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6/26/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: June 26, 2012


Rehab doesn't work—for him.
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By Chrisanne Grise

Medical Marijuana

6/25/12 5:40pm

Live Weed-Free or Die?


Saying no to pot. Photo via

New Hampshire's Democratic governor has vetoed a medical marijuana bill passed by the Republican-controlled legislature—even though a large majority of Granite State voters support the measure. Governor John Lynch says the bill doesn't provide sufficient restrictions on pot cultivation and prescription, and he opposes authorizing teenagers to use it for treatment. "I cannot support establishing a system for the use of medical marijuana that poses risks to the patient, lacks adequate oversight and funding, and risks the proliferation of a serious drug," he says.

Lynch blocked a similar bill in 2009, and advocates have grown frustrated with his naysaying attitude. "He has been very difficult to work with, so much so that we call it 'Lynching the bill,'" Kirk McNeil, executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition For Common Sense Marijuana Policy, tells The Fix. "He has just decided not to listen anymore because of his personal reasons against medical marijuana." Lynch's decision bucks the trend in New England: Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont have all recently legalized medical marijuana. A recent poll showed that 65% of New Hampshire voters support it—including over 70% of Democrats and independents, and even a majority of Republicans.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by more than a two-to-one margin, but only scraped through the Senate, meaning a veto override is unlikely (though not impossible). The state legislature will vote on the override on Wednesday, and the bill's sponsors vow to keep "educating" the opposition in hopes of gaining more votes. "We're still fighting this one," says McNeil. "We're not done with it yet."

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By Chrisanne Grise

porn addiction

6/25/12 4:46pm

"Porn School": Not Just About Porn


Oxbow addresses a range of behaviors.
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A rehab for porn-addled adolescents might sound like a setup for a joke—and when numerous media outlets caught wind of Utah's Oxbow Academy recently, it was widely dubbed “Porn School,” a “boot camp” for young online porn-addicts. Boys aged 13-17 spend their days here in counseling, schoolwork and chores, as well as activities like horse-riding and music; the internet and cell phones are banned. A puritanical impression isn't easy to shake when every article quotes Oxbow Academy's director, Stephen Schultz, on society's problems: “Sex is everywhere. When I was growing up if someone said they were bisexual it was shocking,” he says. “Now threesomes and depraved sexual behavior is all over the internet and children see those images before they develop into adolescents.”

But despite such statements, Schultz tells The Fix he's not here to judge: “All media, the amount of sexual content is much different today than when I was a kid. I'm not making a statement that it's good or bad—there are just consequences,” he says. “As kids are sexualized at an earlier age, there shouldn't be surprise that there's experimentation or interest or that kind of thing.” And his facility's goals and motivations are subtler than the press portrayal: Oxbow seeks to resolve boys' behavioral issues—not just excessive porn use—which can manifest in self-harm, eating disorders, inappropriate touching of others, poor grades and depression. It's just that pornography is the one issue all the students share. “Every student who's come through Oxbow has had unhealthy porn use,” Schultz confirms. “I wouldn't go far as to say porn causes kids to act out in certain ways, but it's a common thread.” He says he doesn't know why the "Porn School" moniker was applied: in his original interview for the Mirror, he only spoke about the school's treatments, schedules and procedures. “Never once was 'porn school' or boot camp even uttered,” he complains.

One of his students had run up $100,000 on his dad's credit card buying escorts, tearing up the bills to cover his tracks. Schultz wants to help boys like this develop healthy sexuality. “Kids are going to see porn; they're teenagers. That really isn't the issue," he says. "It's helping these kids learn and develop resilience around pornography." Stigma is part of the problem: "General society tends to see kids with sexual issues like the people on Dateline's Catch a Predator thing. These kids are just teenagers that are caught up in behaviors they don't want to be in, with lots of guilt and shame.”

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By Bryan Le

Rx Drug Safety

6/25/12 4:05pm

Big Pharma Lied About Another Pain Pill


Butter wouldn't melt.
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Once again, a pharmaceutical company's lies about the safety and effectiveness of its product are revealed to the public ten years too late. Documents reported on by the New York Times show that researchers conducting trials of the arthritis drug Celebrex for a subsidiary of Pfizer "cherry-picked" the data—as one researcher put it in the internal docs—to show that the drug upset the stomach less than the competing brands. As it turns out, the favorable results were selected from the first six months of a year-long study, rather than the whole thing. The disturbing facts were uncovered among a slew of executive emailssuch as one in which an associate medical director at Pharmacia (which was later bought by Pfizer) minimized trial findings for "no other reason than it happens to look better." The documents were released as part of an ongoing securities-fraud case against the company, which has previously included a 2003 lawsuitand heralded a major drop in Pharmacia's stock value. Although this obfuscation might have less dire consequences than Purdue Pharma's marketing of the painkiller OxyContin as "less addictive" than competing brands—helping to spark the worst prescription drug addiction epidemic in history—it's a timely reminder that companies like Pfizer and Purdue have dual allegiances: to their patients and to their bottom lines. Celebrex has made its manufacturer over $2.4 billion.  

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By Jed Bickman

alcohol laws

6/25/12 3:24pm

Iran Deals Death to Drinkers


Protesting the death sentences Photo via

It's brutal even for a regime with Iran's reputation. The Khorasan "justice" department has sentenced two male citizens to death for being caught drinking alcohol for the third time. The previous two sentences for the unidentified individuals resulted in 80 lashings; Iranian law allows the death penalty for a third conviction for drinking alcohol. Despite this, the country hasn't sent down a death sentence for drinking since 2007—and in that case the man was pardoned for his fourth alcohol offense when he repented. "The execution sentence for the two people who had been caught using alcoholic beverages has been confirmed and is now in process,” says Hojjatoleslam Hassan Shariati, the head of the Khorasan justice department. “We will not show mercy in alcoholic beverage offenses and we will sentence the offenders to the harshest letter of the law.” There may be plenty more of these executions and public lashings to come, because alcohol consumption is very much on the rise in Iran; Shargh newspaper reports that 26% of drivers stopped by police currently test positive for drug or alcohol use.

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By McCarton Ackerman

celebrity rehab

6/25/12 2:11pm

Sober Oscar De La Hoya Pursues Golf


Things are on the upswing for De La Hoya.
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Getting sober can feel like starting over; it is often heard in the recovery community that addicts are given the opportunity to live two lifetimes in one. Perhaps no one exemplifies this opportunity for transformation better than one-time boxing champ Oscar de la Hoya, who is clean and sober for over a year, repairing his marriage, and taking on a new sport: golf. De La Hoya, 39, earned his reputation as boxing's "Golden Boy" after scoring a gold medal at the Barcelona olympics, 20 years ago. But despite career success that included 17 world champions and 10 world titles, his addictions nearly beat him to a pulp—his dark past included cocaine addiction, alcohol abuse, and sex scandals that nearly destroyed his marriage, including rape allegations. “I almost lost everything,” says the ring legend, who had his first drink aged nine. But a little over a year after checking himself into rehab in Malibu, CA, De La Hoya has maintained his sobriety with the aid of 12-step meetings, recovered his wife's trust—and is now pursuing career aspirations as a pro golfer. He discovered golf in his 20s and pursued the sport as a hobby even as his boxing career took off. These days he plays weekly and plans to try out for the Champions Tour when he turns 50 in 2023. “Got the green light from the wife,” he says. “She understands that golf fulfills me.”

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By May Wilkerson


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