Meghan McCain is proving quite the budding maverick. After first opposing her conservative father John McCain by declaring her support for gay marriage, she's once again at odds with her dad—this time on the topic of marijuana. “I believe that marijuana should be legalized. This is not a decision I have come to quickly or lightly,” she writes in her new book America, You Sexy Bitch, co-written with comedian Michael Ian Black. Explaining her stance, she says: “For one reason, I think it is a substance that does no more damage than alcohol does, and second, if we legalized marijuana in this country and taxed the hell out of it, our economic problems would at least be temporarily helped a great deal. In fact, you could even use the revenue stream to pay for universal health care if you wanted.” Her dad, the former Republican presidential candidate, has been explicit in his anti-pot stance: “I don't think marijuana is healthy, I don't think that it is good for people,” he stated in 2008; "there is a large body of medical opinion that says there is plenty of other medications that are more effective and better and less damaging to one's health to use to relieve pain.” Young McCain's pro-legalization stance isn't the only hint that she may be veering towards the left: in her book, she also calls Karl Rove a “pathetic excuse for a human being” and praises Hilary Clinton because she doesn't “put up with shit” and also for “shattering many glass ceilings for women in politics.”
Mexican drug cartels' presence in small-town America is growing. Cartels increasingly target small towns like Wilmington, NC, where officials found 2,400 marijuana plants in 2009, bankrolled by a Mexican gang called "La Familia Michoacana." Towns like Wilmington have ideal features to become cartel sub-hubs—like a nearby interstate for ferrying drugs and money, and areas with higher Latino populations, which afford greater cover. "I'm not saying Mexicans come here to do crime, but Mexicans who move drugs choose to do it through areas where there are already Mexicans," says author Charles Bowden, who has written numerous books on the drug war. There's so much suspect activity in the Wilmington area that the DEA has set up a confidential 1-800-number for tip-offs.
It's not surprising that drug organizations flourish in the US—a nation that holds 4% of the world's population, yet consumes about two-thirds of its illegal drugs. And although it's expensive and logistically difficult to harvest cocaine here, the booming popularity of (cheaper and easier-to-produce) crystal meth since the '90s has increased cartel activity north of the border. "The thing that triggered the mass infiltration into the United States' smaller communities is that methamphetamine has been introduced as a poor man's cocaine," says retired DEA agent Phil Jordan. According to the Justice Department's National Drug Intelligence Center, Mexican cartels now control most of the heroin, marijuana and meth coming in to the US—and increasingly produce these drugs themselves. The numbers of US cities that host cartel activity is rising: in 2009 and 2010, the center reported, cartels operated in 1,286 US cities—that's more than five times the 2008 figure. This is especially alarming considering that the Central American outfits are notorious for gruesome murders, such as public beheadings, or hanging competitors off bridges. But most gangs realize they can't get away with this kind of violence in the US—generally. "For the most part, the killing fields of Mexico will not transfer to the US," says Jordan. "Except for those that have betrayed the cartels," in which case, "they will seek you and kill you."
Not many people get the chance to be a hot up-and-comer in the NFL. Even fewer give it all up because of an addiction to video games—but that's exactly what Quinn Pitcock did. The former third-round draft pick for the Indianapolis Colts battled video-game addiction and depression to the point where he was holed up in his apartment, playing Call of Duty on the Xbox during most of his waking hours. "I'd go to McDonald's for breakfast, order a bunch of food, come home and play for 18 hours into the next day, then crash, sleep for seven hours and do it all over again," says Pitcock. After success at Ohio State, Pitcock—6'2" and 320 pounds—was drafted to the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, where his rookie season included 18 tackles. He was in the running for a starting position in the 2008 season. Before training camp, however, Pitcock suddenly retired. "I didn't want football to be a part of my life," he says. "It wasn't just football. I felt like doing nothing." His video game addiction now interfered with his personal relationships to the point where he would schedule time with his family down to the second so he could quickly return to gaming. Pitcock finally decided to get help when he began destroying his video games in order to keep him from playing—only to find himself in Target the next day buying new copies. Now back on the field as a defensive lineman for the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators, Pitcock still struggles with his addiction, as well as depression and ADHD. But he'd like to return to the NFL one day. "It's a no-brainer for someone to give the kid another opportunity in the NFL," says Predators coach Bret Munsey.
Thousands of Arizona teens are giving up or avoiding cigarettes, and the state's Department of Health Services (AZDHS) mainly credits social media for the largest drop in teen smoking of any state in the country. The rate is down 11% over the last two years, which translates to about 10,000 fewer young smokers. "We reach them where they are…which is online, Facebook, we tweet, make use of social media," says Wayne Tormala, Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease at AZDHS. "We use the message of addiction which we found is one thing—they don’t want to be addicted, they don’t want to be controlled by something else." In addition to regular tweets and Facebook posts publicizing the dangers of cigarettes and tobacco, the Arizona Smokers' Helpline—funded through AZDHS—has launched a Facebook and iPhone app named "Call It Quits," allowing users to set up online support groups of friends and family for instant encouragement, log goals and earn badges for their achievements. But traditional offline methods have also helped spread the word; back in March, middle and high school students across the state participated in presentations, demonstrations and a "Stomp Out Tobacco" Walk/Run for the state's 17th annual Kick Butts Day. Tormala also suggests that the rising costs of cigarettes is a factor in the decrease in teens tobacco use. He says a pack-a-day smoker can spend up to $3,000 a year—out of many teens' budgets.
Many addicts have attempted the questionable "Geographic Cure"—physically getting away from your dealers and drinking buddies to try and start over. But maybe not so much any more: Silk Road killed it. What is Silk Road? Imagine Amazon.com. Now imagine that instead of books, Amazon stocked drugs, with each pill and powder listed alongside a color photo and an “add to basket” button. Billed as “the anonymous marketplace," Silk Road, which launched in February 2011, also stocks forged documents, paraphernalia—and even a few weapons. But getting on the service isn't as simple as pointing your browser to Amazon—it requires a bit of technical know-how. Users access the site through a special browser that hides their IP addresses, making it impossible to trace their movements online. The site itself redirects traffic through a random chain of computers around the globe in order to hide its location. Buyers and sellers trade in “Bitcoin”—an Internet-only currency that bypasses the traditional banking system. And the URL is mostly gibberish.
Some people see this as a positive development. Gerald, a current user from Peru, tells The Fix, “Silk Road is a safer alternative to copping on the streets or from a dealer. It eliminates the constant traveling and the transaction itself is much harder to find out about.” But the site has caused plenty of problems for Internet-savvy recovering addicts: “I relapsed all over that site when I found out about it,” Nick, a former user in England, tells us. “But it was actually a positive experience because it forced me to strengthen my recovery and not rely on the fact I physically couldn’t score in the area I was living."
It seems celebrities driving clumsily is the new celebrities driving drunk. First Amanda Bynes made headlines for multiple hit-and-runs, which she says were not drinking-related. And now, an allegedly sober Lindsay Lohan—who seemed to be getting her life on track—may have her probation revoked for her involvement in a (sober) car accident. On Friday, Lohan's Porsche crashed in to a truck, with the truck driver claiming: “She came over and hit the back of the truck. Then the car pulled up on the sidewalk.” Cops confirmed that the 25-year-old starlet had not been drinking—as many suspected—at the time of the accident; but she's stirred up trouble by lying to police, claiming that her assistant was the one who crashed the car, and not herself. When her assistant was questioned separately, she said that it was Lohan behind the wheel. Witnesses say the actress and her assistant both exited the crashed vehicle on the passenger side, which is no help to Lohan’s case. Lying to a police officer is a crime in California, and law enforcement plans to include Lohan's lie in their report. The actress is now in danger of getting her probation revoked and could even do jail time if found guilty. Back in March, Lindsay completed her probation following two DUI cases, and is now on unsupervised probation for her shoplifting case. She's been working hard to make a career comeback and is currently filming the Elizabeth Taylor biopic Liz & Dick. She claims to be sober and a "home-body" lately—although evidently the once-infamous party girl still finds it hard to leave home with causing a ruckus.