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Jason Cherkis
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Jason Cherkis is a national investigative reporter for The Huffington Post. He has investigated and reported in-depth pieces on gun violence in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, and the neglect of plant workers in Kentucky. He first joined The Huffington Post as a politics reporter covering the 2012 elections. He previously worked as a crime reporter for 14 years at Washington City Paper, where he was a two time Livingston Awards for Young Journalists finalist, and received multiple awards from the Association of Alternative News Weeklies.

Entries by Jason Cherkis

Hillary Clinton Proposes $10 Billion Plan To Fight Addiction

(2) Comments | Posted September 2, 2015 | 9:41 AM


WASHINGTON -- Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will unveil an ambitious $10 billion plan on Wednesday that seeks to modernize the nation's approach to combating the opioid epidemic. Among her myriad policy proposals addressing prevention and treatment, the 2016 Democratic front-runner is, notably, throwing her weight behind the scientific...

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Maine Drug Addiction Clinic To Close, Blaming Gov. Paul LePage's Policies

(1) Comments | Posted August 25, 2015 | 11:33 AM

A drug addiction treatment center in Sanford, Maine, has announced it is closing, blaming the policies of Gov. Paul LePage (R) for its decision.

"We're in the business of treating the disease of addiction," Charles Faris, president and CEO of Massachusetts-based Spectrum Health Systemssaid in a statement Monday....

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Chris Christie Ties Heroin Epidemic To Obama

(15) Comments | Posted August 24, 2015 | 8:20 AM

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the first Republican presidential candidate to blame President Barack Obama for the country's heroin epidemic in a political ad.

In a newly released campaign ad, Christie rattles off a list of criminal elements that have had free rein during the Obama administration. Near the top of the list, Christie references the spike in opioid drug use.

The ad begins with Christie, a former prosecutor, speaking directly into the camera: "Lawlessness in America and around the world under Barack Obama." Christie declares "drugs running rampant and destroying lives" as images of a hoodie-wearing addict shooting up and a close-up of what appears to be an addict overdosing appear on screen. 

The heroin epidemic actually began nearly two decades before Obama took office. It started with the spread of OxyContin and Percocet addictions. "Pill mills" helped spur these painkiller addictions in Florida, Kentucky and West Virginia. But during the Obama administration, a crackdown on the mills helped spur a resurgence in heroin use.

In a Huffington Post investigation published in January, federal and state officials admitted that they knew such a crackdown would lead to a heroin problem.  

“We always were concerned about heroin,” said Kevin Sabet, a former senior drug policy official for Obama who also worked under the Bush administration. “We were always cognizant of the push-down, pop-up problem. But we weren’t about to let these pill mills flourish in the name of worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet. … When crooks are putting on white coats and handing out pills like candy, how could we expect a responsible administration not to act?”

But Christie critics also point out New Jersey's rise in overdose deaths -- nearly triple the overall U.S. rate. Although Christie has successfully negotiated for discounts on naloxone, the medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, drug treatment options in his state have not been able to meet the overwhelming demand.

The opioid epidemic is quietly proving to be an issue on the campaign trail. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has talked about the problem. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) recently helped introduce legislation that would improve access to medical treatment for opioid addicts. 

Christie elaborated on the ad Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."  

"This president has set a standard in Washington of lawlessness," he said. "What I mean by that is this: If you don't like the law, don't enforce it. So if you don't like the immigration laws, don't enforce those and let there be sanctuary cities throughout the country and do nothing about it. If you don't like the marijuana laws, don't enforce the marijuana laws in certain states if they don't feel like enforcing them."  

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How Kentucky Embraced A Life-Saving Drug For Opioid Addicts

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2015 | 12:32 AM


WASHINGTON -- In the fall of 2013, there were very few doctors in Kentucky willing to prescribe naloxone, which can save opioid addicts who are overdosing. But in Northern Kentucky, the region of the state hardest hit by the heroin epidemic, a group of volunteer doctors, nurses and...

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Feds Now Pushing States Toward Medical Treatment For Heroin Addicts

(2) Comments | Posted August 13, 2015 | 6:21 PM


WASHINGTON -- For the first time, the federal agency responsible for most public funding of drug addiction treatment has added language to its grant applications designed to push the treatment industry away from the abstinence model.


Treatment for substance abuse disorders in the United States widely...

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Bill Cosby Lawyer Made Bizarre Comparison To D.C. Police Conduct Case

(2) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 10:56 AM


WASHINGTON -- To help combat a damaging deposition in which he admitted that he gave Quaaludes to younger women before having sex with them, Bill Cosby has added Washington lawyer Monique Pressley to his defense team. In recent days, Pressley has done damage control for the comedian, spinning the...

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Gov. Kasich Makes Heroin Overdose Drug Available Without Prescription

(21) Comments | Posted July 17, 2015 | 12:08 PM

WASHINGTON -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on Thursday took a dramatic step toward addressing the devastating toll the opioid epidemic has had on his state. He signed emergency legislation that will essentially make Naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects...

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Here's How You Can Help Stop A Sexual Assault Before It Happens

(72) Comments | Posted July 8, 2015 | 10:21 PM

Earlier this year, a woman named Jackie Fuchs reached out to The Huffington Post saying that she was ready to come forward with a secret she had lived with most of her life: When she was 16 and the bassist for the Runaways -- going then by the name Jackie...

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One Very Large Man's 18-Year Quest For Hot Dog Eating Glory

(99) Comments | Posted July 2, 2015 | 12:55 PM

WASHINGTON -- Eric "Badlands" Booker is exceptional at eating burritos.

In fact, he may be the best in the world. He holds the record for this particular act of gluttony, having once taken down 15 in an eight-minute span.

His gastronomical heroics have also made him a celebrity...

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Chris Christie Negotiates Discount On Heroin Overdose Drug For New Jersey First Responders

(11) Comments | Posted June 4, 2015 | 6:04 PM

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey's first responders and government agencies charged with addressing the opioid epidemic got a boost Thursday from Gov. Chris Christie, a potential GOP presidential candidate. Christie said he had completed a deal to purchase naloxone, a drug that can revive an overdose victim, at a...

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Senate Bill Would Dramatically Alter Treatment For Heroin Addiction

(237) Comments | Posted May 27, 2015 | 11:59 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have joined forces to back legislation that would make medically assisted treatments more accessible to opioid addicts.

The legislation, known as the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act, would loosen restrictions on the number...

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Report: D.C. Police Failed To Identify Themselves In Hundreds Of Cases

(21) Comments | Posted May 22, 2015 | 5:33 PM

WASHINGTON -- The District of Columbia's Office of Police Complaints issued a scathing report this week on how officers with the Metropolitan Police Department continually fail to identify themselves to citizens. Since 2006, the office fielded about 400 complaints on this issue.

In some cases,...

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Watch David Letterman Grilling Politicians And Pundits Through The Years

(6) Comments | Posted May 20, 2015 | 4:24 PM

WASHINGTON -- In the weeks leading up to Wednesday's final show, David Letterman has been hailed as a comic genius, a revolutionary who stormed the networks in a Velcro suit. It’s hard to overstate his influence on comedy in general, and on every talk show host that has followed since....

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Hillary Clinton Campaign Begins Drafting Policy Solutions To Heroin Epidemic

(96) Comments | Posted May 18, 2015 | 11:21 PM

WASHINGTON -- After hearing story after story from voters on the campaign trail about heroin's toll, Hillary Clinton instructed her policy team to draw up solutions to the burgeoning opiate epidemic.

A Clinton aide told The Huffington Post that the Democratic presidential candidate decided to make mental...

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U.S. Park Police Enters Historic Settlement Over Mass Arrests

(16) Comments | Posted May 18, 2015 | 6:56 PM

WASHINGTON -- On Monday morning, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund announced that it had reached a historic $2.2 million settlement with the Justice Department and the Department of the Interior that will ensure the U.S. Park Police will no longer conduct mass arrests of demonstrators known as...

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Report Provides Even More Evidence Of The Misuse Of Solitary Confinement

(103) Comments | Posted May 14, 2015 | 9:40 AM

WASHINGTON -- A report released this week by the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in New York, provides yet more evidence of the misuse of solitary confinement. The researchers add to a growing body of evidence that the practice of housing inmates in...

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Someone Isn't Telling The Truth About Freddie Gray's Death

(1020) Comments | Posted April 30, 2015 | 8:16 PM

By now, everybody knows the injuries that contributed to Freddie Gray's death. Baltimore authorities and representatives for Gray’s family agree that the 25-year-old sustained fatal trauma to his neck and spine at some point while in police custody following his arrest on April 12. Although a full autopsy hasn't yet...

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Republican Congressman Wants Heroin Overdose Drug Sold Over The Counter

(78) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 5:23 PM

WASHINGTON -- As heroin deaths continue to spike across the U.S., more and more states are allowing for greater use of naloxone, or Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. More first responders and family members of addicts now have access...

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Kentucky Reforms Drug Court Rules To Let Heroin Addicts Take Prescribed Meds

(116) Comments | Posted April 17, 2015 | 5:21 PM

WASHINGTON -- Kentucky will no longer require opioid addicts to stop taking prescribed treatment medications as a condition of participating in the state's drug court program, according to a motion filed in federal court.

The state court system had previously mandated that addicts taper off such medications...

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D.C. Mayor Doesn't Want You To See Police Body Camera Footage

(137) Comments | Posted April 14, 2015 | 4:07 PM

WASHINGTON -- After this month's police killing of Walter Scott in South Carolina, Americans were treated to another lesson in how police departments can spin such incidents. If not for a citizen’s cell phone footage, the public may never have known what really happened between Scott and Officer...

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