The Newest Weapon in San Francisco's Fight Against Opioids

11 min
Kristen Marshall leads overdose prevention and education for San Francisco's Department of Public Health. She stands outside the 6th Street Harm Reduction Center. (Laura Klivans/KQED)

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Here's what's happening in our neck of the woods.

1. Testing drugs and starting conversations

Terry Morris, director of the 6th Street Harm Reduction Center, demonstrates how to test a drug for the presence of fentanyl with a fentanyl test strip.
Terry Morris, director of the 6th Street Harm Reduction Center, demonstrates how to test a drug for the presence of fentanyl with a fentanyl test strip. (Laura Klivans/KQED)

It would be hard not to know that there's an opioid epidemic in our country. One of the most deadly opioids is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is often mixed with other drugs, killing unsuspecting users.

KQED’s Laura Klivans has been doing a lot of reporting on fentanyl in San Francisco, and her most recent story looks at a new tool being used to fight the drug -- a simple test people can do at a needle exchange to see if their drugs are laced with fentanyl.

But it's not just about testing drugs. Its also an opportunity for the people using the drugs to talk to professionals and just maybe make some changes in their lives.

2. Bakersfield sounds off on a potential "Speaker Kevin McCarthy"

House Speaker Paul Ryan (L) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy talk to reporters following the weekly House Republican Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol April 17, 2018. Last week, Ryan endorsed McCarthy to be his successor.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (L) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy talk to reporters following the weekly House Republican Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol April 17, 2018. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

California's most famous current politicians are mostly Democrats -- our governor, both our U.S. senators and most of our representatives in Congress, including former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

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But the next Speaker of the House could be a California Republican. Kevin McCarthy is the odds-on favorite to take over the job from Paul Ryan if the Republicans hold onto a majority, and that's music to the ears of many of McCarthy's Bakersfield constituents.

KQED's Alex Hall went to a Little League game in Bakersfield to talk to voters who are just giddy at the thought of Speaker McCarthy.

3. Of course 420 started in the Bay Area

A guy holding a 420 sign
A guy holding a 420 sign. (LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

I can't remember the first time I heard 420 in connection with marijuana. It's one of those things that feels like it's always been one-in-the-same.

But someone had to invent it, and it turns out, those someones were a group of friends at San Rafael High School back in the early 1970s. This newest Bay Curious episode goes into the weeds on the Bay Area roots of 420 (see what I did there?).

4. A literal last resort for fire survivors

Bart Levenson will soon been checking out of room 432 at the defunct Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa where she's been staying since her home burned down in the 2015 Valley Fire.
Bart Levenson will soon be checking out of Room 432 at the defunct Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa, where she has been staying since her home burned down in the 2015 Valley Fire. (Sukey Lewis/KQED)

We've all read so many stories about the survivors of wildfires -- that are happening more often and more viciously than ever before -- that it can be easy for them to lose their ability to make us stop and listen. But this story from KQED's Sukey Lewis did just that.

The Konocti Harbor Resort in Lake County had been shuttered for years when the devastating Valley Fire hit the area in 2015. The fire wiped out 1,280 homes, and all those people needed somewhere to go.

The old resort opened its doors to fire survivors and has continued to house people as new fires have hit the region year after year, leaving more and more people in need of a place to start over.

5. It was only a matter of time before someone held a Beyoncé mass...

Beyonce's entrance as the headliner at Coachella 2018's first weekend. Her performance had been delayed for a year because of pregnancy.
Beyonce's entrance as the headliner at Coachella 2018's first weekend. Her performance had been delayed for a year because of pregnancy. (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Yup, you read that right. There's a Beyoncé mass coming to San Francisco this week.

The mass on Wednesday at Grace Cathedral was already in the works before Beyoncé's mesmerizing performance at Coachella last weekend, but the timing sure doesn't hurt.

The mass is the brainchild of Reverend Yolanda Norton, a professor at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, who teaches a weekly class called "Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible." Norton says it's not about turning Beyoncé into a god, but rather taking lessons about self-love and body positivity that Beyoncé preaches in her songs.

"She is someone who holds her head up high, who loves herself," Norton says. "And those are things that we are given agency and license to do when we understand our connection with God."