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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

Headlines

8/31/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: August 31, 2012

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Gina Rinehart says your bad habits make
you poor. Photo via

By Bryan Le

whiskey hangover

8/30/12 5:10pm

Tenacious Whiskey Mold Cloaks Kentucky

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No structure is immune to the mold. Photo via

Whiskey is the "liquid pride" of Kentucky, but distilleries across the state have given residents a hangover in the form of a sooty black fungus that spreads on the surface of houses and cars, the New York Times reports. For a long time, the mysterious, yeasty-smelling residue, which thrives in humidity and is difficult to remove, was thought to be pollution. It turns out it's Baudoinia—a newly-discovered fungus that germinates on ethanol, the colorless alcohol that evaporates during whiskey fermentation. The mold has found prime breeding ground in parts of the whiskey-makin' state, especially in areas surrounding aging warehouses—of which there are many—leaving many feeling miffed. “It’s literally taken the clear coat of paint off my car," says Frankfurt resident Kayleigh Count, who, like many Kentuckians, was raised by the bourbon industry. “All my family is retired from the distillery, so it’s not like I can be mad at the distillery," she says. "I just want them to use a modern approach, and keep the air clean."

She isn't the only one who's fed up with the ubiquitous fungus. Recently, many home and business-owners have filed class-action lawsuits in federal courts against five major distilleries, on charges of property damage and negligence. Louisville lawyer William F. McMurry, who is involved in the suit, says the distillers should simply “stop off-gasing ethanol,” adding: “This is not going to affect their bottom line and the flavor of whiskey.” But the companies deny responsibility for the mold, claiming it is "naturally occurring," rather than a result of fermentation. "The companies involved do not believe that they have caused any harm to the plaintiffs or their property," read a joint statement. Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, at this point, even the distilleries' best efforts may be no match for the tenacious mold. “We call them extremophiles, that grow in the extremes of life in our planet," says Dr. Scott, who discovered the whiskey fungus in 2011. "It’s not clear to me, if you were to remove the distillery or the aging warehouses entirely, if you could even get rid of it.”

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By May Wilkerson

Crazy drunk

8/30/12 4:09pm

Does "Tan Mom" Have More Than One Addiction?

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Roasts are not for the thin-skinned.
Photo via

No one said being roasted doesn't come with a price. “Tanning Mom” Patricia Krentcil has once again ignited media attention—this time for getting so drunk at a comedy roast held in her honor that she was booted off the stage. The New Jersey mother of five first aroused a surge of criticism after she was accused of taking her five-year-old daughter to a tanning booth back in May. Last night, she seemed so sloshed on arrival at drag show/roast in Hell's Kitchen, New York, that she was unable to stand. “She showed up for the red carpet and fell over,” says one witness. “She then got up and tried to attack the drag queen.” On stage she didn't fare much better, incoherently cursing the audience and evidently unaware of her surroundings. “We asked her what she wanted to drink and she slurred 'I didn't put my kid in a tanning bed!'” says Bianca del Rio, one of the event's hosts. As if the crowd of witnesses weren't enough, someone thoughtfully posted a video of the episode on YouTube. After the first joke at her expense was fired off, Krentcil tried to retaliate—but event staff had planned ahead for a Tan Mom Meltdown: “We came up with a code word earlier. It was 'Christmas,'” says del Rio. “After about five minutes, we were just screaming 'Christmas,' and security came and took her out.” 

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By Bryan Le

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