A new synthetic drug has been wreaking havoc in Charleston, West Virginia: within a two-day period last week, eight people in the city reportedly overdosed and were hospitalized, thanks to a substance known as AM 2201. Originally thought to be a form of crack cocaine, AM 2201 is actually a synthetic cannabinoid that's been used used to coat the potpourri sold as synthetic marijuana. Dr. Elizabeth Scharman, director of the West Virginia Poison Control Center in Charleston, said she'd expect the effects of the drugs to be similar to other synthetic marijuana products like K2 and Spice—which could include extreme anxiety, hallucinations, vomiting and seizures. The effects of AM 2201 on these OD victims appeared to be immediate and included collapsing. “The reason they’re having such an adverse reaction is that they’re smoking it in pure form. If they were smoking it as K2, the chemical would have been diluted,” said Lt. Steve Cooper, chief detective for the Charleston Police Department. Predictably, these incidents are already being hyped by some media as the new "bath salts"—a substance that's already no stranger to sensationalization. Global Grind reported that the eight overdoses were in fact eight deaths. No such deaths have been mentioned by the Charleston Police Department.
The Real World got all too real when 29-year-old Joey Kovar, who appeared on The Real World: Hollywood and Celebrity Rehab, was found dead in Chicago on Thursday night. It's suspected that he consumed a possible combination of cocaine, alcohol and Viagra. Law enforcement officials say that Kovar’s eyes were blackened—a common side effect of a drug overdose—with a brain aneurysm the possible ultimate cause of death. A friend of Kovar’s also told police that she saw him take drugs such as Xanax and Adderall in the weeks leading up to his death. During his time on The Real World, Kovar left mid-season to attend rehab for alcohol abuse. He later appeared on Celebrity Rehab, where he sought treatment for addictions to ecstasy and cocaine. “RIP Joey Kovar my heart breaks. My love and prayers go out to your family,” tweeted Celeb Rehab cast mate Mackenzie Phillips. Even with evidence pointing toward drugs, Kovar’s family denies that he died from an overdose. “That is not what anyone is suspecting, my brother was doing very well,” says Joey’s brother, David Kovar. “Everything was going very well. The very, very last thing that our family is suspecting is drugs.” A toxicology report will be released in the next few weeks.
- Narconon Drug Rehab Report Prompts Church of Scientology Statements [Examiner]
- What Hepatitis C May Tell Us About Drug Use and Addiction [NPR]
- Marriage Curbs Men's Drinking, Makes Women Drink More [Counsel & Heal]
- Treating Addiction: Why Kind Love Beats Tough Love [Time]
- Ex-Drug Addict Now Helps Reunite Families [USA Today]
- The Privileged, Young Heroin Addicts of Orange County [LAist]
- Republican Congressman Scolded After Drinking and Nudity in Israel [ABC News]
Tens of thousands of marijuana advocates have been attending Seattle’s Hempfest since 1991, and this year’s celebration—which kicks off today—should have even more to celebrate with the upcoming state vote on legalizing marijuana. If passed this fall, the legislation would allow people over 21 to possess up to one ounce of weed. Surprisingly though, a large number of participants are actively campaigning against the measure. In fact, the debate has gotten so heated that the festival organizers are refusing to take an official side, for risk of alienating passionate employees and attendees. "It's painful and it's frustrating," says Vivian McPeak, director of the festival. "It's been sort of like navigating shark-infested waters." The organizers plan to ensure that both sides of the issue are represented at a panel discussion on the topic of legalization held during the festival this weekend.
Hempfest hasn't always been so controversial; in past years, attendees have united to campaign for marijuana ballot measures. But now that a substantial bill—called I-502—exists, the community is divided. Those opposed say the bill doesn’t do enough, since it won’t permit home growing except for medical marijuana patients, and recreational sales will only be allowed at state-licensed stores. In addition, the measure contains a DUI provision that could allow convictions based on THC in a driver’s bloodstream. "I believe that Hempfest should have taken a position against 502, and I think some of these national organizations who have come out in support of it have done so on a really knee-jerk basis," says Doug Hiatt of Sensible Washington. He believes the measure is a “ridiculous waste of time and money” because it only makes an exception to the existing laws, rather than repealing any current laws that ban marijuana. But advocates see the bill as a major breakthrough, and the result of years of hard work. "I'm actually sad that Hempfest isn't embracing this as sort of a pinnacle of the work that they've been doing for so long," says Alison Holcomb, campaign director for the I-502 campaign. "There have been so many people who have worked literally for decades to have a chance to begin to roll back marijuana prohibition...and this is the year that we can finally break through that wall."
The title of the upcoming Flaming Lips album The Terror may provide some insight into the dark inspiration behind it. Frontman Wayne Coyne revealed that the main influence behind the record was the drug addiction of fellow band member Steven Drozd, who is now recovering. “It was probably the worst time of his life,” says Coyne. “I knew he was really, really struggling. He was in a bad way.” Instead of working with the band on recording new music, Drozd holed up in a different studio to record a series of “horribly creepy” tracks, the melodies of which will actually make it on to several songs of the new album. “Not all the pieces were audible, but he had these things saying ‘you are not alone,’ and then the other voice saying, ‘I am not alone.’ Back and forth between some horrible internal dialogue. It was truly devastating,” Coyne says. Drozd was hospitalized before a Florida show in 2010 due to an alleged overdose and his crippling battle with addiction was depicted in the 2005 Flaming Lips documentary The Fearless Freaks. The Terror is scheduled to be released sometime this fall.