Marijuana fans may go on about how something so "natural" can't possibly be bad for your health, but what about Mother Nature's? In medical marijuana-puffing California, environmental health officials have had to clean up more than a ton of marijuana grow soil found dumped on the bank of the Eel River in Humboldt County. That might not sound serious, but the soil used in pot cultivation tends to be high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizers (NPK), which can wreak eco-havoc if they percolate into rivers. “It's bad for the rivers because it starves the river of oxygen, harms river organisms and can cause fish die-off,” says Melissa Martel, director of Humboldt County's Division of Environmental Health. “It can also stimulate blue-green algae blooms during certain times of the year in creeks or slower-moving bodies of water.” The 30 large bags of grow soil that were discovered have been taken to a landscaping materials company to be reused. “The best management method for spent soil is reuse. Growing vegetable crops in this high-nutrient soil, or mixing it with other soil, may result in high yields,” says Martel. ”When something is dumped inappropriately, it costs agencies and property owners time, resources and money." Pot plants need NPK fertilizers throughout their adult stages. With the battle over marijuana legalization very much in the balance, some growers may want to nurture their PR more carefully.
Nearly half of addiction counselors say they don’t always advise total abstinence for clients with substance problems, a new study shows. Researchers surveyed 913 members of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Counselors across the US, and found that around 50% of them believe it’s acceptable for certain patients with alcohol problems to have an occasional drink. This represents a dramatic rise since a similar study, released in 1994, showed just 25% of addiction therapists said they didn’t always push total abstinence. As for drug problems, about half the counselors in the new study also believe moderate drug use can be an acceptable intermediate goal, with one third able to accept it as a final goal—about the same as in a similar survey 10 years ago.
“Individuals with alcohol and drug problems who avoid treatment because they are ambivalent about abstinence should know that—depending on the severity of their condition, the finality of their outcome goal, and their drug of choice—their interest in moderating their consumption will be acceptable to many addiction professionals working in outpatient and independent practice settings,” write study co-authors Alan K. Davis, MA, and Harold Rosenberg, PhD, of the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University. “Our study did not examine whether those who want to moderate their drinking or drug use had better or worse outcomes than those who attempt to abstain immediately and completely, and research has found that episodes of lapse and relapse are common among clients no matter what outcome goal they pursue,” notes Rosenberg.“In light of this study, we suggest that clients ask about their counselor’s openness to limited or moderate consumption as an outcome goal, and that agencies acknowledge their policy regarding negotiation of outcome goals as part of informed consent.”
- Zetas Cartel Occupies Mexico State of Coahuila [LA Times]
- Weed Wars: If States Legalize Marijuana, Will Feds Still Crack Down? [NBC]
- The Nearer the Bar, the Greater the Chances of Risky Drinking [Chicago Tribune]
- "I'm Fighting Gambling Addiction for my Children" [BBC]
- Octomom's Father Checks Into Same Rehab as His Daughter [Daily Mail]
- What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailors? Fire Them [The Guardian]
Of the three states voting on the legalization of recreational marijuana on November 6—Washington, Oregon and Colorado—Oregon's Measure 80 is faring the worst in the polls. The most recent figures show 49% opposed to the measure and 42% in favor, with the highest support coming from those under 35 (interestingly, only 32% of women back the initiative, with men more evenly divided).
There are various possible explanations for this. Of the three states' ballot measures, Measure 80 is the least well-funded, partly due to its late arrival to the ballot, in July. Whereas Washington's Initiative-502 received $5.5 million and Colorado's Amendment-64 received $3 million over six months, Measure 80 had just three months to raise about half a million dollars. Measure 80 is also the most "radical" of the three initiatives, calling for a total repeal of Oregon's marijuana laws, and allowing for privatized pot harvesting and distribution, to be regulated by a commission. It's unclear whether this all-or-nothing approach will harm or help the measure—interestingly, Washington's I-502 has lost the support of many pro-pot activists who see it as too restrictive. Like the other two initiatives, Measure 80 would allow non-medical marijuana to be sold in state-run stores only, to adults aged 21 and above.
Despite some bad omens for the yes camp, the chief petitioner and author of Measure 80, Paul Stanford, remains optimistic. About 50,000 newly registered student voters could swing the vote, he tells The Fix, citing the measure's popularity among young people. He adds that the poll numbers don't account for the "fear factor"—voters' possible reluctance to admit their support over the phone, for fear of endorsing "a taboo subject." Those who oppose the bill are "mainly concerned about health and safety," Sanford says. Some cite the "gateway theory" as a reason to vote no, claiming that marijuana use leads to other, more dangerous drugs. But Sanford argues that the measure would actually reduce drug abuse, by "taking [the drug] out of the hands of kids and substance abusers and putting it in state-regulated stores, where people are asked for ID in order to purchase." And 7% of the proceeds from marijuana sales—about $25 million a year, Sanford estimates—would go to Oregon's drug treatment centers.
Another concern for Oregonians is driving safety—although Sanford notes that a clause in Measure 80 promises to study marijuana impairment and establish new rules about impaired driving if necessary. "The one huge downside to pot being legal is that driving will most certainly get even worse in this city," says John Gordon, a 38-year-old Portland resident who claims the state already deals with "awful, slow and sloppy" drivers. Despite this, he tells The Fix that he's already cast an early vote in favor of Measure 80: "Pot being illegal makes no sense. For me, it's just a silly, arcane law and marijuana being illegal causes far more problems than it could ever hope to solve."
Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and frontman Steven Tyler were once known as the "Toxic Twins" due to their mutual appetite for drugs, but they say a sobering lifestyle shift has worked magic for their music. "If you're 60 years old, you can't take a tab of acid and expect to come up with genius. It doesn't work like that anymore," says Perry. "All the other shit gets in the way of the music." The guitarist says that looking back, he realizes that even in the prime of youth, the band were hobbled by drugs—and the damage came through in their live performances. "We look back at tapes of the late 1970s—[at the time] we thought it was a great show and we were fucking incredible," recalls Perry. "But you look back at the tape 20 years later and think, 'We were like statues—standing there and we were barely playing.'" Tyler, who has been open about his struggles to stay sober after numerous stints in rehab, says the non-toxic twosome are now rocking harder than ever. "The booze can take anyone down," he says, but: "The drug of choice is the music now. There is nothing stronger than Joe and I writing a song and then getting off on that."
The military of the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau toppled the government in April, in a coup d'etat that at the time—coming as it did just two weeks before a presidential election—left many scratching their heads. But now, according to a story in the New York Times, the real reason for the coup has become apparent: to eliminate any roadblocks to military-sanctioned drug trafficking in the country. A senior DEA official tells the newspaper, "They are probably the worst narco-state that's out there on the continent. They are a major problem." In the half-year since the April "cocaine coup," more small planes than ever have been making the 1,600-mile journey from Latin America to deserted locales—including islands, fields and estuaries—in Guinea-Bissau, which is about the size of Belgium. There, under direction of the army, experts say, the planes unload their minimum ton-and-a-half of blow for shipment north to Europe. "People at the highest levels of the military are involved in the facilitation [of trafficking]," says the DEA official. "In other African countries government officials are part of the problem. In Guinea-Bissau, it is the government itself that is the problem."