- US Racetrack Denies Mexican Cartel Fixed Results [ABC News]
- Public Smoking Now Banned in Vietnam [AFP]
- David Nutt Thinks Cannabis Cafes Would Lower Alcohol Consumption [The Guardian]
- Baby Products Garner Positive Marijuana Results [Time]
- Smartphone Addiction Can Alter Personality [TOI]
- Keira Knightley Would Choose Booze If Apocalypse Came [Entertainment.IE]
- Daniel Radciffe Plays Drunk in Indie Music Video [Metro]
Humor stems from a dark place. And while addiction has taken down a number of legends, it's also provided fodder for many brilliant comics, some of whom do live to tell the tale—and to mine it for laughs. "My heroes were always drug addicts," says comedian Marc Maron in this video for CNN's Red Chair series (below). "It wasn't a sports guy. It was always the beatniks. Burroughs, Keith Richards, Lenny Bruce." Many people might add Maron's name to the list. In his popular podcast "WTF," launched in 2009, he interviews other comics, as well as actors, writers and musicians—many of whom air gritty details of their lives, often referencing addiction. Maron's own past and present struggles with addiction—to alcohol, drugs and food—are no secret to his listeners. He recalls hitting bottom in LA: "I realized between the sleeplessness and the coke, I was hearing voices in my head. I was sleeping in the closet. I was panicky on a kind of cosmic level."
Now sober for over a decade, Maron has spoken with such greats as Margaret Cho, Robin Williams, Norm MacDonald, Craig Ferguson and the late Mike Destefano about their struggles with addiction, and recovery. But he insists his podcast isn't meant to be a therapy session—"it's just conversation, which human beings should thrive on." And many human beings do thrive on it, judging by the show's growing and loyal following. "I like hearing famous comedians talk openly about the uglier aspects of hitting their bottoms in regards to addiction. It makes them seem more relatable," says Maggie, a fan from Brooklyn. Max, also a recovering addict from New York, says "It's funny in that gut-wrenching way, because I can relate. And like so many addicts in recovery, I need to laugh. It's a necessary release."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana seems doomed to fail, due to resistance from the Republican-controlled senate. “We do not support legalization,” says state senate majority leader Dean Skelos. “Just being able to walk around with 10 joints in each ear and it would only be a violation—I think that's wrong.” Cuomo introduced the motion in January in an attempt to cut the soaring number of New York arrests, and it won widespread support. Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed the proposal, as did figures like Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and Rochester Police Chief Jim Sheppard. But efforst to broker a deal are dragging the debate out, and the future for Cuomo's plan seems bleak, with this year's legislative session ending on Thursday. The legalization issue could be discussed again when lawmakers reconvene in January, though it could be sooner if a special legislative session is called. Legalization advocates still hope a deal can be worked out at the last minute—but most aren't optimistic. “I’ve been working in Albany for almost 10 years, and I can’t recall a moment when law enforcement has said, ‘We want to have this changed,’ and the Republican Party leaders in the Senate and the Conservative Party are basically saying that they don’t want to do it,” says Gabriel Sayegh, the state director in New York for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This is yet another example of how profoundly backward and dysfunctional this place is.”
Forty-four years after his mother allegedly gave him his first taste of liquor before his first birthday, 26 years after becoming the youngest heavyweight champion, and three years after getting sober, Mike Tyson is bringing his one-man show to Broadway. Tyson announced yesterday that he'll be teaming up with filmmaker Spike Lee to bring his tell-all show to the Great White Way this summer. Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth—in which he recounts his rock bottom, which included beating prostitutes while high and paranoid on coke in a hotel room, and his subsequent sobriety—will move from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to the Longacre Theatre on July 31 for a six-night engagement, produced by James Nederlander. For Tyson, the play is almost therapeutic: “I’m very vulnerable and I’m just telling you what I am and where I’m from and how this happened,” he says. Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth doesn't flinch from tackling his alcoholic mother, his battle with addiction, biting off an opponent's ear in the ring, and the domestic abuse and rape for which he served three years in prison. At the Longacre Theatre, Lee summarizes, “It takes courage to get in the ring, but it takes courage to get on the stage.”
The concern among federal officials that medical marijuana would fall into the hands of teenagers if legalized seems to have been debunked. New data shows that while marijuana use has increased overall since 2005, medical marijuana has not been linked to increased use among high school students. Not only that, but marijuana use has even declined in some of the states that have legalized medical pot. The study also notes that very few minors are approved for medical marijuana use, and that no evidence was found that pot serves as a gateway drug for alcohol or cocaine use among teens. Researchers from three US universities examined nationally representative data collected from the Youth Risky Behavior Survey (YRBS) from 1993-2009, and also cited the Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use report, which is conducted annually by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. The report's 2011 version showed that nearly one in 15 high school seniors smoke marijuana on near-daily levels. Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana since 1996.
Does the US Secret Service have a bigger booze problem than we thought? A major scandal this past April—featuring prostitutes and fueled by alcohol—cast the culture of the agency in a pretty unflattering light. And now new reports of illicit behavior by personnel have surfaced—this time involving DUIs and other alcohol-related misconduct. The Department of Homeland Security has released a 229-page redacted document logging eight years' allegations—including over 40 incidents of off-duty arrests of agency personnel, around half of which involved booze. For example, one special agent was arrested in July 2006 for “resisting arrest, public intoxication and reckless damage.” And in 2007, an officer in the Secret Service’s White House branch was arrested for drunk driving. This past May, Secret Service director Mark Sullivan acknowledged that alcohol and environmental factors may have played a part in the recent sex scandal, while testifying before a Senate committee: "I can tell you that I do not think this is indicative of the overwhelming majority of our men and women…But I just think that between the alcohol, and I don’t know, the environment, these individuals did some really dumb things.” The new allegations will be investigated and handled in accordance with federal rules, with available sanctions ranging from a warning to suspension or dismissal, according to Max Millien, a spokesman for the Secret Service. As you might expect, he declines further comment.