Despite reports that deaths from Mexico's drug war rose "only" 5.6% last year—the least since 2007—the reality felt very different for residents of Guadalajara this weekend, as the western Mexican city became engulfed by drug war violence. Armed gangs actually blocked highways and set up seven roadblocks throughout the city on Saturday while setting vehicles on fire. Police are reporting that one person was seriously wounded by gunfire, but no arrests have been made. All of the roadblocks throughout have also since been cleared. Although Guadalajara has been relatively quiet in terms of drug-related violence compared to other cities, it certainly hasn't been immune: it experienced similar flaming roadblocks this past March as the military worked to arrest a prominent cartel leader. More than 55,000 people in Mexico have been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and launched his crackdown on cartels. It was recently reported that cartels have even infiltrated Mexico's Supreme Court.
Pink has been an international star ever since her debut album was released in 2000. But her life hasn't always been so charmed: the 32-year-old "Raise Your Glass" singer has long been open about her teen drug use and partying, saying she was "on all the club drugs" and "selling Ecstasy and crystal meth and Special K." But now she's revealed, in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, that she actually overdosed in 1995. The experience was apparently enough to turn her life around: "And then I never took drugs again, ever." Pink is due to play a sex addict in the upcoming movie Thanks For Sharing. When asked why she wanted to play that part, she replies, "Because I understand addiction. I was a hardcore partyer from 12 to 15." Nowadays though, she claims her only "addiction" is shopping for clothes for her baby daughter, Willow. “I’m in so much trouble with [my husband] Carey for the shit I buy for her,” she says. “Because a one-year-old shouldn’t have Diesel jeans. But it tends to slip my mind when I see them because they’re so cute.”
"Pro-ana" websites that controversially support and encourage eating disorders may actually have a practical element of offering anorexics the support of an online community, reports Fix columnist Maia Szalavitz. The content of these 'pro-ana' sites—such as “thinspriation” images of emaciated celebrities and models, and tips on how to stay anorexic—can be alarming, and Yahoo, Tumblr and Pinterest for example have banned them. But a new study by researchers at Indiana University actually found that these websites may provide a rare network of support for those suffering from the widely stigmatized, and often fatal, illness. “The Internet is a very good place for people to find support from similar others,” explains Daphna Yeshua-Katz, a doctoral student at Indiana University, who co-authored the study, adding that those with eating disorders often suffer in silence and isolation. Of the 300 pro-ana bloggers Yeshua-Katz contacted, only 33 were willing to be interviewed, due to the private and controversial nature of the sites—but those she did speak with shared the belief that the sites allow anorexics to express themselves in a place where they would not be judged.
“There was no one in my life that I could speak to openly about what I was feeling and experiencing. I wanted to have a voice that I didn’t have to censor for fear of upsetting people I knew or having them judge me,” said one of the anonymous bloggers. But as Szalavitz points out, a support community of people who are still actively participating in self-destructive behavior could reinforce and possibly prevent recovery—since these friendships may focus not on recovery, but on remaining sick. “They go online to vent and they find friends. But at same time they are aware that being a pro-ana blogger might encourage their eating disorder and those of other vulnerable young girls,” says Yeshua-Katz, “I’m not saying it’s only beneficial or all bad; it’s a double-edged sword.” She adds that she doesn’t support banning the sites as almost all of these “thinspiration” photos can be found in mainstream fashion magazine and websites. “I think we need to provide [people with anorexia] with better ways to lead them into recovery online.”
- Legal Marijuana Backers Raise $3 Million in Two US States [Reuters]
- New Breathalyzer Law Drives Anger in France [LA Times]
- Kentucky Sees Surge in Addicted Infants [USA Today]
- Demand for Addict Care Would Rise if Medicaid Expands [Santa Fe New Mexican]
- Macaulay Culkin Lives to Celebrate 32nd Birthday as Heroin Controversy Dies Down [International Business Times]
- Dez Bryant Can't Go to Strip Clubs, Drink Alcohol Under New Rules [USA Today]
In these times of economic plenty, the federal government is trying to close down 23 more businesses in Washington state. They happen to be medical marijuana dispensaries, which—thanks to medical marijuana initiative I-692—have been legal by state law there since December 1998. Seattle US Attorney Jenny Durkan gives a familiar excuse for the latest crackdown: she’s “thinking about the children.”
"We all work hard to create a safe zone for kids in school,” said Durkan, announcing the move. “We need to enforce one message for our students: Drugs have no place in or near our schools." The federal government has decided the dispensaries in question are “too close” to some schools in western Washington, and the DEA have sent letters threatening the dispensary owners with criminal prosecution or asset forfeiture if they don’t close within 30 days. Similar tactics have already driven three dispensaries out of business in the central Washington town of Wenatchee.
Interestingly, the move comes as a national survey shows drug use is indeed rampant among US school kids: high school students claim that 17% of their peers use drugs, alcohol or cigarettes during the school day—and 91% of them report marijuana for sale on-site. Which raises the question of why the DEA is focusing on marijuana being sold by dispensaries within 1,000 yards of Washington high schools—dispensaries that rigidly enforce age restrictions and require a doctor’s recommendation—when it's clear that teens don’t even have to leave their school grounds to procure pot.
The picture is further confused by the contrasting indications of studies on whether or not states' legalization of medical marijuana increases teen use. One major study by Columbia University researchers found that MMJ states have higher rates of marijuana abuse and dependence. Another, published in the Annals of Epidemiology in September 2011, found slightly higher rates of use specifically among 12 to 17-year-olds. On the other hand, a more recent non-peer reviewed study—an analysis of data by economists from three US universities—found that not to be the case. "There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers," said Professor Daniel I. Rees of Colorado Denver University, one of the co-authors, "but there's no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use."
The question of whether the DEA are really “thinking about the children," or rather just making a cynical effort to push back against the growing wave of support for states to set their own medical marijuana laws without federal interference, remains unanswered. Watch this space. The fight will get dirtier in the fall, when voters in Washington, Colorado and Oregon go to the polls on bills to legalize recreational marijuana use—putting those states in direct opposition with federal law.
Sacramento police have taken down a pot and meth-dealing taco truck after a three month operation called “Operation Dirty Taco.” Two brothers, Juan and Ernesto Paez, set up their Mexican food operation outside a convenience store and sold both drugs and tacos worth around $50,000 a month—serving the substances in the Styrofoam box along with the grub. The food served wouldn't win any Michelin stars, according to narcotics agents: “The tacos weren’t that good; they looked to be rather dry and unedible,” says one. But the drugs were apparently gourmet quality. And the product synergy of drugs and tacos, selling munchies and marijuana in one location, is arguably marketing genius (you'd also be doing yourself a favor with soft-shelled tacos after your teeth get meth-rot). The drugs-and-taco truck is currently parked back at the family taqueria. Cops say the rest of the family may not have known about the scheme the brothers cooked up together—not to mention the shamefully awful tacos.