Don't call the War on Drugs a "war" to outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon. "I don’t like the term 'war' because ultimately it is not about the drugs," he said in his most recent interview, at the APEC conference in Vladivostok this weekend. "What I would like is for Mexico to become a rule-of-law state where people feel safe. My priority is not to eradicate drugs, but to create a secure environment for our people and their families." Calderon, whose six-year term of office comes to an end in December—when he will be replaced by Enrique Pena Nieto—also made clear his view that the demand for drugs in the US has impeded Mexican economic growth. "The main reason for our drug trafficking problem is that the US is the main drug consumer in the world," he says. "This backfired on Mexico and many other countries. If the demand for drugs were to decrease in the US, we would indeed have fewer problems." Calderon says his administration has made progress in curbing the corruption of law enforcement agencies and re-establishing the credibility of governmental bodies. Still, he acknowledges that major problems remain: "Not only do criminal gangs smuggle drugs into the US, they also attempt to distribute them across Latin America. This leads to turf wars and breeds violence. In spite of this, last year saw a significant decline in violence and the number of murders. We are working on it, but there is still miles to go." Calderon's leadership has seen Mexico attempting to reduce its dependence on US assistance on this issue. His administration set up a large-scale database monitoring criminal activity that it shares with other Central American states, and a designated organization at a regional level is set to coordinate those efforts.
- Ryan: Medical Marijuana Should Be Up to The States [Star-Telegram]
- The FDA's New Cigarette Labels Go Up in Smoke [Wall Street Journal]
- Utah's Teen Smoking Rate Dips to Lowest Level [SF Gate]
- Financial Aid For Families of 80 Drug Addicts [The National]
- Thai Doctor: 'Sin Tax' a Boon to Thailand [Inquirer Global Nation]
- Underage One Direction Given Alcohol as a Gift [Newstalk ZB]
- Aspiring Rapper Tweets YOLO, Then Dies In Drunk Driving Car Accident [Vibe]
Drinking and drugging may seem "cool" thanks to movies like The Hangover, shows like Jersey Shore and good ol' fashioned peer pressure, but two teens are aiming to majorly amp up the appeal of sober living. Dominic Suazo and Feril Trevor Davis have seen how alcohol and drug use in the media can have a negative impact on young people—so they've founded a new clothing company called Party Sober to demonstrate that sobriety can be young, fun and hip. "People just glamorize that shit, but after going down that road and seeing how dark and scary addiction is we're trying to combat that message," Davis tells The Fix. "It's cool to live life and party sober and not need a drink or drug to be yourself." Davis says the strict "drugs-are-bad" messages transmitted through PSA's and DARE can be alienating to teens, who are more likely to listen to their own peers. "The edge we have is not being an authority figure, it's on a peer basis and not an authority figure telling them what to do," he explains. "I was told drugs were wrong and that didn't stop me. I didn't have anyone telling me what it's really like out there." Instead of demonizing drugs and alcohol, Party Sober emphasizes the coolness of clean living, in a similar vein to the Demi Lovato-approved fashion line Sober is Sexy; the clothes also provide a counterpoint to fashion statements like Urban Outfitters' recent alcohol-touting tees. Suazo and Davis plan to donate a portion of their sales to helping addicted youths get back on their feet again. Watch their full interview below:
Cries of "No more drug war!" and "Alive they took them, alive we want them!" fill the air as the Caravan For Peace sets up in New York City today. The caravan—which launched August 12 in Tijuana and will wrap up next week in Washington D.C.—aims to raise awareness and provoke discussion about non-violent solutions to the Mexican drug war. With the death toll of the drug war rising as high as 71,000, protestors hope that these activities will help people see Mexico as a neighbor, rather than a threat. "Today, we are here to show the world that the US and Mexico are calling to end the war on drugs," says Kassandra Frederique of the Drug Policy Alliance at a press conference to kick off the day's events. Frederique, along with other speakers, are making the point that drug addiction is a health issue, rather than a criminal issue, and should be treated as such. Local groups including VOCAL New York and Occupy Wall Street join the caravan for the NYC events, which included a vigil for victims on Thursday night and marches and demonstrations throughout the city today; crowds of New Yorkers and some out-of-towners have come out to support the Caravan as well. "Of course I don't advocate drug use," says Monica James, a student who frequently volunteers with kids, to The Fix. "But the current policies are awful, and we need to speak up about them. We need more public education on this important matter." Many involved in the caravan say the funds gained by ending the drug war could go towards education and treatment of addiction, rather then towards more violence. The caravan's other events today include a demonstration in front of HSBC Bank, a march to Zuccotti Park and a film screening.
Drug manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser has announced plans to bring to market this fall new, higher-dose versions (4mg and 12mg) of its Suboxone films—kind of like those dissolvable Listerine breath-freshener strips. Suboxone, a formulation of opioid-blocking buprenorphine that's used in short-term detox and longer-term medication-assisted therapy (MAT), was originally marketed in the US as 2mg and 8mg under-the-tongue tablets, which melt in the mouth, delivering meds through mucus membranes. "The films work similarly, except they adhere to the tongue," Tim Baxter, MD, Reckitt’s global medical director, tells The Fix. Reckitt's patent for the tablets expired in 2009, but the following year they rolled out individually wrapped, difficult-to-open 2mg and 8mg films. Since then, Baxter says, the company has had just four reports of deaths due to accidental ingestion by children. “The film is a child-resistant single dose,” he says. “Should it be opened, there’s only one film in there—there’s not 30 or 40. And it’s very hard to get into—I have to use a pair of scissors to get into the thing.”
The tablets and films are high-dose versions of Reckitt’s European buprenorphine preparation Temgesic, which comes in doses of a fraction of a milligram and which Continental types use as a painkiller. EU addicts commonly use Temgesic to gradually taper off of Suboxone, just as American addicts often cut up the films to provide themselves with tiny tapering-off doses. Reckitt does not endorse chopping up the films, Baxter says, and the company has no plans to come out with a Temgesic equivalent in the States. “We don’t promote detox,” he says. “We try to educate prescribers and payors that opioid dependence is a chronic disease and should be treated as such.” At present, the company is not offering a release date, profit projections or earnings figures for the films—but in 2010 The Guardian reported that Reckitt saw its pharma earnings increase by more than sixfold between 2004 and 2009, largely thanks to US sales of Suboxone.