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legalization of marijuana

5/23/12 12:21pm

Support for Legal Pot Hits New High

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Support continues to grow. Photo via

A hefty 56% of Americans now support legalizing marijuana and believe it should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco, according to a new nationwide Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters. Only 36% of the voters asked in the new poll opposed the concept, and 8% were undecided. Public support for the legalization has been building steadily in recent years; as a 2009 poll found 44% of Americans in favor, and another poll last October showed a then-record high support of 50%. "Polling now consistently shows that more voters support legalizing and regulating marijuana than support continuing a failed prohibition approach, yet far too many politicians continue to act as if marijuana policy reform is some dangerous third rail they dare not touch." says Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop who is the executive director of advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "If the trends in public opinion continue in the direction they are going," he adds, "the day is not far away when supporting a prohibition system that causes so much crime, violence and corruption is going to be seen as a serious political liability for those seeking support from younger and independent voters."

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By Chrisanne Grise

Celebrity rehab

5/23/12 10:57am

"The Situation" Opens Up on Rehab Stint

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A sober summer ahead. Photo via

Jersey Shore star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino has opened up for the first time about his stint in rehab and his new-found sobriety. The 29-year-old tells MTV News, "Ever since I've been out, I'm not gonna lie...it's not easy. But at the same time, where I'm at right now, I'm at a good place. But it took a little bit to get there." Back in March, the reality TV star checked himself into rehab at Cirque Lodge in Utah. "In the beginning, for sure, when I was [at the facility] in Utah, I'd wake up and just be extremely disappointed with myself," he says. "Like, 'I can't believe I got here. How did I get here?'" Though Sorrentino has partied hard on many episodes of Jersey Shore, he insists he was addicted only to painkillers—not to alcohol, cocaine, or marijuana. He also states that he never mixed alcohol with painkillers. "You hear stories all the time, you know, of celebrities and people just not even waking up," he says. "That could have been me." The Situation considers himself lucky that his addiction didn’t spiral totally out of control, and admits to feeling many different emotions while in treatment; "I'm not gonna lie, it feels like you're not gonna recover," he says of his early days of sobriety. "It feels like an impossible deed...day-by-day it gets better."

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

5/23/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: May 23, 2012

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The harbor was no safe haven. Photo via

By Bryan Le

political pot

5/22/12 5:16pm

Congress Hopeful to Smoke Pot on Capitol Hill

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Caffrey for Congress: A New Green America
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Most political candidates make spending or policy pledges; Andy Caffrey, a candidate for Congress from California, is promising to smoke a joint on the steps of Capitol Hill. The 54-year-old Humboldt County native, who is running in the upcoming elections as a Democrat, was caught toking on the campaign trail twice just last week and confirms his willingness to get arrested to make his point: “If I have to do it, I’ll smoke a joint on the Capitol steps and get arrested to draw national attention to what’s going on," Caffrey pledges. “I’m fighting for our right to consume [medical] marijuana at will without any criminal penalties. Just don't say I'm advocating for children to use it." Caffrey has been smoking prescribed cannabis for the last six or seven years, he says, and always carries a physician's note in case he's questioned by law enforcement. He uses it primarily to cope with his attention deficit disorder, as well as PTSD caused by five years of homelessness after he "lost everything" in the 1991 Oakland Firestorm, and by his sister's suicide. "Sometimes I just have so many things going on and I get very anxious that I’m not as focused as I should be,” says the candidate, who is also campaigning on climate change. “So it’s more of a focusing agent, I guess you can say, and you can call it sort of an anti-depressant.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

Screen addiction

5/22/12 4:32pm

Are Kids Becoming "Screen Addicts"?

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Very young kids should have no screen time.
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Young kids can be addicts, too, says Dr. Aric Sigman, a clinical biologist and psychologist who presented his research today at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health conference in Scotland: screen addicts. He claims that children are at risk of forming addictions to screen devices like smartphones, games consoles and televisions in a manner similar to drug and alcohol abuse. His research shows that production of dopamine—the brain's pleasure chemical, which is heavily associated with addiction—rises rapidly in children when they play computer games or watch music videos. "Previously a child would put £1 in a machine at an arcade and the experience would be over in 10 minutes, but now we are talking about hours of this experience every day," says Sigman. "We don't think of experience as something linked to dependence, we only think of a substance. Increasing daily dopamine release in reaction to hours of computer games and other screen media is becoming a real possibility with important potential consequences." He believe that these consequences could include long-term changes to the brain. Sigman's research found that the average 10 and 11-year-old spends 6.1 hours per day looking at screen devices and has access to an average of five screens at home. By the age of seven, an average child born today will have spent the equivalent of one full year watching screen media 24-hours a day. And while the US and Australian authorities have recommended no screen time for children under the age of two, Sigman thinks this age limit should be pushed up to three, and argues for a two-hour daily screen limit for anyone under the age of 18.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Sports Doping

5/22/12 3:41pm

MMA's Dope Policies Rile Critics

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Diaz was fined $60,000 and suspended
for a year. Photo via

The Nevada State Athletic Commission is willing to lay the smackdown on medical marijuana in the MMA, but seems controversially lenient on testosterone injections. Fighter Chael Sonnen was let off after using testosterone before his title fight with Anderson Silva—but Nick Diaz' toking earns a one-year suspension and 30% of his fight money from his most recent bout ($60,000 from his $200,000 earnings), outraging critics. “If you think those decisions made the sport of mixed martial arts cleaner and/or safer,” writes Ben Fowlkes on MMA Fighting, “then I want to know where you got that prescription for whatever it is you’re smoking.” Questioned by the NSAC, Sonnen admitted using testosterone, but claims his trainer led him to believe it was allowed, and that he had no suspicions even when warned never to mention it. Sonnen's doctor says he suffers from low testosterone and that officials were able to test Sonnen after his fight—a point of contention for some experts, who say that “morning-after” tests for steroids “make little sense,” as the evidence would long-since have tapered off. Sonnen tested clean and was exonerated.

 

But Diaz didn't have it so easy with his MMJ use—even though it isn't exactly known as a performance enhancer. Rather than denying or deflecting, Diaz' lawyers argued against the NSAC's drug policies—and lost. "Effectively what they did,” says Diaz' attorney, “was punish him for legally consuming marijuana more than a week before the fight and then having an inactive component sequestered in his fat tissue after the fight." Diaz says medical marijuana helps him focus; his doctor prescribed it for ADHD. “If the sport isn’t harmed by allowing one athlete to artificially increase his levels of a powerful hormone,” writes Fowlkes, “how is it harmed by allowing another to use one of the least harmful recreational drugs around?” Diaz' attorneys are now seeking to change the ruling via a judicial review.

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By Bryan Le

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