The northwestern Mexican state of Guerrero’s ocean side vistas, Mayan and Zapotec heritage and mountainous terrain would make it a postcard-pretty place to be—if it weren’t for all the murder and financial destitution.
Because of the extreme poverty in the region, the state has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the nation. According to the Guardian, close to 70% of the people who call Guerrero home, live in poverty. This misery experienced on a daily basis by those living in Guerrero is compounded by an ongoing turf war between cartels and the Mexican military resulting in one of the highest murder rates per capita, in the world. The violence is so extreme that most professionals who can afford to pick up and relocate, have done so. The loss of lawyers? Meh. However, having no Doctors or other medical staff to care for a population trapped in an already untenable situation is nightmare.
Thankfully, with little fanfare, Médecins Sans Frontières is on the scene, trying to make a difference.
From The Guardian:
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Before patients are seen, the clinical team – three doctors, two psychologists and a nurse – explain that MSF is neutral, independent, free of charge and available to anyone as long as weapons are left outside.
This is the standard pep talk in the state of Guerrero, where MSF has taken over 11 primary health clinics that have closed or are limited by the security crisis in communities long neglected by the state.
In addition to regular clinics, MSF provides rapid response interventions in the aftermath of grave incidents like mass kidnappings, gun battles and massacres, which leave displaced or trapped communities in psychological turmoil.
Contrary to Jeff Session's alternative fact that pot is a gateway to hard drugs, a study reveals that Colorado has had a drop in opioid deaths since it legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2014.
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Since legal recreational marijuana sales began in Colorado in January 2014, the state has seen a 6 percent drop in opioid deaths, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health. The drop follows 14 years of rising opioid deaths, going back to the first year for which the esearchers had data.
That suggests yet another argument for marijuana legalization: Pot might stem and even reverse some of the trends unleashed by America's decades-long drug war.
A [different] 2014 study found that from 1999 to 2010, states that had medical cannabis laws had a nearly 25 percent lower "mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate" than states that prohibited medical cannabis.
"Because chronic pain is a major indication for medical cannabis," those researchers wrote, "laws that establish access to medical cannabis may change overdose mortality related to opioid analgesics in states that have enacted them."
[UPDATE 9/26/2017 12:05pm PT The Marijuana Police Project updated its report: "Data omitted from original analysis shows 653,249 marijuana arrests in 2016. Some reporting law enforcement agencies do not distinguish between types of drug arrests or possession and distribution violations."]
One person gets arrested for marijuana possession every 71 seconds in the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. This is great news to drug cartels, police departments, racists, corrupt politicians, the prison industry, and the involuntary rehab clinic racket. It's bad news for everybody else.
“Arresting and citing nearly half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty,” said Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested.”
There are currently eight states that regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for adults, four of which voted to do so in November 2016. Marijuana possession is also legal for adults in the District of Columbia. Twenty-three states and D.C. considered legislation in 2017 to regulate marijuana, including in Vermont where the legislature approved such a measure before the governor vetoed it.
“Regulating marijuana for adults creates jobs, generates tax revenue, protects consumers, and takes money away from criminals,” Fox continued. Read the rest
A 28-year-old woman from British Columbia was banned for life from entering the United States after a US Customs and Border Protection agent searched her phone for two hours and found an email she'd written to her doctor about an accidental drug overdose. Chelsea had gone to a strip club in 2016 for a friend's birthday and one of the women in the party offered her some "cocaine" that turned out to be fentanyl. Her friend died and she was taken to the emergency room and saved after being injected with the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.
When border officials learned about the incident by taking Chelsea's phone and reading her email to her doctor, they informed her that she was being issued a lifetime ban from entering the US.
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Canadians have also reported being banned from the US for admitting to smoking weed before. Since Trump has taken office, he's promised to crack down on border security, including the controversial "Muslim ban."
Waivers that temporarily allow entrance to the US like the one Chelsea is currently trying to obtain only last one to five years, so she'll need to get a new one every so often if she plans to keep visiting the States. Waivers cost $585 to apply for and take about six months to be issued.
Chelsea wants to warn others about how deeply they'll search smartphones at the US border. Even in the context of North America's current opioid crisis, which is killing thousands annually in the US and Canada, no extra compassion was given to someone who accidentally ingested fentanyl and nearly died from it.
Ashley Cervantes, a US citizen who was 18 at the time, was stopped at the Mexico border and accused by Customs and Border Protection of smuggling drugs. A search proved fruitless so they gave her a body cavity search. US Customs and Border Protection still couldn't find the drugs they were looking for so they took her to a hospital for an X-ray. No drugs. Read the rest
"A new report documents the astonishing number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure. The report finds that NYPD used approximately 1,000,000 hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years. -- Drug Policy Alliance Read the rest
Marijuana Majority is a well-designed website that has quotes from hundreds of religious leaders, political figures, law enforcement officials, celebrities, and other notable figures, all advocating for the decriminalization of cannabis. I'm happy to see that Cory and Xeni are on the list!
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“I think it's about time we legalize marijuana... We either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars or we legalize it, but this little game we are playing in the middle is not helping us, it is not helping Mexico and it is causing massive violence on our southern border... Fifty percent of the money going to these cartels is coming just from marijuana coming across our border.” -- Glenn Beck
“There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana...$7.7 billion [spent on prohibition's enforcement] is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven't even included the harm to young people. It's absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes.” -- Milton Friedman
Who benefits from the $1.5 trillion that taxpayers have given to the drug law enforcement industry?
En Passant's comment on Balko's blog nails it:
If addiction rates increase, drug warriors need more money to increase their efforts, or to use new and more expensive methods.
If addiction rates decrease, drug warriors need more money because their methods are effective, and more money will eliminate addiction entirely.
In a Washington Post op-ed, Google's executive chairman (and former CEO) Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen argue the case for technology as a tool to aid citizen activists in places like Juarez, Mexico. Schmidt and Cohen recently visited the drug-war-wracked border town, and describe the climate of violence there as "surreal."
In Juarez, we saw fearful human beings — sources — who need to get their information into the right hands. With our packet-switching mind-set, we realized that there may be a technological workaround to the fear: Sources don’t need to physically turn to corrupt authorities, distant journalists or diffuse nonprofits, and rely on their hope that the possible benefit is worth the risk of exposing themselves.
Technology can help intermediate this exchange, like servers passing packets on the Internet. Sources don’t need to pierce their anonymity. They don’t need to trust a single person or institution. Why can’t they simply throw encrypted packets into the network and let the tools move information to the right destinations?
In a sense, we are talking about dual crowdsourcing: Citizens crowdsource incident awareness up, and responders crowdsource justice down, nearly in real time. The trick is that anonymity is provided to everyone, although such a system would know a unique ID for every user to maintain records and provide rewards. This bare-bones model could take many forms: official and nonprofit first responders, investigative journalists, whistleblowers, neighborhood watches.
I'll be interested to hear what people in Juarez, and throughout Mexico, think of the editorial. Read the rest