The war on drugs hit a new low after a dying cancer patient was kicked out of the hospital University of California-San Francisco last week—for using the marijuana that she'd been prescribed. Angel Raich, 46, has long campaigned for rational marijuana laws. She was named High Times’ “Freedom Fighter of the Year” in 2004, and many see her 2002 lawsuit against the federal government—the so-called “Raich Case”—as the tipping point that made the MMJ movement the powerhouse it is today. She is also dying; she suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, a condition that causes frequent seizures, as well as constant pain and headaches. Apparently Raich was at UCSF to undergo some tests, and was using marijuana via a vaporizer when someone—reportedly a pharmacist—took offense and threatened to “call the Feds” unless she desisted. "The pharmacist said, you can't use cannabis in this hospital," Raich reports. "That's a death sentence." Ironically, UCSF is one of the few teaching hospitals in the US currently researching marijuana’s efficiency in treating cancer and pain patients.
As Raich’s personal care physician testified during that pivotal 2002 court case, she will likely “suffer imminent harm” without marijuana, as she's allergic to most other medications. “Nausea, anorexia resulting in weight loss, risking malnutrition, cachexia, starvation and death constitute harm,” Dr. Frank Lucido told the court. “Angel needs to medicate every two waking hours. If she misses a treatment, it could quickly have dangerous repercussions for her health.” In a statement, UCSF say that their hospital is "a smoke-free campus and this includes medical marijuana… Any particles from vapor and odor could have an impact on other patients and hospital employees.” However as anyone who has used a vaporizer is aware, vaporization causes no discernible second-hand smoke or odor, something you’d reasonably expect UCSF to know.
Cops report a new trend among drug addicts: stealing Tide laundry detergent to sell on the streets. Initially finding the targeted thefts of the product baffling, police now believe that addicts are selling the detergent to make fast cash. The theory goes that Tide's bright, instantly recognizable orange bottles and relatively high price ensure a reliable illicit market—with a bottle that costs $20 in a store fetching up to half that amount on the street. Recently 54-year-old Ronald Ledesma was apprehended by police in California's Orange County after loading a grocery cart with nine bottles of Tide at a store and running out, before crashing his car into the back of a paramedic truck. Police say he was under the influence of meth when he was arrested. "[Addicts] are selling it on the street for five, ten bucks," says Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino. His department has sent alerts to nearby agencies to monitor the possibly developing trend. Meanwhile a man in West St. Paul, Minnesota recently allegedly stole $25,000 worth of Tide, which boasts "Outstanding Cleaning and Stain Removal."
The idea of Qatar hosting a booze-free World Cup has been derided by an English soccer chief. "In [England] and in Germany, we have a culture. We call it, 'We would like to go for a pint and that pint is a pint of beer,'" says Sir Dave Richards, chairman of England's Premier League, who is currently visiting Qatar for a conference. "It is our culture as much as [Qatar's] culture is not drinking. There has to be a happy medium." The conservative Muslim nation mainly restricts alcohol sales to five-star hotels—and that doesn't include the one Richards is staying in, which may be something of a sore point. "If you don't do something about it, you are starting to bury your head in the sand..." he continues. "You might be better off saying don't come. But a World Cup without England, Germany, the Dutch, Danes and Scandinavians—it's unthinkable."
After some recent soul-searching in Brazil, a decision was taken to bend the laws there to serve alcohol in stadiums at the 2014 World Cup. Qatar promised when bidding for the 2022 competition to create some "fan zones" where drinking will be permitted, although given local sensitivities they could require careful management to forestall the excesses associated with fans from England and elsewhere. "Alcohol will be allowed in Qatar," confirms Hassan al-Thawadi, general secretary of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, adding that his country is "discussing with FIFA [soccer's international organizing body] the extent of it and where."
In this PSA from the 80's, Johnny Depp and fellow cast-members of the TV series 21 Jump Street demonstrate that it's cool to not do drugs, warning kids that they "can really mess you up". Now the stars of the big screen version of 21 Jump Street, which opens in theaters this weekend, warn us of the dangers of "fictional drugs" in this Funny or Die throwback video. Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Rob Riggel, who play undercover cops investigating "HFS," a made-up synthetic drug, raise awareness about other fictional hazards, such as: "shooting up air freshener, or glading", "belgian taffy," "Blink-182 CDs," or just "good old-fashioned Jamie Lee Curtis."
Twenty people—most of them addicts and alcoholics—have been found working as slaves on a cannabis plantation in far eastern Russia. The plantation was ruled over by a "paramilitary unit," and raiding cops found a large stash of weaponry, as well as night-vision goggles, binoculars and radios, according to Russian media. The drug-dealing overseers brought local addicts to the plantation and subjected them to beatings if they refused to work. They also prevented them from contacting relatives in the outside world. Police also discovered 80 sacks of dried marijuana, weighing 880 pounds, which they say had been harvested for local buyers in Primorye province. Five alleged overseers have been arrested, along with the operation's suspected organizer; aged between 27 and 35, they all have previous convictions including theft, robbery, armed robbery and drug offenses.
A drug bust that led to over 30 arrests in the town of Ferriday, Louisiana last week has met with anger from residents who claim the arrests make it harder for them to sell their own drugs. The arrests, which were for selling crack, cocaine, marijuana and firearms in the neighborhood, followed a yearlong multi-agency investigation. "You have to realize, we don't have no jobs around here or nothing," says resident Derrick Brown to local news outlet KALB. "Every time we try to make a little something to get on our feet or try to feed our family, [the police] come kicking the doors in and knocking us back down again." The video [below] has spread online to the point where Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin has accused KALB's reporter of sensationalism. But former narcotics cop and current executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Neil Franklin says the town's outlook isn't unusual. "This is an economic issue," he notes. "In communities like this, there is no opportunity for employment or education. If there are no jobs, what do you expect they'll do?" Approximately 47% of Ferriday's residents live below the poverty line.