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The Daily Buzz: October 14, 2014

DC's marijuana legalization debate focuses on ending racial discrimination; binge drinking is a "cluster bomb" of health issues; and actress Skye McCole Bartusiak died of an accidental overdose.

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DC Debate Over Marijuana Legalization Emphasizes Race
The debate over legalizing pot in the nation’s capital, where more than half the population is black, is focusing on the heavily disproportionate number of arrests of African Americans on minor drug charges. Though race factored into the debate in Colorado and Washington state, voters there are mostly white and those campaigns focused more on other issues. Drug-policy experts say the DC referendum puts race on the table in a way that could change how the country talks about legalization.

Study: Americans Have 14 Million Smoking-Related Ailments
Though (tobacco) smoking is on the decline in the US, about seven million Americans still smoke. And smoking-related ailments are found to have increased from an estimated 10.7 million medical conditions 10 years ago, to about 14 million today. Researchers say the increase may be due to improved survey methods and/or people with smoking-related health issues living longer.

Photo via Shutterstock

Photo via Shutterstock

Six Senators Urge Stronger Warnings on E-Cigarettes
In a letter to the FDA, the senators said E-Cig labels should warn users of “the known dangers of nicotine use,” including potential risks to teen brain development. The increasingly popular battery-powered devices are considered significantly less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, but their long-term effects remain unknown.

Binge Drinking Is a “Cluster Bomb” of Health Issues
Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine say they have identified epigenetic protein changes caused by binge drinking. “We know that chronic alcohol use is damaging to the liver, but binge drinking amplifies that damage,” said Shivendra Shukla, who led the research. ”Binge drinking can create an inflammatory response in the liver that is like a cluster bomb, sending out various damaging signals to other organ systems in the body.” Pro-tip: When inciting fear, add word “bomb” to headline.

Actress Skye McCole Bartusiak’s Death Was an Accidental Drug Overdose
The death of the child actress in July has been ruled an accidental drug overdose, caused by a mix of hydrocodone painkillers, muscle relaxants and inhalants. Bartusiak, best known for playing Mel Gibson’s daughter in The Patriot, was 21.