While in Brazil this week for the Roman Catholic World Youth Day festival, Pope Francis condemned Latin American drug cartels for exploiting addicts, but argued that more liberal drug laws are not the solution. At the inauguration of a new drug treatment wing at the St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires visited recovering addicts and listened to their stories. He then made a speech in which he decried Latin America's trend toward "softer" drug policy. In recent years, leaders from Uruguay, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador have voiced their support for drug law reform in an effort to curb crime and violence. But according to the pope—who has a history of demonstrating compassion towards drug addicts—drug law "liberalization" is not the answer: "A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America."
The Argentinean-born pontiff condemned the "scourge of drug trafficking" claiming it "favors violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death" perpetuated by drug cartels, whom he called "dealers of death" who exploit addicts for power and money. But he doesn't believe the answer lies in legalizing drugs or reducing penalties for those caught using or dealing. Instead, he proposed targeting the underlying causes. "It is necessary to tackle the problems which are at the root of drug abuse," he said, "promoting more justice, educating the youth with the values that live in society, standing by those who face hardship and giving them hope for the future."
Laughing gas is no joke. More than 6% of young adults in England and Wales have used the legal substance—dubbed "hippy crack"—to get high in the last year, according to a new government crime survey. Better known as laughing gas, the legal substance is inhaled from canisters or balloons to induce feelings of relaxation and euphoria—and to cause "raucous laughter." It is reportedly popular on the club and festival circuit, and among celebrities like Prince Harry—who was seen indulging two years ago. But experts warn the seemingly harmless substance can cause suffocation and even be fatal. "Nitrous oxide is a legal substance which has a number of legitimate medical and industrial uses but any suggestion of abuse, particularly by young people is of concern," says a government spokesman. "Like all drugs there are health risks and nitrous oxide should not be experimented with." Earlier this year, Minister Jeremy Browne wrote to festival organizers asking that they take steps to ban the substance. But despite the rising use of hippy crack, the report shows that overall drug use in England and Wales is at a record low: Around 8.2% of 16 to 59-year-olds had used an illicit drug in the last year, compared with 11.1% in 1996, which Browne calls "really positive news."
- Algeria Puts Army in Charge of Fighting Drug Trafficking [Yahoo]
- Feds Raid Medical Pot Dispensaries in Washington, Where Possession Is Legal [NBC]
- 10% of Bipolar Patients Also Have a Binge Eating Disorder [Science World Report]
- Church Member Files Writ of Habeas Corpus for Jailed Cannabis Minister [Hawaii Reporter]
- This App Is the Ultimate Buzzkill for Booze-Seeking Freshmen [Motherboard]
- Breaking Bad Cast Rolls Up To Premiere In Meth Lab RV [LAist]
- Debbie Rowe to Tell Court Michael Jackson Was Secret Drug Addict [The Sun]
- New Orleans Saints Linebacker Introduces App to Buy Drinks Remotely and Skip Bar Lines [Hip Hop Wired]
Korean internet cafes, which have been under attack for enabling the country's growing epidemic of gaming addiction, are now facing another hurdle: a nation-wide law banning smoking at all net cafes. Gaming and smoking go hand-in-hand in South Korean Internet gaming culture, and with many government gaming restrictions already in place, cafe owners say that the new smoking ban could put at least 40% of them out of business. Despite their outcry, the law was passed and the government has given the cafes a six-month extension to ease the transition. But some cafe owners believe they've found a loophole—rebranding their establishments as “smoking rooms” where clientele pay to smoke, and there just happen to be high-end gaming PCs available for (free) use. “Smoking Room, 1000 won per hour. PC use is free.” reads one new sign outside a former net cafe, alongside the specs of the computers they have inside. While there aren't technically any laws forbidding public smoking rooms, the Korean government reportedly plans to crack down on these establishments next.
A Canadian man with lofty hopes and a high blood alcohol content swam to the US by crossing the Detroit River earlier this week, authorities report. John Morillo, 47, says he was about eight beers deep but "wasn't really drunk" when he made the decision to fulfill a lifelong goal. "The thing is, I've been telling people I'm going to swim across the river for years and they're like 'yah, yah, blah, blah, you can't make it,'" he says, "So, I don't know...I just decided it was the time to go." Morrillo says he made it across the mile-wide river separating Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan—one of the world’s busiest shipping channels and with the powerful undertow—and was on his way back to Canada when he realized he was surrounded by helicopters and rescue boats. His neighbor in Canada had alerted police when she lost site of him and they'd launched a rescue party involving both US and Canadian coast guards. “As soon I saw the helicopters going by and the boats looking for me, I was like ‘oh, this is really stupid,’” said Morillo, who was arrested for public intoxication and released on Tuesday. He faces fines of up to Can $25,000 (US $24,200) for swimming illegally in a shipping channel, and has been banned from visiting the waterfront. Additionally, he faces the wrath of his mom: “She just hung up on me,” he said, “She said ‘you’re just so stupid.’”
- New Hampshire Is The 19th Medical Marijuana State [SFGate]
- Man Escapes from Compulsory Alcohol Rehab Facility [ABC News]
- How Korean Net Cafes Are Fighting a New Smoking Law [Kotaku]
- Anthony Weiner's Woes—Does New York City Really Need an Addict for Mayor? [Fox]
- Smoking in Pregnancy Tied to Kids' Conduct Problems [Reuters]
- The Royal Baby Gets its First Beer [Daily News]
- Selena Gomez Hungover on Jay Leno: Took Shots of Whiskey on Birthday [Hollywood Life]