AlterNet's 10 Most Popular Drug Stories of 2013

One of the bright spots for the progressive cause is in the realm of drug reform and America's harsh drug sentencing laws. Almost every day we learn of a change in enforcement of state or local laws, policing tactics, new discoveries in marijuana and psychedelic medical research or a new way to get high. This was a banner year for popular drug stories on AlterNet, with several garnering hundreds of thousands of readers. Here's the top 10 for 2013: 

1. 4 'Magic' Phrases to Use if Cops Stop You with Pot

by Lauren Vazquez, Ladybud Magazine

A lawyer's advice on how to assert your rights when it comes to drugs and the police. "These are words that limit what the police can do and will help your lawyer prove the police acted illegally," Vazquez writes.

 2. Why Cops Bust Down Doors of Medical Pot Growers, But Ignore Men Who Keep Naked Girls on Leashes

by Kristen Gwynne, AlterNet

Thanks to the drug war, police have much more incentive to go after drug crimes than more heinous crimes. "Strange, isn’t it, that hunches and vague tips about potential marijuana growing (in a state that recently legalized the drug!) is motivation enough to send a SWAT team busting down a door," says Gwynne. "Compare that to recent reports that police in Cleveland, Ohio ignored years of tips and calls about strange things going on in the home of the three Cleveland men suspected of holding captive, brutally raping and beating three women for nearly a decade."

3. Cops Go Undercover at High School to Bust Special-Needs Kid for Pot: Why Are Police So Desperate to Throw Kids in Jail?

by Kristen Gwynne, AlterNet

The school-to-prison pipeline strikes again. The story of why Californians Doug and Catherine Snodgrass decided to sue their son’s high school for allowing undercover police officers to set up the 17-year-old special-needs student for a drug arrest. 

4.  The Truth About Molly, One of America's Top Party Drugs

by Olivia Nuzzi, AlterNet

Ignorance abounds about the recreational drug Molly, or MDMA -- It's important to drink water to avoid the biggest health risk associated with the drug, explains Nuzzi... "Most of the other medical emergencies result from people drinking too much water too fast (more than one bottle of water an hour)." 

5.  10 Geniuses Who Used Drugs -- And Their Drugs of Choice

by Robert T. Gonzalez, io9

Is intelligence related to an increased likelihood of recreational drug use? Gonzalez shares that "Thomas Edison — the prolific American inventor and notorious insomniac (though perhaps not surprisingly) — was one of many people of the period  known to regularly consume [a] cocaine-laced elixir."

6. Everything Americans Think They Know About Drugs Is Wrong: A Scientist Explodes the Myths

by Kristen Gwynne, AlterNet

Columbia University scientist Dr. Carl Hart combines research and anecdotes from his life to explain how false assumptions have created a disastrous drug policy. "Dr. Hart has used marijuana and cocaine, carried guns, sold drugs, and participated in other petty crime, like shoplifting," Gwynne writes. "A combination of what he calls choice and chance brought him to the Air Force and college, and finally made him the first black, tenured professor of sciences at Columbia University." 

7.   Why Does American Culture Glamorize Getting Dangerously Wasted on Booze, While Vilifying Pot? 

by Paul Armentano, Chelsea Green Publishing

Alcohol is far more dangerous than pot. "The use of alcohol by adults is marketed aggressively, celebrated openly, and is normally depicted by the media in a positive manner," Armentano argues. "That’s why most Americans give little, if any, thought to the moral and health implications surrounding the use of alcohol, and many could not imagine a society that was anything but accepting of the public’s 'right' to drink."

8. The 10 Hardest Drugs to Kick

by Jacqueline Detwiler, The Fix 

Drug and alcohol use spikes wildly during the 30-day run-up to New Year's Eve. But which drugs are actually most addictive? The answers may surprise you. Detwiler shares the “dependency rating” created by Dutch scientists that measured addictive potency of the biggest drugs out there on a precisely calibrated scale of 0-to-3.  

9.  The Latest Cannabis Discoveries That the Federal Government Doesn’t Want You to Know About 

by Paul Armentano, AlterNet 

Federal lawmakers and the White House continue to willfully ignore science in regards to the cannabis plant. Among the incredible findings that Armentano points to: "Subjects who regularly inhale cannabis smoke do not possess an increased risk of lung cancer compared to those who either consume it occasionally or not at all, according to data presented in April at the annual meeting of the American Academy for Cancer Research."

10. Were Paleolithic Cave Painters High on Psychedelic Drugs? Scientists Propose Ingenious Theory for Why They Might Have Been 

by Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet 

"Prehistoric cave paintings across the continents have similar geometric patterns not because early humans were learning to draw like Paleolithic pre-schoolers," explains Rosenfeld, "but because they were high on drugs, and their brains—like ours—have a biological predisposition to 'see' certain patterns, especially during consciousness altering states.


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