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College Drinking

3/21/12 2:41pm

Parents Sue Frat for Daughter's Death

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Megan Helal was just 19.
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The parents of an underage college student are suing her boyfriend and his fraternity after a night of heavy drinking allegedly resulted in her death. Megan Helal, a 19-year old Navarro College student, was attending a party at Mynar's Bar in West, Texas, with her boyfriend and his Baylor University fraternity; Sigma Chi was celebrating some newly inducted members. Later, Helal was found on the floor of her boyfriend’s apartment—she was pronounced dead soon after arriving at the hospital. Helal’s parents claim negligence in their lawsuit against her boyfriend and his fraternity—and also against the bartenders and bar owners for serving alcohol to an underage person. Megan was allegedly served between 10 and 17 vodka drinks in a two-hour span. "They didn't know who the liquor was being served to," says the family’s attorney. "In addition, they allowed the fraternity to set up bottle service in a little room where the drinking was going on." An autopsy reportedly concluded that her death was caused by a cardiac arrhythmia because of myocardial fibrosis of undermined origin, rather than alcohol consumption directly. But her parents are still moving forward with the suit, saying they don’t want to see this happen to another family.

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By Fionna Agomuoh

Celebrity rehab

3/21/12 1:46pm

Russian Beauty Queen Raises Hell in Rehab

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Malova was crowned "Miss Russia" in 1998.
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Staff at one Bronx rehab won't forget this resident in a hurry. Vicodin addict and former Miss Russia Anna Malova is proving quite the handful on her court-ordered, 18-24 month program. The 39-year-old beauty queen has been caught hoarding and binging on prescription meds, prosecutors revealed in court yesterday. It's far from her first offense at the facility, to which she was sent as an alternative to jail following a 44-felony indictment for prescription forgery last year. In early January she was awarded a "last chance" there by a judge, after fighting with, and slapping, a fellow female patient—not to mention raiding the facility's refrigerator. That time, Miss Russia of 1998 had to agree not even to speak to the other patients for 30 days because she'd antagonized them so much. “There’s no question, your honor. Miss Malova is struggling with drug treatment,” defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb admitted to Judge Richard Weinberg—not that he really had another option—in a Manhattan court yesterday. Faced with the threat of a criminal trial, Malova was given another last chance at rehab.

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By Will Godfrey

Medical Marijuana

3/21/12 12:47pm

Workplaces Weed Out Medical Marijuana Users

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Medical weed creates a sticky issue.
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A San Francisco plumber with a valid medical marijuana prescription was denied work on a city project after testing positive for pot. It's prompting renewed questions on how to handle workers who fail drug tests despite holding prescriptions that are legal in their state. Rhode Island is currently the only state to offer full protection to employees who are medical marijuana cardholders, while Michigan's law only forbids card holders from smoking at work or just before their shifts. The federal government still doesn't recognize a legitimate medical purpose for cannabis, and there are no federal guidelines on how to address medicinal marijuana use in the workplace. “Employers in states that have legalized the medical use of marijuana under state law unfortunately remain free to fire employees who test positive for THC,” says Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “It is terribly unfair to these patients, but at this time it is not illegal.” As for the plumber, the business manager for his local union, Larry Mazzola Sr., has initiated talks with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) over potential protections for medical marijuana users. SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue says he and Mazzola will discuss the amendment at next month's SFPUC committee meeting: "We look forward to working with him to weed out any outstanding issues."

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By McCarton Ackerman

Jersey Shore

3/21/12 12:13pm

Has "The Situation" Deteriorated?

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Mike is the "face" of a protein-infused vodka.
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Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and his rock-hard abs might have hit rock bottom, with TMZ reporting that the Jersey Shore star has entered treatment for substance abuse. Sorrentino has been seen boozing heavily alongside his six cast mates since the televised bender debuted two years ago; he also makes up to 50K per night to appear at nightclubs all over the world, and was reportedly paid half-a-million bucks to be the face of Devotion vodka. The 29-year-old Situation's rep denies that he's in rehab, saying he "has spent the past several weeks at an undisclosed location for much needed rest and recuperation after his extensive production and appearance schedule." MTV recently announced that Jersey Shore—the network's most watched series ever—will film its sixth season this summer.

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By May Wilkerson

drug laws

3/21/12 11:29am

Colorado Could Chop Drug Penalties

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Hope could become reality in Colorado.
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Could felony charges for drug possession become a thing of the past? Just weeks after California introduced legislation that would reduce simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, Colorado has introduced a bill in its own Senate that would also cut penalties for possession offenses. The proposal—which has support from both parties—would downgrade possession of up to four grams of schedule I (like heroin, LSD and marijuana) or II (like cocaine and painkillers) substances, or two grams of methamphetamine, from a class six felony to a class one misdemeanor. The idea is to ensure drug offenders get treatment instead of prison, thus cutting the prison population and saving money. Republican Senator Shawn Mitchell, one of the bill's biggest advocates, has been open about his younger brother's meth addiction. "The war on drugs has made government more powerful, citizens less free, and hasn't helped users or addicts," he says. "I want to push a smarter effort against drugs. I want to stop piling people into prisons and stop branding people with a felony for a personal weakness." However, Colorado prosecutors oppose the legislation, saying the bill doesn't treat possession of drugs seriously enough. According to the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, 60% of all drug offenders imprisoned from August 2010 to November 2011 were convicted on possession charges. 

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By McCarton Ackerman

Fake Drugs

3/21/12 10:33am

Hard Times for Fake Viagra Peddlers

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Fake medication can be deadly. Photo via

Police in Europe have confiscated around 300,000 doses of fake drugs in the UK, Cyprus and Spain, following a lengthy investigation. According to European law enforcement agency Europol, gangs from Asia—Singapore and China in particular—have been importing counterfeit drugs to distribute them across Europe. Six people have been arrested in Spain and the UK for importing and selling a host of fake drugsViagra among them. "Unlicensed, untested and potentially laced with dangerous filler ingredients, fake medicine can put users' health, and even life, at risk," says Europol in a statement. "It is very common for counterfeit medication to contain no active ingredients, and often they are made using ineffective or dangerous substances which can cause liver damage, irreversible health problems or even prove to be fatal." Adding to the concern, many of these medications had already been purchased by consumers online. The latest seizure is the result of several months of international police co-operation.

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By Valerie Tejeda

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