Good news for marijuana-loving Olympians: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has loosened its regulations of cannabis use in Olympic sports, prohibiting athletes from using the drug only in the days or hours leading up to a competition. At a recent meeting, WADA moved the threshold for a positive test for pot from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/ml, which means athletes who use pot weeks or months before an event will be unlikely to test positive. "We wanted to focus on the athletes that abuse the substance in competition," says Julie Masse, WADA's director of communications. "This should exclude cases where marijuana is not used in competition." The new threshold will affect over 600 sports organizations around the world, including the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, and national professional leagues, which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code. Under the former threshold, an athlete who used marijuana a month before competition was likely to be detected, as well as those who were exposed to second-hand pot smoke weeks before an event. And testing positive can get an athlete banned from the competition for up to two years.
So why is marijuana even considered a performance-enhancing drug? Richard Pound, who first headed WADA, says the US lobbied for the drug's ban in athletics, even though many researchers conclude it doesn't technically enhance athletic performance. "There's no evidence cannabis is ever performance enhancing in sport, and since its use is legal in a number of countries, there's no reason for it to be banned by WADA," David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, has claimed. "I can't think of any sport in which it would be an advantage. And it seems ludicrous that someone could quite legally smoke cannabis in Amsterdam in the morning and then come over to London in the afternoon and be banned from competing." Many members of WADA reportedly share his reservations about pot giving players a competitive edge. College athletics, on the other hand, have gone in the reverse direction: earlier this year, the NCAA lowered the threshold for marijuana use from 15 to 5, with the aim of detecting in-competition as well as out-of-competition use.
At long last, the new DSM-5—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, aka the psychiatrist's bible—has been unleashed on the world, and so far the controversy that engulfed it pre-publication shows no sign of abating. The much-debated, fifth-edition update to 1994's DSM-IV made its debut last Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in San Francisco. One of the most outspoken critics, Dr. Allen Frances, who headed up the DSM-IV revision—and who later lamented how that edition contributed to "false epidemics" of ADD, autism and childhood bipolar disorder—immediately came out with guns blazing, alleging that it exacerbates "overtreating people with everyday problems who don't need it, [while] shamefully neglecting the people with moderate to severe psychiatric problems who desperately do."
In redefining the diagnosis of addiction, the new DSM combines abuse and dependence—the former binary definition—into a single category called "substance use disorder." Individuals will continue to be diagnosed according to their symptoms, but those symptoms are now based on a spectrum from "mild" to "moderate" to "severe" substance use disorder, as Dr. Charles O'Brien, chair of DSM Substance-Related Disorders Work Group for the DSM-5, wrote for The Fix in April. In another first, a "behavioral" (i.e., non-substance) addiction—pathological gambling—was added to the list of addiction diagnoses. While many clinicians had clamored for the inclusion of other such compulsive behaviors, such as sex or Internet addiction, these disorders were put on hold pending further research. It remains to be seen whether the expanded "spectrum" definition of substance use disorder will lead, as proponents hope, to earlier, more effective and more cost-effective treatment, or, as opponents warn, to the massive overdiagnosis and overtreatment of essentially healthy people with the result that addicts most in need of care will be left out in the cold.
Ashley Hamilton, who plays the role of former military officer Jack Taggert in the current box office smash Iron Man 3, has spoken publicly for the first time about his ongoing battle with anorexia and bulimia. The son of famed actor George Hamilton also struggled with drug and alcohol addictions; but though he has been sober for over seven years, he says food addiction has been harder to beat. "I used the drugs and alcohol to control the food addiction," he tells People Magazine, "I've been free from bulimia for years but I still struggle with food, restricting or overeating. That's been the hardest for me in sobriety." The 38-year-old actor, who only sought treatment for his eating disorder within the past year, claims it's more heavily stigmatized than his other addictions—especially as a man. "It's almost like drug addiction is totally acceptable to talk about in Hollywood. But food addiction? Nobody wants to talk about that," he says, "It's really shameful as a man to have that." Hamilton, who was bullied for his weight and dubbed "Fatley" in high school, says his weight continues to fluctuate, and food remains an issue for him even after treatment. "With food it's not black and white. It's: 'Oh, my behavior around food has been better this month,'" he says, "You can't live without food. You're surrounded by food constantly and you have to eat. There are so many people in our country suffering from this. It's an emotional problem and that's been the struggle for me through sobriety." Hamilton says fellow Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr., who is also in recovery, has been a major part of his support system. "He said 'I can't do it for you, Dude,'" explains Hamilton. "I said, 'That's okay. I just need somebody to give me the opportunity to trust in me sober-wise and give me a shot of this magnitude.' I'll forever owe him for that."
The Urban Outfitters that's scheduled to open soon in the heart of Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood will apparently be serving up more than just t-shirts and flasks; the new store, whose clientele skews towards "young and hip," reportedly plans to sell booze. At Monday night's CB1 Brooklyn meeting it was revealed that the chain retailer plans to file for a full liquor and restaurant license, though they have not yet officially done so. It's not yet clear what kind of store-restaurant-bar the franchise hopes to establish, but some Urban Outfitters in other cities have in-house cafeteria-style cafés and sandwich shops. And last year, the corporation merged shopping and eating at two of its Urban Outfitters Terrain stores, with restaurants offering "$36 striped bass, $39 ribeye and a $19 vegetable plate." Urban Outfitters Terrain's president Wendy McDevitt says customers who eat lunch or drink wine will typically stick around the store for twice as long. “Food is becoming bigger and bigger in terms of entertainment value,” she said. It's hardly a surprise that a company might think alcohol would help sales. But it may not be as easy as the company hopes. A local resident seemed skeptical of the idea: “I like their clothes sometimes,” says Sarah Fredette, who lives on Devoe Street. “But I don’t think a bar in clothing store will have a very chill vibe.”
Zach Galifianakis, star of the Hangover I, II and III, has decided to lay off the sauce after "getting into too much trouble with the drinking.” An incident during a recent drunken night out in Manhattan was the final straw for the 43-year-old actor, he related on Conan last week. “I was taking a long walk home, I'd gotten into the whiskey that night, and was listening to my headphones," said Galifianakis, when "this guy in a Jaguar cut me off." The actor drunkenly retaliated by hitting the Jaguar "as hard as I could with my hand." Shortly after, he recalled feeling a tap on his shoulder: "I turn around, it's two huge 6-foot-6 guys [from the Jaguar]. They both, at the same time, spit in my face!" The actor, known for his antics on-screen as well as off, asked if host Conan O'Brien could relate. "I don't know if you've ever been spit in the face non-sexually," said Galifianakis, "But all I remember is being so stunned. I remember reaching into a trash can and grabbing a beer bottle and saying out loud, 'Nobody spits in Galifianakis' face!'" He then threw the beer bottle at the car, but said it did not make contact. “You decided to cut back?” asked O'Brien, to which the actor replied, “...Yeah, cut back.” The Hangover III hits theaters this month.
- Illinois Senate Approves Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana [Fox News]
- Adolescents Who Start Drinking In Puberty More Likely To Develop Alcohol Problems Later [Medical News]
- Drug Charge for Virgin Islands Environment Officer [ABC News]
- Teens Rewarded For Attending Booze-Free Prom Parties [Reuters]
- Iron Man III's Ashley Hamilton Opens Up About Eating Disorder [People]
- Toronto Mayor: That Wasn't Me Smoking Crack In That Video [Business Insider]
- Zach Galifianakis Quits Drinking After Two Men Spit in His Face [USA Today]