The club drug ketamine, otherwise known as “Special K,” could land British users of the drug some serious jail time. A new law proposed by government advisers recommends that ketamine, otherwise known as a hallucinogenic horse tranquilizer, be upgraded from a Class B substance to a Class C. If this is approved, ketamine users could receive up to five years in prison and dealers could face up to 14 years in jail.
The government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) hasn’t reviewed ketamine since 2004, but it was banned as a recreational drug in 2006. ACMD chairman Professor Les Iversen said that some college-aged ketamine users needed to have their bladders removed because of their addiction to the drug, which can cause pain and frequent urination.
The issue isn’t limited to 20-somethings, though. A clinic in London reported that it was mainly adults in their thirties being treated for the long-term health effects of club drugs. “These are people who have used club drugs recreationally, often without a problem, for years," said Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones, who founded the Club Drug Clinic in London. "Slowly their problems have escalated to the point they have run into significant difficulty. The harms we are now seeing, you wouldn’t normally associate with club drugs."
Approximately 50 people are being treated each month and demand for the service is so high that a second location in London was opened. However, not all of the effects of ketamine are negative; research released in January 2012 showed it could provide immediate relief from symptoms of depression.
A former supervisor for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is making a rather drastic career change by supporting the legal marijuana industry. Patrick Moen spent years fighting methamphetamine and heroin traffickers in Portland, OR, but has now become the in-house lawyer at Privateer Holdings, Inc., “a private-equity firm that invests solely in businesses tied to the budding legal marijuana industry.” Portland is less than a 30 minute drive away from the Washington border, where marijuana is now legal for recreational use by anyone over the age of 21.
Privateer has already raised $7 million and is looking to raise another $25 million in 2014. Their investments include Leafly.com, a Yelp-style website that lets users rate and review dispensaries and strains of marijuana, as well as a Washington state company that builds and owns business parks leased to growers and processors. “The potential social and financial returns are enormous,” said Moen. “The attitudes towards cannabis are shifting rapidly."
After 10 years of working with the DEA, Moen’s responsibilities with Privateer will also ironically include helping the company steer clear of legal trouble. "There are so many problems with the industry," said Chief Executive Brendan Kennedy, a former technology executive who also worked in venture capital. “The sector is fragmented, it is difficult doing business with banks and the industry is littered with former outlaws. People from outside this industry don’t quite understand how complicated it is.”
Naturally, Moen said he was concerned about “blowback from colleagues and from friends and family,” but said he has received overwhelming support for his career change. The DEA declined to comment on Moen.
A new Field Poll conducted for The Press-Enterprise and other media outlets shows for the first time a majority of California voters would like to see marijuana legal in the state.
Released on Dec. 10, the poll revealed that 55 percent of Californians now support legalization, with 47 percent wanting to see marijuana fall under the same age and controls as alcohol. Only eight percent said weed should be restriction-free. The change in attitude toward marijuana has been slowly trending in the state ever since the late-1960s. Back then, Californians were notoriously adamant against the legalization of marijuana during the waning years of hippie power, when 75% of state residents wanted marijuana laws strictly enforced or even strengthened. Now, however, only 31 percent would like to see the laws enforced or toughened. “You have just had a whole new reevaluation [of marijuana],” said Field Polls Director Mark DiCamillo. “What is different is that in 1969, there was a much more prevalent view that marijuana would lead to harder drugs and addiction.”
The Field Poll mirrors a recent national Gallup Poll, which showed that 58 percent of Americans would like to see marijuana legal for recreational use. “These different polls are showing the same thing,” said Lanny Swerdlow, advocate and former medical marijuana clinic owner. “It’s a number of different things. One was the advent of medical marijuana. It has some very beneficial uses and the government has lied about its dangers. People are beginning to see through that.”
At the moment, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative has been cleared by the California Attorney General to gather signatures for a petition to put pot legalization back onto the ballot for 2014. They have until February of that year to gather 500,000 valid signatures. A previous attempt with Proposition 19 in 2010 failed 53.5% to 46.5%.
Adam Shankman, the 49-year-old director of such kitsch classics as Hairspray (2007) and Rock of Ages (2012), has checked himself into a rehabilitation center. Currently, there’s no word yet as to which facility he’s attending or what disorder is being treated.
In fact, only the briefest of statements from Shankman’s representatives to Us Weekly confirmed that he had made the move. "Adam Shankman is currently seeking treatment in a rehabilitation center," the statement said. "His friends and family support him and wish him well on his journey to recovery." Just two days before he checked in, Shankman served as director and executive producer of the semi-annual TrevorLIVE event in Los Angeles, which benefits The Trevor Project, a suicide and crisis prevention group that caters to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. According to multiple sources, Shankman was in good spirits at the event.
Shankman began his career as a dancer and choreographer in musical theater, and has been seen in music videos for Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson. He has served as a judge on the reality series So You Think You Can Dance and made his directing debut with The Wedding Singer (2001).
- Selena Gomez Supports BFF Demi Lavoto During Her Recovery from Addiction [TMZ]
- Pranksters Convince Alcoholic Friend He Was in a Coma for Ten Years [Gawker]
- Ohio School Bus Driver Admits to Driving While Drunk [Associated Press]
- Pot-Smoking Canadian Mountie Arrested for Assault [CBC News]
- Demand Might Trump Supply in Colorado [TIME]
- Prescription Drugs Might Deplete the Body of Essential Vitamins [Palm Beach Daily News]
- Man Stabbed in the Head Over Beer [Kansas City Star]
- Oklahoma Lawmakers Push to Rid State of Synthetic Drugs [KFOR-TV]
The connection between ADHD and addiction has been well established, but the underlying reasons for the link are still not clear. Is there an organic, brain-based relationship between the two disorders, or could it be that the children who are treated for ADHD with stimulant medication become dependent on the drugs and grow up to become addicts? Or are people with ADHD self-medicating with street drugs and then becoming addicted to those drugs?
According to epidemiological studies, 4% to 5% of people have severe ADHD. Within this population, 50% also suffer from some kind of addiction, including nicotine. Even with nicotine factored out, a 2007 survey “found that more than 15 percent of adults with the disorder had abused or were dependent upon alcohol or drugs during the previous year. That’s nearly triple the rate for adults without ADHD,” according to Carl Sherman, PhD. Despite the clear need to figure out the underlying mechanisms of these diseases in order to treat them effectively, doctors have been reluctant to diagnose and treat adults with ADHD who also have a comorbid substance use disorder.
Recently, Dr. Melanie White of Australia’s Queensland University of Technology began a research project in order to map the genetic markers associated with ADHD. "I'm looking at genetic markers of symptoms of ADHD in adulthood as well as whether people have used a range of different types of substances, and the interaction between these genetic markers and aspects of the environment," she said. Specifically, Dr. White is examining dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward-motivated behavior. Although ADHD and addiction are separate disorders, they often share a deficit in the functioning of one of the dopaminergic circuits, making diagnosis and treatment difficult.
Dr. White's hope is that the results of her study will lead to more effective, customized treatments in the future. "We hope to be able to effectively say 'this medication would be more effective for you because of your genetic makeup', or conversely 'we don't believe this medication would be a good idea because it may increase some risks for you down the track,’” she said.