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8/20/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: August 20, 2012

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Republican Kevin Yoder made a big splash
in the holy land. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

Legalization of Marijuana

8/17/12 5:22pm

Legalization Debate Divides Hempfest

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Can't we all just get a bong? Photo via

Tens of thousands of marijuana advocates have been attending Seattle’s Hempfest since 1991, and this year’s celebration—which kicks off today—should have even more to celebrate with the upcoming state vote on legalizing marijuana. If passed this fall, the legislation would allow people over 21 to possess up to one ounce of weed. Surprisingly though, a large number of participants are actively campaigning against the measure. In fact, the debate has gotten so heated that the festival organizers are refusing to take an official side, for risk of alienating passionate employees and attendees. "It's painful and it's frustrating," says Vivian McPeak, director of the festival. "It's been sort of like navigating shark-infested waters." The organizers plan to ensure that both sides of the issue are represented at a panel discussion on the topic of legalization held during the festival this weekend.

Hempfest hasn't always been so controversial; in past years, attendees have united to campaign for marijuana ballot measures. But now that a substantial bill—called I-502—exists, the community is divided. Those opposed say the bill doesn’t do enough, since it won’t permit home growing except for medical marijuana patients, and recreational sales will only be allowed at state-licensed stores. In addition, the measure contains a DUI provision that could allow convictions based on THC in a driver’s bloodstream. "I believe that Hempfest should have taken a position against 502, and I think some of these national organizations who have come out in support of it have done so on a really knee-jerk basis," says Doug Hiatt of Sensible Washington. He believes the measure is a “ridiculous waste of time and money” because it only makes an exception to the existing laws, rather than repealing any current laws that ban marijuana. But advocates see the bill as a major breakthrough, and the result of years of hard work. "I'm actually sad that Hempfest isn't embracing this as sort of a pinnacle of the work that they've been doing for so long," says Alison Holcomb, campaign director for the I-502 campaign. "There have been so many people who have worked literally for decades to have a chance to begin to roll back marijuana prohibition...and this is the year that we can finally break through that wall."

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By Chrisanne Grise

Jane Says

8/17/12 4:13pm

Does Being in Recovery Make You More Spiritual?

Q: Has recovery made a significant difference to your spiritual beliefs, and is such a change inevitable?

[Jane is now exclusively answering your questions about addiction, recovery and the like. Send your questions to janevelezmitchell@thefix.com.]

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By Jane Velez-Mitchell

music and addiction

8/17/12 3:13pm

Flaming Lips to Release Album About Addiction

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Drozd (center) with bandmates, is doing
better. Photo via

The title of the upcoming Flaming Lips album The Terror may provide some insight into the dark inspiration behind it. Frontman Wayne Coyne revealed that the main influence behind the record was the drug addiction of fellow band member Steven Drozd, who is now recovering. “It was probably the worst time of his life,” says Coyne. “I knew he was really, really struggling. He was in a bad way.” Instead of working with the band on recording new music, Drozd holed up in a different studio to record a series of “horribly creepy” tracks, the melodies of which will actually make it on to several songs of the new album. “Not all the pieces were audible, but he had these things saying ‘you are not alone,’ and then the other voice saying, ‘I am not alone.’ Back and forth between some horrible internal dialogue. It was truly devastating,” Coyne says. Drozd was hospitalized before a Florida show in 2010 due to an alleged overdose and his crippling battle with addiction was depicted in the 2005 Flaming Lips documentary The Fearless Freaks. The Terror is scheduled to be released sometime this fall. 

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By McCarton Ackerman

binge drinking

8/17/12 2:00pm

Binge Drinking Linked to Unemployment for Women

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Are the consequences greater for women?
Photo via

It may seem obvious that drinking heavily could make it hard to hold down a job, but a new study from Sweden claims that binge drinking specifically among women is linked to long-term unemployment. Researchers at the Karolinka Institute analyzed data from two surveys, one from 2002 and one from 2007, that looked at habits of more than 13,000 Swedes who were unemployed or on leave. Study participants were between 20-59 years old and 55% of them were women. Binge drinking in the survey was defined as consuming more than 12 ounces of spirits in 2002, but was redefined in 2007 as six or more drinks, or roughly eight ounces of spirits. Both male and female binge drinkers shared the same initial characteristics of being younger, and having fewer educational qualifications—although men showed a greater history of previous unemployment. However, the female binge drinkers were found to have a much higher likelihood of long-term unemployment than men. “For women, binge drinking once a week or more as a predictor was associated with long-term unemployment,” says study co-author Mona C. Backhans, Ph.D.. "These gender differences reflect the fact that frequent binge drinking is probably a stronger marker for problem drinking for women, as it less common, and not 'normalized' to the extent that it is for men." However, Backhans also admitted the study's measure may be biased because the definition of binge drinking was the same for both men and women, even though women's tolerance levels are traditionally lower.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Celebrities

8/17/12 12:47pm

Celebrity Roundup: August 17, 2012

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Brown gives rehab another go. Photo via

After a rough spring, Bobby Brown is back in rehab: The legendary R&B crooner and the ex-husband of the late Whitney Houston has faced his own battles with addiction, and his rep confirmed in an official statement that Brown had checked himself into a “confidential rehabilitation center” to pursue treatment related to his alcohol use. Here’s hoping that this leads him to a new edition—of his sobriety.

Despite the popularity of methadone as a treatment for heroin addicts, actor/comedian (and Katy Perry’s ex-husband) Russell Brand, a former junkie himself, has come out swinging against methadone treatment: “We might as well let people carry on taking drugs if they're going to be on methadone," he said. Brand advocates for abstinence-based recovery, saying that while abstinence can be painful, “at least it’s hope-based.” 

Creed frontman Scott Stapp may be better known for his inspirational Christian post-grunge anthems than for being a legit rock-and-roll bad boy, but the reformed singer is planning to tell all in a new memoir which will detail his battles with alcoholism and drug addiction. “My memoir reveals never before released details about my life and the challenges I've faced before coming to grips and finding sobriety,” he explained in a statement. 

Despite having a plea of not guilty entered by her attorney at the initial hearing several weeks ago, former adult film star Jenna Jameson pled guilty to charges of DUI at her pretrial hearing on August 16 in Orange County, stemming from her car accident in May where she was arrested under the influence of alcohol, Ambien, and Suboxone. She was sentenced to 3 years of informal probation and an alcohol education program—not that the bestselling author of How to Make Love Like a Porn Star needs any more education.

Joe Simpson, father of singers Jessica and Ashlee Simpson and one of the rare celebrity "dadagers," was charged this week with misdemeanor DUI stemming from his August 4 arrest in Sherman Oaks, which saw him voluntarily blowing a .12 after having “a few glasses of wine with dinner.” A source claims that Joe “learned a very important lesson from it all.” Maybe next time he’ll take the field sobriety test instead.

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By Sam Lansky

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