Country superstar Randy Travis has been arrested for driving drunk—his second drunkenness bust this year—after crashing his car in Texas late last night. Officers reportedly found Travis cut, bruised and for some reason completely in the nude. He'd reportedly gotten into a fight with his girlfriend earlier. Sources tell TMZ that the "No Holdin' Back" singer refused to take a breathalyzer test, so cops ultimately drew blood to test his BAC. They also charged him with "retaliation and obstruction"—a felony—for verbally threatening a police officer during the bust. The six-time Grammy-winner was last arrested just six months ago, also in Texas, when he was cuffed for public drunkenness outside of a baptist church after "an evening of celebrating the Super Bowl." At the time of that arrest, officers described Travis as "cooperative but smelling of booze"—but it doesn't sound like he was so obliging last night. After February's drunken incident, Travis stated: "I'm committed to being responsible and accountable, and apologize for my actions." It remains to be seen whether he'll top that this time around.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking a stand against synthetic drugs: the state Department of Health has made it a crime to possess synthetic drugs such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana, and it's also now illegal for stores to carry them under any name. “We’re talking about poison," says Cuomo. "This is poison that is being distributed and sold.” Individuals can be charged with possession of an illicit substance and face fines up to $500 and up to 15 days in jail, while stores attempting to sell them face up to $2,000 per violation. "It will give us some teeth to go in and take the product off the shelf and issue at least appearance tickets,” says Joseph D’Amico, superintendent of State Police. “And it gives the Department of Health the opportunity to follow up with these locations with civil proceedings.” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued 16 head shops last month for mislabeling substances such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts in an alleged attempt to evade federal and state laws. Bath salt-related emergency room visits in upstate New York have soared from 39 last year to 191 so far in 2012, with 120 coming in June and July. According to the state Poison Control Center, there were 20 calls concerning synthetic marijuana poisonings in 2010, compared to 291 in 2011 and 321 through the first six months of this year.
- African Alcohol Binge Raises Pressure For Crackdown [Reuters]
- Mom is the New Face of Marijuana Legalization [ABC]
- More Kids Taking Antipsychotics for ADHD [US News]
- Facebook’s First Real-Money Online Gambling App Launches [Slate]
- Alcohol-Infused Panini Make Sandwich History [Huffington Post]
- Garrett Reid's Death Highlights the Difficulty of Dealing with Addiction [Philadelphia Daily News]
- Teen Mom Star May Still Abuse Drugs and Alcohol [Examiner]
Marijuana may be an effective treatment for chronic pain and a safer alternative than pharmaceutical painkillers, according to new research from the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria. Researcher Phillippe Lucas reviewed numerous studies carried out from 1975 onwards, in which patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain were treated with a combination of cannabis and opiates. He writes in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, “Research suggests that when used in conjunction with opiates, cannabinoids can lead to a greater cumulative relief of pain, which may in turn result in a reduction in the use of opiates (and associated side effects) by patients in a clinical setting.” Lucas says this would not only have a positive impact on pain levels and quality of life for paitients, but also help reduce the soaring painkiller addiction rates in both the US and Canada. He even believes marijuana could help treat other addictions to stimulants and alcohol, and could therefore help reduce alcohol-related problems like drunk driving and domestic violence.
“So what we’re really talking about in a nutshell," Lucas tells The Fix, "is cannabis as an exit drug to addiction, rather than a gateway drug as it is often suggested it might be. Overall, the more doctors know about the medical use of cannabis, the better potential health outcomes for the patients.”
Of course, other studies have shown that marijuana has its own negative side effects—one just out says pot can cause long-term anxiety in people who smoke it as teenagers, for example. But Lucas says society needs to fully evaluate its prejudices towards marijuana: “As a society, we’re going up against 70 years of reinforcement that this substance is altogether negative... That prevents us from looking at this substance and all its potential benefits," he argues. “I think the current harms of prohibition, particularly cannabis prohibition, far outweigh any potential harm from the individuals and society that legalizing cannabis may have. If we were to discover cannabis in this day and age in a jungle in South America, I think we would consider it almost as a miracle drug.”
Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who burst into a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, on Sunday and killed six worshippers before being shot dead by a police officer, reportedly battled an alcohol problem that led to his 2006 discharge from the Army, a DWI and the loss of a job at a trucking company in 2010.
The mass-murderer, who was described by his step-mother today as a "gentle" person, was a prominent figure in local white power rock scene. He was also struggling financially, and faced home foreclosure. During an interview last night with CNN's Piers Morgan, one of Page's self-described "close friends" described him as "a very kind, very smart individual—loved his friends. One of those guys with a soft spot," but that he was also “the loner type of person. Even in a group of people, he would be off alone.” According to the friend, Page was awaiting the "holy war."
Page served in the Army from 1992 to 1998, and worked as a technician on missile systems, and later as a psychological operations specialist. He was discharged by what Army officials describe as a “pattern of misconduct” linked to being intoxicated on duty. The following year, Wade was arrested in Colorado on DWI charges. He later took a job at an Iowa-based trucking company, which he managed to hold onto for four years—until he was pulled over in North Carolina and cited for driving while impaired by alcohol or “some other chemical substance,” according to the Washington Post.
Silk Road is essentially the Amazon.com of drugs and paraphernalia—and one and a half years since it began, business seems to be booming. A recent study of the anonymous black marketplace found that the site makes an estimated $22 million in annual sales, and its operators now generate more than $6,000 a day in commissions for themselves—up from $2,500 a day in February. And the total number of sellers has climbed from around 300 to over 550 in the last six months. The site uses shadowy techniques to hide its location, making it pretty much impossible to identify customers or track their movements. But despite—or perhaps partly because of—this elusiveness, customers have a high level of satisfaction, with 97.8% giving positive reviews. “On a site like Silk Road, where…most of the goods sold are illicit, one would expect a certain amount of deception to occur,” says Nicolas Christin, a Carnegie Mellon computer security professor who conducted the study. “Indeed, a buyer choosing, for instance, to purchase heroin from an anonymous seller would have very little recourse if the goods promised are not delivered. Surprisingly, though, most transactions on Silk Road seem to generate excellent feedback from buyers.” Purchases are made with “Bitcoin,” an Internet-only currency that bypasses the traditional banking system, further reducing detectability.
Silk Road isn't for luddites: some technical know-how is required to get on the site. But despite this, and not despite not advertising at all, it has managed to generate roughly as much revenue as illegal online pharmacies that use spam emails to lure in customers. “If you imagine them selling paperclips and buttons, they’re a stable business that’s growing without advertising or being in the news, just by word of mouth,” says Christin. He cautions that his study only examined a six month period, and that the highly volatile Bitcoin has increased nearly 70% in value over that time period. But however you crunch them, “It’s very bursty and spikey, but overall the numbers are moving up,” says Christin. “It’s a stable marketplace, and overall it’s growing steadily.”