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Drug policy

6/22/12 5:20pm

Video: DEA's Denial Does It No Credit


Leonhart sticks to her mantra.

“I’m just asking you, as an expert, is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?” A simple question. And one that DEA chief administrator Michele Leonhart is apparently unable—or unwilling—to answer. A House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing this week saw Leonhart repeatedly refuse to admit that any drug is more dangerous or addictive than marijuana, as The Raw Story reports:

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado pressed Leonhart on whether illegal drugs like methamphetamine and crack, as well as legal prescription drugs, caused greater harm to public health compared to marijuana. But within a three-minute time-span, Leonhart dodged his questions eleven times. “Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?” Polis, who has called for an end to marijuana prohibition, asked.

“I believe all illegal drugs are bad,” Leonhart responded.

“Is methamphetamine worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?” Polis continued. “Is heroin worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?”

“Again, all drugs,” Leonhart began to say, only to be cut off by Polis.

“Yes, no, or I don’t know?” Polis said. “If you don’t know this, you can look this up. As the chief administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency, I’m asking a very straightforward question.”

The scene recalled Big Tobacco denying the addictive nature of nicotine during the Waxman hearings, or Soviet scientists being forced to denounce any work that ideologically contradicted state policy. Leonhart exhibits a pronounced “deer in the headlights” look, as Rep. Polis repeatedly demands a straight answer:

But don’t be fooled into thinking that Leonhart is clueless. She's just cynically touting the party line, rather than replying honestly. A Bush appointee, nominated to DEA Administrator by Obama in 2010, she's a living example of how a willful lack of openness on drugs flourishes across partisan lines. Listening to her repetition of the “All illegal drugs are addictive” mantra is strangely reminiscent of someone...

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By Tony O'Neill

drinking trends

6/22/12 4:38pm

Americans Now Booze More at Bars


Apparently martinis were bigger in the '80s. Photo via

It looks like the stocked liquor cabinets of MadMen days have been replaced by social drinking in public venues. Drinkers in the US are spending significantly more money on alcohol in bars and restaurants, and less on alcohol in stores—according to an NPR report featuring some fascinating infographics. Overall, consumers have spent about the same amount on alcohol for the last 30 years—about $1 out of every $100—but 40% of the booze budget now goes to bars and restaurants, a 16% climb since 1982. But this doesn't necessarily imply that they're going out more often. After adjusting for inflation, the price of alcohol at stores has actually gone down, probably because of increased productivity over time, while prices at bars have shot up. The report also notes that when consumers do drink at home, they now prefer wine to hard liquor—another major change over the last 30 years. Almost 40% of American booze money at the store is spent on wine, compared to 16% in 1982. Hard liquor spending has decreased over 20%, while beer remains the number one type of alcohol purchased at stores. So one thing, at least, hasn't changed: Americans love beer.

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By Chrisanne Grise

celebrity rehab

6/22/12 3:02pm

Sober Snooki "Still a Nut Job"


Pre-pregnancy, Snooki was known to get loca.
Photo via

A pregnant Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi seems eager to put to rest any suspicion that her boozing may have been at the root of her star appeal. The Jersey Shore star's hard-drinking antics—including frequent benders, black-outs and an arrest for public intoxication—have earned her both a reputation as party girl, and a rabid fan following. But even though she's given up the sauce to grow a mini-Snooki, she says she's just as nutty as ever in her new reality show, Snooki & JWoww, which aired on MTV last night. As far as her old hard-partying ways, the mom-to-be says she's doesn't miss it, as long as she doesn't have to watch others throw down: "When it’s not around me, I really don’t care, I could care less. But when I see my friends party, you know, stuff like that, I want to play too,” she tells Access. “So, if I see it, it sucks. Other than that, I mean, I really don’t care.” But 24-year-old maintains she won't be hitting it as hard from now on—even after her child is born. “When you have a baby, it changes your entire life and of course I’m going to go out some nights and go out with my girls and have drinks, but, you know, your baby is your life now and I’m excited to be a mom!” As for being a mom who gets wasted, she says: “I think that’d be very trashy if I did that."

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By May Wilkerson

drunk driving

6/22/12 2:08pm

DUIs Clearly Correlate to Long-Term Issues


This might be a good time to intervene. Photo viaa

It may sound self-evident that drunk drivers have developed risky drinking habits. But a new study shows that most people convicted of a DUI or a DWI have developed lifetime patterns of unsafe drinking, withup to a third of them meeting the definitions for alcohol or drug dependence. Researchers interviewed 700 adults who'd received drunk driving convictions about 15 years earlier: half of them had either been drinking in a risky manner for many years or fell back into that habit after trying to quit. The study defined "risky" drinking as more than seven drinks per week or four or more on any given day for women, or more than 14 drinks per week or five or more drinks in one day for men. "A DWI conviction identifies people at risk," asserts study leader Dr. Sandra C. Lapham, of the Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "It's a red flag and it's an opportunity to intervene." About 13% of the participants said they had varied drinking patterns throughout their lives, while 14% percent said they were able to cut back to more moderate levels of drinking and stay that way. Around 21% had successfully got sober.

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By McCarton Ackerman

celebrity roundup

6/22/12 1:00pm

Celebrity Roundup: June 22, 2012


Nick Stahl's wife has termintated her search.
Photo via

    • Lindsay Lohan Wasn’t Supposed to be Driving at the Time of Car Crash [Complex]
      Yet more trouble for Lindsay Lohan has arrived in the form of potential conflict with the insurance company responsible for insuring her new movie, Liz & Dick. One of their stipulations was that Lohan not be allowed to drive during production, given her history of DUIs and car accidents. Her car crash last week showed her in violation of that agreement, which means the insurer can now cancel the contract—although it remains to be seen if they actually will. One thing’s for sure: the production company has now been very explicit with the troubled starlet that she’s no longer allowed to drive. Someone has to be.


    • Russell Brand: "I Stole Fatboy Slim's Liquor" [The Houston Chronicle]
      Russell Brand may be one of the most famously sober of entertainers, but long before he was Katy Perry’s ex-husband, he was just an MTV presenter stealing from the talent: “We used to nick stuff out of each others' dressing rooms because I was on drugs in the early days,” he says. “We nicked all Fatboy Slim’s stuff, all his booze.” Surely it’s no coincidence that Fatboy Slim—famous for his late ‘90s smash “Praise You”—is sober now, too.


    • Marijuana Plants Found at Rodney King's Home [The Los Angeles Times]
      News of Celebrity Rehab alum Rodney King’s passing last weekend brought new suspicions about his sobriety, compounded by claims from his wife that he'd been drinking and smoking marijuana in the hours preceding his death. Now, photos show police confiscating marijuana plants from King’s Rialto home. “Even though we’re investigating this as an accidental drowning,” says a police spokesman, “we’re looking into every lead."


    • Wife Ending Search for Missing (Again) Actor Nick Stahl [TMZ]
      The ongoing saga of Terminator star Nick Stahl’s mysterious disappearing act took a new twist, after his wife reported that he had gone missing again, a month after he went underground for two weeks and later surfaced to check himself into rehab.  After checking himself out of rehab against doctor's advice, his wife Rose Stahl has decided to call off the search . "I'm backing off," she says. "He knows exactly where home is. It's the loving thing to do for him, myself and our daughter."


    • Drunk Reality Star "Trapper Joe" Tries to Burn Wife With Cigarettes [TMZ]
      A television personality nicknamed Trapper Joe (real name Noces Joseph LaFont Jr.), known for his appearances on the reality series Swamp People, was arrested for assault and battery in Florida on Wednesday after he began arguing with his girlfriend; both were highly intoxicated. Reportedly, LaFont punched his girlfriend in the chest, then attempted to burn her with a lit cigarette. He's now in custody. You stay classy, Florida.

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By Sam Lansky

Effects of smoking

6/22/12 11:56am

Will Greece's Soccer Dream Go Up in Smoke?


Santos, reflecting on tactics Photo via

Greece's soccer coach has unveiled a surprising weapon in his bid to outsmart some mighty opponents: cigarettes. Germany and Greece clash today in a quarter final of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament that many will view in the context of the nations' current political antagonism over austerity and bail-outs. Does cash-strapped Greece owe its disapproving major creditor a coveted semi-final place? The Germans are heavy favorites to grab it anyway, with Greece—who were never supposed to progress this far in the competition—quoted at around a 10-1 shot to beat them. Grilled by German journalists yesterday, Greece coach Fernando Santos came clean about his smoking habit. "I smoke because I like it. When I stop liking it, I'll quit," said the defiant 57-year-old, denying that his players had any right to be concerned. He then elaborated on why he sees cigs as a help, not a hindrance: "Maybe because I think about the tactics so much is the reason I smoke. I have to try to find the right options and tactics and when I smoke I have more time to reflect. So now, you maybe understand why I smoke so much." His tactical reflections will need to be profound to get him through this game unscathed. Then again, the link between smoking and memory decline could ride to his rescue—if his team receives the thrashing that some soccer pundits anticipate.

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By Will Godfrey


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