Washington State is officially out of the booze biz. After the most expensive initiative fight in the state's history, voters overwhelmingly approved the privatization of Washington's liquor sales, ending a Prohibition-era rule that made the government the sole purveyor of the hard stuff for 78 years. The new rule will nearly quadruple the number of stores permitted to sell liquor from 328 to 1,428—and none of them is more excited than Costco, which pumped $22.5 million into the effort to allow it to sell booze in bulk. Finally, a 15 gallon jug of gin to go with those 15 pound jars of olives.
On Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Kim Richards seemingly exists in a perpetual fog of intoxication. The embattled former child star has always been cagey about her substance use, releasing a statement on Twitter that she's not taking any illicit drugs and has “discussed openly [her] issues with alcohol”—while admitting that “sobriety is a lifetime process.” So it was something of a surprise when Richards told plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Nassif on RHOBH's November 7 episode that she takes Trazodone, Topamax, and Lexapro daily. And it could explain a lot. Lexapro is a relatively side-effect-free SSRI, but the other two? Trazodone's a tetracyclic antidepressant that’s often given to recovering alcoholics and addicts for its strong soporific quality—useful for insomniacs who've relied on narcotic-based sedatives—but its side-effects include confusion and difficulty concentrating or remembering things. Topamax is an epilepsy drug and mood stabilizer that’s been used experimentally to treat alcoholism and migraine disorders. It, too, carries some crazy risks: users call it “Dopamax” or “Stupamax” because of side-effects like feeling disoriented and confused, or the inability to remember words or speak in complete sentences. So if Kim's on all of these, it stands to reason she’d seem inebriated, even if she’s not also drinking. Or, as castmate Brandi Glanville said, “doing crystal meth in the bathroom all night.”
Attention amateur sociologists: forget everything you believed about race, ethnicity and drug use among teenagers. According to potentially explosive new research, it turns out that black and Asian teens in the US use drugs and alcohol much less than their white and mixed-race counterparts, and that Hispanics fall somewhere in the middle. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that Native American teenagers showed the highest rate of “substance-related disorders” (using DSM-V criteria) by far: a worrying 15%. After that, adolescents of multiple race/ethnicity and whites scored 9%, Hispanics 8%, African Americans 5%, and Asians and Pacific Islanders had the lowest rate, at just 4%. The researchers, based at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, combed through reams of records and questionnaires from more than 72,000 kids around the country aged 12-17. About 37% had used alcohol, prescription painkillers, marijuana, cocaine or hallucinogens in the previous year, with about 8% meeting the criteria for addiction. The rise of the abuse of prescription opioids is confirmed among this age group: they've now become adolescents' second most favored illegal drug, after marijuana. “What surprised us the most,” admitted study author Dan Blazer, “was the relatively lower rates of use among African Americans. The public perception is that that’s not the case."
Typically, a lukewarm six-pack of Bud and a loaded weapon are all a deer hunter needs to achieve bliss. Not so for one Minnesota City man, who was busted this weekend for bringing heroin along on a hunt with his teenaged son. When a conservation officer stopped to talk to 44-year-old Ye Vang, his son and another hunter, the official caught a whiff of an unfamiliar odor wafting from Vang's backpack. When he took a closer look, he discovered what turned out to be 4.5 grams of black tar heroin. Ye Vang's son, acting as an interpreter, said the substance was opium, and that his dad used it "to feel better." Vang appeared in court in Winona County yesterday and was charged with third-degree heroin possession. Minnesota enforces strict sober hunting laws and bans the wielding of weaponry against animals—whether "a bow or firearm"—while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (the maximum blood alcohol content is 0.08, the same limit for driving). In less than a week since the Minnesota deer season opened, four injuries have been reported, including a father accidentally shooting his 16-year-old son, and two other hunters accidentally shooting themselves. Ye Vang may not bag a buck for a while: if convicted, he faces up to 20 years behind bars.
- Study Links Heavy Meth Use and Schizophrenia [Vancouver Sun]
- Surge in Alcohol Abuse Reported in Ireland [Irish Times]
- A Tool to Quit Smoking Has Some Unlikely Critics [New York Times]
- New York Public Library Prez Busted for Drunk Driving [New York Post]
- Doctor Says OxyContin Replacement Will Reduce Abuse [CBC News]
- "Wannabe" Drug Dealer Bludgeoned Two Suppliers to Death [Sydney Morning Herald]
- Delaware Woman Arranged Armed Robbery of Her Date's Percocet [DelawareOnline.com]
Lawyers for marijuana dispensaries, growers and their landlords are hitting back against the Feds' latest crackdown on California’s thriving medical pot industry. They're asking judges in four districts today for temporary restraining orders to block federal prosecutions. The orders could be granted or denied immediately—or future hearings could be scheduled. The move comes after prosecutors wrote to many dispensaries in September, telling them to shut down or face civil and criminal charges: marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, even though a number of states allow medical use. Californian and federal forces have been at odds since 1996, when the Golden State became the first to allow medical marijuana sales. The dispensaries were told they had 45 days to halt sales. For many, that time runs out Saturday. One of the dispensaries' lawyers, Matthew Kumin, said “The government’s irrational policy has reached a breaking point. The federal government said it will not prosecute patients, and yet they want to shut off their supply. This doesn’t make sense.” Their case leans on the constitution: the commerce clause, for example, grants Congress the power to “regulate Commerce ... among the Several states.” That's often read as stipulating federal regulation of between states, rather than within them. And then there's the Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” But prosecutors contend that behind a medical facade, many dispensaries deal marijuana illicitly to anyone who'll buy it.