In an effort to curb what it sees as a growing problem with gaming addiction, the South Korean parliament is considering passing a law that would significantly restrict internet gaming activity by changing the hours gamers are allowed to play while also imposing a tax on all online gaming revenue.
Currently, gamers are prohibited from playing from midnight to 6 am, but the new law would add three hours to the “mandatory shutdown,” changing it to 10 pm to 7 am. In addition, the bill would impose a one percent tax on the gaming industry’s revenue. This money would be put into a fund to help addicts. The new legislation, which is favored by 14 members of the ruling party, would take the added step of classifying internet gaming as one of the four major addictions alongside gambling, alcohol, and drugs.
According to Hwang Woo-yea, a Saenuri Party representative, “470,000 internet game addicts need to get medical treatment.” In a recent survey, 72.1% of South Koreans agree that online games are as addictive as drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Furthermore, a 2011 government study showed that 125,000 young people needed treatment for internet gaming or were “at risk” of developing addiction
The proposed law has met with resistance from the gaming industry, however, whose export income in 2012 exceeded the combined earnings of “Gangnam Style,” K-pop music, and other South Korean cultural exports. The Korea Internet and Digital Entertainment Association is concerned that such a bill would decimate the industry, and has said in a statement that "the 100,000 people employed in the game industry are not drugmakers.” Gaming enthusiasts are also speaking up; in an op-ed to the International New York Times, novelist Young-Ha Kim challenged the efficacy of the bill: “Would a law providing for treatment of Internet gaming addiction actually help players to recover?”
Efforts to prevent the bill from passing include a constitutional court case and a signature campaign.
Demi Lovato, once a child actress who appeared on Barney & Friends, has offered the first detailed look at her past with substance abuse in an exclusive interview with Access Hollywood. “I had all the help in the world, but I didn't want it," she said.
Lovato admitted for the first time her problems with alcohol and cocaine abuse in the interview, stating that drugs were “no longer fun” and became so problematic that she even hid her use from her sober living companion. "Something I've never talked about before, but with my drug use I could hide it to where I would sneak drugs,” she said. “I couldn't go without 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes.”
The star also admitted to drinking Sprite bottles filled with vodka at 9 a.m. and throwing up on her way back to her sober living house in Los Angeles, one of several moments she hit on her slide to rock bottom. "I think at 19 years old, I had a moment where I was like, ‘Oh my God…that is alcoholic behavior,'” Lovato said. “[I]t was, wow, I'm one of those people…I gotta get my shit together.”
Lovato has stated in the past that she suffered from bipolar disorder, which she learned about in treatment, and admitted to cutting as a means of coping with her problems. But since completing treatment in January 2011, she has been opening up more in interviews about her past issues with mental health, eating disorders, and substance abuse, and in November she published her memoir, Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year, that alludes to her struggles.
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).