When he was serving in Iraq, Sergeant Jamey Raines saw friends get “vaporized” right in front of him. After he returned from war, he suffered from sleeplessness, nightmares, “the urge to kill everything in sight,” and an inability to talk to people. The Veterans Administration seemed too busy to find out what was wrong with him and give him the right medicine. He was first diagnosed with “anxiety disorder” and only years later given the correct diagnosis: post-traumatic stress disorder. He was given handfuls of Seroquel, Zoloft, and Ambien—despite growing evidence that these meds are ineffective. Raines told The Fix, “None of it worked. I would sleep, but I would still have nightmares. Their idea was to keep me doped up on as many drugs as possible. And that was a common thing. All of my buddies I talk with had the same thing happen to them.” Then he found out what worked for him: marijuana. “It helped me immediately, just to be at ease,” he said. “I was eating better, I slept better, it helped me go to school.” After he graduated from college and had “more time to work on me,” he decided to phase out marijuana, as well as the other drugs.
Marijuana shows real promise for treating PTSD in combat veterans, with early research indicating the beneficial effects of some of the cannabinoids in the drug. The FDA has approved a federal study to measure the effects of pot on veterans with PTSD, part-funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). But that was only the first hurdle; now the scientists need to obtain the pot to use in the study. They can’t just go buy some; they have to get it from the government. MAPS Communications Director Brad Burge explained to The Fix that NIDA, a branch of the department of Health and Human Services, has “a monopoly of supply of marijuana that they have been growing for research to show the harms of marijuana,” but are unwilling to supply a study that might show benefits, continually finding often-contradictory "problems" with it. One approval committee member wrote that the study should exclude vets who have previously smoked pot. Another demanded the opposite. (The study proposes to study both as separate samples). “So we’re stuck sitting here with an FDA approved study, but nothing to study," complains Burge.
Raines says of marijuana, “I understand that it’s illegal, but so is opium. And opiates are all over not just the VA, but all of medicine... I don’t understand why they’re not willing to do everything in their power to give vets and even soldiers some relief. These guys don’t know what it’s like to have to look over your shoulder 99% of the time, and the other 1% of the time you’re asleep. It’s like any other med; it works for some and not for others. But they should make it available.” As MAPS founder Rick Doblin said: “These are people who we put in harm’s way, and we have a moral obligation to help them.”
A hard-drinking father and son, who viciously subjected a man to an agonizing ordeal using a vodka bottle, a knife and the water from a boiling kettle, were jailed by a court in Edinburgh yesterday. Paul Farrell, 44, and his 19-year-old son Ross Gourley gatecrashed a drinking party in the southern Scottish town of Galashiels on March 28. After large quantities of vodka and beer were consumed, a fight broke out between Farrell and the host, 42-year-old George Anderson. In a savage attack, Farrell struck Anderson repeatedly on the head with a vodka bottle and slashed him with a knife. As Anderson lay on the floor, fearing for his life, he heard Farrell instructing his son to "boil the kettle." The attackers then poured the water over Anderson, inflicting extensive scalding to his face, arm and shoulder—and laughed as they did it. The judge who sentenced them commented, "I have seen pictures which portray the nature of the horrific injuries you inflicted on him and he will be permanently scarred as a result." Anderson was saved by the speedy arrival of police, along with an ambulance. Gourley's lawyer said her client's behavior was "fueled by far too much alcohol," and that he regretted it. He was sentenced to six years in prison. Farrell's lawyer stressed that his client had been taking Valium—which can increase sensitivity to the effects of alcohol—but that also failed to impress the judge and he received eight years.
Chinese cops cracked down on a counterfeit drug ring in the country last week, arresting an estimated 114 people and seizing $30 million worth of fake medications and more than 65 million med bottles. Ironically, this happened just as a US Food and Drug Administration official, Dara Corrigan, was visiting Shanghai to discuss the importance of safe drugs and China’s role as a major supplier to the US. Other scandals, including fake drugs and unsafe medications, have sparked concern over China's increasing importance in the global prescription drug market. The issues date back to 2008, when hundreds of people in the US reported severe allergic reactions to Chinese-manufactured heparin, a medicine to prevent blood clots. Those reactions were eventually traced to contaminants in drug ingredients from a factory west of Shanghai. After that, the FDA set up offices in China and increased its inspections there, from only a few in 2007 to more than 80 last year. One of the biggest areas of concern is mail-ordered prescriptions and online pharmacies, which have often been linked to counterfeit drug scandals not only in China, but in countries such as the Dominican Republic as well, where scammers recently posed as DEA agents to trick US-based online prescription drug consumers out of their money. China is fighting problems with online sales of fake drugs too, sometimes from fraudulent websites that use names of common pharmaceutical companies—but not their products. “It’s not just drugs but dietary products that can have all sorts of things in them,” Corrigan said. “Limiting risk in that area is a big challenge.”
- New Rules Slashing Crack Cocaine Sentences Go Into Effect [CNN]
- Conrad Murray Declines to Take the Stand in Jackson Death Trial [New York Daily News]
- Micro Meth Labs Proliferate [Wall Street Journal]
- Anonymous Skeptical of Proposed Attack on Zetas Cartel [Wired.com]
- Scottish Ministers Face Legal Battle Over Minimum Pricing of Alcohol [The Guardian]
- The Military's Complicated Relationship with Narcotics [Wired.com]
- Dad "Cooked Meth While Children Slept" [Coolum News]
- Drunken Wrestling Demo Ends with One Arrested, One Hospitalized [ABC News]
Comedy actress Goldie Hawn has been portrayed as a "cocaine-sniffing sexpot who loved European men" by her ex-husband, Bill Hudson, in his upcoming book. Hawn, now 66, is well-remembered for films like Private Benjamin and Overboard, and won an Academy Award for her supporting role in Cactus Flower. But her silver screen career isn't what's currently making the news: Hudson says that on the couple's second date—at a Rolling Stones concert—"A large plate of cocaine came by and she took a huge snort." In what seems like a continuation of compulsion that might well require some additional fuel, they then proceeded to have sex from 1am-1pm, writes Hudson, who claims she believed in open marriage and had multiple affairs with European men. He adds that Hawn's own father told him before their marriage: "Just watch yourself...Goldie tends to want a different man for every mood she's in." Hawn has yet to respond to requests for comment; to be fair to her, the allegations date from some time ago—the pair were married between 1976 and 1979. Hudson is long estranged from their children—actors Oliver and Kate—and his revelations will hardly endear him to his ex-wife. Two Versions: The Other Side of Fame and Family, which will be published on December 1, can be pre-ordered on Amazon and is already on sale at a generous 35% discount. What may be more disturbing to Goldie Hawn fans than her alleged Scarface impression is her reported habit of continually referring to herself in the third person and yelling, "Goldie will do whatever she wants, when she wants!"
Late Friday night, the White house slipped out a flat rejection of several popular online petitions calling for the legalization of marijuana. The We the People website, which claims to be “Your Voice In Government,” has failed to give a voice to more than 150,000 people who signed the petitions. Although more Americans support legalizing marijuana than approve of President Barack Obama’s performance, the White House continues failed policies set in place by disgraced former president Richard Nixon. “We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms,” claims the rejection statement, in a piece of "reefer madness"-style propaganda: as anyone who's visited ER on a Friday night can attest, it's not stoners—perhaps suffering from stomach-ache after eating too many Cheetos—who make up the lion's share of intoxicated admissions. It's drinkers.
Ignoring evidence that the decriminalization of marijuana and other drugs elsewhere has brought great benefits, White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske states disingenuously: “As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.” In case you are in any doubt of Kerlikowske’s closed-minded approach, consider that the former Seattle Police Chief told KUOW radio, “Legalization vocabulary doesn't exist for me and it was made clear that it doesn't exist in President Obama's vocabulary." He also threatened that the federal government would sue California if it legalized marijuana via Proposition 19. With Kerlikowske running the Office of National Drug Control Policy, there's no room for opposing views.
Another former law enforcement officer, Major Neal Franklin of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), has a different take on legalization—and on listening to the voice of the people.
"It's maddening that the administration wants to continue failed prohibition polices that do nothing to reduce drug use and succeed only in funneling billions of dollars into the pockets of the cartels and gangs that control the illegal market," says Franklin. "If the president and his advisers think they're being politically savvy by shying away from much-needed change...they're wrong. The recent Gallup poll shows that more Americans support legalizing marijuana than support continuing prohibition, so the administration is clearly out of step with the people it claims to represent.” Franklin’s message to the flip-flopper-in-chief is clear: “President Obama needs to remember his campaign pledge not to waste scarce resources interfering with state marijuana laws and his earlier statement about the 'utter failure' of the drug war."