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Jane Says

10/11/12 1:01pm

Why Addiction Should Be the Debate

Reader's Question: Do you agree that our presidential candidates should talk more (or, at all!) about addiction and drug policy, given how important it is?

[Jane is now exclusively answering your questions about addiction, recovery and the like. Send your questions to janevelezmitchell@thefix.com.]

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By Jane Velez-Mitchell

forced Rehab

10/11/12 12:07pm

Vietnam Frees Sex Workers From Rehab

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Vietnamese workers at a "grooming salon."
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About 900 sex workers will be free to return to their homes in July 2013 after having been forced into compulsory rehab under Vietnamese law. "This is a big change of view on how to deal with prostitution," says Le Duc Hien, deputy head of the government's department for social vices prevention. "However, it does not mean we officially recognize prostitution.” Compulsory rehab was initially intended to help crack down on prostitution in a country that is home to an estimated 30,000 sex workers. Back in July the books were changed so that those nabbed by authorities would no longer be funneled into drug rehabs, but instead slapped with a fine of 5 million dong ($240 USD). And now, the country is getting around to freeing the hundreds of individuals they had been keeping in lockdown. No word yet on whether these newly-liberated sex workers ever staged a kitchen knife-driven breakout to escape beatings and slave labor like their drug-addict counterparts—for whom compulsory rehab will remain standard.

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By Bryan Le

mexican meth

10/11/12 11:11am

Mexican Cartels Now Dominate US Meth Market

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A soldier overseeing a 15-ton meth haul
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As the US government continues to crack down on American-made methamphetamines, Mexican drug cartels are predictably ramping up their production of the drug to fill the void. Although Mexican-made meth has long contributed to the US market, it now accounts for up to 80% of the meth sold here, according to the DEA. The cartels' tactics mirror those they used with heroin—creating a cheap and highly addictive form of the drug and then funneling it through their marijuana and cocaine supply-lines. The average purity of Mexican meth has risen from 39% in 2007 to 88% in 2011, while the price has actually dropped 70% in the same period—from $290 to $90 per pure gram. "These are sophisticated, high-tech operations in Mexico that are operating with extreme precision," says Jim Shroba, a DEA agent in St. Louis. "They're moving it out the door as fast as they can manufacture it." Cartels are known to give out meth "freebies" while making sales of other drugs: when Illinois authorities recently confiscated 1,000 pounds of Mexican pot, they found 10 pounds of meth hidden in the stash for that purpose. Meth makes around $5 billion in annual export revenue for the cartels—still far behind the estimated $20 billion in heroin and $30 billion in cocaine they make each year. But the fact meth is a synthetic drug, rather than plant-based, increases its potential to skyrocket. "It can be completely produced in Mexico," says Illinois State University criminologist and meth expert Ralph Weisheit. "It's very compact, and that makes it easy to smuggle."

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

10/11/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: October 11, 2012

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By The Fix staff

Drug laws

10/10/12 5:03pm

Should Immigrants Be Deported for a Pinch of Pot?

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The Supreme Court will rule on the case in
the spring. Photo via

When should an offense like the possession of a tiny amount of marijuana be deemed too minor to warrant the deportation of a legal immigrant? The Supreme Court has been hearing a case today that could change immigration officials' response to this question. It all started in 2008 when Adrian Moncrieffe—who moved to the US from Jamaica almost 30 years ago, and is a lawful permanent resident—was pulled over in Georgia. The police found a mere one 20th of an ounce of pot in his possession. Unfortunately for Moncrieffe, Georgia state law—under its very broad application of "people who freely share small quantities with others"—nevertheless allowed him to be charged with felony possession with intent to distribute. "What some people would consider to be a relatively minor offense that does not result in a prison sentence can be classified under federal law as a felony that can lead to deportation," says Bill Ong Hing, a law professor at the University of San Francisco. "When there's language that suggests that it could be more serious and it's not serious, [US Immigration and Customs Enforcement] will not give you the benefit of the doubt." The Supreme Court’s eventual decision on Moncrieffe v. Holder, which is due in the spring, could affect the deportation proceedings of hundreds of legal immigrants each year.

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By Chrisanne Grise

College Drinking

10/10/12 4:05pm

Death Attends Another Frat Party

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A vigil held for Philip Dhanens last month
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Brotherly bonding took a dark turn when Philip Dhanens, a Theta Chi pledge, drank himself to death during a fraternity hazing ritual last month. According to court documents released today, frat leaders forced the 18-year-old Fresno State freshman and 14 of his "brothers" to down multiple bottles of vodka, tequila and rum—and they were banned from leaving the room until they'd finished. "The pledges were encouraged to drink, socialize and bond with each other despite their age," states the warrant. Dhanens' blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.36 (4.5 times the legal driving limit) at the time of his death, which occurred from brain swelling due to "acute alcohol consumption." The Fresno State chapter of Theta Chi has been suspended, and fraternity officials haven't been available for comment. Dhanens' death is just the latest in a growing list of grizzly alcohol-related incidents, injuries and fatalities stemming from Greek life and its drinking rituals. In the last year alone, Sigma Alpha Epsilon was sued over the death of a Cornell sophomore, and Sigma Chi was sued by the parents of a girl who died from binge drinking at a frat party. Pi Kappa Alpha at the University of Tennessee was recently “suspended indefinitely”: one member was hospitalized after allegedly "butt chugging" wine.

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By May Wilkerson

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Scott Phillips: You Are What You—

Last February, my oldest friend died of a heroin overdose at the age of 49. He beat me to recovery, and he beat me to death. He also gave a final, drug-alogue interview on my radio show 20 hours before he died.

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