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legalization of marijuana

8/23/12 3:01pm

NAACP Champions Pot Legalization in Colorado

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Harris Lytle says pot prohibition harms the
black community. Photo via

Colorado's Amendment 64—a ballot measure to legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol—has won new backing from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who have long claimed that pot laws unfairly target the black population. In 2010, African-Americans accounted for about 9% of marijuana possession arrests and 22% of arrests for marijuana sales and cultivation—despite only making up roughly 4% of Colorado's population, according to an NAACP statement. These numbers were particularly disproportionate in Denver, where African-Americans accounted for over 31.5% percent of arrests for marijuana possession, while constituting less than 11% of the city's population. "In ending the prohibition against adult use of marijuana we might affect mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on African-Americans and other people of color," says Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the NAACP's Amendment 64 Conference. "Marijuana prohibition policy does more harm to our communities than good." Although not in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker is one politician who has echoed these claims about the devastating impact of drug policy on the black community, saying the war on drugs is ineffective and "represents big overgrown government at its worst." Coloradans will vote on Amendment 64 on November 6. They considered but rejected a similar recreational pot legalization initiative in 2006.

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By Bryan Le

reality tv

8/23/12 1:43pm

The Real World Cast Stages an Intervention

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The cast is worried about Robb. Photo via

MTV's The Real World, where people "stop being polite, and start getting real," has historically been a hotbed of substance abuse. And the current season, which is being filmed in St. Thomas, is the latest to feature a cast member whose downward spiral—perhaps abetted by cameras, drama and unlimited booze—steals the focus of the show. During last night's episode, the entire cast staged an intervention for cast member Robb over his excessive drinking and self-damaging behavior that's included drinking every day, stubbing cigs out on his arm and punching himself in the face. Fellow cast member Brandon pointed out that "drinking is a downer" for Robb and usually the start of his self-harm. But while the 21-year-old agreed to get help for his self-harm issues, he made no plans to stop drinking. "I don’t think, you know, I’m an alcoholic. I think I just drink too much. Appreciate you guys coming out here, though," he said during the intervention. This isn't the first time a Real World cast has intervened over a cast member's substance abuse. Ruthie Alcaide was confronted during Real World: Hawaii after being hospitalized due to alcohol poisoning and driving drunk, while Joey Kovar of Real World: Hollywood was also given an intervention over his drinking. Kovar, who left mid-season to attend rehab for alcohol abuse and later appeared on Celebrity Rehab, died last week due to a suspected overdose of Viagra, alcohol and cocaine.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Drugs in prison

8/23/12 12:45pm

The Drug-Testing Regime in US Prisons

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Hot or not? Photo via

Typically around 1500 prisoners reside on any prison compound in the country, and—as casualties of the War on Drugs—most of them are addicts and alcoholics, who will do whatever they can to get high inside. So drug testing and breathalyzers are frequently employed by prison authorities. "They select prisoners randomly for piss tests," a prisoner tells The Fix. "But you can also be on the hot list—and then it's a sure bet you're getting pissed every month, whenever they want." Officers can put you on the hot list if they have any reason to suspect you're using. Usually, compound officers will conduct the urinalysis and collect the samples. They do this at different times—often waking prisoners up early in the morning after the 5 am count, to get what they consider a good, undiluted urine sample. But they also conduct the tests throughout the day and after the 4 pm stand-up count.

"When you here your name called over the PA system with a bunch of others and you're all told to report to the Lieutenant's office, you know what's up," the prisoner says. "It's a piss test for sure." Prisoners have two hours from the time when their name is called to urinate in the cup. If not, they can be thrown in the hole for refusal to take the test. "They got those fancy cups too," the prisoner says. "The ones that register right away and tell what drugs you're dirty for. But there're a lot of false positives." The guards wear gloves and keep everything sealed until the prisoner is ready to urinate, but still, it's not a perfect system. "One of my homeboys got locked up on a false positive, but when they sent it out to the lab, he beat it," the prisoner says. "There're ways to beat them too, but that's another story."

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By Seth Ferranti

bad sports

8/23/12 11:52am

Baseball Bans Yet Another Player For Drugs

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Colon accepts full responsibility.
Photo via

In the second Major League Baseball drug-related suspension this week, Oakland Athletics team member Bartolo Colon has received a whopping 50-game suspension for testing positive for an excessive level of testosterone, following suspension of San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera earlier this week. Despite Major League Baseball instituting drug tests for steroids and other performance enhancing substitutes nearly a decade ago and recently instituting an even more stringent regimen of testing policies, Colon is the fifth player this year to be suspended over performance enhancing drugs. The New York Times reports that in April 2010, Colon underwent an unusual procedure in the Dominican Republic to help repair a torn rotator cuff and ligament damage by having fat and bone marrow stem cells extracted from his body and then injected into his elbow and shoulder. Baseball officials interviewed Dr. Joseph R. Purita, an orthopedic surgeon based out of Florida who oversaw the procedure, as well as a second doctor involved in the case, Leonel Liriano, but both maintain that Colon did not receive any performance enhancing drugs. “The last time I saw him was last year after the season, when he was on vacation in the Dominican Republic,” says Liriano. “He came to my office because he was having a stomach problem.”  Colon has publicly apologized since the suspension was announced and has accepted full responsibility.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Sexuality and addiction

8/23/12 11:00am

Substance Abuse Higher Among Lesbians

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Is homophobia linked to substance abuse?
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Bisexual and gay women are more likely to engage in risky behavior such as drug use and binge drinking, claims new research from Australia’s Curtain University. Of the 900 lesbian or bisexual women surveyed, whose average age was 26, illegal and legal drug use was found to be higher among this group than in the general public—about half admitted to drinking more than Australian national guidelines recommend, and one-third admitting to binge drinking. “In the six months prior to the survey nearly half of the women had used an illicit drug—36% had used cannabis, 18% ecstasy and 16% speed... these figures are higher than the broader community," says researcher Jude Comfort. “The findings all help in building a picture of the community and provide direction to work with this community to improve their health.”  The report also showed that 35% of the women surveyed had experienced some form of anti-gay bullying or intolerance in the year prior to the survey, and 20% had experienced violence from a female partner. According to Comfort, domestic violence among lesbian couples is something that's rarely discussed, and health promotion, prevention, and intervention programs are lacking in this community as well. “While health promotion has made significant gains in some issues at the broader community level it appears these messages have been less successful in achieving positive health behavior in this group of women,” says Comfort, who hopes this study will help establish the need for future public health programs targeted to bisexual and lesbian women.

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

8/23/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: August 23, 2012

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Now a smoke-free family. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

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