Oh, the humanity: Oaksterdam University's collection of marijuana artifacts is about to become homeless. The cannabis teaching college was founded in 2007 to "provide students with the highest quality training for the cannabis industry”—and suffered a recent federal raid. The group has several auditoriums, classrooms and grow labs at its home site on Broadway St. in Oakland, California. The associated Oaksterdam Cannabis and Hemp Museum highly-valued by cannabis aficionados also occupies this space; but the exhibit area, sponsored by Richard Lee—the founder of Oaksterdam University and sponsor of California’s doomed Proposition 19 initiative to legalize marijuana—will be gone by the end of the month. “We’re looking for the right permanent location,” says Oaksterdam's chancellor, Dale Sky Jones. “Considering the current national situation, it is unthinkable we could allow the center for knowledge and American history to go into storage.” Unthinkable, too, to museum curator Chris Conrad, a former curator of the Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum of Amsterdam, who says that the Oaksterdam museum has amassed “the best collection of artifacts about hemp, cannabis as medicine, and the direct results of marijuana prohibition that I have seen on public display in North America.” The museum has put out a distress call for donors. Sounds like a candidate for the National Historic Landmarks roster.
In a last-ditch effort to save their sons from addiction to pornography, some parents are opting to send them to Oxbow Academy in Wales, Utah. The $9,000-a-month military boot camp-style facility aims to tackle teenage boys' sexual behavioral issues—including porn addiction, voyeurism and assaulting other children. Oxbow takes in boys aged between between 13 and 17, and offers extensive counseling as well as continued academic schooling. Some extra-curricular activities, like horseback riding and music therapy, are also available, but most of the students' free time is focused on schoolwork and chores. Phones and internet use are (as you might expect) generally banned at Oxbow—with all websites blocked from the school's computers except online encyclopedias. According to Oxbow's director, Stephen Schultz, society is becoming ever more "sexualized," contributing to an increase in compulsive sexual behavior. Porn addiction is Oxbow's largest treatment category, earning the academy its nickname: Porn School. "Threesomes and depraved sexual behavior is all over the internet, and children see those images before they develop into adolescents," says Schultz. Some of the boys apparently even experience withdrawal symptoms upon entering the facility. "One boy from Chicago actually got the shakes, like a drug abuser," says Schultz. "He was in very poor shape when he arrived. He'd been on his computer 10 to 12 hours a day looking at porn."
There is very little evidence that addictive behavior can be inherited biologically or genetically, argues Stanton Peele—the psychologist, leading opponent of the disease model of addiction and sometime Fix contributor—in a provocative article published by the non-12 step addiction treatment and research organization Saint Jude Retreats. Peele writes that of the many reasons why people choose to drink or do drugs, factors like circumstances and environment are far more important than genetic inheritance—for which the evidence is "minor"—or the brain's neurochemistry. "People are blinded by genetic theories so that they can't take in the facts all around them," he writes. "Becoming—and remaining—addicted has a lot more to do with the groups people come from and associate with, and from their beliefs and expectations about alcohol or drugs (or other activities), than from their biological makeup."
Peele cites the example of rock band Aerosmith: all five members joined AA at once—just as they once drank and did drugs together. "How unlikely a coincidence it is that five unrelated people with the alcoholic/addictive inheritance should run into one another and form a band!" he says. Mark Scheeren, Chairman of Saint Jude Retreats, agrees: "Addiction is simply a series of habitual behaviors which can be changed. Substance use boils down to a thought which is the conscious decision to drink and/or drug. There is no gene of addiction, unlike rehabilitation programs would like you to believe." Proponents of such programs, and of the disease model, will be quick to disagree.
Frozen burritos are often a staple food item for potheads suffering from cases of the munchies; now pro-skateboarder and MTV reality star Rob Dyrdek has gone the extra mile and created a line of frozen burritos specifically for stoners. Dyrdek, 37, recently launched Loud Mouth Burritos, saying the content of their food can't be truly appreciated unless you're high—which says plenty about the quality, although stoners are unlikely to be difficult to convince. The munchie items are currently being sold at select convenience stores and come in two flavors: Cheeseburger—stuffed with hamburger meat, cheese, ketchup and mustard; and Pepperoni Pizza—with mozzarella, pepperoni and tomato sauce. And in the best pot-friendly marketing ploy of the year, every burrito is only 420 calories. Something to keep in mind when you're scarfing down your fifth one of the evening.
The LA Times ran a fascinating interview with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) spokesman Stephen Downing yesterday. Downing hardly fits the long-haired hippie stereotype of anti-prohibitionists. A life-long Republican, he spent 20 years with the LAPD and oversaw the Administrative Narcotics Division. Yet he's a firm believer in drug legalization. "Prohibition is not the answer and it will never be the answer,” he says, “because it does not and will not work." After joining the LAPD in 1960, Downing worked his way up the ranks; according to the piece he “saw the beginnings of the Bloods and Crips, heard President Nixon's declaration of war on drugs, and watched rivers of federal money flow to create increasingly militarized police departments.” Downing recalls, "We had a police officer shot in crossfire on a drug raid, and he went into a wheelchair for life, and I'm thinking, 'Wow, this guy's like this because he was trying to keep an addict from getting his heroin?' We had another cop killed in a buy-bust.... He shot him in the face. And this weighs on you, and you ask, 'What is the value of what we're doing?'" He makes a strong case, citing wasted dollars and lives.
Also interviewed for the piece is UCLA professor and Fix contributor Mark Kleiman, who strikes a more cautious note: “If we legalized all drugs,” he says, “there’d be smaller illegal profits, less violence among dealers, safer drugs and fewer people behind bars.” He also argues, “We’d also have vastly more drug addiction and more crimes and accidents due to intoxication. There’s no magic formula to end the drug problem. Details matter, and not all drugs are alike. I’d like to see cannabis made legally available for use by adults. I don’t want to extend that to cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine.”
To which Downing responds: "OK, let’s start with pot, regulate and control it as we do the wine industry (which would be a vast improvement over the current hodgepodge of medical marijuana laws), study the results, and learn what we can from countries that are decriminalizing other drugs." A lively debate is continuing in the article's comments section. As one reader puts it, “Do people really believe that if you legalize drugs tomorrow millions of our citizens would be so stupid to become heroin addicts? If you believe this, we basically have had a miserable drug education campaign for the past 40 years.”
The number of prescriptions for ADHD drugs for children skyrocketed between 2002 and 2010, reveals a new study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—but the total number of prescriptions for kids up to age 17 declined during the same period. The relevant stats show a 7% drop in total prescriptions and a big increase of 46% in ADHD presscriptions—with the total number of ADHD diagnoses rising from 4.4 million to five million. Ritalin and Adderall account for the majority of the ADHD drugs prescribed, but newer meds like Vyvanse and Focalin are also being introduced. Contraceptive prescriptions also increased among adolescents by a massive 93% and there was a marked increase in medications prescribed for asthma. However, antibiotic prescriptions for kids declined by 14% and the numbers for antidepressants also fell. The trend for adults seems different; they experienced a 22% total increase in the amount of medications prescribed. However, the study doesn't provide an analysis for these results and the authors note that their research doesn't track whether the drugs are actually used—only that they're prescribed.