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legalize it

11/18/14 1:00pm

California's Top Cop Says Weed Legalization 'Inevitable'

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a recent interview that she was unopposed to the legalization of marijuana and felt that it would become an "inevitable" reality in the Golden State.

Last Wednesday, Harris attended an event at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., where she was interviewed about her position on legalization by BuzzFeed News.

“I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana...[though] I have to look at it from a law enforcement perspective and a public safety perspective,” she said. “I think we are fortunate to have Colorado and Washington be in front of us on this and figuring out the details of what it looks like when it’s legalized.”

While California was among the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, efforts to make recreational weed legal was stalled after a ballot measure failed to pass in 2012. But public attitudes have shifted considerably in the state and around the nation, with legalization efforts seeing substantial gains this past election in Alaska, Oregon, and D.C.

With polls showing strong support for legalization in California, it looks as though it could pass in 2016. Though Harris believes "there’s a certain inevitability about it,” she has remained skeptical about how to approach legalization.

“We have seen in the history of this issue for California and other states, if we don’t figure out the details for how it’s going to be legalized the Feds are [going to] come in, and I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest,” Harris said.

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By Shawn Dwyer

grilled

11/18/14 10:30am

Matt Lauer Grills One Direction About Drug Use on 'TODAY'

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Matt Lauer has sparked the fury of One Direction’s teenage fans after his pointed question about the drug use of band member Zayn Malik during a recent interview on TODAY.

One Direction was at Universal in Orlando, Fla., to promote their new album, but were missing Malik. Liam Payne explained that Malik had a “tummy bug” and couldn’t make the trip, but Lauer raised eyebrows by insinuating that Malik is an addict.

“Liam, there’s obviously a lot of concern. A lot of fans have been tweeting overnight. There’s been a lot of action on social media about him,” said Lauer. “Is it something more serious than just a minor illness? There have been rumors of substance abuse, what’s going on?”

Payne refused to take the bait and insisted Malik had a stomach bug. Those in the audience also began loudly booing Lauer and One Direction fans later took to Twitter to slam his line of questioning. “Leave it to Matt Lauer to spice up a One Direction album launch interview with inappropriate, rude leading questions,” wrote one fan.

Malik later spoke out against and denied any form of drug use. “I’m really angry and upset by what was said,” he told the Daily Sun. “I was really ill at the weekend. That’s why I couldn’t fly to America. “ A spokesman for One Direction said that Malik “will join the band for promotion for the new album as soon as he can.”

While it doesn’t appear that Malik has a drug problem, Lauer’s question wasn’t totally unwarranted. He and band member Louis Tomlinson were videotaped smoking what appeared to be marijuana while visiting Peru last May. However, marijuana is legal in Peru as long as it’s for personal use and the person is carrying less than eight grams.

Tomlinson declared that he wanted to “light up” as the car left a parking lot and a rolled cigarette appears to be lit shortly after. He then joked about a nearby police car escorting their van, declaring “One nil bitch! Look at this bitch! He's having a look. He's thinking, 'I'm sure I can smell an illegal substance in there.' And he's hit the nail on the head."

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By McCarton Ackerman

harm reduction?

11/18/14 8:30am

Magazine For Drug Addicts To Make Money For Drug Use

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Front cover of Illegal! Photo via

A group of Danish drug-reform campaigners have published a magazine whose primary goal is to help addicts in London fund their drug habit legally.

The quarterly magazine, called Illegal!, was initially launched in Denmark in September 2013. The initial publication was in Danish and has enjoyed a circulation of about 15,000 copies, but an initial 2,000 copies of the English language-version are being sold on London streets.

As a means of helping down-and-out drug users obtain money without resorting to theft or prostitution, they are given the magazine for free and then sell it for about $5.50 per copy. However, those who buy the magazine are advised the seller is “more than likely” to spend the money on drugs.

“Everyone has a right to do with their body as they wish and, if that means a two-day acid trip in Camden or an ecstasy-fuelled night in Shoreditch, then so be it,” read the magazine’s foreword. "What we lack is education. Welcome to Illegal! magazine in London.” The first issue focuses on “safer and more enjoyable drug use” and was written with the help of the Global Drug Survey.

Editor-in-Chief Michael Lodberg Olsen said if the initial test run is a success, then drug users would pay about $2.25 per issue to help cover the costs of the magazine. Although the magazine doesn’t skimp on substance or content, his primary goal with Illegal! was to help spark a conversation about drug use.

“We can’t just ignore that drugs are everywhere and there are heavy drug users on the streets who often fund their habit through theft or prostitution. This offers them an alternative. It is about breaking the cycle between drug use and crime,” he said. “We don’t think the magazine breaks any laws. We have told people that, if someone is unhappy about the magazine being sold near a particular place, then they should move on.”

Denmark has always been on the more progressive side when it comes to addressing drug use. Danish Parliament passed legislation in June 2012 that would allow for “fix rooms,” or drug consumption centers where users are supervised when using. A second DCR was opened that August both centers now host 1,800 users who smoke and inject heroin and cocaine.

But that isn’t to say that drug use at DCR’s is necessarily safer. Although no deaths have taken place in the two Copenhagen fix rooms, 135 people overdosed on site in the first year.

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

11/18/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Nov. 18, 2014

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By Shawn Dwyer

drugs in the workplace

11/17/14 7:30pm

Positive Marijuana Tests In Workplace On The Rise

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Marijuana use and employment drug testing are leading to blurred lines in states where the drug is legal for recreational use, while positive tests for marijuana have also spiked overall across the country.

Recent figures from Quest Diagnostics show that positive tests for marijuana in employment drug screenings jumped 6.2% nationally from 2012-2013. Since marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Colorado and Washington, positive tests increased by 20% in Colorado and 23% in Washington.

"We will be very interested to see how our data evolves over the next year or two in these two states, relative to those that have not legalized so-called 'recreational' marijuana," said Barry Sample, Quest's Director of Science and Technology.

Perhaps surprisingly, positive tests for prescription painkillers declined for the second straight year. Positive tests for opiates such as heroin remained fairly steady compared to the previous year.

Quest Diagnostics also confirmed last September that marijuana was the most common drug to turn up in Quest tests, with 44% of all positive tests coming back positive for pot. Amphetamines came in second at 20.4%, followed by opiates at 9.8%, benzodiazepines at 9.3%, and cocaine at 4.6%.

The high numbers for positive marijuana tests aren’t particularly surprising since a new government report found that marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the US. Using data from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Abuse, the report showed that more than 20 million Americans over the age of 12 used marijuana in the last year. Non-medical prescription drug use was a distant second at 4.5 million users in the last year, followed by cocaine at 1.5 million.

Positive drug tests are also up overall for the first time in a decade. Out of the 7.6 million drug tests that Quest gave in 2013, 3.7% of them came back positive, a slight increase from the 3.5% of positive tests in 2012. However, these numbers remain historically low compared to the peak of 13.6% in 1988.

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By McCarton Ackerman

heroin addiction

11/17/14 5:30pm

'Hell's Kitchen' Star Opens Up About Brother's Heroin Addiction

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Gordon Ramsay, the fiery host of the popular cooking reality series Hell's Kitchen, has opened up about his brother's long battle with heroin addiction.

Ramsey, 48, recently told the Sunday People that Ronnie's addiction has been tearing his family apart. “I have tried to help many times. It’s hard. Every time you see him, God bless him, it reopens a wound for everybody," Ramsay said.

He said that he and his mother have been trying to help Ronnie for years, but to no avail. “Sometimes you have got to be a little bit stronger than the previous time and introduce tough love," Ramsey said. "They have got to hit rock bottom before they want to get out of that scenario so I think it is more painful from the outside for mum."

Ramsay also talked about Ronnie's 15-month imprisonment in Indonesia after being arrested in 2007 for heroin possession. Whether or not his brother will get sober remains to be seen and Ramsey doesn't seem sure that it will ever happen.

"I am looking at a dreadful disease like cancer, once you get diagnosed you have a choice but you do have a choice when you use drugs,” he said. "We always clash and it is hard to get back to that ground zero. We had bunk beds and we grew up together, so to see him now is tougher."

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By Shawn Dwyer

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