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7/01/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: July 1, 2014


Je t'emmerde, Edinburgh! Photo via

By Shawn Dwyer

celebrity addicts

6/30/14 7:30pm

Robert Downey Jr.'s Son Arrested On Drug Charges


Father and son in 2009.

Robert Downey Jr. may be clean and sober these days, but it appears that drug problems still run in the family. His 20-year-old son, Indio, was arrested this past Sunday for possession of cocaine.

The incident took place in the Los Angeles neighborhood of West Hollywood. Few details of the arrest have been released, but the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Indio was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over and that he was arrested on felony narcotics charges. He has since posted $10,250 bail and will appear in court on Aug. 29. Although it’s possible the charges could lead to jail time for Indio, it’s unlikely this will happen since he didn’t have a prior criminal record.

Downey, Jr. released a statement about his son’s arrest, declaring that “there’s a genetic component to addiction and Indio has likely inherited it. We’re grateful to the Sheriff’s Department for their intervention, and believe Indio can be another recovery success story instead of a cautionary tale.”

Of course, Downey, Jr. had a well-documented battle with his own addiction before getting sober in the early 2000s. He said his father had been giving him drugs since the age of eight and was arrested on drug charges numerous times from 1996-2001. He went through several drug treatment programs, including one for nearly a year that was located inside a state prison in Corcoran, Calif.

But after his last arrest in April 2001, he ultimately realized something had to change. "I said, 'You know what? I don't think I can continue doing this.' And I reached out for help, and I ran with it,” Downey, Jr. said. “You can reach out for help in kind of a half-assed way and you'll get it and you won't take advantage of it. It's not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems...what's hard is to decide to do it."

In a true symbol of his career resurgence over the last decade, Forbes magazine revealed yesterday that they had labeled Downey Jr. as the most powerful actor in the world. He is also on board to produce a drama for Showtime that takes place in a Venice Beach rehab during the 1980s.

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By McCarton Ackerman

reign it in

6/30/14 5:30pm

Medical Pot Industry Grills Oregon Official Over New Rules



While medical marijuana has been operating with relative impunity since 1999 in Oregon, a new state law passed last year will soon reign in the unchecked industry with a series of rules that run 31-pages long.

On Saturday, over 100 representatives of medical marijuana dispensaries from around the state grilled Oregon’s dispensary program director, Tom Burns, over regulations that will do everything from institute security requirements to enforcing packaging labels and lab testing.

Last year, the Oregon legislature passed a law that mandated the state’s health authority to create a registry of medical marijuana facilities while drafting rules they will soon be required to follow. Because of the current near-lawlessness of the industry, several dispensaries have already been shut down due to “egregious” violations.

"You've got consumption on premises, you have unlocked doors, you have people wandering in without [medical marijuana] cards and you are dispensing to them; that is a major violation and we will revoke,” Burns said during forum with dispensary owners.

But he was quick to iterate that the state wasn’t looking to crack down hard on dispensaries. "We don't want to be looked at as the Gestapo coming in to close you down," he said. "We want you to be successful and to meet the letter and the rule of the law."

Despite his vehemence in upholding the new rules, Burns stated that he has long been a supporter of marijuana legalization. And he admitted that the new rules weren’t the absolute solution to the problem.

"Is it perfect? Absolutely not,” Burns said. “There are a whole lot of holes and you guys have identified a lot of them today."

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By Shawn Dwyer

state's rights

6/30/14 3:30pm

Bill Clinton Encourages States to Experiment With Legalization



Former President Bill Clinton says it should be up to the states to decide whether they want to legalize, and inhale, marijuana.

"Look, I think there's a lot of evidence to argue for the medical marijuana thing," Clinton said in an NBC interview. "This really is a time when there should be laboratories of democracy, because nobody really knows where this is going. Are there adequate quality controls? There's pot and there's pot; what's in it? What's going to happen? There are all these questions."

He did throw his support behind states like Colorado and Washington in their experiments with marijuana laws.

"I think we should leave it to the states," Clinton said. "If the state wants to try it, they can. And then they'll be able to see what happens."

Clinton's statements are a far cry from his answer when asked during his 1992 presidential campaign whether he had ever tried pot. "When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two and didn’t like it,” Clinton said of his time as a student at Oxford in the late 1960s. “I didn’t inhale, and I didn’t try it again.”

Reflecting on the comment last year, the former president derided the ridicule that followed in an interview with TIME. "I didn’t say I was holier than thou. I said I tried. I never denied that I used marijuana,” Clinton said. “I told the truth. I thought it was funny. And the only journalist who was there said I told the truth.”

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By Bryan Le

killer addiction

6/30/14 1:00pm

Addiction Is Top Concern For Patients Prescribed Narcotics



Addiction is the number one concern about taking narcotic painkillers, according to a poll conducted by NPR and Truven Health Analytics. The nationwide survey aimed to find out people’s general attitudes toward narcotic painkillers.

Most Americans have taken some kind of painkiller at some point in their lives, typically for temporary pain relief from a sprained ankle or surgery, for example. One in five said they had taken painkillers for chronic pain.

“We haven’t been able to really ever get it right, in my opinion, and it’s really been very tough on pain patients who legitimately need the medications,” said Judy Foreman, author of A Nation in Pain. “At the same time, the more prescription opioids there are floating around out there, the more people…are abusing them. So it’s colliding epidemics.”

The number one concern about taking narcotic painkillers was addiction, according to the poll’s results. Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed said they believe there is a link between drug addiction and painkillers. Fewer were concerned about side effects like sleepiness, constipation, and nausea.

Thirty-six percent of those surveyed who had taken painkillers had concerns about them, while people who had not — about 30 percent — were not as concerned. A quarter had refused or questioned an opioid prescription, very similar to the result of a similar poll in 2011.

Despite the concern, however, a majority of those polled believed that such drugs, including the highly controversial opioid Zohydro, should be available to the public.

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By Victoria Kim


6/30/14 10:30am

NYC Anti-Drug Youth Program Has Scientology Connections Exposed


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An anti-drug program which has reached over 14,000 kids in New York City has been exposed for being associated with the Church of Scientology and making medically inaccurate statements about drugs.

The educational non-profit Foundation for a Drug Free World was created eight years ago by Meghan Fialkoff, a Scientologist from Queens. They’ve since focused primarily on New York City’s outer boroughs like Queens and the Bronx, visiting disadvantage schools, homeless shelters, churches, and NYPD youth programs.

But at a recent presentation for a Catholic after-school program for troubled teenagers called Little Flower, Drug Free World’s presenter was caught making unfounded claims about drugs, stating that all drugs cause flashbacks, and that all drugs or medicines stay in one's body for years. The teachings come from Clear Body, Clear Mind, a self-help book compiled from materials written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Fialkoff acknowledged that Scientologists run the foundation out of church headquarters in Times Square, but denied that the presentations have a religious overtone. Tidman also denied being paid for the presentations and said he has a full-time job at his father's dentist’s office. “There are a a lot of sponsors for the program,” said Meghan. “One of them happens to be the Church of Scientology."

Despite this, the program has been praised by State Senator José Peralta, as well as former Councilman Dan Halloran, who is now under indictment for corruption. Although there are no measures to gauge the effectiveness of the program, some presentations offer an anonymous pledge called “Drug Free Marshals,” which kids can sign to promise that they will avoid doing drugs and encourage their friends to do the same.

While some organizations have declined to bring Tidman back because of the unfounded medical statements he makes, other have expressed satisfaction with the program. Last March, Leydy Avila of Sunnyside Community Services in Queens wrote to the group and said that “having organizations and individuals like you […] and the flexibility to accommodate so many of my children was really appreciated."

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By McCarton Ackerman


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