Despite some stoners' belief that it's practically legal, marijuana doesn't exactly have equal protections under the law. But at least one Maryland home invasion victim apparently missed the memo, reporting his pilfered pot to the police: “They stole my weed,” the man told a 911 operator. He put out the call after waking up to three armed masked men who stole cash, a laptop, cell phones, a Honda CR-V and, of course, the 911 caller's pot stash—but only the rent money and the weed were mentioned to the dispatcher. “We don't usually get these kind of reports,” a police spokeswoman said. Law enforcement is currently investigating the incident, and one of the lines of inquiry is whether the victim was a drug dealer. But police say they didn't charge him with possession of marijuana because he was no longer in possession of any, with it having been stolen and all. Listen to the call below:
One baby is born every hour with symptoms of opiate withdrawal. That's about 13,500 drug-addicted infants a year signaling a sharp rise over the last decade, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Newborns whose mothers abuse prescription painkillers during pregnancy may experience "neonatal abstinence syndrome," which can lead to seizures, breathing problems, dehydration, feeding difficulties and other health issues. Babies with this condition are usually born small and require extensive nursing care; doctors use methadone therapy, slowly reducing the dosage over time to avoid extreme withdrawal symptoms, which can be fatal. Treatment for these infants cost up to $720 million in 2009, with most cases covered by Medicaid. “The incidence has gone crazy and I think it has the potential to become a national or international issue,” says Marie J. Hayes, a clinical neuroscientist at the University of Maine. She notes that the general surge in prescription drug abuse is responsible: “[mothers] who previously might not have used heroin or the needle are more likely to use prescription opiates.” From 2000 to 2009, the number of pregnant women using and abusing opiates has increased fivefold and the number of infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome tripled. Many mothers reportedly claim they didn’t realize prescription painkillers could harm their child—because they're legal.
It looks like tongue studs have added benefits besides the one everybody talks about. A New Jersey woman who had a blood alcohol reading of nearly triple the legal limit has had her breathalyzer test voided in municipal court, in part because she had a tongue stud when she took the test. Twenty nine-year-old Kara Nelson was pulled over last January and submitted to field sobriety tests and a blood alcohol test, where she registered a .21 reading—well over the .08 limit for legal intoxication. However, her lawyer, Anthony Arbore, argued the reading was invalid because New Jersey law requires that people have no foreign materials in their mouth when they take the blood alcohol test. Municipal prosecutor Brian Mason recommended that Judge Brian Levine not consider the blood alcohol reading and the judge said that he's essentially required to accept the prosecutor's decision. However, Nelson pleaded guilty to drunk driving and Levine relied on other undisclosed factors in order to levy the minimum $256 fine and three month license suspension. Had the .21 reading stood, Nelson would have faced a mandatory $300 fine along with other court costs and seven months license suspension. A similar argument was made in 2005, where the Indiana Supreme Court heard a challenge and ruled that having a tongue stud does not invalidate the results of a breath test.
Myanmar's goal to eradicate drug production by 2014 is coming at a high cost to its farmers. The country was the world's second largest producer of opium behind Afghanistan, but the government's recent war on opium has destroyed 23,584 hectares (91 square miles) of poppy since 2011, preventing more than 30 tons of heroin from hitting the global market. However, rural farmers who were able to eke out a living growing the blooms are now making a fraction of their former earnings growing potatoes and tea leaves. “Two-thirds of the people in this area... are dependent on growing poppy to get this money to buy food,” says Jason Eligh, Myanmar manager for the United Nations drug office. “When you eliminate the poppy, many get put in a situation where they have no money, no food and are at a huge disadvantage.” Poppy field workers make a cool 5,000 kyat ($6) per day, while those who work in a rice paddy earm only 20-30% of that, which could tempt thousands of impoverished Myanmar residents back into a now-illicit drug trade. But while one-third of the entire opium crop was removed this year in the Shan state (only 3% of the crop was destroyed in Afghanistan), some experts believe Myanmar's goal of complete drug removal in the next three years is far too ambitious. "That is not realistic,” argues Guillaume Foliot, deputy country director for the UN World Food Program, which is providing free bags of rice to compensate for the loss of income. “The magnitude is such that it would be delusional to believe that one would fix everything with free food distribution.”
Don't let a methadone clinic scare you away from a nice new home, says researchers from University of Maryland. Many get the shivers if they hear a methadone treatment center is moving into the neighborhood, worried that crime rates will rise with so many addicts about. But according to the new study comparing crime rates in areas with methadone clinics and areas without them, there's nothing to worry about: "The concern is that methadone treatment facilities are related to a higher crime rate in the area, but there is no evidence that this is what happens," says Antonello Bonci, scientific director of the institute. "We hope this study will alleviate this concern. I hope people will look at this data and realize it is not a problem." Researchers also compared the crime near hospitals and convenience stores against methadone clinics, finding crime rates highest near convenience stores. "I think there is still a very bad perception of methadone clinics," says lead researcher Dr. Susan Boyd from the University of Maryland. "There are many more people out there who need treatment, but there are not enough slots and clinics available, and part of it is because of the community stereotypes they have about methadone clinics."
- Obesity Now Costs Americans More in Healthcare Spending Than Smoking [Forbes]
- Abuse of Opiates Soars in Pregnant Women [New York Times]
- ER Doctors Face Dilemma on Painkillers for "Toothaches" [New York Times]
- Beer Companies Seek Dismissal of Lawsuit Filed by Nebraska Tribe Over Sales [Washington Post]
- ER Visits After Drinking May Not Be Covered [PBS NewsHour]
- Barney Frank Criticizes Obama Administration On Medical Marijuana Raids [Huffington Post]
- Michelle Lipinski Tells Anderson Cooper About Sober High Schools [AndersonCooper.com]