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The Daily Buzz: November 5, 2014


Alaska, Oregon and DC legalize marijuana; California votes to reduce non-violent drug penalties; and alcohol can make you better at a foreign language.

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Oregon, Alaska, and DC Legalize It!
Well, this is a game-changer: during mid-term elections yesterday, residents of Oregon and Alaska voted to legalize recreational pot use and regulate its sales, following in the footsteps of Washington state and Colorado. And DC voted to legalize small-scale possession and growing (but not retail sales). Though a Florida measure to legalize medical marijuana did not pass, these key victories are a major step forward.

California Votes to Reduce Non-Violent Drug Penalties
In another blow to the drug war, California voted to downgrade non-violent felonies (like shoplifting and drug possession) to misdemeanors. As many as 10,000 people currently incarcerated in state prisons, many on minor drug charges, could now be eligible for release. This would free up hundreds of millions of dollars that will be redirected to education, mental health and addiction services.

Smoking Linked to Increased Risk of Chronic Back Pain
A new study finds that tobacco smokers are significantly more likely to develop chronic back pain. Add this to the list of reasons to kick the habit, along with risk of lung cancer, heart disease, cold fingers in the winter and people staring at you judgmentally.

Here’s What Cocaine Does To The Human Body
Two recent scandals in the news involved high-profile bank execs—one on Wall Street, and one in Hong Kong who killed two sex workers—accused of doing lots of cocaine with other execs and bankers. But besides being fodder for clickable headlines, what does this famous white powder actually do to your body? There are some short-term pros—like instant euphoria and heightened sexual pleasure. But also some long-term cons—like depression, stunted sex drive, and sex with married Wall Street bankers.

Does Alcohol Make You Better at a Foreign Language?
Mai, oui señorito. Since alcohol lowers inhibitions, various studies find that a few glasses can help you speak a foreign language with more ease. But more than a few glasses and you start to lose your grasp on all languages, including your first one. To get loosened up enough to practice el Español without booze, this article suggests doing relaxation activities like listening to music, or taking on a more “confident, second identity”—like, El Superman!