- Genes May Determine If Nicotine Gum or Patch Will Help You Quit [My Health News Daily]
- For Some, Exercise May Increase Heart Risk [New York Times]
- Is Addiction a Disease? [BBC]
International prohibition of psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms, LSD, ecstasy and marijuana has hindered research on the brain and slowed the progress of medicine—just like George W. Bush's ban on stem cell research, according to high-profile David Nutt. "We lose sight of the fact that these drugs may well give us insights into areas of science which need to be explored and they also may give us new opportunities for treatment," he says. "Almost all the drugs which are of interest in terms of brain phenomena like consciousness, perception, mood, psychosis—drugs like psychedelics, ketamine, cannabis, magic mushrooms, MDMA—are currently illegal. So there's almost no [scientific] work in this field." These drugs are banned because most are thought to cause more harm than good, but some may have untapped benefits as well. For example, Nutt's previous study on the effects of psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) found that it suppresses brain activity linked to depression. But due to bans, Nutt has said he had to "jump through hundreds of hoops" to conduct his research—an issue that most scientists don't want to deal with.
Nutt is known for his history of going against government regulations; in 2009 he was dismissed from his position as a senior drug adviser to the UK government after complaining about drugs not being classified according to the actual level of harm they cause, and the "obscenity" of prosecuting cannabis users. His latest book, Drugs—Without The Hot Air, aims to clarify understanding of legal and illegal drugs—both recreational as well as medicinal. "If we understand drugs more, and have a more rational approach to them, we will actually end up knowing more about how to deal with drug harms," he says. "It's arbitrary whether we choose to keep alcohol legal and ban cannabis, or make tobacco legal and ban ecstasy. Those are not scientific decisions; they are political, moral and maybe even religious decisions."
In a piece of sobering news for medical pot smokers: a strand of marijuana has been developed that can cure your physical ills, without getting you stoned. Israeli scientists, seeking to "help" those smoking marijuana for medical purposes, have cultivated a marijuana plant that is identical to normal pot, minus the plant's illustrious after-effects. "It has the same scent, shape and taste as the original plant—it's all the same—but the numbing sensation that users are accustomed to has disappeared," says Tzahi Klein, head of development at the firm where the strand was developed. The new strand of weed also does not cause users to get the munchies. Scientists developing the sober species sought to neutralize the effects of THC—the element of cannabis that gets you "numb" (or high)—and to increase the effects of cannabidiol, or "CBD", which has been shown to relieve convulsion, anxiety, inflammation and nausea, as well as inhibit cancer cell growth. CBD may also be used to treat various psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. Medical marijuana, which is legal in Israel, has been approved for use by about 6,000 Israelis with a range of illnesses. In the US, where medical pot is only legal in certain states, it remains to be seen how pro-medical marijuana activists will respond to news of sober weed. With joy? Grief? Hysterical laughter? All of the above?
"Five Wives" vodka gets big love in Utah, but no love in Idaho—it has been banned by Idaho's state liquor board, presumably for fear of offending Mormons. "We feel Five Wives Vodka concept is offensive to a prominent segment of our population and will not be carried," an Idaho official explains. "We can only presume he means Mormons," says Steve Conlin, VP of Ogden's Own Distillery, which bottles Five Wives. "Though that makes little sense as they allow Polygamy Porter from Wasatch Beers of Utah to be sold. We're a little dumbfounded by it all." For the uninitiated, Polygamy Porter is a beer with such tag lines as “Why just have one?” and “Bring some home for the wives.” The Salt Lake City Tribune suggested that the cause for the ban may have been the images of "19th century women in petticoats holding kittens near their lady parts." Conlin shot back, "but they have a Hooters [Restaurant] in Boise!” He claims that "Five Wives" title actually has nothing to do with polygamy, and in fact commemorates the first wagon train of 66 men and five women to roll through Utah. Either way, the distillery is still making money off its label in Idaho by selling “Free the Five Wives” t-shirts, which Conlin reports are flying off the racks.
Tila Tequila, who is perhaps best known for her two seasons in MTV's A Shot at Love, is now taking a shot at recovery. The reality star is reportedly doing well after leaving a 30-day rehab stint for drug addiction and an eating disorder that saw her weight drop to dangerously low levels. Sources say that Tequila began to fear for her life when she noticed her bones were protruding from her body, but she has managed to return to a relatively healthy weight while in rehab. "It's still an everyday battle for her, but at least she's sober and healthy," says a source. The 30-year-old went straight to rehab from her hospitalization earlier this year due to a drug overdose, when she suffered a brain aneurysm that nearly killed her. Tequila's roommate told police that the overdose was not accidental and that she had been trying to kill herself for a week. However, a close friend of Tequila has said that the rehab stint has changed her for the better both physically and mentally. "She's a fighter and has been through a lot, but is not giving up," said the source. "She's changed so much since returning from rehab. She's much happier these days and more like the old Tila we all loved. We're proud of her."