Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is testing out a new strategy to curb the country's rampant drug problem, by transitioning users of "basuco" (a type of cocaine similar to crack) to less-damaging marijuana. The country has been attempting to control basuco addiction for years, and experts estimate that Bogota has at least 7,000 “problem" users, especially in poorer communities. Like crack, the drug is smokeable and cheap, and dealers will often bulk it up with additives like ash and crushed bricks. To confront the problem, Bogota plans to test out “controlled consumption centers” where addicts will be given marijuana to help mitigate withdrawal symptoms and ween them off the harder, more harmful drug. "The first thing you do is to start to reduce the dose,” explains Julián Quintero, from the non-profit organization Acción Técnica Social, which works on drug policy. “After that, you begin to change the way that it's administered: if you were injecting heroin, you move to smoking heroin; after smoking heroin, you move to combining it with cannabis; after that, you're staying with the cannabis. What you're looking for is for the person to reach a point where they can stabilize the consumption and that the consumption doesn't prevent them from being functional." Whether or not the program is successful, the tactic is unlikely to catch on in the US, according to Amanda Reiman, a policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance. "Unfortunately, [US] universities rely on grants from the federal government for research, so most of what they do is what the feds want done," says Reiman, "As you can probably guess, the feds are not too interested in beneficial uses for marijuana, and even less interested in how to help people who are addicted to substances, so most of the research in this area occurs outside the US or through private funding."
Cat Marnell, former xoJane.com editor and full-time substance abuser, is employed again, having landed a "major" book deal with Simon & Schuster for a reported half-a-million dollars. Marnell first gained a rabid following while blogging candidly about her addiction and drug use (and beauty products) during her time at xoJane.com. After the self-described "walking syringe" was fired from her job last summer over her refusal to get clean, she said she'd rather be "on the rooftop of Le Bain smoking angel dust" than working. But she spent a portion of her non-paid vacation in rehab, checking in to The Cabin in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in December, for an addiction to prescription drugs (mainly Adderall). And now it looks like the free spirit is back at work again on her upcoming memoir (working title: How to Murder Your Life), in which she will detail her drug-fueled rise through the publishing industry, along with her "numerous sexual conquests," Page Six reports. They add: "Aside from four abortions, she recalls getting 'choked out by a Park Avenue millionaire kid in a pine grove by the reservoir at 4 a.m.' and 'sex in vacant lots in Bushwick with white rappers.'" The book is being described as Marnell's "own brand of brash, vulnerable, and candid storytelling spun into a long-form memoir, pitched as 'Devil Wears Prada meets Basketball Diaries meets Bergdorf Blondes on PCP.'"
Border states in the US have had to deal with the presence of Mexico's notoriously violent drug trafficking cartels for decades. But the groups are now extending their reach north, planting themselves deep into middle America, according to an investigative report from the Associated Press. The report found that the cartels are sending some of their most trusted agents to live and work in the cities and suburbs of states like Ohio, Kentucky and North Carolina. Notorious drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was even recently named as Chicago's Public Enemy No. 1 despite never having set foot in the city. "It's probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime," says Jack Riley, head of the DEA's Chicago office. "People think, 'The border's 1,700 miles away. This isn't our problem.' Well, it is. These days, we operate as if Chicago is on the border." Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane told a legislative committee last February that Mexican drug cartels are "taking over our neighborhoods," while dozens of federal agents and local police interviewed by the AP said they have identified cartel members or operatives using wiretapped conversations, informants or confessions.
Art Bilek, a former organized crime investigator who is now executive vice president of the crime commission, says that cartels were previously more inclined to make deals in Mexico with American traffickers, who would then handle transportation to and distribution within major cities. But due to more sophisticated technology and a desire for even more profits, the cartels have begun cutting out the middleman and put their own forces on US grounds. According to DEA statistics, 1,200 communities have reported cartel presence in their neighborhood, up from 230 in 2008. And even in neighborhoods where cartels aren't directly present, they are often the source of drugs that result in gang violence or overdose deaths. To help combat this, Chicago opened a first-of-its-kind facility at a secret location and hired 70 federal agents to work alongside police and prosecutors. However, many still remain skeptical about growing cartel presence in the US, and the DEA statistics may simply be a result of better reporting in the last three years. "We know astonishingly little about the structure and dynamics of cartels north of the border," says David Shirk of the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute, "We need to be very cautious about the assumptions we make."
Glee star Cory Monteith has "voluntarily admitted himself to a treatment facility for substance addiction," according to his rep. This is not the first time at the rodeo for the 30-year-old actor, who checked into rehab at age 19 for substance abuse issues and maintained sobriety throughout his early career. The rep said in a statement that Moneith asks for "respect and privacy as he takes the necessary steps towards recovery." He has the full support of his co-star and girlfriend of over a year, Lea Michele. "I love and support Cory and will stand by him through this," she said, "I am grateful and proud he made this decision." Monteith has been candid in previous interviews about his past drug use, admitting to being a "wild child" while growing up in Victoria, British Columbia. He said he was smoking pot and drinking by age 13 and his drug abuse was out of control by the time he quit school at age 16. “I had a serious problem. I’m lucky on so many counts—I’m lucky to be alive,” he told Parade in 2011. After multiple failed attempts to get clean, he finally got—and stayed—sober, after being caught stealing a large sum of money from his family. “I knew I was going to get caught, but I was so desperate I didn’t care,” he said. “It was a cry for help. I was confronted and I said, ‘Yeah, it was me.’ It was the first honorable, truthful thing that had come out of my mouth in years. I was done fighting myself.” After rising to stardom on Glee, Monteith said he wanted to share his story in the hopes of helping others. “I don’t want kids to think it’s OK to drop out of school and get high, and they’ll be famous actors, too,” he said. “But for those people who might give up: Get real about what you want and go after it. If I can, anyone can.”
- Deaths Tied to Painkillers Rising In The U.S. [LA Times]
- 'El Chapo' Guzmán Controls Meth Trade In Asia-Mexico-U.S.Triangle [Fox]
- U.P.S. Will Forfeit $40 Million Over Illegal Drug Shipments [New York Times]
- Twitter Addiction: Advice from a Cognitive Therapist [PsychCentral]
- David Sheff On Addiction: Prevention, Treatment And Staying 'Clean' [NPR]
- Cat Marnell Lands Hefty Book Deal [Atlantic]
- Madonna's Brother Blames His Family For His Homeless Alcoholism [Examiner]
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: