MEXICO CITY - Federal authorities rushed Monday to head off a
mini-civil war in the "hot land" of Mexico's Michoacan state, urging
rural vigilantes to lay down their arms and go home rather than
attempt to seize a city of 90,000 that has become a stronghold of a
drug cartel calling itself the Knights Templar.
The armed peasant groups emerged last year to fight off the cartel,
which had metastasized throughout the southwestern state,
coordinating the lucrative methamphetamine trade and extortion
rackets and wielding significant control over the major container
port of Lazaro Cardenas. Until recently, the self-defense groups had
been largely tolerated, if not encouraged, by President Enrique Pena
Nieto's administration, which had allowed them to staff some
roadblocks alongside federal police and soldiers.
[continues 901 words]
Javier Pena, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Houston
Division, retired Saturday after a 30-year career. The Texas native
recently spoke with Houston Chronicle reporter Dane Schiller. Here are
edited excerpts from that conversation:
Q: What do you make of legalizing pot in Colorado?
A: We see the effects it has on people. I'm against legalization. Some
states aren't, and that is a political fight. Will Texas ever? I hope
Q: Does it make you angry?
[continues 625 words]
While I commend Gov. Cuomo for his efforts to legalize medical
marijuana in New York, I don't think he goes far enough. Everyone who
needs it should have access to pot, not just those who can get past
the hurdle of a committee to decide who gets it or not. We could be
raising millions in revenue by taxing it like cigarettes and alcohol,
both of which it's no worse than! Since our Legislature has proven
itself incapable of making a decision, why not put it on the ballot
and let the people decide? Isn't that what democracy is all about?
Federal Laws Trip Booming Business
DENVER - A week after Colorado's ballyhooed retail marijuana launch,
the line at Evergreen Apothecary is still out the door. That comes as
both good and bad news for co-owner Tim Cullen.
His business may be booming, but his banking situation remains
sketchy. Federal rules prohibit banks from opening accounts for
illegal drug enterprises, and recreational and medical marijuana sales
are still outlawed under federal law.
Mr. Cullen has a business bank account, but only because he belongs to
a business-management service that has allowed him to open an account
under a different name. Even so, because of the merchandise on his
shelves, he can't get a small-business loan to keep up with his
rapidly expanding footprint.
[continues 798 words]
SEATTLE - In his secondfloor office above a hair salon in northern
Seattle, Ryan Kunkel is seated on a couch placing $1,000 bricks of
cash - dozens of them - in a rumpled brown paper bag. When he
finishes, he stashes the money in the trunk of his BMW and sets off on
an adrenalized drive downtown, darting through traffic and nervously
checking to see if anyone is following him.
Despite the air of criminality, there is nothing illicit in what
Kunkel is doing. He co-owns five legal medical marijuana dispensaries,
and on this day he is heading to the Washington state Department of
Revenue to commit the ultimate in law-abiding acts: paying taxes.
After about 25 minutes at the agency, Kunkel emerges with a receipt
[continues 527 words]
NEW YORK (AP)- Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a political splash by
introducing his medical marijuana plan in the State of the State
speech, but his cautious approach has met muted cheers from pot
advocates who question how meaningful it really is.
While nearly two dozen states have OK'd marijuana for medical purposes
and Colorado and Washington have legalized its use for pleasure, Cuomo
is tapping a 1980 state law to allow as many as 20 hospitals to
dispense the drug to people with certain severe illnesses as an
experimental research project.
[continues 484 words]
You may have seen news reports regarding a new medical marijuana bill
(HB 1385) that state Rep. Sherry Jones is introducing in the Tennessee
General Assembly. It is a very strictly written law that gives relief
to severely ill persons whose regular medications/drugs provide no
relief to their pain and suffering. In the news reports children with
seizures are used to support this bill - children with many conditions
whose seizures are not controlled with any of the many
life-threatening seizure drugs.
[continues 170 words]
Gov Hopefuls Say They Won't Push Full Legalization
It's a question of toke as I say, not as I did for the majority of
the candidates for Massachusetts governor.
While four of the candidates vying for the state's top job -
including Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Steve Grossman -
admitted to previously inhaling yesterday, none of them would support
a push to fully legalize marijuana in the Bay State.
"Legalizing marijuana is not a priority of mine," said Democratic
candidate Juliette Kayyem yesterday during an in-studio interview on
Herald Radio. She went on to admit she has smoked marijuana.
[continues 332 words]
I'm thrilled that Charlie Baker, Juliette Kayyem, Don Berwick and
yes, Steve Grossman, were once little stoners. Clearly the evil weed
hasn't shut down their big brains, diminished their ambition or
quashed their quest for big bucks.
How fun to imagine a long-haired Stevie Grossman toking up in his
tie-dye shirt, ear pressed against an old, huge stereo speaker
blasting "Purple Haze." I can almost hear Little Stevie belting out,
"'scuse me while I kiss the sky!!!"
[continues 380 words]
Speaking as a retired detective, I was astounded that your lament
over the murder rate did not mention the massive role that drug
prohibition plays in the carnage ("Choosing Chicago's murder toll;
Defy the odds; Push the body count lower in 2014 and beyond,"
Editorial, Dec. 29). Per experts testifying in the U.S. House, gang
violence would be cut in half if the gangs had no drugs to sell. You
do your readers a disservice not mentioning the biggest driver of
felony crime in Chicago.
- - Howard Wooldridge, Washington