Yasmin Hurd raises rats on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that will
blow your mind.
Though they look normal, their lives are anything but, and not just
because of the pricey real estate they call home on the 10th floor of
a research building near Mount Sinai Hospital. For skeptics of the
movement to legalize marijuana, the rodents are canaries in the
drug-policy coal mine. For defenders of legalization, they are
curiosities. But no one doubts that something is happening in the
creatures' trippy little brains.
[continues 3003 words]
And the resignation of Chief of Administration Michele Leonhart offers
the chance for change
Marijuana legalization advocates are excited about the departure of
Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, whom
they long considered an obstruction in their goal of reforming the
nation's drug laws.
"We are happy to see her go," says Dan Riffle, the director of federal
policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. "She's a career drug warrior
at a time when we've decided the `War on Drugs' is an abject failure."
[continues 709 words]
We must treat drug use for what it is: a health, not a criminal,
Yes, it's harmful, and yes, it should be legalized.
How Many People Watched Orange Is the New Black? No One Knows The
editorial board listed sound arguments, including the social costs of
prohibition. However, the board was remiss when it effectively brushed
aside what it acknowledged are the "legitimate concerns" about
marijuana's impact on the development of adolescent brains.
Even supporters of legalization, of which I'm one, must not
underestimate those concerns.
[continues 863 words]
A new report highlights the difficulty of predicting supply and demand
for a legal weed market
Knowing how much marijuana people consume is now a very important
statistic for officials in Washington and Colorado. That number can
help them make sound decisions about how to regulate the supply side
of the country's first recreational marijuana markets. And on
Wednesday a non-profit think tank released a report showing that
Washington residents consume far more weed than the state initially
[continues 797 words]
Sales of recreational marijuana begin in three weeks, and lawmakers
fear that demand will dwarf supply
Growth technician Mike Lottman moves through the marijuana plants in a
medical marijuana center in Denver, April 2, 2012.
Call it Black Wednesday. Recreational marijuana goes on sale legally
in Colorado on Jan. 1, and Denver officials are worried that the
city's retail shops won't be anywhere close to meeting demand.
At a city-council meeting Monday, lawmakers in Colorado's largest city
raised questions about licensing delays and the prospect of people
queuing up for hours in what have been historically low
[continues 495 words]
With medical marijuana now available in 16 states, decriminalizing
pot for recreational use could be around the corner
The drive to legalize marijuana has long been a fringe cause,
associated with hard-core libertarians and college-age stoners. But
it could go mainstream in a big way in this November's election, when
Washington could become the first state to legalize recreational pot
use. If it does -- or if voters in any of several other states do --
this year could be a turning point in the nation's treatment of marijuana.
[continues 741 words]
You will hear the voice of my memories stronger than the voice of my
death -- that is, if death ever had a voice.
- -- Juan Rulfo, Pedro Paramo
This is how Mexican investigators believe gangsters murdered business
student Juan Francisco Sicilia: Two of his friends had been assaulted
in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City, by a pair of policemen
moonlighting as muggers for the Pacifico Sur drug cartel. The friends
reported the criminal cops, who panicked and asked their mafia bosses
for help. On March 27, eight Pacifico Sur thugs, including a crazed
psychopath called El Pelon (Baldy), abducted the two accusers, as
well as Juan Francisco and four other buddies, from a bar. They were
bound with packing tape, tortured in a safe house and suffocated to
death. Their bodies were found the next day outside the city.
[continues 3361 words]
Since time immemorial, Mexicans have argued that were it not for U.S.
demand for illicit substances, Mexico would have a manageable drug
problem. More recently, we have also contended that absent the U.S.'s
laxity on arms sales and its tolerance for the possession of
extraordinarily dangerous weapons, the violence in our country would
not be what it has become. Lately our leaders have added a new gripe:
Americans are hypocrites because they support prohibitionist and
costly drug-enforcement policies -- yet, through the specious fallacy
of medical marijuana, are legalizing drugs without saying so.
[continues 770 words]
"Matt Thomas" (a pseudonym) had only recently begun experimenting with
marijuana when he got caught selling a few joints in the bathroom at
his junior high school.
It was no big deal, Thomas thought, especially considering that his
parents - an investment banker and a homemaker - smoked pot too.
But Thomas' grades had already begun to slip, perhaps because of his
increasing alcohol and marijuana use; that, coupled with his
drug-dealing offense, was enough for the school to recommend that his
parents place him in an inpatient drug-treatment program.
[continues 1939 words]
This is what a medical-marijuana class looks like. Twenty-five or so
students - men, women, young, middle-aged - listen attentively as an
instructor holds up a leafy green plant and runs down the list of
nutrients it needs. Nitrogen: stimulates leaf and stem growth.
Magnesium: helps leaf structure. Phosphorous: aids in the germination
of seeds. Michigan's Med Grow Cannabis College is one of several
unaccredited schools to have sprung up in the 14 states and the
District of Columbia that have legalized medical use of marijuana.
Many of its students suffer from chronic pain. Others are looking to
supply those in need of relief.
[continues 886 words]
Mexico's newest drug cartel, and certainly the most bizarre, is La
Familia Michoacana, a violent but Christian fundamentalist narco-gang
based in the torrid Tierra Caliente region of western Michoacan state.
The group is infamous for methamphetamine smuggling, lopping off
enemies' heads and limbs, and massacring police and soldiers. (Most
recently, on June 14, a band of Familia gunmen ambushed a federal
police convoy in Michoacan, killing 12.) Yet La Familia's leader,
Nazario Moreno - aka El Mas Loco, or The Craziest One - has written
his own bible, and his 1,500 minions hold prayer meetings before doing
their grisly work.
[continues 292 words]
Some call it a green rush. In the past five years, the number of
medical-marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles has exploded from four
to nearly 600. To get a handle on what one city official called a
"chaotic situation," more than 400 were shuttered June 7, following a
January vote to limit their numbers in response to complaints that
many were catering to recreational users.
When it comes to using the drug for medical purposes, though, no one
did it like the ancients.
[continues 245 words]
Some dude outside my supermarket just asked me to sign a petition to
legalize marijuana. Apparently he was so high that he forgot he's in
California, where pot is already more legal than budget-balancing.
Last year I was granted a medical-marijuana license, even though I'm
healthy and I don't smoke weed. I went to a doctor's office that
consisted of a desk, a TV, two cans of air freshener and a man
wearing a Hawaiian T-shirt. I told Dr. Magnum P.I. about my constant
anxiety, insomnia and headaches -- two more conditions than any
previous patient had bothered to mention. He freaked out and gave me
a pot license for only six months until I saw a psychologist. My
lovely wife Cassandra, however, got a full year's prescription by
claiming she was afflicted with a condition called "menstruation."
Looking back, I'm pretty sure I could have used that too.
[continues 673 words]
Pedro Rojas is the sort of wealthy Mexican who's usually in control
of his world. "I don't panic or scare easily," says Rojas, a business
owner and rancher from the Mexican border city of Juarez. But last
year narcos, or drug traffickers, moved into his upscale
neighborhood--punks in cowboy attire and sparkling pickup trucks
buying expensive homes.
Rojas and his neighbors were awakened at night or horrified in broad
daylight by assault-rifle fire and the screaming of tires as cars
raced away after kidnappings. One afternoon, local children watched
as a pickup rammed down the door of a house, sparking a gun battle
that left four people dead in the street. Out at Rojas' ranch, the
situation was worse.
[continues 2458 words]
Legalizing Marijuana May Be Politically Risky. But the Economic Benefits Are Becoming Difficult to Ignore
For the past several years, I've been harboring a fantasy, a last
political crusade for the baby-boom generation. We, who started on
the path of righteousness, marching for civil rights and against the
war in Vietnam, need to find an appropriately high-minded approach to
life's exit ramp. In this case, I mean the high-minded part
literally. And so, a deal: give us drugs, after a certain age -- say,
80 -- all drugs, any drugs we want. In return, we will give you our
driver's licenses. (I mean, can you imagine how terrifying a nation
of decrepit, solipsistic 90-year-old boomers behind the wheel would
be?) We'll let you proceed with your lives -- much of which will be
spent paying for our retirement, in any case -- without having to
hear us complain about our every ache and reflux.
We'll be too busy exploring altered states of consciousness. I even
have a slogan for the campaign: "Tune in, turn on, drop dead."
[continues 670 words]
Judd Apatow had a problem. The test screenings for his movie The
40-Year-Old Virgin were killing. But the jokes that were really
landing were the ones featuring pot. Sophomoric, Cheech-and-Chong-y
cheap yuks about weed. But funny ones. He called his old friend Garry
Shandling to ask whether he should leave them in. They went with the
only responsible choice: comedy comes first.
The film opened, and nobody made a big deal about the pot. Nor did
Apatow get called out when the lead character in his next big hit,
Knocked Up, was an inveterate stoner. And on Aug. 8, Pineapple
Express, which he produced, arrives; it's named after a particularly
potent (and fictional) strain of Cannabis sativa.
[continues 730 words]
We write a television show. Measured against more thoughtful and
meaningful occupations, this is not the best seat from which to argue
public policy or social justice. Still, those viewers who followed
The Wire -- our HBO drama that tried to portray all sides of
inner-city collapse, including the drug war, with as much detail and
as little judgment as we could muster -- tell us they've invested in
the fates of our characters. They worry or grieve for Bubbles, Bodie
or Wallace, certain that these characters are fictional yet knowing
they are rooted in the reality of the other America, the one rarely
acknowledged by anything so overt as a TV drama.
[continues 770 words]
Two local measures in the West called for authorities to make
marijuana arrests and prosecutions a low priority. Denver and Hailey,
Idaho, passed the initiatives. (Hailey also voted yes to industrial
hemp and medical marijuana.) Possession remains a federal and state crime.
Drug dealers are bad guys, but even they should be treated fairly.
That's why advocates of sentencing reform are cheering a recent
federal move to narrow the jaw-dropping disparity in sentences for
trafficking in two versions of the same drug, cocaine.
But it's way too early for them to be declaring victory.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which was created in 1984 to help
ensure that people convicted of similar crimes end up with similar
prison terms, has finally shortened its recommended penalties for
[continues 648 words]
There is something different in the air at Christiania these days the
usual spicy aroma of marijuana smoke now occasionally mixes with the
smell of tear gas and burning tires. That's because, more than three
decades after Europe's oldest and largest commune was established as
an antidote to "selfish society," Danish authorities are moving to
close it down. More than 90 people were arrested a few weeks ago
after groups of youths fought running battles with police, throwing
bottles and cobblestones and burning homemade barricades. The riot, a
rare occurrence in this normally placid Scandinavian country, was
prompted by police arriving to demolish a shelter deemed unsafe by
[continues 669 words]