Obesity is approaching smoking as the leading cause of avoidable and premature deaths around the world, new research finds. The obesity epidemic continues to rise in the United States—as well as across the globe—contributing to premature deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and many more life-threatening conditions. "I am deeply concerned that the United States is the fattest society in the world and likely to be the fattest in the history of the world," says the study’s author Dr. Charles H. Hennekens. "Unfortunately, most people prefer prescription of pills to proscription of harmful lifestyles. I am, however, optimistic that weight loss of 5% or more combined with a brisk walk for 20 or more minutes daily will significantly reduce cardiovascular and total deaths." Published in the American Journal of Medicine, Hennekens’ report states that obesity is becoming a huge hazard worldwide, comparable to smoking cigarettes. The author notes that in the United States 40% of adults over forty have some form of metabolic syndrome—a precursor of diabetes. These adults have a ten-year risk of a coronary event of 16 to 18% that may even result in premature death and disability. Henneken warns: “Unless Americans lose weight and increase their levels of physical activity, cardiovascular disease will remain the leading killer in the US."
- Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced in New Hampshire [Drug War Chronicle]
- Justice Department Challenges Bush-Modelo Merge [USA Today]
- It Looks Like 2016 for a Marijuana Legalization Bid in California [Drug War Chronicle]
- Beijing Air Is Akin to a Smoking Lounge [Bloomberg]
- Will FDA Action on Vicodin Mean More Pain? [TIME]
- New Medecine From the Main Ingredient in Beer? [Fox News]
- CSI: NY Star Arrested for DUI [TMZ]
Any New Yorker who smokes knows cigarettes are costly, at around $12 a pack. But there are ways to get them cheap; at some bodegas in parts of Brooklyn, for example, they're a mere $7.50. "There are also sometimes people hawking them on the street," one Brooklyn smoker tells The Fix. "There's a guy on 125th chanting 'Newports, Newports' by a bus stop, and another I've seen lugging around trash bags-full in the West Village. Three bodegas on one corner near me that have them cheap." But this might not be the case for much longer: Last week, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office seized 30,000 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes—worth around $4.5 million—from a Borough Park warehouse. Although the bust netted just one arrest—alleged ringleader Yin Huan Zhao—King's County DA Charles Hynes says his team has stopped a "drain on the city and state economy, because these cigarettes are entirely untaxed." The taxes alone on them would have been worth about $1.8 million. Tellingly, the official investigators were assisted by cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris USA.
Disturbingly the counterfeit smokes, including major American and Chinese brands, are reportedly sometimes dried in China by rolling trucks over tobacco leaves on the ground. There is "no way of knowing what chemicals they contain," adds Hynes. Our Brooklyn smoker she hopes her cheap cigarettes aren't truck-dried Chinese counterfeits. "That's gross...and besides, I want mine to stick around. I know they're probably not legal...so I've been hoping they're real but trucked up illegally," she tells us. But she can't be sure: "The guy behind the counter is kinda shady about it—he goes to a back room to get them and looks nervous. Another place I asked for them once said they didn't have them because they're 'made in people's cribs in the projects over there.'"
The Lorax may speak for the trees and Sam I Am may be partial to his green food, but that's as close as Dr. Seuss' stories have come to marijuana...until Harborside Health Center made its new Seuss-inspired pro-pot video book [below]. Embroiled in a conflict with the federal government and facing potential shutdown, the high-profile dispensary makes a plea to President Obama with The Haag by “Dr. Geuss.” In the story, the Haag—Grinch-like counterpart to US Attorney for the Northern California District Melinda Haag—takes the “flowers” away from happy patients who once smoked them among the “cannabis trees.” At the happy ending, Steve DeAngelo, head of Harborside Health Center, finally convinces Obama to protect MMJ patients. “I pledge to offer protection to everyone who is in need. And, you know, I am no stranger to the magic of this weed,” says Dr. Geuss' Obama. “Haag, you're abusing your power, I heard everything you said. I hereby end your appointment and make you smoke a spliff instead.” Would Dr. Seuss approve? Though Seuss was known to be a “liberal Democrat,” he never spoke about legalizing marijuana. Dr. Andrew DeAngelo, director of operations at Harborside, explains that Dr. Seuss' motif was chosen because his work reflects "the childlike quality that should be a part of our adult lives" that cannabis restores.
The American Automobile Association is expecting a drastic spike in alcohol related car accidents on Sunday night, when the Ravens and 49ers face off in Super Bowl XLVII. On Super Bowl Sunday, in states like California, alcohol-related car accidents are 75% greater than other Sundays in January and February, according to a study by AAA's Automobile Club of Southern California. And the annual problem may actually be getting worse: "A previous study for a similar period in 2004 found only a 41% increase in drunk driving accidents for Super Bowl Sunday," the AAA reports. "The latest data shows that Super Bowl Sunday DUIs were to blame 642 fatalities on California roads." With the 49ers in Sunday's Super Bowl, California could suffer even more this time around.
San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee is taking what he sees as the necessary steps to ensure public safety. Speaking to the press this week, he said people should be aware of when they've had too much to drink, and warned bartenders not to over-serve. “They ought to just be cognizant that an overindulgence in a celebratory way could be very hurtful to communities and to themselves,” says Lee. “It goes both ways—people who serve as well as people who drink. While we may have that great opportunity to celebrate, let’s keep it within bounds.” In Baltimore, home of the Ravens, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake doesn't seem too worried about people overindulging Sunday night. Ian Brennan, a spokesman for Mayor Rawlings-Blake, tells the press: “We don’t have a recent history of very unruly activity. In the last two rounds of the NFL playoffs, we had people pouring out of bars and restaurants into the streets and it was mostly so strangers can hug and high-five.”
Washington is gearing up for legalized marijuana sales in December, and they're looking to hire a consultant on all things marijuana. Job requirements include: knowledge of how pot should be sold, tested and packaged, and an overall understanding of marijuana. John Farley of Washington's Liquor Control Board—the agency charged with developing rules for the pot industry—says that pot-related convictions will probably not disqualify potential candidates—but "heinous felonies" might. "There are some technical aspects with marijuana we could use a consultant to help us with," says board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter. The board is seeking consulting in four categories, including "product and industry knowledge," testing, statistical analysis and development of regulations. They're hoping to award a single contract to someone who can cover all of these areas, but bidders who are strong in one category may team up with those who are strong in another. Candidates of all types have come from all over, from former dispensary workers to marijuana analytical chemists. Even Ed Rosenthal, co-founder of High Times magazine, teamed up with a corporate lawyer for a chance at the contract. However, there's one major stipulation: due to a conflict of interest, whoever accepts the position would not be able to obtain a state license to grow, process or sell cannabis while serving as consultant. Bids are due on February 15 and the contract will be awarded in March.