Running for political office in Mexico can be a life-threatening feat. At least four candidates and politicians have been killed ahead of this Sunday's elections in Mexican states, as drug cartels seek to gain influence over local officials. Politicians murdered in the last month include a party leader in Oaxaca, mayoral candidates in Veracruz and Chihuahua states and a campaign manager in Sinaloa. “Political assassinations won’t end anytime soon,” says Jorge Chabat, a political science professor at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching, a Mexico City-based university. “It’s very probable organized crime groups are trying to prevent some people from gaining office, either because they think they’ll act against their group’s interests, or because they think they’re aligned with a rival gang.” Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio told reporters last week that the government will "thoroughly investigate" the killings and "seek out solutions and clarifications." Pre-election murders aren't a novel concept in Mexico; in 2010, gunmen killed at least 10 standing mayors and shot dead Rodolfo Torre Cantu, the leading gubernatorial candidate in Tamaulipas state. Despite this, the Interior Ministry reported last April that drug war killings dropped 14% in the first four months of new Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration, compared to the same period a year later.
Andrea Sanderlin, the NY suburban mom charged with running a major marijuana ring, was released yesterday on $500,000 bail after being locked up since May. A random circle of friends ranging from an MTA engineer to a hair stylist went to bat in court for Sanderlin and while Judge Steven Gold granted the bail, he was skeptical about their ties to the suburban mom. "She doesn't know these people," said Gold. "She knows people that know these people." The judge ordered Sanderlin's family until tomorrow to sign on the bail deal or it would be rescinded. Last month, the 45-year-old mother-of-two was charged with running a massive grow-house out of a warehouse in Queens, where agents found 3,000 weed plants with a street value of over $3 million. She had allegedly been running a marijuana business under the name "Fantastic Enterprises, Inc." A US District court filing also claims that federal agents recovered $6,000 in cash and books on money laundering and growing pot when they raided her home in the ritzy Westchester town of Scarsdale, in addition to $7,900 in cash from Sanderlin's nanny.
God smiles upon Jews' marijuana use, as long as it's medical, according to a religious ruling by a prominent orthodox rabbi. Rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich, from the Israeli town of Mazkeret Batya, declared that marijuana is kosher if it is prescribed to cure a disease or alleviate pain and suffering. However, smoking pot solely to get high or to experience a "similar feeling solely for pleasure" is forbidden. "Taking drugs to escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden," said Rabbi Zalmanovich, who has also written extensively about alcoholism and Judaism. "However, if the drug is administered to relieve pain, then the person giving it is performing a mitzvah [a good deed commanded by faith]." The new ruling was meant to clarify a recent comment by a representative of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, who told an Israeli cannabis magazine that “If you smoke [pot], there is no problem whatsoever.” More than 11,000 Israelis are currently prescribed medical marijuana to treat pre approved health ailments including Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, ALS and Multiple Sclerosis, according to the Israeli Health Ministry. Israel distributes more legal marijuana per capita than any other European country—approximately 880 pounds of cannabis per month, compared to only 330 pounds per year in The Netherlands.
A 21-year-old man died and many more were hospitalized after reportedly overdosing on a tainted batch of "Molly" at the Paradiso Festival in Washington this weekend. Overdose victims thought they were taking ecstasy—which contains MDMA, or "Molly"—but instead they got a more potent mix containing cocaine, LSD and meth, according to Sarina Fahrner, chief nurse at nearby hospital Quincy Valley Medical Center. She said there were more than 100 overdose patients throughout the weekend-long event. "When you have cocaine and LSD and meth all mixed together, it just does terrible things to your body," said Fahrner. "Your heart doesn't tolerate it very well, your breathing does not tolerate it very well." 25,000 people attended the sold-out electronic music event at the Gorge Amphitheatre, a venue which is seeing increasing drug use. "What we're seeing this year is much higher acuity—more severe—in the drug use," said Michele Wurl, a spokeswoman for the Quincy Valley Medical Center. “They don't even know what they're taking." An autopsy was scheduled yesterday for the man who died, and three people remain hospitalized in serious condition. Around 23 people were arrested at the festival for charges including possession or delivery of controlled substances, according to the sheriff’s office.
- Colorado Regulators Issue Rules for Pot Stores [Reason]
- Marijuana's March Towards the Mainstream Confounds Feds [USA Today]
- Talking Cigarette Packs May Help Smokers Quit [BBC]
- FDA Prefers Smaller Dosage of Merck Sleep Drug [New York Times]
- Farrah Abraham Checks Into Rehab for Alcohol Addiction [The Celebrity Cafe]
- Lindsay Lohan "Terrified" of Relapsing [Huffington Post]
- Demi Lovato says Rappers who Glorify Drugs are "Giant P-ssies" [fuse]
- Chickens Disguise Drugs at Brothel [Sowetan]
Anti-tobacco polices could save millions of lives, according to a new study. Researchers examined the impact of tobacco control policies enacted in 41 countries from 2007-2010 and predicted the prevention of about 7.4 million premature deaths by 2050. The study, published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, covered a total of about 1 billion people, or one-seventh of the world's population in 2008—290 million of whom were smokers. They based their predictions on the efficacy of anti-tobacco policies such as protecting people from tobacco smoke, offering smokers help to quit, warning about tobacco's dangers, banning tobacco advertising, and raising tobacco taxes. "In addition to some 7.4 million lives saved, the tobacco control policies we examined can lead to other health benefits, such as fewer adverse birth outcomes related to maternal smoking, including low birth weight, and reduced health-care costs and less loss of productivity due to less smoking-related disease," says the study's lead author, David Levy, a professor of oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center. Tobacco use remains the world's leading cause of preventable death, and an estimated 6 million people die each year from tobacco-related causes, according to the World Health Organization. If it weren't for anti-tobacco policies, this number would be expected to rise to 8 million a year by 2030.