A funny Seattle Times piece details ex-prosecutor John McKay’s futile attempt to convince a room full of police chiefs that marijuana prohibition's failure. There are few less-likely pot advocates than John McKay. Appointed by George W. Bush, he was Seattle's top federal prosecutor for five years, filing charges against so-called "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery, and famously leading a case on helicopter smuggling of British Columbian grass. McKay said in his speech that he doesn’t smoke pot, and "doesn't like people very much who smoke pot." But he's still joined a long line of people who've spent years fighting the drug war, only to denounce it on leaving office. Few serving politicians or police chiefs have the guts to speak out. The assembled cops predictably voted against endorsing I-502—a measure heading to the legislature or to voters next year, that would legalize, tax and regulate small marijuana sales in Washington State.
The Seattle Times’ rendering of police attitudes is droll. Describing the reaction as “one of frowns beneath mustaches,” the piece gives us some choice quotes. Reacting to McKay’s statement that "Our criminalization of marijuana for the last 70 years as a vehicle to reduce its use is a failure," Police Chief Ed Holmes wondered why we'd want to legalize a substance whose “only use” is for “impairment.” "With marijuana, there's only one reason you smoke it,” said Holmes, to widespread guffaws. “It's not like it tastes good. You don't smoke it with your burger." Another cop, asking to remain anonymous—presumably so nobody will surprise him with a “Father of the Year” award—boasted of having his own son arrested for pot use. Claiming the kid's now “straightened out,” he added, "I thank goodness it carries the stigma of having to be arrested." Gee, thanks dad!
Despite such attitudes, I-502 has already collected more than 230,000 signatures and will likely qualify for the November 2012 ballot. Based on state Liquor Control Board estimates, I-502's acceptance would make weed a top-five agricultural product in Washington, smoked by 10% of adults, grossing nearly $582 million and generating $215 million in taxes a year. Almost two-thirds of this money would be earmarked for research and addiction prevention. But try selling that to the cops.
A new report on the black market price of OxyContin finds that the new, harder-to-abuse version of the pill costs less on the street, presumably because demand is lower. The older version of the pill came inside a rubberized coating—stamped with the letters "OC" plus the milligram dosage—that contained the pill's time release mechanism. This time release coating was easily subverted, leaving behind a tiny football shaped chunk of pure oxycodone that could be crushed and snorted or injected. Getting the powder out of the pill was a simple two step process. You suck on the pill for a second and rub the protective coating off with a piece of tissue. Then crush and snort. Oxy's manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, came under pressure to produce a tamper-proof pill after waves of overdoses swept the county in the early 2000s. Finally, in April 2010, Purdue got the FDA go-ahead to roll out their new formulation. The new pill—now stamped with the letters "OP"—turns into a chunky, gunky mess when messed with, so it's harder to abuse. But harder doesn't mean impossible: addicts have already found numerous ways to get around the new mechanism, including the use of microwaves and freezers. Despite what the FDA calls a limited benefit to such an imperfect solution to the Oxy abuse problem, the new pills do seem to have less of a market draw, costing roughly 25 cents less per milligram on the streets than the old formula. Users still craving the easy access of the familiar old formula have created new demand in the face of pill shortages for Oxy "OC," smuggled in from Canada.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, the 21-year-old who apparently processed his frustrations with the government by taking shots at the White House Friday—and we don’t mean tequila—faces an attempted assassination charge. The accused shooter, who has a history of drug and alcohol related arrests and allegedly suffers from paranoid delusions, was apprehended yesterday. Pennsylvania state cops, acting on a tip from the Secret Service, found him hiding out in a hotel near Indiana, Pa. Authorities claim evidence links Ortega-Hernandez to the implicated assault rifle, found in an abandoned car. New Secret Service info suggests he fired two shots across the White House lawn with his sites set on the executive quarters; one bullet made contact with the executive building, fracturing bullet-proof glass in a window of the First Family’s living quarters. Ortega-Hernandez is connected to several radical conservative groups, including a neo-Nazi sect, and is claimed to have a violent obsession with President Obama. Investigators say he frequently referred to Obama as “the Anti-Christ” to friends, saying that he “needed to kill him” and was “convinced the federal government is conspiring against him.” It seems almost certain that any treatment this deluded man receives for his history of substance use will be in jail.
- Today's Smokers Have a Harder Time Quitting [Huffington Post]
- The Smokers' Surcharge [New York Times]
- What Alcohol Can Do to Your Health [Yahoo UK]
- Tik-Addicted Mom Dumps Baby After Shoplifting [IOL News]
- Slideshow: America's Smokiest Cities [CBS]
- Events at Indian River to Raise Money Addiction Treatment [TC Palm]
- 8 Kg of Heroin Stuffed Inside Toys Seized at Bulgarian Border [NoInvite.com]
- Man Wearing "I'm Not an Alcoholic T-Shirt" Busted for DUI [The Smoking Gun]
It's already illegal in most places to smoke on public buses, trains and taxis, but now smoking in private vehicles is under scrutiny. An organization representing British doctors is calling on the UK government to make it illegal to smoke in your own car. Several US states—including Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine and Oregon—already ban smoking in cars when children are present. The British Medical Association (BMA) says drivers and passengers get exposed to 23 times more toxins than they would in a smoky bar, while second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous for children, whose bodies absorb more pollutants. And US physicians agree. "Smoking in enclosed spaces is especially dangerous," Dr. Jonathan Whiteson, director of the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Wellness Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, tells CBS News. "Outdoors, smoke gets carried away on the breeze—one puff and it goes away." But in a car, he says, smoke is recycled, and toxic residue can remain even after the air has cleared. The BMA released a report calling for action, in the hope of having a tobacco-free society by 2035. It estimates that about 23 children and 4,000 adults die as a result of second-hand smoke each year in the UK. It adds that smoking can be a dangerous distraction for drivers; British police can already write a ticket for smoking in a car if they feel it has impaired driving. Will the ban be passed? Recent polls show some support: 88% of people in Ireland and 74% of people in England said they favor a ban on smoking in cars containing kids.
Mexico's cartels are still at it. A 400-yard drug tunnel portal has been discovered, linking San Diego and Tijuana. It’s enough to make a Brooklyn Bridge sandhog envious, complete with air ventilation chambers, power and room enough to stretch your legs as you stroll under the border. Strangely, the image of Captain America—the Marvel superhero and one-time champion of American youth propaganda—was printed on the plastic wrapping of many bricks of the 17 tons of marijuana seized. Whose side is he on? A recent surge in subterranean activity has showcased the cartels' relentless industriousness: more than 70 tunnels have been discovered in the last two years. The cartels have employed some imaginative and sometimes bizarre methods to move their profitable products. Earlier this month, two giant, drug-slinging catapults were seized by the Mexican Army near the border, and underwater submersibles have also been discovered, their hulls full of contraband.