Study Focuses on Youth Pot Use, Should Focus on Pill Popping Instead

Regional Needs Assessment
The Prevention Resource Center at the Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston has released its annual Regional Needs Assessment, which gathers a ton of data and compiles it to identify everything you need to know about substance abuse.

The study shines a light on what's going on in our area (Region 6, officially), which includes data compiled from Harris and 12 other counties, with a focus on the adolescent population in Houston.

While it's certainly beneficial to have data on adolescent drug use, what's unusual is how focused on pot the study appears to be. Buried under some fear-mongering statistics about weed -- juveniles are most often arrested for weed! synthetic marijuana may fool kids! -- there are some seriously harrowing statistics on alcohol and prescription pill use among kids in the Houston area.

Let's read between the lines, shall we?

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UPDATED Video Shows Montgomery County Constable's Deputies Lied in Affidavit and in Court to Justify Warrantless Drug Raid

From the Texas Takedown video, U.S. District Court records
Montgomery County Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth "Rowdy" Hayden

See an update at the bottom of this post on who may have filmed the video that's now the basis of this lawsuit.

A few years back, Montgomery County Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth Hayden -- or "Rowdy," as he likes to be called -- opened his doors for a Montgomery County Police Reporter cameraman to shadow him and his deputies on the job. The result was Cops-style reality show, narrated by Dean Cain (yes, that Dean Cain), dubbed Texas Takedown: The Real Men in Black, which asked viewers to "stick around and ride with Rowdy as he continues to clean up east county."

Evidently cleaning up east county also meant lying in court documents and on the stand to justify a warrantless drug raid. According to documents filed in court and a Texas Takedown video showing one 2011 drug raid, Constable Hayden's deputies made up key details about the bust in an affidavit and in court testimony.

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Two of Houston's Freeways Top Texas's 100 Most Congested Roadways

Sorry Austin, but Houston has knocked you out of the top spot. Well, at least when it comes to the top spot on the list of Texas' 100 most congested roadways, anyway. We haven't quite caught up to you on being a hipster hot-spot yet, but we suppose there's always next year.

According to an analysis conducted for the Texas Department of Transportation by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Houston's very own I-610 West Loop has officially surpassed Austin's IH 35 -- last year's winner of the prestigious traffic award -- as the most congested roadway in Texas. Awesome.

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Man Submerges Bugatti in the Gulf for Insurance Scam, Gets Caught on YouTube

Intentionally submerging a new Bugatti in the Gulf may not be the smartest way to commit insurance fraud, as Andy Lee House, 39, of Lufkin recently found out -- especially when there are witnesses with cell phones.

According to federal authorities, back in '09 House purchased a million dollar Bugatti Veyron, a super sweet luxury vehicle that's been the subject of many a rap song. He insured that Bugatti to the tune of $2.2 million -- twice what it's worth -- and then tried to "wreck" the car by deliberately driving it into the Gulf Bay near La Marque.

House originally told authorities that the car was submerged by accident, claiming that he'd driven into the gulf after accidentally swerving off of the road while trying to reach for his cell phone.

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Police Looking for Man in Pot Farm 'Selfie'

Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office
Take this pot farm selfie as evidence that solo snapshots are always a bad idea.

Benigno Ramirez of Michoacan, Mexico, might be regretting his recent selfie right now, considering it has landed him at the center of the investigation into last week's $10 million marijuana farm bust in Fort Bend County.

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DA Candidates on Weed: Talking Points Over Data Points

Thumbnail image for Marijuana.jpg
Photo by United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikimedia Commons

Though marijuana possession remains a jailable crime in Harris County, the law of the land is shifting toward leniency for offenders. Both contenders in the November race for Harris County District Attorney have presented alternatives to convicting those caught with pot.

DA incumbent Devon Anderson and challenger Kim Ogg agree that the old ways need to change, but they clash on how much. The confusion likely stems from the fact neither candidate has the numbers to back her plan. One lacks a cost-savings analysis, and the other has provided practically useless estimates.

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Food Trucks and Restaurants Bump Against Grease, Drugs and Empty Chairs

Photo by Susan Du
Food truck operators packed city hall for the right to feed the hungry hordes of the downtown and med center.

Let's make Houston a more walkable city, even if people are walking on their way to tacos. Or so went the thinking for dozens who showed up to Wednesday's council committee meeting in support of relaxing regulations for food trucks.

The issues on the line: whether food trucks are allowed to serve in the medical center and downtown areas; whether food trucks need to set up at least 60 feet away from each other and whether they can operate within 100 feet of chairs and tables.

The camps: food truck owners, who swarmed the public comment session, versus the Greater Houston Restaurant Association, which claims brick and mortar eateries are losing business unfairly to the trendy mobile competition.

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Congress Votes to End War on Medical Marijuana

Photo by Hammerin Man via flickr

Medical marijuana patients, rejoice. The federal government is no longer in fear of your (state-legal) reefer.

Late last night, Congress voted to essentially end the federal war on medical marijuana by approving a measure that prohibits the Department of Justice -- which includes the DEA, by the way -- from spending federal funds to fight state laws on medical cannabis. This means that if a state has legalized medical marijuana, the medical marijuana dispensaries are no longer subject to the threat of raids by the federal government, and patients and providers are no longer subject to arrest.

"It's becoming clearer and clearer that marijuana prohibition's days are numbered," says Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, who has been lobbying for support of the measure since 2003.

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Houston "Biketivist" Targets Motorists Violating Passing Law

Photo by Camilo Smith
Dan Morgan is battling unsavory drivers with a flag and a pole.
You can call Dan Morgan a biketivist, but don't call him a bike vigilante, which is how he was referred to in a recent news report.

He's just trying to raise awareness for his fellow bicyclists who prefer to move around the city on two wheels instead of four. Armed with a flag that sticks out three feet from his bike, he's something of an inspiration to serious riders all around Houston.

Morgan, who has been supporting the local bike community for years, has repeatedly taken his mission to city hall, and last week showed off his three-foot flags to Mayor Annise Parker and City Council. The space requirement was made into law in the last year after numerous accidents involving bicycles and cars, and even several bicyclists' deaths. All of which really hits home for Morgan.

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Living on the Edge: Why Is Intexticated Driving the Thing in Texas?

Categories: Ridin' Dirty

Photo by Steven Damron
Chances are fifty-fifty you do this, too.
Drivers in Texas who tempt fate by texting and driving are likely to be nonwhite and educated. At least that's what the data from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute bears out.

The study, released today and reported on by the Texas Tribune, surveyed 3,000 drivers and showed that nearly half of us have texted while operating a motor vehicle.

The researchers found that 76 percent of drivers said they had talked on a cellphone while driving at least once in the previous month, with 24 percent acknowledging that they did so regularly. Forty-four percent of respondents said they had read or typed texts or emails while driving, and 18.5 percent said they had looked at Facebook or other websites while driving.

For those of you checking Facebook while you drive with your kid in the back seat, we hate you. But we know so many people enjoy the fact that an occasional check of your phone, or a quickie reply on your cell, is a guilty pleasure in Houston. Others might consider it a cool point for living in a state (one of the seven remaining) without a driver-wide ban on texting from behind the wheel.

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