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legalization of marijuana

10/26/12 12:47pm

Colorado's Pot Laws Target Blacks and Latinos

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NAACP leader Rosemary Harris Lytle at a
Colorado conference Photo via

Marijuana law enforcement in Colorado, which has resulted in over 210,000 arrests in the past 25 years, disproportionately targets the state's black and Latino communities, as a new report illustrates. According to the Marijuana Possession Arrests In Colorado, 1986-2010 report, compiled from over two decades of FBI data, latinos have a 1.5 higher chance of being arrested for marijuana, and blacks have a 3.1 higher chance—even though whites are found to use pot more. The report was the first breakdown to include stats from the Latino community, even though, “discrimination against Latinos has gone hand in hand with marijuana prohibition since its establishment," says Denise Maes, director of public policy for the ACLU of Colorado. 

The report was presented at a conference held by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the pro-legalization group behind Colorado's Amendment 64—a November ballot measure seeking to legalize pot and regulate recreational use of the drug for adults. "Marijuana prohibition is taking a toll on all Coloradans, and it is our communities of color that are paying the biggest price," says Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, which voiced its support for Amendment 64 earlier this year. The measure, which Coloradans will vote on in two weeks, is drawing attention to an ongoing, nationwide problem. African Americans across the US are 13 times more likely to go to jail for the same drug-related offenses as white people, and make up 53.5% of all imprisoned drug offenders, according to a 2011 statement by the NAACP. "Law enforcement resources should be used to address violent and otherwise harmful crimes," says Lytle. "They should not be directed toward the enforcement of irrational marijuana laws that disproportionately impact African-Americans and other people of color. It is time for a more sensible approach.” 

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By May Wilkerson

Problem shopping

10/26/12 11:54am

SUI: Shopping Under the Influence

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Step away from the computer. Photo via

To drunk texting, add another activity that's best delayed till morning, for fear of remorse: a survey from Kelkoo, a UK shopping habits site, shows that people shopping under the influence (SUI) online spend more than they would if sober, and are more likely to regret their purchases. And 20% of those surveyed admit they can't always remember what they've bought the morning after; others have packages show up at their door that come as a total surprise. The biggest SUI offenders are people over the age of 50, who are spending more time online and may be experiencing their children moving out or the loss of a spouse. "I think we all know people who shop when they are lonely or bored. [In my practice] I've seen ample evidence of how the loss of a mate or friends triggers compulsive shopping, and certainly older people have more experience with loss," says April Lane Benson, a counselor to shopping addicts and the author of To Buy Or Not To Buy: Why We Overshop and How to StopSusan Krauss Whitbourne, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts, adds that midlifers are especially at risk because they often mix booze with sleep aids or other prescription meds, not realizing "how intoxicated they are when they sit in front of the computer." Opportunistic online retailers are well aware that their peak shopping hours arrive after work when people start drinking, and often create "limited time only" specials to take advantage. Whitbourne says treatment for people who compulsively shop while drinking often involves addressing symptoms of depression and loneliness, after which the urge to shop drunk often goes away.

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By McCarton Ackerman

drunk driving

10/26/12 10:46am

Can Pancakes Prevent Drunk Driving?

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One way to stop a drunk. Photo via

Cholesterol count aside, pancakes and bacon could be a lifesaver. This is the hope of Great Adventure Ministries, a non-profit religious organization in Omaha, Nebraska that offers up free breakfasts in exchange for car keys at a popular bar. The aim is to sober up inebriated patrons before they get on the road during Halloween weekend—a time of year that usually sees a spike in boozing and subsequent auto-accidents. The free food tends to elicit skepticism at first, with many asking "What's the catch?" says Chad Peterson, the non-prof's director. But then “they walk down into this basement and they start making some friends and they see it’s really just pancakes and bacon.” He explains that the hearty meals—dished out between midnight and 3 am—stop people getting on the road right away, and so offer "a chance to help people make wise decisions.” Last year, nearly 167 people stopped for the free breakfast. “I haven't heard of anything like this in the city so far,” says Katilynn Kotcka, who serves on the leadership team. “So I think it's pretty awesome we're doing this.” The organization believes the efforts are worthwhile, whether they save one life or 100. Peterson adds, “I know that they might not make it home if they didn't have a few minutes to take a break.” 

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

10/26/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: October 26, 2012

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Bobbi Kristina's family is worried. Photo via

By Bryan Le

celebrity addicts

10/25/12 5:18pm

Ronnie Wood Used Cocaine Suppositories

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Drugs? These two? Nuh-uh! Photo via

Former Rolling Stones member Ronnie Wood would once go to any lengths to get high, according to Rod Stewart, who was in The Faces, along with Wood, from 1969-1975. During that time, Wood's cocaine use had done so much damage to his nose that he sought out an alternate point of entry for the drug, says his former bandmate. "We'd put it a little pill, like a French do, and put it in a suppository. We did that for a little while," recalls Stewart. Wood has bounced in and out of rehab numerous times throughout his life and is open about being a recovering drug addict and alcoholic: he detailed his addictions in his 2007 memoir, Ronnie. The guitarist, who says he's been clean and sober ever since his most recent rehab stint in 2010, is looking forward to playing his first drug-free shows in years when the Stones perform for their 50th anniversary later this year. Staying sober on the road should be a little easier now; Wood reveals in Rolling Stone that fellow bandmate Keith Richards has cut back on his boozing. "Keith is a pleasure to play with now. It was a pain on the last tour, toward the end, because he was really going for it on the drinking and denial," he says. "Now he's realized that he has gotta look after himself. I'm not going to preach to him. I will step in if I see any danger."

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By McCarton Ackerman

drug war

10/25/12 4:11pm

US Spending Isn't Winning the War on Drugs

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Green line: money. Blue line: US drug use.
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Despite total federal spending of approximately $545 billion to stop drugs in their tracks, the rate of US drug use has changed relatively little over the past 40 years, according to a chart crafted by documentarian Matt Groff. Using data pulled from the Census and the government's National Drug Control Surveys, Groff finds that while anti-drug spending has increased massively since Richard Nixon declared a "War on Drugs" in the early '70s, it's made relatively little impact on the proportion of Americans using illicit drugs. In the '70s, the government was spending less than $1,000 per 100 citizens on preventing drug abuse (all values are measured in 2012 dollars). By 2000, spending hit $9,000 per 100 people—and it's remained near that level over the past decade. Meanwhile the number of drug users per 100 people in any given month hit a peak at just under 20 in 1979, before declining to just over five for most of the '90s. The last decade, however, despite the sustained high level of anti-drug spending, has seen a gradual increase in the proportion of drug users to around 10 out of every 100 people. As the US government loses money, an estimated 60,000 people have lost their lives to violence fueled by drug trafficking in Mexico, in addition to countless others around the world who have died from overdose and addiction.

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By Bryan Le

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