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What's in Your Rice? A Lot of Arsenic, Says Consumer Reports

From Forbes:

Eating rice once a day can increase arsenic levels in the body by up to 44 percent , according to new research from Consumer Reports. The organization recently tested 200 samples of different rice products – from organic rice baby cereal and brown rice to rice crispies- and found alarmingly high levels of arsenic present. This has raised concern as inorganic arsenic is know to cause lung, skin and bladder cancers, as well as a host of other lifelong health problems.  (Click on article link to see chart listing the rice and rice products tested and the levels of arsenic found.)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also released preliminary data about the arsenic levels found in 200 rice products they recently tested, which yielded similar results. But the agency will not be making any recommendations about altering the consumption of rice or rice products until they have tested an additional 1,000 rice samples, which will reportedly be completed by year end. They will likely make recommendations about consumption late next year.

Posted: 10/16/2012 11:53:00 AM

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Cartels flood US with cheap meth

From the Associated Press:

Mexican drug cartels are quietly filling the void in the nation's drug market created by the long effort to crack down on American-made methamphetamine, flooding U.S. cities with exceptionally cheap, extraordinarily potent meth from factory-like "superlabs."

Although Mexican meth is not new to the U.S. drug trade, it now accounts for as much as 80 percent of the meth sold here, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. And it is as much as 90 percent pure, a level that offers users a faster, more intense and longer-lasting high.

The cartels are expanding into the U.S. meth market just as they did with heroin: developing an inexpensive, highly addictive form of the drug and sending it through the same pipeline already used to funnel marijuana and cocaine, authorities said.

Seizures of meth along the Southwest border have more than quadrupled during the last several years. DEA records reviewed by The Associated Press show that the amount of seized meth jumped from slightly more than 4,000 pounds in 2007 to more than 16,000 pounds in 2011.

During that same period, the purity of Mexican meth shot up too, from 39 percent in 2007 to 88 percent by 2011, according to DEA documents. The price fell 69 percent, tumbling from $290 per pure gram to less than $90.

Posted: 10/11/2012 2:44:00 PM

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Crack is back and a new scourge is on its way

From wptv.com (St. Lucie County, FL):

If you want an instant assessment of the hottest trends in illegal drugs today, just ask corrections officials at the St. Lucie County jail. They see the latest results every day.

Trevor Morganti is the classification manager at the jail. He confirmed a trend I'd noticed in recent news reports.

Crack is back and cases involving crystal methamphetamine are on the rise, Morganti said. He sits in on first court appearances by jail inmates and tracks what offenses they're being charged with.

In addition to meth cases, Morganti is also seeing new variants of synthetic marijuana and expects to see many more of those in the future.

Some law enforcement officials credit the rise of the new drugs and the re-emergence of old "favorites" as evidence that crackdowns on prescription drug abuse are having an effect.

Posted: 10/1/2012 8:45:00 AM

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'Smiles': New street drug tied to 'Sons of Anarchy' death

From NBC News:

Johnny Lewis, an actor in the popular “Sons of Anarchy” motorcycle-gang cable drama, died early Wednesday in Los Angeles, suspected of killing his 81-year-old former landlord, Catherine Davis, and possibly himself.

Police think the 28-year-old rising star, who played Kip 'Half-sack' Epps on the FX show, may have been under the influence of a drug few have heard of, a substance known informally as “Smiles.”

It’s part of a new wave of synthetic drugs finding their way onto America’s streets and into its clubs. With the chemical name 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenethylamine, it is known by drug agents and chemists as 2C-I, part of a closely-related family of “2C” drugs.

Like all the 2C drugs, it’s a psychoactive, hallucinogenic chemical that alter the brain’s balance of dopamine and serotonin. Smiles is particularly powerful, binding to serotonin receptors in the brain at 20 times the rate of another drug used in schizophrenia research, according to an experiment performed by Purdue University chemists.

The effects of 2C-I, like those of LSD, can last up to eight hours. But because the effects can take time to appear, users may think they haven’t taken enough to get the desired high, and so take more, risking overdose.

The drug can be taken as small tablets, on pieces of blotter paper like LSD, or in powder form, often mixed with something else, like chocolate.