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legalization of marijuana

3/29/13 5:20pm

Legalizing Marijuana: The 411

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For the marijuana-illiterate. Photo via

Alcohol can damage your health in the estimated amount of $165 per month, whereas smoking can cost you a monthly average of $800. Marijuana, on the other hand, costs the average American $20 a month in health damage, according to a new infographic by Adrienne Erin for Clarity Way Rehab Center. The handy chart illustrates current marijuana laws across the states, and includes projected tax revenue for legalizing it nationwide (spoiler alert: it's a lot). Poll results indicate that 41% of Americans have used marijuana, 58% of want it legalized, and 50% think it will be legal in the next ten years. Where do you stand? And did you know there is one marijuana arrest every 42 seconds in the US? This factoid, and others, available in an easy-to-digest format, below:

Legalizing Marijuana Infographic

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By Bryan Le

heavy metal

3/29/13 4:00pm

Ministry To Resurrect Post-Relapse

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Al Jourgensen and Tom Scaccia (RIP)
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After four decades of thrash metal, the death of a band member, and a few brushes with death by frontman Al Jourgensen, veteran metalists Ministry will resurrect for a third time with their final album, From Beer to Eternity, scheduled for release in September. It will be their first release since the death of guitarist, Mike Scaccia, who collapsed on stage and died of heart failure last December at age 47. Jourgensen has had his own close calls after suffering a string of health issues on tour. "For the last four tours, I've been puking up blood," he told Rolling Stone last year. "When I'm at home, I don't drink or anything like that. But when you're on tour, everything's crazy. I never said anything about it because I just thought that was part of getting old and going on a rock tour—you puke up blood!" While touring last year for their last album, Relapse, Jourgensen suffered seizures and an exploded artery, and lost 65% of his blood, "so it was a good call to suspend Ministry for a while," he said. "I'm leading a healthier lifestyle now."

Jourgensen kicked his heroin habit over a decade ago, after doctors amputated a toe and nearly an arm, and he'd spent all his money to feed his 20-year addiction. "A lightbulb went on...and it all made sense," he later said. "Trust me there were a lot of reasons to quit heroin." Nowadays, he practices modified sobriety. He has made "one album sober, and a couple albums drunk," he said last year, "I just haven't done drugs." The 2003 album Animositisomina was "the the first album I did clean and sober," and at the time he enthused, "You actually get to do the music...it shoots the theory that you get soft when you get clean." But before recording Relapse, Jourgensen picked up marijuana for medical purposes. "Now I'm just stoned all the time," he said, "I'm on pot, and it's legal. And it's great. It's a different way of doing records." From Beer to Eternity will be the band's last and final album, out of respect for Scaccia. "I can’t do a whole tour without him," says Jourgensen, "Ministry was his life almost as much as mine, and I’m afraid it has to die with him. But damn if we didn’t go out with a bang!” His authorized biography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen, will be published in August.

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By William Georgiades

crime and punishment

3/29/13 2:33pm

Drug Dealer Ordered to Write 5,000-Word Essay

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Terry Bennett at work on his "assignment."
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Convicted drug dealer Terry Bennett has a choice: write a 5,000-word essay on the "dangers" of marijuana, or go to jail for a year. The 32-year-old from Gloucestershire, England, was caught with over two pounds of marijuana and admitted possession with intent to supply. He was originally sentenced to 240 hours of community service, but was unable to complete the work because of a snowboarding injury. The judge offered him the essay as an alternative. “I asked the judge if I could write a balanced argument for and against cannabis, but he said that since it’s illegal, I should only write about the bad things," says Bennett. “I’m just going to write about certain dangers caused by cannabis that people might not necessarily know.” To avoid jail time, he hopes to finish the essay by his April 4th deadline. Bennett, who says he has not written an essay in "ages," has chosen to interpret "dangers of marijuana" in his own way. "I'm going to approach it from a different angle, writing about the dangers that come about because it is illegal, rather than the nature of weed itself," he says. "Weed often causes more problems because of the social inertia and stigma that surrounds it." In addition to the essay, Bennett was also ordered to obey a four-month 8 pm curfew, along with drug testing, which he says could prove useful for him. "I've got a drugs conviction so for me to take on a more serious role in society it is imperative that I prove I am clean and steering clear of cannabis," he says, adding: "purely because it is illegal.”

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By Chrisanne Grise

middle way

3/29/13 1:13pm

Booze and Buddhism Meet in a Tokyo Bar

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What would Buddha do? Photo via

Japanese buddhist monk Yoshinobu Fujioka helps his congregants find inner peace by serving up spiritual teachings and cocktails in one setting. He owns the 23-seat "Vowz Bar" in central Tokyo, which features Buddhist chants playing on a sound system and shaven-headed bartenders serving up sermons along with the drinks. The novelty concept has developed a loyal following and the bar has been running strong for 13 years. Fujioka, who also works at a temple just outside Tokyo during the day, says the model is simply an adaptation of an old tradition. "People would gather in a Buddhist temple and drink together, we've just updated the tradition to fit our times," he says. "They become totally different believers here, the distance between them and myself diminishing. They are more connected with each other." The cocktail names have spiritual elements to them like "Perfect Bliss" and "Enslavery to Love and Lust," but patrons say it's the atmosphere that keeps them coming back. "Every day, my heart gets tainted by dirt in the secular world," says regular patron Noriko Urai, "so I come here to repurify it over some drinks and fun." Vowz Bar isn't the world's only Buddhism-themed drinking establishment; NYC bar Burp Castle features Gregorian chants over the speakers while bartenders in monk robes shush the bar when it gets too loud.

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By McCarton Ackerman

stars on substances

3/29/13 12:19pm

Justin Timberlake Used "Substances" at Coachella

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Timberlake was tripping. Photo via

Pop star Justin Timberlake made his debut performance at SXSW music festival this week. And though he's no music festival virgin, this may be one of the first he actually remembers, due to his past use of "substances." "I’ve been to Coachella many times, on many different, um, substances," says the singer in a recent interview with MySpace, "I’ve been to Coachella many times but not remembered a lot of it, I’ll leave it at that." But there are some moments he has not entirely forgotten. "I stood in an open field and one year I saw Nine Inch Nails and the next year I saw Weezer and I was standing in the middle of the field, you know, like tripping my mind out," Timberlake recalls. The breakout former member of 'N Sync has cut down on "substances" in general in recent years, thanks in part to Ashton Kutcher, who "punk'd" him on his reality MTV show in 2011. “I actually stopped smoking pot for nine to 10 months after that," said Timberlake. "I was so stoned. If you ask my friends, if they're honest they would probably say that's the only way to get me as dizzy as I was."

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By Ben Feuerherd

prescription drugs

3/29/13 11:11am

NY Doc Busted in $10-Million Oxy Drug Ring

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Castro was arrested outside his Manhattan
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A New York City doctor has been charged with running a massive prescription drug ring spanning several states, and illegally dispensing half-a-million oxycodone pills with a street value of $10 million. Dr. Hector Castro, his office manager Patricia Valera and four dozen others were charged with running what the DEA called an "extensive interstate network of narcotics traffickers" between September 2011 and February 2013. "Well over half-a-million oxycodone pills were illegally sold in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, fueling the addiction of an untold number of people," said Bridget Brennan, New York City's special narcotics prosecutor. Since most of the prescriptions were filled in New Jersey, the activity managed to duck the radar of New York State's Prescription Monitoring Program. But after an overdose death in New Jersey in late 2011, authorities found a pill bottle bearing Castro's name, and ultimately discovered that most of the oxy pills sold on New Jersey streets were coming from his prescriptions. Authorities also arrested 41 members of Pennsylvania "drug crews" in connection with the case, and seized 28 firearms during those arrests. "The firearms recovered in this case also highlight how the gun violence associated with cocaine and heroin trafficking is now the muscle in the illegal oxycodone trade," said Brian Crowell, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's New York office. Prescription drug abuse has been classified as a nationwide "epidemic" by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 100 people die each day from drug overdoses, driven primarily by prescription drugs. Castro and the others "targeted and capitalized on this deadly pain medication threat," said Crowell. Castro is currently being held on $500,000 bond.

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By McCarton Ackerman

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