No cubicle can contain free spirit/drug addict/beauty blogger and part-time vampire Cat Marnell. The health and beauty columnist for the website xoJane.com and self-professed drug addict has left her job, reportedly over her refusal to get clean. Marnell has written openly about her drug use in her blog for the magazine, while garnering a community of loyal followers who relish her unique mix of confessional ramblings and beauty tips. She was recently profiled by New York Magazine, defending her druggy lifestyle the day before her employers ordered her to rehab. According to sources, Marnell has continued to take drugs—even showing up to work high. “I’m always on drugs,” she tells the NY Post in an email. “Look, I couldn’t spend another summer meeting deadlines behind a computer at night when I could be on the rooftop of Le Bain looking for shooting stars and smoking angel dust with my friends and writing a book, which is what I’m doing next." Marnell seems optimistic and unflagging about her career change, claiming nine-to-fives are no place for junkies. "Drug addicts undeniably bring editorial black magic to the table like nobody else, but obviously we make the worst staffers. [...] We can fake it [for a time] ...before we turn into coddled emotional vampire nightmares.”
British Columbia’s top health official claims there's no agony in a little ecstasy—as long as you use it responsibly. According to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall, the risks of MDMA—the pure form of the street drug ecstasy—are largely exaggerated. Kendall even advocates that MDMA be legalized and sold through licensed, government-run stores for those who use the drug for non-recreational purposes. He calls the issue a "political, perceptual one," pointing out that “we accept the fact that alcohol, which is inherently dangerous, is a product over a certain age that anybody can access." However, Kendall doesn't back the drug as sold on the street, and cautions: "Unless you are getting [MDMA] from a psychiatrist in a legitimate clinical trial, you can't guarantee what's in it, how much of it there is, or its safety—don't take it.” Not all officials are willing to condone "safe" ecstasy use. Sargent Duncan Pound says "We would view ecstasy as extremely dangerous," and says that law enforcement doesn't distinguish between MDMA and street ecstasy, "not only given the fact that it's very hard to determine what might be in any given tablet, but the fact that there's such an individual reaction to those tablets." According to Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, even small doses of MDMA can have side-effects which include sweating, teeth grinding, anxiety, nausea and convulsions—but most deaths from ecstasy are the result of dehydration and overheating among young people who take the drug at nightclubs. Pound says that nearly 20 British Columbians who consume street ecstasy die each year.
A serial bank robber has confessed to stealing money in order to subsidize his shopping addiction—as evidenced by the sleek Burberry ensemble he was wearing during his most recent heist. Cornell Neilly, 21, began his spree in April, relieving a Midtown Sovereign Bank of $2,320 while clad in a humbler outfit of baseball cap, jeans and a leather jacket. But by the end of May, the shopaholic was sticking up in style, copping cash from a few more banks in a new $250 shirt. “He used the money to buy expensive clothes, $400 sneakers, a Burberry shirt,” says a source. By the time he was caught on Tuesday, Neilly was practically a career criminal—he'd robbed 14 banks and made away with more than $7,100 in cash over the course of four months, before police finally nabbed him in late May. He was picked out of a lineup by 12 witnesses and police found his fingerprints at the crime scenes; he was held last night in place of $500,000 bail. Although his attire was casual at the time of his arrest, his robbery regalia reportedly left a lasting impression on those involved in the case. “It looks like a fashion story Burberry dreamed up to go viral,” says Paper magazine’s editorial director, Mickey Boardman. “He’s not as chic as Patty Hearst—the chicest wanted felon in history. But he’s in second place.” Neilly has previously served time in prison for selling drugs.
The Holy Grail of many drug researchers—a vaccine for addiction—has a spotty history so far. But a recent approach to measuring a vaccine’s effectiveness may one day make it easier to determine how well your cocaine-vax shot is working. A problem with addiction vaccines is the difficulty of obtaining objective chemical evidence that they're actually doing what they’re supposed to do: keeping cocaine molecules out of your brain. “We thought it would be nice to demonstrate objective evidence that the vaccine is actually working,” a Cornell University researcher drily notes. Scientists at Cornell say they've designed a “molecular probe” that resembles the cocaine molecule, and binds to the same dopamine receptors as cocaine. Using PET scans to keep track of the probes, Shankar Vallabhajosula of Weill Cornell Medical College reports that his team observed the brains of both vaccinated and unvaccinated rhesus monkeys as they were dosed with cocaine. The molecular probe accumulated strongly in the brains of vaccinated monkeys, but in monkeys without the vaccine, the accumulation was low—because the receptors were already packed full of cocaine molecules. The PET imaging technique would definitely make it easier to fine-tune dosage, and track the vaccine as it circulates through the body. But the work on this vaccine tracker has not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, and the vaccine itself is still under development at Weill Cornell Medical College. And even a successful vaccine, successfully tracked, wouldn't protect against cocaine's side-effects on the heart and circulatory system.
In a new angle of attack against the medical marijuana industry, federal prosecutors are targeting landlords who preside over pot shops. By using a civil statute that was designed to seize the assets of drug-trafficking organizations, the authorities are pressing landlords to shut down the shops or else they face losing their properties. Even in states like California where MMJ businesses are legal, the federal government questions their authority to operate—according to the 40-year-old Controlled Substances act. Going after landlords is considered a less extreme mode of attack, which appeals to prosecutors; they don't want to be considered "soft" on drug crime, but by pressing criminal charges, they would risk losing support for their movement. In addition, targeting landlords requires less manpower, since notifications take place via mail and civil actions. "We can get on the Internet, identify a store and have someone drive by and find out if it is operating," says Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. "That is a whole lot different from conducting a criminal investigation, going out and making buys and conducting surveillance." So far, Mrozek says 200 illegal marijuana storefronts being closed in his district, thanks to asset-forfeiture lawsuits and warning letters sent to dozens of area property owners. However, marijuana advocates are not convinced this approach will be effective in convincing MMJ shops to close down. Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, claims: "they will simply move next door and the whole process, as we've seen time and time again, simply starts over."