A 17-year-old girl whose diet has apparently consisted of nothing but chicken nuggets—and the occasional portion of fries or slice of toast—since the age of two has collapsed and been rushed to hospital. Stacey Irvine was a picky eater as an infant. Then when she was two, her mother took her to a McDonald’s near their home in Birmingham, England, and Stacey tasted her very first chicken McNugget. “I loved them so much they were all I would eat,” she says. “I just couldn’t face even trying other foods. Mum gave up giving me anything else years ago.” Because of her "addiction," she never even tastes fruit or vegetables. The factory worker collapsed at her job last week, suffering from anemia, inflamed veins and breathing difficulties. She was so deficient in essential vitamins and minerals that she was rushed to hospital to have them administered intravenously. Although her condition has improved, doctors say she's far from safe. A fried chicken nugget contains little nutritional value, but lots of fat, sodium and "empty" calories. A 20-piece portion holds 58 grams of fat and 926 calories—that's nearly half the total daily allowance of calories, and more than the daily allowance of fat. Nutritionist Dr. Carina Norris describes Stacey’s case as the most extreme food addiction she's seen in ten years in the field: “She should view her health scare as a warning—a wake-up call that she needs to drastically change her diet.”
Drug dealers have been exploring ways to sidestep new laws introduced last year to govern “pill mills” in Florida—long the nation’s hub for painkiller distribution. After the state banned doctors from distributing narcotics like oxycodone direct from clinics, hundreds of people have tried to open private pharmacies; a pharmacy now must register with DEA and be licensed by the state to administer drugs requiring a doctor's prescription. Many applicants who get turned down in Florida have been applying in Georgia: 95% of Georgia applicants are somehow connected to Florida. And the DEA expects yet more pill-pushing pharmacies to surface in Tennessee and North Carolina once they get pushed out of Georgia. "Traffickers adapt to situations," says Mark Trouville, special agent in charge of the DEA field offices in Florida. "We knew once we put pressure on the pill mills, the wrong people would start opening pharmacies." Many Florida pharmacies are still selling thousands of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills to people recruited by drugs dealers. But since the new laws came into effect, the number of Florida doctors in the US top 100 for purchasing oxycodone has dropped from 90 to 13, according to the DEA.
The tiny Wisconsin burg of Antigo is engulfed in a golf-and-drug scandal that has lead to the suspension of the elementary school principal and implicated former members of the coaching staff of the well regarded local football program. According to the Wisconsin Rapids Herald, the Bass Lake Country Club has been used this winter as a meeting place for local men to buy, sell and smoke marijuana. The club, which is carved into the large pine forests that border the Nicolet National Forest to the northeast of Wausau, is closed for the off-season. Reportedly, the group of men, who are all in their 40s and 50s, bought and sold marijuana, often smoking it before playing rounds of golf. The investigation by the Langlade County Sheriff's Department also found that players purchased cocaine dozens of times.
Bass Lake was a hotbed. Former football coach John Lund was accused in court documents of selling the weed, and a local drug dealer named Jim Hunter was arrested last week. "It is that Hunter estimated selling cocaine three or four times a year to the Bass Lake Country Club guys over the past three years," the filing says. "It totals about 18 to 24 deliveries of cocaine to the Bass Lake Country Club."
Will he or won't he? That's the question on the minds of anti-prohibitionists tuning in to watch President Obama’s yearly “Your Interview with the President,” broadcast today at 5:30 pm EST. A video question [below] advocating marijuana legalization posed by a retired deputy LAPD chief came second in the White House’s competition this year (number one was a write-in about copyright infringement), winning twice as many votes as the closest video question. It was submitted by Stephen Downing, a board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP): "Mr. President, my name is Stephen Downing, and I'm a retired deputy chief of police from the Los Angeles Police Department. From my 20 years of experience I have come to see our country’s drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources. According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumbers those who support continuing prohibition. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you've delivered in your first term?"
There's no guarantee that the president will choose to answer this question, given his penchant for dodging the marijuana issue. Last year a question from a LEAP activist gathered the most votes overall, leading President Obama to let slip that in his opinion drug legalization is "an entirely legitimate topic for debate." His actions however, done nothing to reflect this. As inert as Obama has been when it comes to drug law reform, he’s still miles ahead of his nearest competitors. With Ron Paul’s White House bid seemingly doomed to failure, and Gary Johnson forced into making a third party run, we're left with the alternatives of of Newt “hang ‘em all” Gingrich or Mitt “drugs are bad” Romney. Stay tuned for the President’s answer today.
Ketamine has been used for many decades as an anesthetic, and more recently as a popular club drug known as “Special K.” But new research suggests it could provide relief from symptoms of depression. The study is being conducted by Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston. Initial findings indicate that while anti-depressants like Prozac may take weeks or even months to begin working, ketamine's benefits could kick in within hours. “[Patients typically say] ‘I feel something has lifted or feel that I’ve never been depressed in my life. I feel I can work. I feel I can contribute to society,’ ” says Carlos Zarate, who researches ketamine at the National Institutes of Health. “And it was a different experience from feeling high. This was a feeling that something has been removed." The study involves giving patients either a sedative or ketamine; the information on what each patient received will only be revealed once the study is done months from now. Up to 40% of patients suffering from depression reportedly just don’t respond to drugs like Prozac. However, ketamine has to be administered intravenously, under medical supervision, and can cause short-term psychotic symptoms.
Advocates for better drug and alcohol treatment in Pennsylvania welcomed the decision of Gov. Tom Corbett last week to nominate Philadelphia attorney Gary Tennis as secretary of the state’s new Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, launched as a result of the passage of a 2010 law. Tennis is former chief of the legislation unit in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and served as executive director of President Clinton’s Commission on Model State Drug Laws in 1993. “Gary Tennis knows an awful lot about addiction,” Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) tells The Fix. DiGirolamo was the 2010 law’s primary sponsor; he has a 36-year-old son with 11 years in recovery. “This was our main goal, creating a cabinet-level position,” he says. Federal law requires every state to have a single authority on drug and alcohol treatment. But until now Pennsylvania’s drug-and-alcohol treatment bureau was “buried in the department of health,” as he puts it.
Deb Beck—who is president of the Drug and Alcohol Services Providers of Pennsylvania, and worked with DiGirolamo on the bill—says addiction reaches into one in four families in the state, and that the new department will streamline efforts to organize treatment systems and guide those seeking treatment. It should save money, too, by keeping people out of the criminal justice system and bringing them into treatment. “I also expect there’ll be a lot of tightening up throughout the state,” Beck tells us. For example, the state’s DUI law is administered by the state department of transportation, “but the quality-control piece on the treatment will now be coordinated out of this new agency,” she explains. “They’ll pull everything together and coordinate—to make sure every entity of government is using the best treatment, from the bureau of corrections, to county corrections, to the department of transportation, and they’ll focus on getting the best prevention programs in the schools.” In the 2010 vote on the law, just three out of 203 house members opposed, Beck notes. "That's kind of unusual for something like this, considering the stigma against addiction."