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medical marijuana

4/23/12 1:46pm

Marijuana Vending Machine Sparks Spat


There's no messing with these machines.
Photo via

A marijuana vending machine is being tested in Santa Ana, California: instead of candy or soda, your cash will buy you a chunk of medicinal pot, with around-the-clock convenience. Called the "Autospense," the machine is located inside a Santa Ana cannabis shop called The Dispensary Store. The machines are high security; to make a purchase, patients must swipe a registration card, and enter a personal ID number as well as provide finger print recognition. Dispense Labs—the vending machine company, who don't supply the potbelieve the machine is a safer way to distribute marijuana, especially since Autospence keeps track of everything that is sold. "All the way through the process, from vegetation to flowering to packaging, to inventory control, to boxing, to the individual stores," said Joe DeRobbio, founder of Dispense Labs. "It mitigates the black market risk because now there's no way to subvert the system." Police officers in Santa Ana have been cracking down on many dispensaries in the city, and claim that this machine is illegal. For now the store has been cited and shut down, but according to The Dispensary Store managing director, Lera Nastri, they didn't break any laws. "We just go by what the state law has mandated," she says. "And they say we are legal to be able to provide medicine for our patients.”

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By Valerie Tejeda

Children of alcoholics

4/23/12 12:19pm

Miss Wisconsin Is a Child of Alcoholics


Mariah Haberman was crowned Miss
Wisconsin Central last month. Photo via

Mariah Haberman, who was crowned Miss Wisconsin Central last month, is making Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) issues her primary platform as pageant winner this year, and has revealed that she has first-hand experience with the issue. "I don't think my life was stolen from me, but (their drinking) totally shaped the person I am today," she says." I grew up in a family where alcohol was very prevalent, alcohol was always around and eventually in 2007 my step father was killed in a drunk driving accident, that obviously changed my life. And it changed my entire family's life." Haberman credits her grandmother and stepmother as positive role models who encouraged her to "dream big" and helped her to overcome the tragedy. With her Miss Wisconsin sash in tow, she now goes to schools and gives media interviews about her experiences as a child of alcoholics. "Talking to someone back then would have helped immensely," she says. "Maybe we could have even saved our family if we had brought this into the open 5-10 years earlier, instead of one of my parents having to die from an issue that we kept quiet about." According to Sis Wegner, CEO of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, one in four American children lives with parental alcohol abuse or alcoholism. Wisconsin is a notoriously heavy-drinking state.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Middle East

4/23/12 11:43am

Lebanon Bomb Blasts Restaurant for Serving Alcohol


The aftermath of today's attack Photo via

Islamic militants across the Middle East are training their weapons on establishments that serve alcohol. Five people were injured earlier today in southern Lebanon when when a bomb exploded in a restaurant in the coastal town of Tyre. The third-floor restaurant, Nocean, is reportedly known for its dance parties. Police had to cordon off the area due to large chunks of concrete falling onto the street. "I was on my way to the restaurant in my car, talking on the phone. I heard an explosion and then something fell on the car," says Zahi Zaydan, the restaurant's owner. Four of the five injured patrons were released from the hospital shortly after checking in. This isn't the first alcohol-related attack that Tyre has faced: two bombs were detonated at a nightclub and liquor shop in November, and a restaurant selling alcohol was targeted in December. The majority of Tyre residents are Shi'ite Muslims, but members of Lebanon's Christian and Sunni Muslim communities also live in the city. Lebanon is one of the few Arab countries that has no bans for its citizens on the consumption of alcohol, although a number of establishments have stopped selling it due to intimidation. Earlier this year, two masked gunmen murdered two people and injured 20 more at an alcohol-serving hotel in Yemen.

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By McCarton Ackerman

underage drinking

4/23/12 10:51am

Olive Garden Gives Kid Booze—Again


A birthday surprise Thinkstock

Seems like there's only one place to go if you're a pre-teen wanting to get loaded. A 10-year-old boy was accidentally served alcohol at an Olive Garden restaurant in Indianapolis last Thursday. The boy—who was there celebrating his 10th birthday—ordered a non-alcoholic Frullato Smoothie, but the server mistakenly brought the child a four-ounce cocktail containing rum instead. The waitress later realized her error, and had the restaurant’s manager inform the parents that their son was drinking liquor. They quickly took the 10-year-old to the local hospital, where doctors confirmed that there was alcohol in his system. The boy was described as “alert" but “shaken up” by a police officer. "We find this situation completely unacceptable," said Olive Garden spokeswoman Heidi Schauer. "We are thankful that the child is okay and we will continue to work with the family to resolve this issue." The waitress involved has been fired. But it's not the first time that Olive Garden has made headlines for serving alcohol to kids—last year a branch of the Italian restaurant chain in Florida unintentionally served sangria to a two-year-old.

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By Valerie Tejeda


4/23/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: April 23, 2012


A Houston judge ordered public humiliation.
Photo via

By The Fix staff

Sexuality and addiction

4/20/12 4:57pm

Queer, Sober and Proud


This year's theme is Love.

One momentous Friday night last June, hundreds of revelersmany in superhero-garbdanced under disco balls at a gallery in Chelsea, amped up only on red bulls, soda and adrenaline. Suddenly the music stopped and an announcement was made: gay marriage had passed in New York. "Everyone was crying and hugging each other," Christian Parker, one of the event's organizers, tells The Fix.

Four years ago, he and four sober buddies founded NYC Queer and Sober because of the sparse options for sober people during pride. There was one sober dance, with 20-30 people, and it "felt like a middle school dance" says Christian, who recalls thinking, "This is too depressing. I'm a young gay man and I like to have fun, but I also like my sobriety." Now, his organization runs an annual pride weekend for the sober community, with soaring attendance. Last year, the weekend was superhero-themed. The main dance party, at a Chelsea gallery with walls painted by a famous cartoonist, attracted more than 500 attendees and included a "Mr. Sobriety" pageant. This year, to celebrate the anniversary of gay marriage passing, the theme is Love.

Pride is a climatic time for the LGBT community, and people flock from around the globe to partake in hundreds of New York events at all hours of day and night, peaking with a parade down Fifth Avenue. But most pride activities center on drinking and drug useand for a recovering addict, "compare and despair" can lead to relapse. So NYC Queer and Sober aims to keep people engaged by vibrant, hip, high-energy sober events, with a focus on the young. "People are getting sober younger," explains Christian. "We have to keep them interested." NYC Queer and Sober has grown in the four years since it began, and now puts on events year-round, including a recent Oscars party. The movement is "taking off in a way that we never expected," says Christian. This year's Pride begins with an "Opening Ball" on June 22 and ends with a "Closing Cruise" on June 24.

Register before May 15th for a cheaper deal on tickets.


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By May Wilkerson


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