Growing frustrations with the ineffectiveness of the US War on Drugs has compelled a growing faction of Latin American countries to turn to Europe for lessons in shaping narcotics laws. To date, most Latin American countries have adopted the US's Prohibition-style approach to drugs, but increasing evidence reveals this approach to be costly and ineffective, as American consumers continue to fuel Mexico's drug war to the tune of $20 billion per year. The recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, in defiance of US federal laws, seems to be the last straw for Latin American leaders. "While in our countries a peasant is persecuted and jailed for growing half a hectare, in those two U.S. states now you can simply grow industrial amounts of marijuana and sell them with complete liberty. We cannot turn a blind eye to this huge imbalance," said Mexican President Felipe Calderon. "We have to ask what alternatives there are. Perhaps less money and less appetite would be generated if there was another way to regulate drugs."
Uruguay's congress moved a step closer last week to putting the state in charge of distributing legal marijuana, and initiative inspired by Catalonia and the Basque Country, in northern Spain, where the courts tolerate marijuana cultivation for personal use by members of social clubs. Meanwhile, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday it was worth exploring the Portuguese model, which decriminalized all drug use in 2001 and saw consumption levels drop below the EU average as a result. Guatemalan President Otto Perez has openly proposed decriminalizing certain drugs; and Mexico also presented a bill last week to legalize the production, sale and use of marijuana, although it appears unlikely that it will pass. Colombia, Peru and Bolivia produce the bulk of the world's cocaine, much of which enters through Europe via Spain. Mexico and Paraguay are the two biggest marijuana producers in the world, with the latter largely supplying its neighbors Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Comedian and actor Russell Brand has kicked drugs and alcohol with the help of yoga, and now plans to open his own yoga studio geared towards helping those who struggle with addiction. Brand, who recently celebrated a decade clean, has talked about his past battles with alcoholism, heroin and sex addiction—and has often credited yoga, and his instructor Tej Kau, with helping him maintain sobriety and peace of mind. “Russ has always wanted to set up his own yoga studio and has decided to make it his new project,” a source says. “He has this idea of an all-giving studio where teachers work for their own fulfillment and those in need such as the homeless and addicts in need of finding their spiritual soul. He wants to create his own mantra and take his teachings round the world like other renowned teachers he’s learned from in the past.” In addition to opening a studio, the 37-year-old plans on teaching yoga classes himself after going through instructor training. ''Once he's finished his course next spring, he'll set up his own studio in Los Angeles,'' the source adds. “It’s all part of his dream of building his own community and he would like to offer free classes to those in need. It would also include meditations, cooking classes, lectures and aromatherapy classes.”
- Russia to Ban Vodka on Flights to Holiday Destinations [Worldcrunch]
- Fake Venezuelan Olympians Arrested for Drug Smuggling [BBC]
- FedEx, UPS Investigated For Online Drug Shipments [Las Vegas Sun]
- Some Latin American Countries Rethink Drug Policy [CBS News]
- Olympic Diver Reveals Meth Addiction [ESPN]
- Pot Vending Machine Maker’s Stock Skyrockets and Everybody Freaks Out [Mashable]
- Boy George's Sober Realization [Monsters and Critics]
If you live in Washington state and you're still fuzzy on I-502, the newly-passed marijuana legalization initiative, the Seattle Police Department has got your back. In a blog post that suggests Seattle's finest have taken legalization in good spirits—Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle—they tell us the ins and outs of pot regulation in the kind of down-to-earth non-legalese that even chronic stoners can understand. There's even a handy "TL;DR" (too long; didn't read) section to sum things up. And finally, displaying a keen awareness of their target audience, the Seattle PD embeds a Lord of the Rings video clip, featuring Bilbo and Gandalf enjoying “the finest weed.” Here are some of the Frequently Asked Qs (and their As):
Can I legally carry around an ounce of marijuana?
According to the recently passed initiative, beginning December 6th, adults over the age of 21 will be able to carry up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Please note that the initiative says it “is unlawful to open a package containing marijuana…in view of the general public,” so there’s that. Also, you probably shouldn’t bring pot with you to the federal courthouse (or any other federal property).
Can I smoke pot outside my home? Like at a park, magic show, or the Bite of Seattle?
Much like having an open container of alcohol in public, doing so could result in a civil infraction—like a ticket—but not arrest. You can certainly use marijuana in the privacy of your own home. Additionally, if smoking a cigarette isn’t allowed where you are (say, inside an apartment building or flammable chemical factory), smoking marijuana isn’t allowed there either.
December 6th seems like a really long ways away. What happens if I get caught with marijuana before then?
Hold your breath. Your case will be processed under current state law. However, there is already a city ordinance making marijuana enforcement the lowest law enforcement priority.
SPD seized a bunch of my marijuana before I-502 passed. Can I have it back?
Binge drinking-induced blackouts can often bring about excruciating embarrassment—but at least that's better than the very real dangers that can also accompany them. Fortunately for one 23-year-old New Zealand woman partying it up in Hong Kong, it was more the former than the latter. Having gone out drinking, the vacationing cosmetic saleswoman woke up from a stupor at 3 am, sprawled out on the street and horrified that she had no recollection of how she got there. Worse, she found that she was suffering from extreme rectal pain, together with bleeding. With no idea why this was, she concluded the worst: she had been raped. Now distraught as well as hung-over, the woman got some hotel staff to call the emergency services, reported the attack to the police, and was whisked away in an ambulance for forensic examination. Law enforcement meanwhile launched into a hunt for a rapist. The red-alert didn't last long, however. Hospital examination revealed the real cause of the woman's pain and bleeding: a horrible-sounding crop of ulcerated hemorrhoids. Cops filed the case as a "mistaken" accusation. The unfortunate Kiwi's feelings about the episode—and her drinking habits—may take longer to process.
Although people in the European Union still prefer coke and pot to other drugs (not to mention boozing more than any other continent), synthetic drugs use there has soared to an all-time high. Roughly one new synthetic drug per week has hit the market over the last two years: 49 new synthetic drugs were detected by law enforcement in 2011, and over 50 so far this year. The substances are typically sold on the illegal drug market, but also on the internet as "legal highs." Many contain "obscure" chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that have led to emergency room visits and deaths. "Data from emergency rooms, toxicology reports and drug treatment centers indicate that the associated risks are not always well known by the users," states the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). "Consumers of those products are likely to be both unaware of what they are consuming and ignorant of the health and legal implications." The EMCDDA also reports that heroin and cocaine use have steadily declined—European cocaine use reached its peak in 2008 and 2009. Nearly 1.4 million EU citizens are "problem" users of opiates such as heroin, while four million people have used cocaine within the last year.