A panel of drug experts is warning that completely legalizing marijuana in just one state could cause snowballing consequences that government officials may not have adequately prepared for. Oregon, Colorado and Washington are the three states that will vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana; the panel believes that legalization would lead to a sharp decrease in the price of the drug, perhaps dropping to as little as one-quarter of its current value. That would encourage more people to use it, they say, undermining national marijuana laws. In addition, Colorado’s proposition would allow residents to obtain a grower’s license fairly easily, making the state a great home for exporters of pot. “They would be able to provide marijuana to New York state markets at one quarter of the current price,” says Jonathan Caulkins, co-author of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. “The federal government will face some really difficult choices where actions are like double-edged swords.” Obama's administration still opposes legalizing marijuana, and has taken action to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado and California. But some on the panel think a sit-down between federal officials and the governor of Colorado is vital in order to anticipate the problems if the state legalizes pot. "[I would] sit down with the governor of the state and say, 'Look, we can make your life completely miserable—and we will—unless you figure out a way to avoid the exports,” says sometime Fix contributor Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA.
- Legal Marijuana Debated as Belize Joins Regional Push on Drugs [Businessweek]
- As Three States Mull Marijuana legalization, Experts Warn: 'Beware' [LA Times]
- WHO Gives Chinese Health Minister Award for Battling Smoking [Washington Post]
- Police Bust Drug Network Selling Mexican Meth in Oklahoma [Chicago Tribune]
- Eva Rausing's Family Reflects on Her Addiction [ABC News]
- Jason Kidd Refused Alcohol Tests [Wall Street Journal]
- Pete Doherty 'Thrown Out of Thai Drug Rehab" for Being Disruptive [Daily Mail]
Who better to adopt the roll of cyber-age superhero and fight crime globally than Google? The company's "think/do tank"—"Google Ideas"—was formed several years ago as part of an ongoing effort to "explore the role that technology can play in tackling some of the toughest human challenges." Starting today in Los Angeles, Google Ideas is hosting a two-day summit called "Illicit Networks: Forces in Opposition." The search giant says in a statement: "We vowed to avoid the safe route," when it comes to finding a solution to global violence. "Given that technology has demonstrated it can be part of every problem, we want to make sure it is part of every solution. We hope to tackle the thorniest of issues." That includes the drug war that rages below the US/Mexico border, which has claimed more than 50,000 lives in six years. The summit's speakers will include longtime drug war analyst Sylvia Longmire, who says drug cartels often use technology to aid their efforts. As the world's most powerful search engine, she believes that Google could be a strong force in the fight to expose and stop drug cartels. "To me the idea [of a summit] was totally out there," she says. But: "The more I thought about it I thought, 'You know this could be pretty special.' It’s not that far-fetched to think Google would have an interest in helping technology disrupt these networks.”
Most high school students just flip burgers or take on a paper route, but one 17-year-old Ohio student opted for a more lucrative after-school job as leader of a marijuana ring. Distributing pot to students and Cincinatti area adults, his business boomed and he raked in $20,000 per month before being busted by the feds. Police confiscated $6,000 in cash found in the boy's bedroom along with 600 hydroponically grown marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $3 million. The budding entrepreneur, who has not been named by the sheriff's office, seemed "like someone who'd be in a church youth group or honor program," said Hamilton County Prosecutor David Fornshell. "He clearly had a high level of intelligence, but it was very misguided." He had been operating the ring in two Cincinnati schools since he was 15, selling mass quantities of homegrown marijuana to students every month. Seven distributors linked to the young kingpin, all adults ranging in ages 20-58, were also arrested for distributing in the Cincinatti area. The operation did have one limitation: no selling on school grounds, under the ominous threat of school rules. Said Forshnell: "There were strict orders not to sell at (the school) because you would get caught and the punishment would be severe."
A New York law aiming to curb abuse of prescription painkillers is being called a "model" for the rest of the country. Called The I-STOP (Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing) Plan, the measure relies on a central database of prescriptions that will reveal if a patient has been "doctor shopping" for extra pills. The new law will require doctors and pharmacists to use the database to monitor their patients' prescriptions, in order to prevent Rx drug abuse—which kills one person in the US every 19 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The measure will also provide police-run sites where people can discard their used prescription drugs, to help keep the drugs out of people's homes where they can be discovered by family members, including children. The I-STOP Plan, which state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman assures "will save lives," was recently passed by New York Legislature and is now awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature before it comes into action next year. "I truly believe that this is the most important legislation that we have seen passed in decades," said Sen. Andrew Lanza. "And that's because this problem, this scourge, this epidemic, is so severe that it's ripped apart families across the nation." According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, oxycodone sales in New York have risen by 1,200 percent between 2000 and 2010. The loophole in the measure is that it currently only covers New York, and Schneiderman says that addicted patients may continue to get their prescriptions filled in other states. “That's why it's paramount that other states consider emulating New York,” he said, adding that “the best solution would be a federal database.”
Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker is weeding out his unhealthy habits, including smoking marijuana, after a health scare this past spring. The band had to cancel their May shows after he needed an emergency tonsillectomy, and Barker reveals that his habitual pot-smoking, in conjunction with years of unhealthy eating, had caused his esophagus to become pre-cancerous. “They found that I had six ulcers, and I had a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which is basically from really extreme acid reflux or if you excessively smoked, your esophagus lining becomes pre-cancerous,” says Barker. Not wanting to say “I Miss You” to all the small things in life—especially music, and family—he has given up smoking pot and adopted better eating habits. “Right then and there, I changed my whole life around. I had to stop eating and drinking certain things. And I had this lump in my throat around the same time. My tonsils were three to four times the size they should have been,” he reveals. “I used to love smoking weed… I would smoke weed at night if I had anxiety. I always thought I’d be able to do that for the rest of my life, but when your health is on the line, you don’t [mess] around. I love being a dad and I love playing music. I’m not trying to give up any of that.”