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drugs and music

8/31/12 4:18pm

Why Stevie Wonder Stayed Off Drugs

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Wonder says he's made it this far by staying
clean. Photo via

Soul legend Stevie Wonder, reflecting upon his career in an interview with The Guardian, says he owes his health and success to the fact that he stayed off drugs—after trying marijuana once and hating it. Asked how he's managed to stay on top while his “revolutionary soul peers” fell out of the spotlight, Wonder denies he's anything special. "First of all," he says, "I'm no better than the next person. But I've never had a desire to do drugs. When I was 21 I smoked marijuana, and I didn't like the way it made me feel. When I woke up the next morning I felt like I'd lost part of my brain." The revelation may disappoint fans of the Stevie Wonder medical marijuana strain, who likely wouldn't list “sensation of partial brain-loss” as a side effect.

Still, his lack of any kind drug habit spared him a fate like those of many younger performers, such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse. Wonder says he's sad for what was lost and what could have been: "It's been a heartbreak—obviously I knew Michael. I knew Whitney, too. And I understand Amy came to my concert in England a couple of years ago. I was thinking about us doing a duet—an old Marvin and Mary Wells song called 'Once Upon A Time.' It would have been amazing." Wonder also provoked a bit of outrage with his answer to a question about rising soul star Frank Ocean's sexuality, saying, "I think honestly, some people who think they're gay, they're confused. People can misconstrue closeness for love. People can feel connected, they bond. I'm not saying all [gay people are confused]. Some people have a desire to be with the same sex. But that's them."

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By Bryan Le

Drugs in prison

8/31/12 3:13pm

How Prisoners Make Joints and Pipes

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Inmates have their own views on
enlightenment. Photo via

When prisoners obtain some marijuana or K2 it's not like they can go down to the local store and buy a pack of rolling papers or Black and Mild to roll up and freak their spliff. And nowadays in the Bureau of Prisons and other state systems, tobacco and rolling papers aren't sold on commissary, so finding ways to smoke can be a challenge. But of course, it can be done. "You can use the wrapping from a roll of toilet paper to roll a joint. It works real good," one prisoner tells The Fix. Although, "In some prisons they remove the wrapping before they hand out the toilet paper because they know we use it to roll joints." Another method is more provocative: "Pages from a Bible work real good. The only problem is there is no sticky part on the paper so you have to lick the joint real good, so the paper will stick and not fall apart when it burns." Bibles are readily available in prison and the light, crinkly paper lends itself to rolling joints. And most prisoners aren't bothered by the idea of being sacrilegious.

Making a pipe is also an easy option; prisoners just need a soda pop can. "If I'm trying to fire up using a pipe, or I can't get any paper to roll the weed, I get a Coke can, crush the middle and poke holes in the side and boom: instant pipe," says one. "Some dudes get metal plumping fixings out of facilities and make pipes like that also. The come up with some crazy smoking pipes. You just have to be creative." And to spark the joint up, prisoners use two batteries and a little aluminum-coated paper strip—just like what Hershey Bars are wrapped in: "That paper works real good, but you can also use little wires, just put it between the batteries with one end on the positive and the other on the negative and you get a spark, which will light your joint or a piece of paper which you can light the pipe with." It isn't easy—probably not even possible—to stop prisoners getting high.

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By Seth Ferranti

Kicking Butt

8/31/12 2:02pm

Ronnie Wood Struggles to Quit Smoking

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The same cigarettes as he? Photo via

Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood has kicked his drug addictions and been alcohol-free for more than two years, but now he's battling to quit one final vice: cigarettes. He made the promise to his girlfriend, producer Sally Humphreys, at the beginning of the year but has struggled to follow through on it. “Ronnie has really tried to knock the smoking on the head but it’s one sacrifice too far,” says a friend. "He told Sally he was going to give it his best shot, but it just wasn't to be. He's done amazingly well removing alcohol and drugs from his life and cigarettes are the only vice he has left." Wood told reporters last November that he was planning to kick the habit, but was recently spotted in Paris with a cigarette in hand as he left a rehearsal. It remains unclear whether or not he's still in the process of quitting.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Medical marijuana

8/31/12 1:05pm

Medical Pot Lives to Fight Another Day in LA

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Advocates who've been holding their breath
can now exhale. Photo via

Medical marijuana activists in LA have won their fight to halt the city's planned ban on pot dispensaries—for now. The ban was set to go into effect next week, but has been suspended after activists produced a petition of more than 50,000 signatures in protest. If at least 27,425 of the signatures are verified, the City Council has 20 days to choose either to repeal the ban or to put it to voters on a March, 2013 ballot. The ban—which was set to shut down 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, allowing only groups of three or fewer marijuana patients to grow weed in their homes—is backed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Charlie Beck. However, a basic one-light "grow at home" tent, running at upwards of $5,000, is cost-prohibitive for many users. “We understand and appreciate the need for strict rules and regulations regarding dispensaries. But the outright ban went too far, and will result in many sick and infirm patients suffering needlessly," says Gary Carver, one medical marijuana user who signed the petition. "What we need is a thoughtful policy that allows us to get our medicine and protects communities, not a shortsighted ban that causes us pain and thwarts the will of the people.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

Celebrity Roundup

8/31/12 12:10pm

Celebrity Roundup: August 31, 2012

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Sage Stallone died of a heart attack.
Photo via

Reports of drugs found at the scene of the death of  Sylvester Stallone son, Sage, death last month prompted a rash of speculation that he may have been in the late stage of drug addiction or even selling pills. But one thing is clear: drugs didn't cause his death. The Los Angeles Coroner’s office has determined that Stallone died of natural causes. Specifically, they report that there was evidence of heart disease—unusual for a man of only 36. 

While no one has suggested that Prince Harry himself was under the influence of drugs when his notorious nude photos were taken, one eyewitness claims that things got pretty crazy that night. The source says that cocaine was being used at the party, and that guests were high on hallucinogenic mushrooms. “That’s exactly why no one there has come forward on the record,” the source claims. “They don’t want to be implicated for any illegal activities.”

Shia LaBeouf has a fast-growing reputation for eccentricity—and reports that he went pretty method for his role in Charlie Countryman should only reinforce that image. He tripped on acid in preparation for the role. “Sometimes, it does get real,” he explained to USA Today. “Too real for a [director] who’s trying to keep a diplomatic set.” Hard to imagine what one of those looks like. 

Colin Farrell’s tough road to sobriety has been turbulent and well-documented. But the launch of his new film, Total Recall, has the actor reflecting on his past indiscretions. “It’s helped to stay away from cocaine and whisky,” he acknowledges. What keeps him occupied now? “Yoga.” Whatever works! 

Although reports broke early yesterday that LeAnn Rimes had checked into rehab for primary addiction treatment, she later clarified that her treatment was for psychological issues unrelated to addiction. “LeAnn has voluntarily entered a 30-day in-patient treatment facility to cope with anxiety and stress,” her rep said in a statement, adding that “she is simply there to learn and develop coping mechanisms.”

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By Sam Lansky

Overdose Awareness Day

8/31/12 10:27am

Today Honors Those Who Died by OD

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A day for remembrance and reflection
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Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, a day to commemorate those who have lost their lives to OD. Organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance will be holding events to raise awareness and promote policies that are compassionate towards those at risk—like expanding the availability and knowledge of naloxone, and adopting 911 "Good Samaritan" laws. Overdose now claims more lives in the US than car crashes, drowning and firearm deaths, and the DPA stresses the need to address this. “Naloxone is a regular medicine like any other medicine, it's legal, non-narcotic, and you can't abuse it,” Meghan Ralston of the DPA tells The Fix. “And it does only one thing: reverse opiate overdose.” According to Ralston, physicians simply aren't aware or familiar with the drug and thus don't prescribe it to patients. The high demand for nalaxone combined with its scarcity also drives up its price, making the drug needlessly expensive to get a hold of. Good Samaritan laws allow people to call 911 to report ODs without fear of being arrested for minor drug violations. “It can be challenging for law enforcement officials to understand the depth and complexity of addiction and overdose in their home state,” Ralston tells us, saying that officers generally opt to make low-level drug arrests because they're unaware of widespread public support for policy changes towards handling opiate drug overdoses. Those who can't make it to the planned candlelight vigils, rallies and fundraisers around the country can show their support on Twitter by using the hashtag #OD12.

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By Bryan Le

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