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pot politics

7/12/13 4:14pm

Rand Paul Says Pot Cuts IQ and Ambition

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Senator Rand Paul's latest comment on marijuana has pro-pot activists a bit peeved. The self-proclaimed "constitutional conservative" US senator says in a Las Vegas Sun interview that chronic users "have a loss of IQ and a loss of ambition," and that his personal stance is that "marijuana use is not healthy." Despite this, the senator maintains his support for states' rights. "I support the right of the states to make the decision," he said when asked if he supports legal marijuana.

Paul is often outspoken in his criticism of the War on Drugs, but the likely 2016 presidential candidate's latest comments are "either pandering" or doing "some really smart coalition-building" according to NORML director Allen St. Pierre. "It was unfortunate, because Mr. Rand on the one hand is very critical of the drug war, but he wants to buffer his support by declaring, 'I don't smoke marijuana, I don't want my son to smoke marijuana, I don't want my dog to smoke marijuana,'" says St. Pierre. "He's carving out this fascinating position here." Though Paul's statement will rile most pro-pot people, he does not believe in prison sentences for minor, non-violent drug offenses.

His comment is based on "Reefer Madness-fueled fear-mongering instead of sound science," says Kris Hermes, spokesman for pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access. "Contrary to Senator Paul's unscientific assessment, there are more than 200 peer-reviewed studies that clearly show marijuana's medical efficacy," says Hermes. Mason Tvert, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project, points to Paul's own marijuana use from his time at Baylor University: "As for loss of ambition, he himself used marijuana," says Tvert, referring to the bizarre "Aqua Buddha" anecdote—which involves a playful kidnapping and forced bong hits—that appeared in GQ in 2010. "I think if you use [marijuana] too much you won't show up for class," Paul said at an April 10 event at Howard University, "I think you'll eat too many Doritos." Perhaps the senator is speaking from experience?

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By Victoria Kim

road trip

7/12/13 3:06pm

Michael Cera Drinks Mescaline for Crystal Fairy

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On a mission Photo via

Michael Cera didn't have any fake drugs on the set of his upcoming movie, Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus. His character in the film, Jamie, is on a quest in search of a slice of the famed hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus. Cera describes ingesting mescaline on camera with co-star Gaby Hoffman. "We drank the San Pedro, yeah. We do it on camera," he tells Huffpost Live. "When we drink it in the movie... it was actual drugs." Cera says he didn't feel any effects from the mescaline, but director Sebastián Silva confirms that Hoffman "lost her shit." Silva also admits to trying San Pedro and other similar hallucinogens and says that Jamie's reaction in the movie—in which he stares fixated at his hands and a crab—is fairly accurate to the effect the drug can have. "If you don't do crazy amounts, that's pretty much how you feel," says Silva. "You're a little more sensitive to things. You sort of see the simple things again. You're sort of reborn." Cera says that despite having limited experiences with hallucinogens, playing his character was not a difficult stretch: "There's a crab there and it's a fantastic thing for him to be looking at. It was pretty clear." Check out the interview below:

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By McCarton Ackerman

Crime and punishment

7/12/13 2:10pm

Will Drug Prison Sentences Be Lowered?

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Is it time for a change? Photo via

The Justice Department is recommending a change in jail sentence minimums by offering reduced or alternative punishments for less serious offenders, which includes low-level drug offenders. Many states have adopted these sentencing changes to relieve prison overcrowding and tight budgets, while penalties remain tough on violent and repeat drug offenders. Mandatory minimum sentences were a great success after they were established in 1984, "but they also took a great human and fiscal toll," says Jonathan Wroblewski, director of the Justice Department's policy and legislation office, in an annual report sent to the US Sentencing Commission. Now, experts say times have changed and the system needs to adapt. "Violent crime in the United States is now near generational lows," Wroblewski says. "At the same time, the US prison population exploded and overall criminal justice spending with it." The commission says it will review the guidelines for gun offenses, drug crimes, economic crimes and probation violations. The Justice Department's annual report—sent to the commission on Thursday—urges consideration of shorter sentences for non-violent offenders along with more thorough efforts to prevent repeat offending—a tactic many states have already enacted. "These changes have no doubt sprung in part out of budgetary necessity," Wroblewski says. "But they have also come from a growing understanding of new research into what works among various approaches to sentencing and corrections."

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By Chrisanne Grise

the good life

7/12/13 12:01pm

Lotto Winner Blew Fortune on Coke, Now Packs Cookies

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He's cleaned himself of this life. Photo via

When a 19-year-old Michael Carroll won a £9.7 million ($14.4 million USD) UK lottery in 2002, he blew it all on drugs, gold jewelry, a mansion and prostitutes. But today he lives a less extravagant, more fulfilling life. Carroll was already a petty criminal when he became a teenage millionaire, collecting his winnings while wearing a police ankle monitor. “Before he won the lottery, he was a nuisance,” says Charles Joyce, a local official in Carroll's town. “He decided to carry on being a nuisance.” Carroll snorted cocaine through a solid gold pen, bought a mansion where he hosted demolition derbies and built a catapult to shoot at windows in the night—debauchery that earned him his nickname in the British tabloids: The "Lotto Lout." But Carroll's fortune ran dry in 2012 and he found himself broke, estranged from his daughter and contemplating suicide. “I camped out in the woods near Elgin [Scotland] because I had nowhere else to go and hadn’t started the job at the factory,” Carroll recalls. “Sitting there in the woods was when I first thought, I can sort myself out properly.” Today, he's happy making £204 (about $300 USD) a week, working in a shortbread cookie factory. “I treasure those wages more than any £9 million fortune,” Carroll says. “I’ve only got one chance left—I’d have been dead in six months if I’d carried on that lifestyle of drinking and drug taking.”

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By Bryan Le

lamesuits

7/12/13 11:28am

Lawyer Blames Apple for His Porn Addiction

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Porn...on the internet!? Photo via

A Nashville lawyer has filed a 50-page complaint in Federal Court against Apple this week, claiming the company should be responsible for protecting him from his porn addiction on their devices. Chris Sevier claims that a chance misspelling in Apple's browser led him to "fuckbook.com" when he meant to log on to Facebook, causing him to see "pornographic images that appealed to his biological sensibilities as a male and led to an unwanted addiction with adverse consequences." Sevier requests in his complaint that Apple should sell all their products with an installed filter that blocks all internet porn; if a buyer over the age of 18 wished to unlock the internet, they would then have to contact Apple, sign a form acknowledging the pitfalls of pornography, and receive a code to remove the filter. Sevier's typo-ridden complaint, in which he spells "hormones" as "harmonies," also alleges that porn "leads to American girls traveling abroad to be abducted and cast into sex trafficking." He further blames his viewing porn on Apple browsers for ruining his marriage due to his "desiring younger, more beautiful girls featured in porn videos than his wife, who was no longer 21." Apple has yet to respond, but it's safe to say the case will likely be thrown out in court. In an unrelated incident, Sevier was arrested last month for stalking country music singer John Rich.

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By McCarton Ackerman

addiction cure

7/12/13 11:00am

The Russian Who "Cures" Thousands of Addicts

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Yefim Shubentsov of Brookline, MA, also known as “The Mad Russian,” is a hybrid mix of shaman, doctor, and therapist who has a mysterious "cure" for a range of addictions. Since arriving in the US from Moscow in 1979, he has allegedly cured over 150,000 cases of addiction, phobias, eating disorders, and general “bad habits,” with his unique approach. Shubentsov charges $65 for a group session, which includes giving group advice along with individual healing. The sessions take place in an old house—which one patient describes as "sort of like your grandma's house, but a little shadier." During a session, Shubentsov "prances around the room," pointing and gesticulating, but with no physical contact. After a single session, most of his clients report being freed from addiction, pain, or psychological disorders, Shubentsov tells The Fix. He explains that he uses energy “like an instrument, like a hammer,” to eliminate a problem. He differentiates his method from hypnotism by emphasizing that he “cures people whether they believe me or not.” 

Robin, 65, of Lincoln, MA, quit cigarettes six years ago with Shubentsov’s help after smoking on and off for 40 years. "He spoke for two solid hours in a heavy Russian accent, but didn’t harangue us at all. He just told us about himself," she tells The Fix. "I’m pretty sure he was trying to hypnotize us, I can’t figure out what else it was.” She describes the process as "interesting, not scary or surreal" and says she was "bemused by the whole thing," but she has not smoked—or craved—a cigarette since her session in 2007. But his methods don't work for everyone. William, from NYC, says he attended a session in 2001 with "a couple dozen middle aged people, mostly women" and recalls that Shubentsov "yelled a lot about not drinking soda or taking elevators." Afterwards, William tells us he only lasted three hours without a smoke and then "smoked five cigarettes in a row."

Shubentsov has never advertised his services, but is well known in the local medical community. Last year, ABC News reported that Dr. Douglass Powell, of the Harvard University health service, invited Shubentsov to treat a group of his patients who were not responding to conventional medical treatment for addiction or pain. About half of the cases reported a reduction in pain or other symptoms after a session. Shubentsov tells us that he attributes his “really, really effective" method and high success rate to his “huge expertise.” He has been practicing this kind of healing for over 40 years, and began in Moscow by studying ancient Chinese medicine, which also relies on reading the "flow of energy." His book, Cure Your Cravings: Learn to Use this Revolutionary System to Conquer Compulsions, explains how his principles—“inner toughness, common sense, creativity, cleverness, patience, and endurance”—can help anyone to free themselves from an addiction.

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By Mei Schultz

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