Young folks in Canada smoke more pot than kids in any other developed nation, according to a new report from UNICEF. Out of 29 Western nations surveyed, Canada ranked first for youth cannabis use, with 28% of 11, 13 and 15-year olds reporting having smoked pot in the last year. In the US, the percentage falls close behind at 22%. Other nations with rates above 20% are the Czech Republic, France, Spain and Switzerland. Notably, the countries with more liberal drug laws show lower rates of youth marijuana use than countries with stricter policies. In the Netherlands, where pot laws vary from city to city, about 17% of kids reported smoking pot in the last year, whereas in Portugal, where marijuana has been decriminalized, only 10.5% of kids had recently used the drug.
Did cocaine highs lead to economic lows? Britain's often controversial former drug czar, Professor David Nutt, has claimed that the financial crisis was caused by too many bankers using the illegal stimulant. "Bankers use cocaine and got us into this terrible mess," he said, adding that the drug made bankers "overconfident" and led them to take more risks. He went on to declare that abuse of cocaine led to the financial meltdown, "and the Barings crash" of 1995, in which one of the bank's employees, Nick Leeson, lost £827 million ($1.3 billion) due to speculative investing. Nutt, a psychiatrist and professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College in London, also said in a recent interview that cocaine fit with the banking "culture of excitement and drive and more and more and more. It is a 'more' drug." Nutt was fired in 2009 from his position of chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) after he released a pamphlet asserting that ecstasy was not much more dangerous than horse riding. In the past, he has also claimed that ecstasy and LSD are less harmful than alcohol, that medical research about the uses of magic mushrooms is hindered by the government, and that claims of pot's danger to lungs is overhyped.
Comedian and actor Kevin Hart has sobered up quickly since his DUI arrest on Sunday. Los Angeles traffic police arrested him yesterday morning on "suspicion" of drunk driving after he weaved in and out of traffic lanes on the freeway at 90mph, nearly hitting a gas tanker truck in the process. After he was pulled over by police, Hart confirmed suspicions, tweeting later: "When the cop asked me to take the sobriety test I said 'WHY WASTE OUR TIME ... I'M DRUNK MAN.'" A statement from the California Highway Patrol confirmed that Hart "had objective signs of intoxication and was unable to perform the field sobriety tests." Police booked him into jail and held him on a $5,000 bond, but he was released the same day. That evening, Hart tweeted that the experience was a "wake-up call" and accepted full responsibility for his actions. "I have to be smarter & last night I wasn't ... everything happens for a reason," he wrote. "Drinking & driving is not a game or a laughing matter. People have lost lives because of stupid ... this!" Hart has previously spoken about growing up with a drug-addicted father; in a routine in his 2011 stand-up film Laugh At My Pain, he lampoons his father's embarrassing behavior as a result of his drug use.
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Drug Dealers "Applaud" the Gun Control Legislation Failures [ABC]
- Pain Management in NFL Spawn Prescription Drug Abuse [Washington Post]
- Financial Crisis Caused by Bankers Taking Cocaine, says Former Drugs Czar [Telegraph]
- Canadian Kids Smoke The Most Marijuana In The Western World, According To UNICEF Survey [Huffington Post]
- Chicago Opens a Sober Bar [Daily Herald]
- Kevin Hart Arrested for DUI [NY Daily News]
- Charlie Sheen Gives Lindsay Lohan Rehab Advice: "Bring a Book" [E]
In many Latin American countries, nonviolent drug offenses are punished with much harsher sentences than many violent crimes, like murder or rape. Penalties for drug crimes are examined in a report, Addicted to Punishment, by law research center Dejusticia. The report examines Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, and Argentina—and finds that drug penalties have increased in severity by 521% since 1950, when the average jail time for a drug-related offense was about 34 years. Today, these offenses carry an average maximum sentence of 141 years. In Ecuador, Bolivia and Mexico, even the minimum sentences for drug crimes are greater than those for homicide. And in all seven countries, drug trafficking can land an offender in jail for twice as long as rape—up to 88% more time in Peru. This puts strain on prison systems, absorbing funds that could be used elsewhere. The report argues for drug policy reform: “When comparing murder with drug trafficking, the logical assumption is that penalties for murder must be higher because it results in a concrete harm to a very important protected legal right—human life and personal integrity—while trafficking does not, in and of itself, lead to such a harm.” However, not all Latin American leaders are on board with such harsh drug policy; many have pushed for progressive drug laws, including Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, who has campaigned for legalization of all drugs. See how some of the sentences measure up below:
Brad Spicer, 37, went from hitting rock bottom to hitting the pavement; and at two years sober, he's run nearly 10,000 miles, and has turned his newfound exercise habit into a way to give back. The schoolteacher from New Jersey has started Project Run 7,000, with the goal of running 7,000 miles in a year to raise money for addiction awareness and recovery. “The project goal is to raise one dollar for every mile that I run with all of the money going to help individuals and families struggling with addiction," he tells The South Jersey Times, "I’m doing it not only to help my recovery and use it as therapy for myself, but to help others. A lot of people are struggling with huge problems. I kind of look at it as every I mile I finish, I hope it inspires one person to find the sober life they’ve been seeking.” Spicer's commitment to helping other addicts has helped motivate him to complete 10 marathons all over the country, in Baltimore, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. He's been named Nike's runner of the week and has qualified for the Boston Marathon, which he will do this Monday. As for his goal of running 7,000 miles in one year, he's well on pace to hit that mark.
Spicer says he first got started running just over two years ago, shortly before getting sober. "It just got to the point where my wife threw me out," he tells The Fix. "Everybody was fed up with me. I needed to clear my head so I just went for a run." That first jog lasted all of five minutes because he was so out of shape. With help from detox centers and out patient therapy, Spicer got clean and has remained committed to maintaining his sobriety. He now runs about 20 miles a day; in total, he's clocked just under 9,700 miles since September 3, 2011. "Running really did make a world of difference as far as those natural chemicals your body can produce," Spicer says. "It's something as simple as walking out the door and putting one foot in front of the other...but running is where I found myself."