In 2007, Washington State began adopting new guidelines that restricted access to prescription opiates—heroin deaths increased while other opiate-related deaths decreased.
In 2007, Washington State began adopting new guidelines that restricted access to prescription opiates—heroin deaths increased while other opiate-related deaths decreased. UW ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE INSTITUTE

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• Last month, researchers at the University of Washington announced that heroin deaths increased by 58 percent in King County over the past year, while other opiate-related deaths had declined. Both UW researcher Caleb Banta-Green and Shilo Murphy of the People's Harm Reduction Alliance guessed that the mirrored trends are the result of state restrictions on prescription painkillers. With fewer pills in circulation, dedicated users are turning to heroin to maintain their habits.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed this is a national phenomenon when it released data showing that US heroin use has increased 63 percent between 2002 and 2013, and heroin-related overdose deaths have increased by 286 percent during that time. (As always, if you or anyone you know uses opiates, you should get ahold of naloxone, which can stop overdose deaths and is readily available at needle exchanges and pharmacies around the county.)

From the study:

According to data from the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Seizure System, the amounts of heroin seized each year at the southwest border of the United States were approximately ≤500 kg during 2000–2008. This amount quadrupled to 2,196 kg in 2013. Since 2010, increased availability of heroin has been accompanied by a decline in price and an increase in purity, which may contribute to its increased use in the United States.

• In other drug news, the US Senate has introduced a bipartisan bill that would make things easier for banks that want to do business with state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

The bill would protect banks who want in on America's new $3 billion industry from federal prosecution and asset forfeiture. Credit unions in Washington State have been carefully edging toward taking on pot businesses for months—it's no surprise that the big banking sector would want to take away their smaller competitors' market advantage.

• Meanwhile, Obama has become the first sitting president to visit a prison and commuted 46 sentences of people who'd been convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.

As I wrote on Slog back on July 4, ending the drug war looks like the new gay marriage.

It's a monumental political task that seemed impossible a few years ago. But as cities and states continue to push things forward on the local level—with legalization, treatment, and harm-reduction innovations—we'll slowly drag the feds along behind us.