Former Miss Russia Anna Malova has been released from Rikers Island and readmitted to a drug treatment facility for a second time. But to stay there, she had to agree not to speak to her fellow patients for 30 days, due to how much she antagonized them on her last visit. The beauty queen, 39, was sentenced last year to an 18-24 month drug rehab program after she was slammed with a 44-felony count indictment for a long string of prescription-forging charges—crimes committed to feed her king-size appetite for opiate pain meds. But soon after being admitted to the treatment program last time round, Malova—who was herself a medical doctor before being crowned Miss Russia—was jailed for fighting with a fellow patient. In an unexpected act of mercy, a Manhattan judge yesterday awarded her another stab at rehab, in what he called her “last chance.” Outside the courtroom Malova yelled, “I’m very happy! . . . God bless America!”
2012 presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich further clarified his ultra-hardline soft drug views today. During a news conference after his embarrassing Iowa defeat, he was pressed on three separate occasions about his drug policies, including his views on the failing drug war and on federal drug laws and their relation to state sovereignty. Gingrich repeatedly reiterated his stance of having zero interest in exploring drug legalization or decriminalization of any kind. It would seem he still favors the mass execution approach to drug offenses. When asked by a resident of New Hampshire, the next primary state, how he thought the founding fathers would respond to marijuana use, Gingrich replied, "I think Jefferson or George Washington would have rather strongly discouraged you from growing marijuana and their techniques with dealing with it would have been rather more violent than our current government." That's the renowned hemp grower George Washington, right? In response to one question Gingrich did soften his position slightly, suggesting that prevention might also be a practical alternative to capital punishment: "I think the best thing is to get young people not to do drugs and then you won't be dealing with criminals that you just described."
In early December Vancouver Health Officials began dispensing free crack pipes to addicts as part of an initiative to prevent the spread of disease. Less than a month into the program, supplies have already begun to run short. The city began handing out the limited allocation of around 60,000 publicly-funded kits on December 6, and the supplies were initially intended to last for an eight-month period. The crack kit contains all the fixings, including shatterproof crack pipes, mouth guards, alcoholic swabs and pipe cleaners. The program is intended to reduce the use of shattered pipes, as the injuries than result from these can cause infections and spread disease.
A study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology concludes that those who have used drugs casually—meaning occasionally or not heavily—in the past are not more forgetful, or stupider, than those who've never used drugs at all. The study involved 9,000 middle-aged adults in the UK. Participants were given cognitive and memory tests at the age of 42, and then again at the age of 50. Of the substances used by participants, marijuana was by far the most common; 6% had even used it in the past year. But amphetamines, LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, cocaine and ecstasy had also been taken. "Overall, at the population level, the results seem to suggest that past or even current illicit drug use is not necessarily associated with impaired cognitive functioning in early middle age," says lead researcher Alex Dregan of King's College, London. But don’t call your dealer just yet; the results shouldn't be seen as any incentive to use drugs, notes Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Halpern: the study focused only on "casual" use, and doesn't rule out possible lasting side-effects of heavy or prolonged drug use.
Purdue Pharma—the makers of OxyContin—seems only now to have noticed a 2008 lawsuit seeking the release of a cache of documents that could reveal criminal misbranding and mismanagement of Oxy. Their lawyers are seeking to block the disclosures. The documents were compiled by the US Department of Justice, which won a guilty plea and a settlement from Purdue Pharma in 2007, when Purdue pled guilty to misbranding OxyContin: despite unambiguous FDA wording that OxyContin was just as addictive as other (generic) oxycodone products on the market, Purdue told doctors that because OxyContin is an extended release formulation, it's less addictive than its competitors. Oxycodone has become America’s number one addiction. More people are hooked on oxy than heroin and cocaine combined, and figures released this fall showed OxyContin kills more people than traffic accidents nationwide. Purdue made $1.3 billion dollars last year off sales of the drug.
In 2007, 26 states, including Massachusetts, filed lawsuits parallel with the federal DoJ one. Massachusetts won a million-dollar settlement. A year later, Brown University Professor of Family Medicine David Egilman filed a Massachusetts suit to secure the release of the documents that the Department of Justice (via that state Attorney General) used to secure the guilty plea. Prof. Egilman believes that the documents in the Purdue case will not only reveal misdeeds by the drug manufacturer, but also FDA incompetence. The Attorney General of Massachusetts has so far refused to release the documents, saying it would not be in the public interest.
A group of armed militants stormed a hotel in Yemen today, killing two and injuring 20 because the hotel was selling alcohol—a violation of strict Islamic law. Witnesses say that about five masked attackers—said to be members of the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda—entered the hotel lobby in the southern city of Sanaa early this morning, firing on guests and employees indiscriminately. Before fleeing, the gunmen poured fuel onto the hotel carpets in an attempt to set the hotel alight. The attack comes amid a power struggle in Yemen, which has seen a surge of increasingly bold attacks by Islamic militants in recent years, including the firebombing of an Ethiopian social club three years ago. The militants seek to impose their strict version of Sharia law on the country, making liquor-serving establishments prime targets.