- DEA Agents Search Six Walgreen Pharmacies in Florida [Wall Street Journal]
- Just One More Game... Angry Birds, Farmville, and Other Hyperaddictive "Stupid Games" [New York Times]
- Use of Drugs by the Over-60s Has Increased Tenfold in 20 Years [Daily Mail]
- The Drug Legalization Dilemma [Washington Post]
- Is There a Link Between Alcohol and Weight Loss? [Huffington Post]
- Patrick Sullivan Case: Undercover Video Shows Sheriff Sullivan Trading Meth for Sex [Huffington Post]
- Jersey Shore Star "The Situation" Checks Out Of Rehab [NY Daily News]
- $12,000 Tip? Waitress Turns It in, Cops Claim It's Drug Money [CBS]
Indonesia should be allowed to export clove cigarettes to the US as long as US-manufactured menthols are still permitted, found the World Trade Organization appeals panel yesterday, upholding an earlier ruling that a US ban on clove cigarettes discriminates against Indonesia, the world's leading clove cigarette producer. The Obama administration moved to ban clove cigarettes, made of a blend of cloves, tobacco and other flavors, in 2009. It's argued that they appeal particularly to younger people—which may be true, considering that 25% of Indonesians aged between three and 15 try smoking (a massive 90% of Indonesia's population smokes clove cigarettes). But although the US has also blocked sales of flavored cigarettes like coffee, strawberry, grape and clove, it makes an exception for menthol—an exception that favors menthol cigarette-manufacturers based in the US. It's because of this that the World Trade Organization ruled the clove cigarette ban to be discriminatory. Anti-smoking groups like the Citizens' Commission to Protect the Truth argue that the trade dispute could be resolved if the US simply agreed to ban menthols. For the moment, the clove ban remains in effect, but the US must comply soon or face possible trade retaliation from Indonesia.
Fans of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills will get to see the sober side of Kim Richards in the upcoming third season of the show. The outspoken cast member, who completed a 30-day rehab stint for alcoholism this past January, says that cameras will follow her around as she actively engages in recovery and removes herself from the alcohol-fueled tiffs that the Housewives franchise is notorious for. "I’m not going to be sitting around with these girls sipping cocktails and just hanging out," she pledges. "I’m going to be very into AA and spending time with the people who have been supporting me." She adds that she views the upcoming season as a chance for personal redemption and hopes to serve as an inspiration for others. "If I can do it [get clean], under THESE circumstances—having it all filmed, having everyone know every little detail about everything—then you can do it. It CAN be done." If successful, her changed ways could perhaps serve as inspiration to other reality stars like "The Situation," who is dealing with reports that his newly-sober ways could get him phased out of the upcoming season of Jersey Shore.
In October The Fix reported on K2 synthetic marijuana taking hold in Philly’s street drug culture, through its appeal to drug dealers monitored by parole and probation departments. Drug abstinence—enforced by probation-ordered urine screens or outpatient treatment programs—is a compulsory feature of criminal justice monitoring. Needless to say, Philly’s hustlers, who measure days in blunts passed among crew members while working the corner, aren't happy about enforced abstinence once they’re busted. Enter K2, which has a crucial feature: while it mimics the effect of THC, it doesn’t actually contain THC. K2 isn’t one specific thing; the brand name covers many different synthetic strains of a THC-like substance that’s sprayed on organic material and smoked like weed. The lack of actual THC means it doesn’t trigger a positive drug test result. Word got out about this loophole and probationers flooded through it, driving a big market. Bans on synthetic drugs like K2 and the meth-like "bath salts" rushed through legislatures last year, but criminalization didn’t cut demand; it just moved K2 from behind the counter at the gas station to under the counter at the corner store.
It didn’t take long for street chatter about how half the city is duping their PO to reach the top of the chain; probation department directors started talking to the labs that do their drug testing about closing the K2 loophole. That’s proven harder—and pricier—than anticipated. The new K2 tests cost $35 each, and only screen for the five most common K2 strains; there are as many as 100 different strains, with new ones constantly developing, so that's hardly conclusive. And for a drug test to be admissible in court, a specimen must be retested using a highly refined process like gas chromatography-mass spectronomy—that's another $100 a pop. The tests’ costs are so high and budgets so tight that law enforcement hasn’t seriously implemented them. The system has looked the other way. So Philly’s K2 use has gone through the roof.
This week, the director of one of Philly’s largest drug treatment centers, which monitors huge numbers of criminal justice clients for drug abstinence, told The Fix about an experiment his institution ran to gauge the extent of K2 abuse by clients who otherwise test negative and proclaim abstinence to counselors and probation officers. Out of 10 randomly-selected urine specimens tested, seven contained K2. Another indicator of K2’s popularity is that it's been christened by the streets—a sign that your drug of choice has truly arrived. “Two-in’”—as in, “He shouldn’t be driving, he’s been two-in’ all night”—is the new word on the corner. Just don’t use it in front of your probation officer.
Today (April 6) is the last day to claim your early bird discounts ($50 off!) for registration to the Freedom & Recovery Conference—held April 23-26, 2012 at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego—so register today!
What's more, Fix readers who contact the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-345-3360 can receive better discounts still, in an exclusive offer!
Register for an event that will bring you together with leading experts who specialize in treating service men, women, and their families. Military personnel, law enforcement officers and first responders can be exposed to more stress and trauma in one day than many people experience in a lifetime. This unique conference will gather the nation's foremost treatment experts to examine issues including addiction, pain management, PTSD and more with a focus on education and training for professionals. We will discuss the challenges that these individuals face, as well as treatment strategies that prepare them for a return to work and civilian life.
Make plans now to join us for two special evenings with guest speakers:
- Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient, on Tues., April 24 @ 6 pm
- J.R. Martinez, veteran and Dancing With the Stars participant, on Weds., April 25 @ 6 pm!
It no longer comes as any surprise that prescription painkiller use is surging in the US, but new figures from the DEA are still staggering to read. In 2010, pharmacies nationwide received and dispensed 69 tons of pure oxycodone (the key ingredient in Oxycontin, Percocet and Percodan) and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone (the key ingredient in Vicodin, Norco and Lortab). That's enough to give 40 five-milligram Percocets and 24 five-milligram Vicodins to every single person in the US. An aging national population accounts for some of the increase—but far from all of it. Some regional figures are astonishing: oxycodone sales in Staten Island climbed 1,200% between 2000 and 2010, for example. Parts of Eastern California saw 500% increases during that time, while in most of Tennessee per capita oxycodone sales became five or six times higher. And in areas of New Mexico, hydrocodone sales are five times higher per capita and oxycodone sales 10 times what they were in 2000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone were responsible for 14,800 deaths in 2008, and that number has continued to rise. "Prescription medications can provide enormous health and quality-of-life benefits to patients," Gil Kerlikowske, the US drug czar, told Congress in March. "However, we all now recognize that these drugs can be just as dangerous and deadly as illicit substances when misused or abused." Forty states currently have prescription drug monitoring systems aimed at tracking patients, but there's no monitoring at the federal level.