriminalizes and legalizes marijuana at the federal level, sets up a tax system for the drug and allows for expungement of marijuana-related crimes. Cohen, in an interview with the media and talking with constitue

New Court Program in East Tennessee Aims to Help Babies

DANDRIDGE, Tenn. — At the Jefferson County Juvenile Court, the cases have changed. Since the opioid crisis began, there have been more and more cases of neglect--and more and more cases involving young children. "We have two or three a month probably, that's conservatively speaking," Teresa Moyers, the court's director, said. Now Jefferson County is one of three counties in East Tennessee taking a new approach to infants in the child services system. The county just received a grant for $300,000 to establish a "Safe Baby Court." Instead of getting a list of Department of Child Services requirements and a case worker, families selected by a judge will have access to more community resources t

Harris County Announces Opioid Prevention Program

HOUSTON — The Harris County Public Health, Sheriff’s Office and Baylor College of Medicine will gather to announce the county’s new Opioid Overdose Prevention Program. HCPH has been awarded more than $2 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to aid in the prevention of opioid overdose in Harris County. According to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, in 2018, almost half of all drug overdose deaths in Harris County involved opioids, and drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the county. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/health/harris-county-announces-opioid-prevention-program/285-1da8ea95-e3f1-431f-8745-48fe5208c407

Keith Urban Gives New Milford Girl Signed Guitar at Connecticut Show

It was a night Maddy in New Milford will never forget. Keith Urban signed the guitar he was using at Sunday night's opioid benefit show at Mohegan Sun Arena, and graciously handed it over to her. Tony Morrisey is Maddy's dad, and I got a chance to talk to him about the evening and what led them to be there in the front row for the show. Here's what he had to say about the whole experience and what it means to his familly: "Our son Brian Cody lost his battle to addiction on August 10th, 2019, leaving behind a two year old daughter (Aubree) and, at the time, a Fiancé, Makayla, who was carrying their second child. Their daughter Adilyn was born on September 18, 2019. Searching for something to

Helen Ross McNabb: Flood of Opioid Treatment Money Would be More Effective With Less Earmarking

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An East Tennessee treatment center said if some of the flood of federal money to combat opioid addiction could be used for other addictions, it would benefit more people looking for help. Helen Ross McNabb provides addiction treatment for thousands of people each year. They're partially funded through federal dollars. While it's grateful for the funding it receives, the center says certain rules mean they can't help as many people as they want. Much like the meaning of song runs deeper than just the music, drug addiction often stems from something more. Kris Rucinski used music to help him recover after he overdosed multiple times. "I uncovered some issues that happened to

Man Indicted in OD Deaths of Two East TN Victims

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville man faces federal charges in the 2018 overdose deaths of two unnamed East Tennesseans. Kevn Leon Catlett, 45, was being held Friday in the Blount County Jail on a count of distributing a mix of fentanyl and heroin that resulted in one person's death and another county of distributing fentanyl that caused another person's death. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Knoxville, a grand jury returned the indictment against Catlett on Oct. 16. Kevin L. Catlett was being held in the Blount County jail after his federal indictment in the OD deaths of two people. One person, identified by the initials A.G.N., died Sept. 6, 2018. The other person, identified by th

Drug Take Back Day

Middle Tennesseans disposed of hundreds of pounds of unused or expired medications as part of the most recent Drug Enforcement Administration’s national drug take back day. The initiative is one that local officials say helps to keep drugs away from teens and others who could abuse them, to combat dependence and avoid accidental overdoses amid a nationwide epidemic. DEA: Take Back Day addresses ‘crucial’ issues National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which was Oct. 26, aims to address a “crucial public safety and public health issue,” according to the DEA. The DEA hosts drug take back days twice a year, in April and October, said Sumner County Anti-Drug Coalition Project Coordinator Meagan

Attorney Appointed for Woman Charged with Murder in Overdose Case

A Sumner County judge appointed an attorney to represent a woman charged with second-degree murder in connection to her ex-boyfriend’s fatal overdose. Chelsey Ann Davis, 28, is charged with murder in the death of Brandon Kyle McDuffee. The Sumner County grand jury indictment was filed Oct. 10. Judge Dee David Gay appointed local attorney Cindy Templeton to represent Davis at her arraignment Tuesday morning. Davis is due back in court for a settlement hearing on Jan. 16. McDuffee died June 20 of fentanyl toxicity after an apparent drug overdose. Gallatin Police Department Investigator Katie Hope previously told The Tennessean that McDuffee, 32, was alone when he was discovered dead of an appa

CEO Closes Book on Firm to Launch Inmate Ministry

Prison never rehabilitated Josh Smith. And he’s grateful for that. After retribution, incapacitation and deterrence, the fourth traditional purpose of incarceration — rehabilitation — is a misguided one, argues Smith, who has defied the odds in the 15 years since his release from a federal prison camp in Kentucky to become a multimillionaire entrepreneur. His company, Knoxville-based Master Service Companies, is now the region’s largest residential waterproofing and foundation services provider, with nearly $30 million in annual revenues and 180 employees across Knoxville, Indianapolis and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Smith and his wife, Tracy Smith, recently sold the business for an undi

Impact of Opioid Crisis on TN Department of Children’s Services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — From marijuana to meth to opioids, Amy Coble and her staff have seen it all when it comes to doing home visits where drugs may be involved. “We’ve been in homes where paraphernalia has been out in front of us when we walk in the door,” Coble said. “Sometimes it’s well-hidden,” Coble said. “Sometimes it’s hidden in different areas.” Coble is the director of investigations for the Department of Children’s Services. Like many other agencies, DCS is feeling the impact of the opioid crisis. “It impacts their brain function, their decision making, their judgment,” Coble said. Coble says the agency is seeing a spike in its number of drug-exposed child referrals which are c

Justice Department Announces $95M for Tennessee Safety

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice has announced approximately $95 million in awards to support public safety efforts in Tennessee. A news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee says the awards were announced Thursday in Nashville. They include nearly $2 million for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s efforts to stop heroin distribution and methamphetamine trafficking. In addition, Memphis and Nashville are both receiving money for their officer peer support programs. Other awards are aimed at promoting rapid DNA analysis, school safety, and victim services and reducing violent crime. There is also money for needed equipment for s

ETSU Professor Leads National Task Force Recommending how Opioid Settlements are Spent

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — While more than 2,000 cities and counties consider a potential $48 billion lawsuit against drug makers involved in the opioid crisis, a professor at East Tennessee State University is leading a national task force working to recommend how settlement money would be spent. The task force, chaired by ETSU public health professor Robert Pack, released "Bringing Science to Bear on Opioids" on Friday, a report that contains more than 50 recommendations for lawmakers and community leaders on how to best rebuild communities most affected by the opioid epidemic. "We actually released this report with the intention of helping to guide the type of resources that come from the opio

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If they're still alive, there's hope.