At long last, New York becomes the latest state in the union to legalize medical marijuana. And while Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed "reservations" last week that looked to put the Compassionate Care Act into jeopardy, he is expected to sign the bill.
"Medical marijuana has significant upsides and significant potential downsides," Cuomo said. "We wanted to do right. And that was the balance that we had to find in this piece of legislation...It is a system that will provide the benefits to people who need it, which can be significant. Even for children, children with epilepsy. But it is a system that also has safeguards, will involve the State Police to monitor and supervise the system."
The bill passed the state assembly early Friday and passed the senate later that day. One of the chief sponsors of the bill, Sen. Diane Savino (D-23), declared that the soon-to-be law was "an historic victory for thousands of New Yorkers who will no longer have to suffer needlessly during their courageous medical battles,” she said. "Under this bill, New Yorkers will now have the same access to life-changing treatment options that others around the country have had."
While New York becomes the 23rd U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana, there are several key restrictions in place that are designed to avoid the Wild West-like state of medical marijuana in places like California.
For example, the state plans to license only five manufacturers to grow, package, and sell the product in secure indoor facilities. New York will also join Minnesota as the only states to ban smoking medical marijuana. Also, criminal penalties have been included in case anyone tries to defraud the system and the governor himself can "suspend the program at any time on recommendation of either the State Police Superintendent or the Commissioner of Health if there is a risk to the public health or public safety."
Despite the quick passage, Cuomo stated that the bill will take some 18 months to fully implement.
On Tuesday last week, five governors from six New England states heeded the call of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to address the growing heroin epidemic plaguing the region.
Governor Patrick has been notably active in trying to lead the fight against opioid addiction in his state, recently revealing a $20 million package aimed at increasing drug treatment, particularly for children, in Massachusetts. In publicly unveiling his plan, Patrick invited the governors of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to join him in a summit to address the problem.
The governors of the first five states accepted the invitation and agreed, among other things, to share data across state lines regarding prescriptions while trying to crack down on patients that obtain drugs from multiple doctors.
“We’re saying the sky’s the limit,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who rose to national prominence earlier in the year for delivering an entire state of the state address on drug addiction. “Let’s treat it like the public health crisis it is.”
Notably absent from the summit was Republican governor and Tea Partier Paul R. LePage, who was allegedly too busy working in the state capital of Augusta, Maine to attend the summit. Patrick did mention, however, that LePage would send a working group to participate in future meetings.
Over the weekend, U.S. soccer star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo made news for her arrest on domestic violence charges stemming from an incident where she assaulted her sister and nephew during a house party near Seattle, Wash.
Police received a 911 call early Saturday morning about a woman who was “hitting people” and refusing to leave a residential home. Upon arrival, they heard a disturbance and found Solo “intoxicated and upset.” Solo’s sister and nephew had visible injuries, which led police to determine that the soccer star was “the primary aggressor and had instigated the assault.”
Solo currently plays goalie for the Seattle Reign. The team acknowledged the incident on Saturday with a tweet, "We are aware of the situation with Hope and are now gathering information."
This isn’t the first time Solo has been a part of public controversy. In 2012, she tested positive for a banned diuretic that she was unaware was part of her premenstrual medication. Later that year, her husband, Jerramy Stevens, was arrested for an alleged domestic violence incident that left Solo injured. Stevens was released for insufficient evidence and married Solo the next day.
"I have a bad rap," Solo told CNN about her public image. "People look at me as selfish, outspoken. But I know who I am."
Meanwhile, Solo is due in court on Monday to face two counts of domestic violence.
"Hope is not guilty of any crime," said her attorney, Todd Maybrown, in a written statement. "In fact, our investigation reveals that Hope was assaulted and injured during this unfortunate incident. We look forward to the opportunity to present the true facts in court and to having this matter behind Hope very soon."
This summer, the drug court of a small Oregon county will become the first in the state to begin administering a drug that could help opiate addicts kick their habit.
Vivitrol, a drug which is injected once per month, will be provided by the Lane County Adult Drug Court through a $38,000 grant given by the Oregon Community Foundation. The funds will pay for roughly 17 doses of the drug, which can cost anywhere from $800-1,000 per shot. Approximately 115 people in the drug court and Lane County Veterans Treatment Court will be eligible to begin using Vivitrol.
County statistics show that 43% of people currently in the local drug court use opiates, so Vivitrol’s ability to curb the craving for opiates like heroin, as well as reduce the euphoric effects, could have overwhelmingly positive benefits. Court officials also like the fact that unlike other medicines used to treat opiate addiction such as Suboxone and Methadone, it is not a narcotic and doesn’t have to be taken daily.
“(Every) morning, you would have to make the decision to say no to the opiate (and) say yes to the medication,” said Carrie Carver, a sergeant with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s a very hard decision to make. [And] there’s always a lot of concern about people substituting one addictive substance for another. Vivitrol is not pleasure-producing, it’s not addictive and it’s not associated with abuse.”
A 2011 study confirmed that Vivitrol helped opiate addicts stay drug-free for longer periods of time. The project involved 250 participants and was paid for by the manufacturer of the drug, Alkermes Inc. Researchers found that 94% of participants given Vivitrol were able to stay drug-free after an initial two weeks, compared to 77% who were given a placebo.
The late socialite and TV presenter Peaches Geldof referred to heroin as a “bleak drug” in her final interview just weeks before she died from a reported heroin overdose last April.
Speaking to The Spectator magazine, Geldof made the comment in reference to the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. "It always makes me so sad to hear about people like Hoffman, who were real masters and also family men who were just wasted by the constant, gnawing obsession with it. All heroin users seem to have the same core internal pain, though,” she said. “It’s a fascinating concept - drug of choice.”
Geldof was just 25 years old when she was found dead in her home in Wrotham, Kent, England on April 7. Detective Chief Inspector Paul Fotheringham said in a statement that "recent use of heroin and the levels identified were likely to have played a role in her death,” but a full inquest into the matter will take place on July 23.
Her own mother, Paula Yates, also died of a heroin overdose in 2000 at the age of 41. Geldof admitted that the press constantly asking her questions about it and forcing her to relive it had become increasingly difficult. "Your life, they keep telling you, is pre-ordained - I'm going to die like my mother. 'She's going to end up like her mother,'” she said. “And people expect you to spew these intimacies to them, like you are in a church confessional. It's an interview, not a therapy session."
Tragically, her struggles with drugs had been long-documented. Geldof was spotted offering a drug dealer $300 in May 2008, but wasn’t charged by police. She then reportedly overdosed that same year and stopped breathing for several minutes before being revived by paramedics. However, sources close to the socialite said that she had gotten clean before the birth of her children.
She is survived by her two sons, 25-month-old Astala and 13-month-old Phaedra.
- Five Dead In Ohio From Alleged Bad Batch Of Heroin [WKYC]
- British Call Girl Takes Selfie With Corpse After Giving Teacher Lethal Injection Of Heroin [Daily Mail]
- Texas Mother Jailed For Driving Drunk With Six Kids On Trunk [The Smoking Gun]
- Albanian Police Burn 13 Tons Of Pot In So-Called 'Pot Village' [ABC News]
- Brandon Phillips Gives Heckler 'Dear Drunk Guy' Baseball [Fox Sports]
- Drunk Ring Assistant Accidentally Lets Bull Maul 10 People [Metro]
- New Jersey Man Tries, Fails To Smuggle Cocaine Cookies Into U.S. [New York Post]
- Hair Salon Student Puts Cup Of PCP Into School Fridge With Name On It [KLTV]