Would legalizing pot ultimately help—or harm—children? That's the question being raised in Washington as prominent advocacy groups take sides on the state's Initiative 502, which seeks to legalize recreational marijuana. Seattle-based advocacy group Children's Alliance has now voted to come out in favor, due to its belief that racial bias in the enforcement of marijuana laws is damaging to children in minority households. "The status quo is not working for children, particularly children of color," says the group's director Jon Gould. "Public policy ought to move us further toward racial equity and justice, and Initiative 502 is one step forward to that." Although marijuana is used at similar rates by whites and blacks in the US, black people are three times as likely to be arrested, charged and convicted of pot-related crimes, with about 90% of these charges for possession. Children "end up paying a terrible price for the disproportionate enforcement," says Gould; in addition to losing family members to prison, parents' criminal records can impact their ability to get jobs, public housing or federal student aid.
On the other side of the argument are those who believe that more young people will use marijuana if the initiative—which would allow people over 21 to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana at state-licensed "pot stores"—is passed. In a statement opposing I-502, the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention notes that marijuana was the top reason for kids in Washington to enter drug treatment, and also linked to poorer performance in school. A spokesman for the group, Derek Franklin, claims the current rates—about 26% of the state's high-school students using pot in the previous 30 days—could double under I-502. "It's really a bad trade-off to experiment with legalizing an addictive substance when we see the problems it will cause," he says.
Barack and Michelle Obama reportedly shell out $70,000 a year to send daughters Malia and Sasha to private school, but they're reportedly growing concerned about their investment. Sidwell Friends School in Washington DC—where Malia is a freshman and Sasha is in sixth grade—is under fire after a report in the school newspaper revealed that 71% of students there admit going to parties with drugs and alcohol, and 25% of the senior boys admitted to boozing. “I have seen kids snorting coke, smoking pot, getting high and boozing,” says one former student about the rumors. “There's huge money at the school and the older kids host parties at their private residences. Many of them live in big mansions in Washington, or in affluent suburbs where drugs and booze are common.” A graduate of the school was recently arrested for possession of cocaine and ecstasy with intent to supply.
Sidwell isn't the only private school dealing with increasing drug use. A recent report from the National Center on Addiction and Substances Abuse at Columbia University found that 54% of private school students say drugs are rampant at their schools—that figure's up from just 36% in 2011. In addition, Sidwell is also currently facing a $10 million lawsuit over staff psychologist James Huntington, who allegedly had an affair with the married mother of a 5-year-old student he was counseling. “Certainly the trouble at the school has upset both Barack and Michelle,” an Obama family insider says. “Some friends have suggested the girls be tutored privately at the White House, but the Obamas are keen to have the girls' educational experience be as normal as possible. They don’t want them home-schooled.”
How can the media do better in its portrayal of addiction and recovery? Some celebrities set great examples and some don't—but how much should we care? How damaging is the glamorized image of the addicted "tortured artist"?
These are just a few of the questions we'll be addressing in our Twitter chat today (September 12), from 3-4 pm EST—co-hosted by our friends at Phoenix House. Taking part is easy: just log on to Twitter on the day and search for our new chat-specific hashtag—#popchat. Tweet your answers to the questions posed by @_TheFix and @PhoenixHouse—if you don't follow them yet, do it now!—and make sure to include #popchat in every tweet you send.
Our guests will include psychiatrist and author Dr. John Sharp (click on any of these names to follow them on Twitter), former White House drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet, Fox entertainment reporter Courtney Friel and sober coach Patty Powers of Relapse—as well as Phoenix House CEO Howard Meitiner and Fix contributors like Nic Sheff, Amy Dresner, Jeff Deeney and Jennifer Matesa. They'll be joined by many other experts, journalists and representatives of organizations like the Partnership at DrugFree.org and VisionsTeen. Your ever-faithful Fix staff—including Mike Guy, Anna David, Will Godfrey, Hunter Slaton, May Wilkerson and Joe Schrank—will be chipping in too. See you there!
Indonesia and Malaysia are uniting to end drug trafficking in Southeast Asia after holding talks on the region's growing problem. An agreement was signed yesterday to increase cooperation and intensify border patrol in an effort to combat the frequent drug trades that occur between the two countries, which have a combined population of around 370 million. “Indonesia has thousands of entry ways, be it legal ports or illegal, in the north, west, south and east. They are open for illegal culprits to enter Indonesia," says Indonesian National Police chief Comr. Gen. Sutarman. The bilateral talks mainly focused on strategic, tactical and operational aspects of drug-smuggling eradication. The nations plan to conduct joint operations, and to increase e-mails and calls between staffers on either side. The majority of the drugs to pass between the two countries, many of which are manufactured in the Netherlands, are shipped from Malaysia to Indonesia—so Indonesian officials have asked Malaysian authorities to step it up on this issue. In recent months, the Malaysian police narcotics team found 500,000 ecstasy pills of a new type known as "Yaba" waiting to be shipped to Indonesia, as well as as 25 kilograms of amphetamine to be shipped by sea.
- Tainted Moonshine Kills 8 in the Czech Republic [Reuters]
- Marijuana Dispensary Numbers in L.A. May be Much Lower than City Claims [LA Weekly]
- Two-Thirds of Indonesian Men Smoke, Tops in World [New York Daily News]
- Study Finds Massachusetts No. 1 in Illicit Drug Use [Examiner]
- U.S. Burger Chains Aim to Scoop Up Patrons with Boozy Milkshakes [Reuters]
- 'The Newsroom' Actress Alison Pill Wants Marijuana for Her Birthday [New York Magazine]
A Fix article features in the latest court document filed by Courtney Love's legal representatives. As we reported last month, one of the many cases Love faces is a libel suit launched by her former attorney, Rhonda Holmes, that makes allegations including malicious tweeting and the singer's inability to refrain from substance abuse. Love failed to show up for a scheduled deposition in New York on August 23. Later that day, Rhonda Holmes' lawyer, Frederic Gordon, told The Fix that Love's new attorney, Kenneth Freundlich, lied "under penalty of perjury" about the date that he'd submitted Love's objection to the deposition—an episode that Gordon described as "another significant episode of Courtney thinking she's above the law."
Freundlich showed just how unhappy he was about this claim in a document he filed for the case last week—which included our report as "Exhibit A." Freundlich states in the document: "On August 23, 2012, I received a call from a woman who identified herself as Internet reporter Carmela Kelly asking about the noticing of Love’s appearance, which was a private matter not in any public file." He continues, “I ascertained from Ms. Kelly that plaintiff’s counsel Frederic Gordon had called Ms. Kelly to 'update' her as to the minutiae progress of the matter. During this call, Mr. Gordon, whom I have never met, had the audacity to accuse me of committing perjury which was a totally baseless allegation and Ms. Kelly published that baseless allegation in her column. Attached as Exhibit A is a true and correct copy of Ms. Kelly’s article which was spurred on by the phone call from Mr. Gordon.”
It didn't happen quite like that, says this reporter, who contacted Frederic Gordon (rather than the other way round) months earlier concerning another case against Love. Gordon got back in touch last month to ask if this reporter knew the identity of Love's new legal representation—which she did—as he had a deposition coming up. He then shared the information on the Holmes suit—but only when asked.
Freundlich's filing was made "Joining in and in support of third party witness Frances Bean Cobain's motion for a protective order," seeking to protect Bean—who was subpoenaed by the Holmes camp—from being called as a witness on the basis that she "does not have any relevant knowledge or documents to offer." Freundlich contends that Holmes' libel suit is intended "to harass Love and her family members into submission" by reporting the "tiniest details" of the case to the press, accusing Freundlich of perjury "without a whit of evidence," and "including privileged matter in the complaint...concerning Love's struggle with sobriety, which was sure to attract media attention in this case."