Could Maryland be the next state to end marijuana prohibition? Yes, according to LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), who drew The Fix's attention this morning to a Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing taking place today at 1pm to debate "SB 297." The bill—sponsored by Democratic Senator Bobby Zirkin—seeks to decriminalize small-scale possession in the Free State. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is “an international group of police officers, judges, corrections officials, border agents and other criminal justice professions who have witnessed the failures of the so-called ‘war on drugs’ firsthand.” The Fix interviewed Neill Franklin—the former Baltimore narcotics cop who became LEAP’s executive director—about his road-to-Damascus conversion into one of prohibition's most outspoken and effective critics. “Too many people are making literally billions from the illicit drug trade,” Franklin told us then. “And believe me, it’s not those young men standing out on the corners who are making it. They are the ones getting the least of what’s being generated. If we were really serious about helping our kids and our communities, we’d put our energies into education and treatment, and teach people, so they make the right decisions, period.”
Pot prohibition doesn’t just generate stacks of illicit cash—it also costs a great deal, according to Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron, who says that Maryland spends over $236 million per annum on marijuana enforcement. In the current era, many are asking whether that's worth the price tag. SB 297—which can be viewed in its entirety here—would reduce penalties for possession to a mere $100 dollar fine.
Neill Franklin carried out narcotics work for the Maryland State Police during his 34-year career; he's testifying in the bill’s favor at the hearing today. “The current laws force police officers in Maryland to waste hour after hour processing marijuana possession arrests,” he says. “Can you imagine how many more burglaries, rapes and murders we could solve if we put these wasted man-hours toward good use? Marijuana prohibition constitutes a serious threat to public safety." With 15 other states having already decriminalized low-level marijuana possession—and others, such as Hawaii, considering it—SB 297 looks to have a fighting chance.
A man in Turkey is "hooked" on drinking human blood, according to claims by local doctors. The 23-year-old first got started by drinking his own blood, but later experienced compulsions “as urgent as breathing” that led him to seek alternate human sources, states a report published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. The anonymous "human vampire" was reportedly arrested after stabbing and biting several people; he also got his father to steal from the local blood bank to help him get his fix. Doctors have traced his thirst for blood to traumatic events in his childhood, including a history of abuse; they diagnosed him with dissociative identity disorder, PTSD, chronic depression and alcohol abuse. "Possibly due to 'switching' to another personality state, he was losing track during the 'bloody' events, did not care who the victim was anymore, and remained amnesic to this part of his act," says the report. The man has also been diagnosed with "vampiric alternate personality." He is the first known sufferer of this condition and is currently in treatment; his blood drinking has reportedly gone into remission.
New York Giants lineman David Diehl pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence, after was arrested last June for crashing his BMW into four parked cars outside a bar in Queens. The two-time Super Bowl champ, 32, faces six months probation and will have to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet for 90 days. He will also continue his participation in the NFL's substance abuse program and must pay up to $1,200 in damages. After his arrest last year, he apologized for his actions on Twitter. "I've worked hard during my career to set a positive example, and I fell far short of that standard," he wrote. "I apologize to my family, my fans, my teammates, the New York Giants, and the NFL. I made a poor decision that I sincerely regret, and, as always, take full responsibility for my actions." DUIs are the most common criminal offense among pro footballers: 175 NFL players have been arrested since January 2000 on suspicion of driving under the influence. Late last year, Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent was accused of killing teammate Jerry Brown in a drunk driving accident, making him the 18th NFL player suspected of DUI in 2012, nearly trip the number from 2011.
Maker’s Mark is diluting their liquor to increase bourbon supply, the company has announced. The iconic Kentucky whisky brand will reduce alcohol content for the first time in history from 90 proof (45% alcohol) to 84 proof (42% alcohol), since demand has more than doubled in the past seven years. "Over the last 100-plus days, there are many, many instances across lot of different cities where bars, restaurants, package stores have run low, run out," says Rob Samuels, chief operating officer for Maker's Mark and the grandson of the brand's founder. "Given the surge in demand outstripping supply, what we've decided to do very carefully is to slightly reduce the alcohol volume." Bill Samuels Jr. (Rob Samuels’ father) blames himself for the changes saying he failed to foresee the rise in demand for premium bourbon when he was in charge about six years ago. "I was the forecaster in chief around here," he says. "I must have been asleep at the wheel." Other than a little more water being added when the whiskey comes out of the barrel, the recipe will remain the same. The company says changes were made following extensive testing to ensure that extra water would not alter the taste.
- Study: More Teens Smoking Synthetic Pot [ABC News]
- Unseen Wounds: 'Psychotropic Drugs Often Intensify the Veterans' Suffering and Isolation' [Philly.com]
- Mexico's Future Shrouded by Ongoing Drug War: Will Nieto's Strategy Prevail? [The International]
- Makers Mark Cuts Alcohol Content by Three Percent [New York Daily News]
- Drugs Don’t Benefit Preschoolers With Attention Disorder [Bloomberg]
- Former Star Forward Vin Baker went from an Alcoholic to a Preacher [Complex Sports]
- Giants' David Diehl Pleads Guilty to Drunk Driving [NFL.com]
- John Goodman on Weight, Alcoholism, and Dancing on the Edge [Radio Times]
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