- Officials Bust Drug-Smuggling Ring Linked to Mexican Cartel [New York Times]
- Police and Drug Lobby Clash Over Oklahoma Meth Bill [AP]
- Meth Behind Chinese Mekong Deaths? [Asia Sentinel]
- Doctors "Should Ask" Teen Patients About Alcohol, Drug Use [Reuters]
- Drunk Driver who Killed Nun Found Guilty of Felony Murder [WAMU]
- Montel Williams Impressed by Israeli Approach to Medical Marijuana [CBS News]
- Buddies Fight Off Beer-Hunting Burglar [Chicago Tribune]
It’s time to say “boo” to the annual scare-mongering over marijuana-laced Halloween treats, says NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. What got them riled up were the dark implications about the role of medical marijuana suggested by this year’s campaign. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department called a press event Friday to display “a variety of candy, soda, chocolate and other snack foods containing concentrated amounts of marijuana that were recently seized from local marijuana dispensaries.” Sgt. Glen Walsh, a spokesman for the LA County Sheriff’s Department, solemnly warned parents to inspect the candy their children bring home after trick-or-treating before letting them consume it. But how, exactly, do you screen your child’s holiday candy for weed? To misquote Ry Cooder, you can tell by the smell—or the taste. Specifically, a “pungent smell or an odd taste.” Walsh also allegedly fired off this whopper: the level of THC, the chemical found in marijuana, “can vary from zero to over 90%,” he said. NORML has volunteered to test some of that "90%" stuff, and we can’t help wondering how marijuana has come to join a long list of Halloween urban legends that includes razor blades, pins and poison. Let’s face it—whoever met a stoner willing to hand out his precious stash to an army of snot-nosed neighborhood kids? No matter. KABC-TV in Los Angeles tried to stir up a witch’s brew of dread anyway with this report.
Nearly half of all the cocaine in the United States now arrives via Honduras, US authorities believe. The small Central American country, only slightly bigger than Virginia, has become a large hub for the transit of South American-produced cocaine, reports the Associated Press, with between 250 and 300 tons of the drug estimated to pass through each year. An unnamed US law enforcement official is quoted calling Honduras "the number one offload point for traffickers to take cocaine through Mexico to the US." The country's attractions to traffickers are both geographical and sociopolitical. An isolated, unprotected coastline is perfect for landing cargo from speedboats, fishing boats and special "submarines." Although most cocaine arrives by sea, 79% of the hundreds of illicit flights flying north out of South America land in Honduras, reports the same US official. Traffickers can operate from a network of ranches, far from prying eyes, and the northern border with Guatemala—just one hop away from Mexico—is porous. Then there's the economic climate of a country described by the US State Department as "one of the poorest...in the western hemisphere, with about 65% of the population living in poverty." Regular scenes of 70-100 villagers employed in unloading a newly-arrived coke boat illustrate why traffickers can count on the support of communities with few other jobs. Honduras is also "permeated by corruption, among police commanders, businessmen, politicians," as former Honduran Security Ministry adviser Alfredo Landaverde put it. Corrupt cops are said to act as air traffic controllers for cocaine planes. On the ground, gangs of all shapes and sizes vie for the privilege of moving the merchandise north. They've also boosted the murder rate in Honduras to 82.1 per 100,000 people in 2010, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime—that's the highest in the world. Genuine law enforcement and anti-corruption campaigners struggle against the tide—13 luxury homes and ranches and 17 boats were seized last week, in a mass raid against those profiting from the trade—but 95% of the cocaine passing through the country evades detection, AP estimates. Honduras has a hard road ahead of it.
It's the ultimate false economy. But "drunkorexia"—starving yourself in order to "spend" your desired daily calorie consumption on alcohol instead, while saving cash both by not buying food and then by requiring less booze to get you drunk—is now widespread in Australia, reports the Aussie Sunday Telegraph. Dr. Naomi Crafti, spokeswoman for the Australian Eating Disorders Foundation, said: "This is tied in with the increase in binge drinking in Australia... We also know there is an increase in the number of people suffering from eating disorders...and there is no reason to believe that their alcohol intake is any different." She says "many" young women in Australia suffer from these twin problems: "They are not eating all day because they know they are going to drink at night so they are saving their calories. Then they are drinking large quantities of alcohol which has no nutrients, getting excessively drunk because they have no food in their stomach and often engaging in promiscuous sexual activity...and later on purging to rid themselves of the calories of alcohol." The harmful consequences of this behavior far outweigh any "savings." Earlier this month, a University of Missouri study found that "short- and long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions" can be added to the risk of physical issues such as liver and blood pressure problems. Yet 16% of American college students—three quarters of them female—engage in the practice. Unsurprisingly, the word "drunkorexia" is a media term, rather than a medical one, but research confirms that alcoholism and eating disorders frequently co-occur—roughly half of women with eating disorders are thought to have a drink problem as well. The combination has been widely-reported in the States in the last few years. Dr. Douglas Bunnell, former president of the National Eating Disorders Association, told the New York Times back in 2008, "Both disorders are behaviors that are glorified and reinforced. Binge drinking is almost cool and hip, and losing weight and being thin is a cultural imperative for young women in America. Mixing both is not surprising, and it has reached a tipping point in terms of public awareness.”
- Medical Marijuana Crackdown Should Stop, House Reps Say [Huffington Post]
- Prescription Pills are East Tennessee's "New Crack" [Knoxville News Sentinel]
- Chinese Officer Accused of Drunken Crash, Sparking Riot [Sky News]
- Children Drinking "Adult Intake" [BBC]
- Pianist Dies After Drinking "Ecstasy Milkshake" [Daily Telegraph]
- Naked Driver in Drunken Rampage in Moscow [AFP]
- Herman Cain to Young People: Don't Smoke [CBS News]
- German Police Stop Drunken "Yoda" at Wheel [AFP]
With the country up in arms about economic disparities and a financial crisis that just won't quit, it seems bizarre that President Barack Obama is focusing on doing something about those pesky medical marijuana dispensaries. The latest volley in the Obama administration's war on cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers and small businesses—despite a recent poll showing a majority of US citizens support pot legalization—is a DEA crackdown in California and Colorado that focuses on medical marijuana distribution networks. DEA agents raided Northstone Organics, a Redwood Valley medical marijuana dispensary, on October 13, while in California a major crackdown recently got underway. “While California law permits collective cultivation of marijuana in limited circumstances," announced US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. in Sacramento, "it does not allow commercial distribution through the store-front model we see across California." In other words: screw what the voters say—we’re closing you down.
Rob Kampla of the Marijuana Policy Project recently accused Obama of being the worst president in history when it comes to the marijuana issue, and it’s hard to argue. Even compared to such bogeymen as Richard Nixon and Ronald “Just Say No” Regan, our current president—who has candidly discussed his own high school experiments with marijuana and cocaine—retains a hard-line and illiberal attitude toward medical marijuana. From keeping the drug Schedule One alongside cocaine and heroin, to blocking medical marijuana research, trying to crush legitimate medical marijuana businesses via the IRS, and even having the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms block MMJ patients from purchasing firearms and ammunition, Obama’s approach has hardly been a nuanced one. The president's visit to San Francisco drew protests from MMJ activists but whether any other 2012 candidate would be any friendlier to marijuana users than is doubtful. The only voice of reason in the Republican pack seems to be former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, who has consistently favored legalization, describing marijuana users as "the largest untapped voting bloc." However Johnson, who has been excluded from a number of televised debates, would appear to have little chance of selection by Republicans. Still, President Obama surely faces a tough re-election battle, which begs the question of why he’s doggedly pursuing policies seemingly designed to alienate his base.