KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Jack & Spike Show: Jail is one motivator to stop Metro drug use

Nov 3, 2023, 4:01 PM

drug use metro...

Interior of a nearly-crowded bus in King County. (Photo: Joe A. Kunzler/Flickr)

(Photo: Joe A. Kunzler/Flickr)

A study conducted earlier this year confirmed that traces of illegal drugs being used on Metro buses linger and stick around for others to inhale second-handed.

University of Washington (UW) researchers looked at air and surface samples from 11 buses and 19 train cars over 28 nights and they detected fentanyl in about 25% of the air samples and 46% of the surface samples taken from busses and trains.

More on drugs on public transportation: King County Metro installs air monitors to study effects of fentanyl

As a result, Washington State workers’ compensation claims connected to smoke inhalation of illicit drugs among bus drivers and others working for King County Metro are at a five-year high, according to KING 5. But Jack Stine, co-host of The Jack Stine and Spike O’Neill Show on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM, thinks there is an overreaction happening to this discovery.

“When I see these bus drivers saying they’re getting contact highs or whatever it is, I believe those guys,” Stine said. “I want to make a clear separation. I believe that men and women who are on the Metro bus saying ‘I’m getting headaches, I don’t feel good. I feel ill when people are freebasing on transit.’ I side with those people.

“But I don’t side with the people who are in hysterics over the idea that there are trace amounts of drugs,” Stine continued. “You know there are trace amounts of staphylococcus bacteria in hospitals? Staph infection, a very deadly infection that people can get all over the place.”

Marissa Baker, a UW assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and co-author of the study, stated the detection of fentanyl or methamphetamine by the lab does not necessarily mean it poses a health risk — to both operators and the riding public.

No enforceable federal or state regulations exist for either fentanyl or methamphetamine exposures in a workplace. 

From the Dori Monson archives: Metro driver worries about bus passengers’ exposure to secondhand drug smoke

“If you want to stop the trace amounts of drugs found on the metro, you can talk about rehabilitation and recovery, but the greatest motivator is to get your butt thrown in jail,” Greg Tomlin, producer of The Bryan Suits Show on AM 770 KTTH, said while filling for Spike O’Neill. “There’s no greater motivator than butt meets jail cell. Jail cell retains butt. Butt transmits signals to the brain. Brain transmits signals to the body. Body eventually gets released from jail and thinks twice about doing drugs on Metro.

“We have an enforcement problem here,” Tomlin continued. “We’ve got the laws now aligning with sanity, at least to a degree. And again, I think these Metro workers have a case here because they’re exposed to this nonsense. We have to empower law enforcement to go arrest these people and say, you don’t want to act in a civilized way, we’re throwing you in jail and you’re going to get motivated to get rehabilitated or you’re going to stay in that box.”

Washington lawmakers acted in May to treat public drug use and possession as gross misdemeanors statewide, with Seattle enacting similar legislation after Mayor Bruce Harrell pushed the Seattle City Council to pass it. The council rejected the initial legislative proposal in June.

Drug possession had been classified as a simple misdemeanor from 2021-2023, with referrals required before arrests.

More from The Jack and Spike Show: Will you vote to increase your own property taxes?

Stine believes certain drug users would need just five days in jail to become motivated to be clean.

“You ever been dope sick for five days? You think twice about your actions,” Stine said. “Even if that person leaves and decides to go back out in the street, they would say to their friends ‘you don’t want to smoke on Metro because they’ll put you in prison.'”

“And, by the way, that’s the compassionate thing to do. Not kidding,” Tomlin added. “You’re a danger to yourself and to others and you don’t belong out here.”

Listen to the Jack Stine & Spike O’Neill Show weekdays from 12 – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Jack & Spike Show: Jail is one motivator to stop Metro drug use