This Week In Drugs (April 18, 2011)

Thursday was the first day that patients could apply for medical marijuana cards in Arizona. More than 100 people applied, mostly for chronic pain. Read more from The Arizona Republic here.

A bill to authorize and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington is in trouble after the Department of Justice threatened to prosecute medical marijuana businesses and the state employees who license them. The bill, which has already passed both chambers of the Legislature, came in response to pressure from municipalities to regulate dispensaries that began popping up after the state’s 1998 initiative legalizing medical marijuana. Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday that she cannot sign the proposal because of the federal threat to prosecute state employees, but she said she would work with legislators on a new bill.

Meanwhile, in Canada, an Ontario court has declared the country’s prohibition of marijuana unconstitutional because it bars some sick individuals from finding relief from their suffering by using the drug. Medical marijuana is legal in Canada, however patients testified that doctors were reluctant to prescribe it. The government has three months to fix the law before marijuana would become legal. Read editorials on the issue from The Toronto Star and The Winnepeg Free Press in favor of ending prohibition.

An Arizona gun dealer was allegedly encouraged to sell guns to suspected cartel gun traffickers by agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives – a revelation that came out this week in the continuing fall out over the agency’s Project Gun Runner. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, released an email from the gun dealer on Thursday, which appears to contradict contentions by the ATF that they never let guns knowingly be transported into Mexico. The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is looking into the program, which was apparently intended to nab higher level gun traffickers and cartels leaders.

A Texas congressman wants Mexico’s six major cartels to be classified as terrorist organizations, CNN reports. Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has introduced a bill that would give law enforcement greater ability to go after the cartels’ financial property and lead to harsher punishments to those who provide material support for cartels. The Arellano Felix organization, Los Zetas, Beltran Leyva, Familia Michoacana, Sinaloa Cartel and the Gulf Cartel/New Federation would be categorized as terrorist organizations under the plan. Read McCaul’s editorial published in The Arizona Republic on Friday.

After the discovery of the mass grave in Tamaulipas, the U.S. government issued a warning to employees and citizens for the first time that they could be the targets of drug gang attacks in three Mexican states. The warning, published on April 8 by the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey, was the first warning of its kind, according The Wall Street Journal. U.S. Officials said they had “information that Mexican criminal gangs may intend to attack U.S. law-enforcement officers or U.S. citizens in the near future in Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and San Luis Potosí.” In the past both governments have assured Americans in Mexico that they were not the targets of drug gang violence.

A leader of the Zetas cartel, Omar Martin Estrada (a.k.a. “El Kilo”) was arrested Saturday in connection with the discovery of the mass graves in the Tamaulipas city of San Fernando. So far 145 bodies have been found at graves around the city, which was also the location of massacre of 72 mostly Central American migrants last year. Sixteen local police officers are being questioned in the case, accused of protecting cartel murderers. Seventeen others allegedly connected to the Zetas cartel were also arrested.

The prosecutor in charge of state homicide investigations in Juarez was gunned down outside his home. Mario Ramon Gonzalez Chavarria, 31, was shot in his car on the way to work Friday morning, The El Paso Times reports.

As that kind of horrific violence builds in the Mexican drug war, it is changing the nation’s language. The Associated Press looks at the unique language of drug violence. For example, how a body is found determines the slang word for it: “encobijados” – wrapped in a blanket, “encajuelados” – stuffed in the trunk of a car and “encintados” – suffocated with tape. Read more here.

The drug war violence has also taken it toll on limes. The costs of limes have quadrupled in Mexico City markets to $4 a kilo (2.2 pounds) in December and January, The Christian Science Monitor reports.  Drug gangs meddle in the supply chain and require payments from lime growers.


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  • Lyndall

    May 5th, 2011

    Kudos! What a neat way of thiinkng about it.

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