Reefer Badness

There's a lot of misinformation out there: Here's more

Last Wednesday White House anti-drug crusaders set up camp at KETC-TV (Channel 9)'s downtown St. Louis offices as part of a cross-country tour to help reduce teen drug use 25 percent by 2007.

The way the feds see it, the media are part of the drug problem. According to Robert W. Denniston, deputy director of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, less than 10 percent of news stories about marijuana mention negative consequences. "So we know there's a lot of misinformation out there," Denniston says.

Eager to do our part -- and to partake of the free box lunch -- Unreal joined two fellow journalists, a dozen drug-treatment providers and the anti-drug panel, which consisted of Denniston, two experts and a reformed teen toker.

Trishelle Cannetella, star of The Real World Las Vegas
Trishelle Cannetella, star of The Real World Las Vegas

"We have a lot of new scientific information," Denniston let it be known.

In 2001, emergency rooms tallied 2,311 "marijuana drug episodes" in St. Louis alone. Nine local people died -- died -- that year after smoking pot. These statistics were distributed along with other literature in a shiny folder festooned with a photo of a spanking-new pipe stuffed with schwag. Unreal discerned that the pictured pot was laced with seeds, and, more distressingly, that the statistics were unadorned with context. What was the precise nature, we wondered, of the "drug episodes" and the deaths?

Alas, there was no time for musing; it was on to the "new scientific information."

To wit: Researchers have found that marijuana targets neurological receptors that affect memory, emotional stability and cognitive skills, said Dr. Michael Spigarelli, an assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati. Pot, Spigarelli added, is addictive, it's probably a gateway drug, and kids who use it are more prone toward violence than kids who don't. Teen dope smokers don't exercise as much as they should and can end up as couch potatoes or worse. "Forgetting the condom, getting in a car accident, can lead to devastating consequences for getting high for a little while," said the doctor. Disaster aside, pot's bad: "You escape for the fifteen minutes or two hours that you are high, but in life you need to pay that time back."

Seventeen-year-old Caroline, who sat behind a placard that read simply "Teen," earned a round of applause when she said she's been clean for ten months. When she asserted she'd never used anything stronger than pot, panelist Linda Cottler, a Washington University epidemiologist, said that was probably because no other drugs were available. One of the most disturbing trends she has seen, says Cottler, are surveys that show 30 percent of high-school seniors don't see anything wrong with occasional marijuana use. Adults with attitudes born in the 1960s aren't much better, she says: "Parents just don't get it."

Jeez, the crisis is much bigger than we imagined.

UnReal World

There are dumb methods of birth control, and then there are dumber. Dumb is the withdrawal method; dumber is when the female participant in a heterosexual coupling says "I know my body" and allows Joe Lumber to splash around unencumbered in the canal.

Trishelle Cannetella, star of The Real World Las Vegas, is all too familiar with the latter method -- to the point where she and co-star Steven weathered an on-air pregnancy scare in the most salacious season-long rendering of the 12-year-old MTV series to date. Prior to her pregnancy scare, the Louisiana-bred Cannetella also played girl-on-girl kissy-face with cutie-pie castmate Brynn, who's now engaged and living in Portland, Oregon. But Trishelle's not spoken for, and this Saturday, June 21, at Union Station's Have a Nice Day Café, she and Vegas roommate Arissa Hill will allow St. Louis' most eligible bachelors -- that means you, fellas -- to compete for their affections.

Based on Unreal's recent phone conversation with a partied-out Cannetella, clubbing and a trip to the East Side might be on the evening's agenda for the lucky gents who win a date:

Unreal: You sound tired. How come?

Trishelle Cannetella: Because we go to the clubs until three in the morning. We only get, like, two hours of sleep per night.

You guys lived at the The Palms and your job was to plan parties. With that in mind, was Vegas the most unrealistic Real World to date?

I've never gotten asked that question. I think it was more unrealistic only because we lived in a casino. All of the Real Worlds are equally unrealistic. It's not real if you don't pay rent. But our actions were real.

St. Louis bachelors will be asked to "show off their physiques" as they compete for a date with you. What is the most attractive/important part of the male anatomy?

I would say the butt. I like a nice butt.

In light of the hot tub chicanery in Vegas, why is Arissa your touring partner and not Brynn? Wouldn't that draw a bigger crowd?

Brynn's pregnant. She's engaged. I get along better with Arissa than Brynn anyway.

Do you still keep in contact with Steven or Frank?

Omigod, they're two of my best friends. Steven lives three streets away from me, Frank lives ten minutes away [in Los Angeles].

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