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7/12/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: July 12, 2013


Early warning signs? Photo via

By Mei Schultz

trayvon martin

7/11/13 5:20pm

Will Trayvon's Pot Use Help Zimmerman's Defense?


Trayvon Martin Photo via

The question of whether marijuana could make someone violent has taken center stage in George Zimmerman's murder trial. The six-person jury can now hear evidence of Trayvon Martin's positive test for THC (marijuana's active ingredient) on the night he was killed, Florida Judge Debra Nelson ruled on Monday. It has been known for some time that the 17-year-old had trace amounts of THC in his system the night of his death on February 26 last year, according to the toxicology report. Dr. Shiping Bao, who performed the autopsy, said last week the amount of THC in his system was sufficient to cause some level of impairment. Though prosecution argued this evidence is of no relevance and should be left out of the trial, the judge overruled their request. Zimmerman's defense argued that marijuana could have affected Martin's judgment that night, and some say that including this evidence in the trial could support Zimmerman's claims that he was beaten by the teen and shot him in self-defense. But Allen St Pierre, director of marijuana advocacy group NORML, tells The Fix that this outcome is unlikely. "[The defense would] be hard-pressed to get the public to believe at this juncture, in 2013, that marijuana causes people to be violent," St Pierre tells us, "the stereotypes that both the government and popular culture have reinforced is that it doesn't make people violent."

Ultimately, the fact that Martin tested positive for marijuana could sway the jury in either direction. "It isn't so much how much [THC] was in Trayvon's system. It's just, what do people associate [with] a kind of lifestyle that uses marijuana and what they might think about this young man as a result," said CNN correspondent Martin Savidge. "It clouds the perception of the victim." Though some believe the evidence will help the defense, others say the prosecution could put a "reverse spin" on the situation, by arguing that the drug is known to make people more mellow. "It can cut both ways," says former federal prosecutor Doug Burns, "You could call an expert to say that marijuana doesn't make you violent." St Pierre tells us that he's heard the words "mellow, chill, apathy, lethargy" used to describe the effects marijuana has on users. "The defense's actions are understandable, considering what they're trying to do, which is rigorously defend their client," St Pierre tells us. "We've seen many criminal defense lawyers say the most outrageous things about marijuana to try to get their clients off." If convicted of murder, Zimmerman could face life in jail.

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By Victoria Kim


7/11/13 3:31pm

Campaign Pushes Smoke-Free Weddings in China


A Chinese bride wearing a mask to protect
herself from cigarette smoke. via

Smoking is such an integral tradition at most Chinese weddings that one of the bride’s duties is to light cigarettes for all the male guests. Guests will often smoke through the ceremonies and receive packs of cigarettes as party favors, Wall Street Journal reports. But a new campaign, launched by Emory University’s Global Health Institute, is making an effort to stamp out the long-held tradition, as part of a broader initiative to reduce smoking in 17 Chinese cities. So far, the campaign has made some breakthroughs: 10 major hotels have signed contracts to make wedding parties smoke-free, 62 couples have held smoke-free weddings, and another 300 couples have pledged to ban cigarettes from their weddings. In the city of Changchun, health educators convinced several couples to replace cigarettes with candy at their ceremonies."Anything that increases the recognition that tobacco is harmful and shouldn't be part of special occasions or gift-giving is helpful," says Jeffrey Koplan, director of Emory. But smoking-cessation efforts still face enormous hurdles in China, which is home to 301 million smokers, the most in the world. Smoking is estimated to kill 1.2 million Chinese people every year, but anti-tobacco regulations have made little progress, in part because the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, which enforces anti-smoking laws, also runs the country’s largest tobacco producer. Chinese weddings provide a particularly lucrative market to tobacco companies, who often sponsor the ceremonies.

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By Mei Schultz

holy brew

7/11/13 2:22pm

"Church of Beer" Built in Denmark


"It's a religion I can follow" says one believer.
Photo via

For those seeking to quench a spiritual thirst, there's a new house of worship in Denmark: the Church of Beer. Attendees at the Roskilde culture-and-music festival, which this year featured headliners Rihanna and Kris Kristofferson, found a holy use for their empties by building a "church" with used beer cans (video below). Designed by a German architecture firm, the structure was erected with the help of "thousands upon thousands" of faithful followers, who lined up to help the lead builders to erect the structure in a matter of days. They worked together in such perfect unison that one said the experience “reminds me of the Manson family a little bit. It's very cult-like, but it's a religion I can follow.” Another parishioner raved that the church unites her two main passions. “We can combine drinking beer and be creative,” she said, “I like that.” Once it was constructed, the building housed beer drinking, exorcisms, “nude piles, drag-yoga [and] colorful parades,” according to festival staff. But those planning a pilgrimage may be too late to worship at the boozy shrine. Now that the festival is over, the church's pillars will be recycled into aluminum ingots.

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By Bryan Le

drinking and gender

7/11/13 12:45pm

Women Get "Tipsy" While Men Get "Hammered"


Same drunk, different name. Photo via

When describing levels of drunkenness, men tend to use words suggesting heavy intoxication—like “hammered” or "wasted"—while women prefer words like “buzzed” or "tipsy"—according to a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Previous research found that women tend to describe themselves as only slightly drunk, while men tend to describe themselves as more drunk—regardless of how drunk they actually are. And a recent study conducted by Ash Levitt, a scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions at SUNY University at Buffalo, found that the same discrepancy applies when describing other peoples' levels of intoxication. Levitt surveyed 145 undergraduates’ differing responses to male and female drinking by reading them vignettes depicting drunken behavior. "Moderate intoxication terms such as 'tipsy' were applied to female vignette characters more than male characters, even when female characters were heavily intoxicated,” writes Levitt. By contrast, he says: "heavy intoxication terms such as 'wasted' were applied to male vignette characters more than female characters."

Levitt theorized that these results may reflect the differing social expectations for men and women when it comes to drinking: women are expected to imbibe more moderately, while excessive drinking and intoxication is more acceptable among men. Mark Wood, professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island, points out that these assumptions can have dangerous real world consequences for both genders. "Clinicians such as psychologists and counselors could use this knowledge to work with men to help correct notions that being 'hammered' is both typical and acceptable," says Wood, "and with women to increase awareness about the potential dangers of underestimating their own or others' degree of intoxication."

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By Mei Schultz

sponsored post

7/11/13 12:00pm

Doc Gooden's Memoir Available Now!


Doc opens up

In the mid-1980s no pitcher was more feared and more dominant than the young Mets superstar Dwight “Doc” Gooden. After arriving in New York in 1984 as a shy 19-year-old from Tampa, Gooden became a pitching sensation overnight. He was named Rookie of the Year in his first season and won 25 games in his second, earning the Triple Crown and one of the most prestigious awards in baseball: the Cy Young Award. Beloved by Mets fans and New Yorkers alike, he cemented his place in baseball history by age 20 with a 98 mph fastball. But beneath the surface, Gooden battled alcoholism and drug addiction, which ultimately derailed his career and nearly took his life. In 1986, when the Mets won the World Series, Gooden watched the victory parade on TV, too drunk and high to celebrate with his teammates. Over the next 25 years, his addictions—along with his life and career—spiraled out of control.

Now sober, Gooden is finally telling his story in a new memoir—DOC, written with Ellis Henican—in which he relays the most intimate moments of his successes and failures, from three World Series rings to endless self-destructive drug binges. DOC is a brutally honest account of Gooden's life and struggles, from the hidden traumas in Gooden's close-knit Tampa family, to the thrill and pressure of being a young baseball prodigy in New York, to raucous days and nights partying with the Mets’ "bad boys." It details his drug binges and arrests, his comeback with the Yankees, numerous attempts to get sober, the damage his drug use did to family and friends, and finally how starring on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew unexpectedly changed his life. This story about family, baseball, and talent squandered by the disease of addiction—and the long road to getting clean—is one that could inspire anyone who has faced tough challenges in life. Order your copy of DOC from Amazon now!

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