Troubled former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has just been given a seven-year sentence. He violated the terms of a 10-year probation sentence he received in 2010, when he stole prescription pain meds from a player's home while he was a coach at West Texas A&M. At least the first 15 months of his stay with the Department of Corrections will be spent locked down in Montana—nine of them at a drug treatment facility in Lewistown that he will be unable to leave, followed by six at a pre-release treatment center. If all goes well, Leaf could be eligible for monitored release for the remainder of his term. But his attorney argues that he relapsed while undergoing chemotherapy for a brain tumor. Last April, Leaf was convicted of breaking into a Montana home and admitted a few days earlier to possession unprescribed oxycodone. At his sentencing, he told the judge that he was embarrassed for his actions and that prison had become a "sanctuary" for him. ''I have enjoyed my time in there more than my previous 15 years,'' he said. There are examples of the prison-drug treatment combination being successful with NFL athletes though: former defensive end Johnny Jolly has been winning his struggle with cocaine addiction over the last eight months, and is now applying for reinstatement to the NFL, after being suspended indefinitely for his own drug charges.
Talk about a bad way to solve a conflict: a couple in Orange County, California, apparently decided to take revenge on an elementary school volunteer who upset them by planting drugs on her. Kent Easter and Jill Easter—both, worryingly, attorneys by trade—were arrested yesterday for attempting to frame the woman who they felt didn't properly supervise their son. Authorities say Kent drove to the home of the volunteer back in February 2011, placed marijuana, Vicodin, Percocet and a used marijuana pipe in her unlocked car and then called the cops. But after investigating the home and car of “Jane Doe,” police felt that something wasn't right. “Jane Doe consented to a search of her home which showed no evidence to support drug use or possession and did not support a link to show that Jane Doe was knowingly in possession of the marijuana or prescription pills found in her vehicle,” says Irvine police spokeswoman Julia Engen, perhaps referring to an absence of munchie-type food products. After digging a little deeper, police identified the Easters as suspects; Engen says that Ken was in contact with his wife Jill via text during the alleged framing, and that he was also recorded on hotel video surveillance. The Easters have been charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to procure the false arrest and charging of the victim, false imprisonment and conspiracy to falsely report a crime. If convicted, they would each face a maximum of three years in prison.
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Humor stems from a dark place. And while addiction has taken down a number of legends, it's also provided fodder for many brilliant comics, some of whom do live to tell the tale—and to mine it for laughs. "My heroes were always drug addicts," says comedian Marc Maron in this video for CNN's Red Chair series (below). "It wasn't a sports guy. It was always the beatniks. Burroughs, Keith Richards, Lenny Bruce." Many people might add Maron's name to the list. In his popular podcast "WTF," launched in 2009, he interviews other comics, as well as actors, writers and musicians—many of whom air gritty details of their lives, often referencing addiction. Maron's own past and present struggles with addiction—to alcohol, drugs and food—are no secret to his listeners. He recalls hitting bottom in LA: "I realized between the sleeplessness and the coke, I was hearing voices in my head. I was sleeping in the closet. I was panicky on a kind of cosmic level."
Now sober for over a decade, Maron has spoken with such greats as Margaret Cho, Robin Williams, Norm MacDonald, Craig Ferguson and the late Mike Destefano about their struggles with addiction, and recovery. But he insists his podcast isn't meant to be a therapy session—"it's just conversation, which human beings should thrive on." And many human beings do thrive on it, judging by the show's growing and loyal following. "I like hearing famous comedians talk openly about the uglier aspects of hitting their bottoms in regards to addiction. It makes them seem more relatable," says Maggie, a fan from Brooklyn. Max, also a recovering addict from New York, says "It's funny in that gut-wrenching way, because I can relate. And like so many addicts in recovery, I need to laugh. It's a necessary release."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana seems doomed to fail, due to resistance from the Republican-controlled senate. “We do not support legalization,” says state senate majority leader Dean Skelos. “Just being able to walk around with 10 joints in each ear and it would only be a violation—I think that's wrong.” Cuomo introduced the motion in January in an attempt to cut the soaring number of New York arrests, and it won widespread support. Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed the proposal, as did figures like Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and Rochester Police Chief Jim Sheppard. But efforst to broker a deal are dragging the debate out, and the future for Cuomo's plan seems bleak, with this year's legislative session ending on Thursday. The legalization issue could be discussed again when lawmakers reconvene in January, though it could be sooner if a special legislative session is called. Legalization advocates still hope a deal can be worked out at the last minute—but most aren't optimistic. “I’ve been working in Albany for almost 10 years, and I can’t recall a moment when law enforcement has said, ‘We want to have this changed,’ and the Republican Party leaders in the Senate and the Conservative Party are basically saying that they don’t want to do it,” says Gabriel Sayegh, the state director in New York for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This is yet another example of how profoundly backward and dysfunctional this place is.”
Forty-four years after his mother allegedly gave him his first taste of liquor before his first birthday, 26 years after becoming the youngest heavyweight champion, and three years after getting sober, Mike Tyson is bringing his one-man show to Broadway. Tyson announced yesterday that he'll be teaming up with filmmaker Spike Lee to bring his tell-all show to the Great White Way this summer. Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth—in which he recounts his rock bottom, which included beating prostitutes while high and paranoid on coke in a hotel room, and his subsequent sobriety—will move from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to the Longacre Theatre on July 31 for a six-night engagement, produced by James Nederlander. For Tyson, the play is almost therapeutic: “I’m very vulnerable and I’m just telling you what I am and where I’m from and how this happened,” he says. Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth doesn't flinch from tackling his alcoholic mother, his battle with addiction, biting off an opponent's ear in the ring, and the domestic abuse and rape for which he served three years in prison. At the Longacre Theatre, Lee summarizes, “It takes courage to get in the ring, but it takes courage to get on the stage.”