Harrison David, one of the five Ivy League students busted last December for selling drugs from the New York City campus, pleaded guilty yesterday and now faces up to 6 months in prison. The 20-year-old David, who was the main target of “Operation Ivy League,” admitted to selling cocaine to undercover police a year ago, according to the New York Times. Along with cocaine, the students also dealt LSD, weed, and Ecstasy. David, whose sentence at Rikers Island will begin August 30, is due to serve five years probation after his release. Lawyers for the four other students involved in the drug ring are seeking drug rehabilitation terms rather than prison, claiming the students were all addicted to the drugs. If the motions on file are approved, it could lead to the dismissal of all charges against them.
ABC’s Tampa, Florida I-Team managed to get their hands on a rather lengthy list of Florida physicians who have been slapped with drug-related offenses by the Department of Health. Amazingly, they discovered that many of the doctors on the list still maintain a valid medical license—and some continue to treat patients. Charlotte Fox, whose son took his own life because of an overbearing addiction to pain pills, is furious that no legal action has been taken against the doctor responsible for writing the scrips. According to the report, a 20-day prescription given to Charlotte’s son, Matt, included 80 Oxycontin pills, 240 Oxycodone, and 90 Xanax. Dr. Christina Paylan, who was arrested last month on drug trafficking charges, continues to see patients in her Tampa-based cosmetic surgery clinic. She was charged with writing phony scrips for herself and her boyfriend. Some Florida politicians are pushing the Florida Board of Medicine to step up their authority to suspend or revoke the licenses of doctors who won't quit trafficking drugs. We think that plan is a bit overdue. ABC video follows:
- Marijuana May Be Studied for Combat Disorder [NY Times]
- Medical Marijuana Superstore Ready To Expand In 38 States, Plans For IPO [dailymarkets.com]
- Lady Gaga Dishes Drugs With Howard Stern [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
- Is Ventura's Record Marijuana Bust A Victory or a Defeat? [The Atlantic]
- Scientists Find Tentative Link Between “Autism Gene” and Alcoholism [The Globe and Mail]
We know pregnant women shouldn’t drink. But some women do. It can cause permanent damage to the unborn child, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, better known as Fetal Alcohol Disorder (FAS). But the precise mechanisms by which alcohol can manage to disrupt the normal development of a fetus are not well understood. A new article in Nature detailed
the discovery of one way alcohol causes irreparable damage to fetal DNA. Scientists with the UK’s Medical Research Council used genetically-modified mice to show that alcohol’s primary breakdown product, acetaldehyde, is toxic to cellular DNA in the absence of two specialized enzymes. The first set of enzymes removes excess acetaldehyde as it builds up, and the second enzymatic mechanism kicks in if a flood of acetaldehyde causes damage to cellular DNA. These latter enzymes, known as the Fanconi proteins, are literally a life-and-death barrier that keeps alcohol from causing widespread genetic damage. “The findings show how critically reliant we are on both these control systems to prevent alcohol from causing irreversible mutations to DNA, both in the fetus and in our own cells,” said lead researcher Ketan Patel at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Pregnant lab mice lacking both protective enzyme mechanisms showed major fetal damage, including destruction of blood stem cells, after the equivalent of a single episode of binge drinking, Patel said. “The effects of alcohol in the modified pregnant mice resembled fetal alcohol syndrome,” he said. “With alcohol you are essentially drinking a mutagen.”
These findings dovetail with the condition known in Asia as the alcohol flushing mutation. Millions of Chinese in others in Southeast Asia have this inherited condition, which causes an inability to rapidly break down and excrete acetaldehyde. One symptom of this is the flush reaction. One piece of unsettling speculation based on the new findings is that those who suffer from the Asian flush reaction may be more susceptible to DNA damage. Dr. Hugh Pelham, director of MRC’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology, took the opportunity to bestow laurels on his scientists, noting that they had shown “how vulnerable we can be to DNA damage from excess alcohol and even more so in the womb. Despite the existence of protective mechanisms, long-term genetic damage must be added to the risks of excessive alcohol consumption.”
Martin Sheen, a longtime AA advocate—and the father of anti-AA advocate Charlie Sheen—testified before Congress yesterday in an effort to rally support for drug courts. "I am not a former president of the United States," Sheen said, "though I played one on TV." Sheen told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security that he had seen firsthand the potential of drug courts while working with them in several California cities, CBS News reported. "Imagine for a moment the impact we could have if drug courts were available to all 1.2 million addicted individuals who would be best served by drug courts if one were available," Sheen said. "Imagine the impact of 1.2 million people making up for lost time in their community and serving their families and their country." In 1996, Sheen was involved with a sober living house in Berkeley run by drug court graduates. The program has since expanded to six houses. Congressional testimony follows:
No wonder air traffic controllers seem to be dozing on the job. After a series of controllers made headlines for falling asleep on duty, a Colorado-based air traffic controller is now under federal investigation for directing planes while drunk. The veteran air controller reportedly works at the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center in Longmont, according to KGO Radio in San Francisco. Due to strict federal guidelines governing such “security-sensitive” positions, the legal Blood Alcohol Content limit of federal employees while on the clock cannot exceed .04--roughly equivalent to a can of Bud Light. But six and a half hours into his shift, the controller was hit with a surprise blood test by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials. Though the employee's actual BAC is still unknown, he was quickly flown out of the tower and parked in a nearby jail. According to the radio station, the offender had been waging a longtime battle with alcohol and was undergoing alcohol treatment at the time of his arrest. Sources clam he is currently on unpaid leavmay but could be reinstated to his old post if he manages to get through an extensive period of testing and treatment without further turbulence.