This Week in Drugs (April 29, 2011)

Although the Justice Department said in 2009 that it would not prosecute medical marijuana patients, U.S. attorneys in California and Washington state have told officials they intend to enforce the federal laws that prohibit marijuana’s manufacture and distribution, The Arizona Republic reports. This news comes as Arizona officials begin implementing the voter-approved medical-marijuana dispensaries which took effect April 14. Although the news makes many investing in the medical-marijuana industry nervous, a spokesman for Arizona U.S. attorney Dennis Burke said the U.S. attorney plans to release a statement soon to clarify enforcement of federal law in Arizona.

Ahwatukee Foothills entrepreneur Dave Levine has invented the Cannabis Container Vending Machine and a heavy plastic container called the “Cann Can” – short for “cannabis can,” The Arizona Republic reports. The Cann Can contains “smoke shop” products like lighters, rolling papers, and pipes that dispensaries may not want to stock. Levine says the machine costs less than $2,700 and includes several sets of plastic cans that can be purchased empty and customized by dispensaries. “This is a way to avoid the inconvenience of a used-up lighter, or having to go buy different items on an a la carte basis,” Levine said. “The container holds everything a patient needs.”

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has announced his 2012 bid for the presidency, The Hill reports. Known for his “small-government” policies, Johnson rose to national prominence largely due to his advocacy of marijuana legalization. The libertarian-leaning former governor has made little effort to appeal to the more traditional parts of the GOP’s base, saying of his stance on legalization, “It is what it is. From the context of ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes,’ I’m the only politician that’s saying the emperor is wearing no clothes. That’s not such a bad deal.” Check out Johnson’s issue-oriented group titled “Our American Initiative,” here.

Mexico’s Highway 101 through the border state of Tamaulipas, once busy this time of year with families traveling to celebrate Easter together, has become an empty ghost highway, The Washington Post reports. As rumors spread that psychotic kidnappers are dragging passengers off buses and as authorities find mass graves amassing to more than 145 bodies, people began calling it “the highway of death.”

As Mexico’s mainstream media agrees to guidelines for covering the drug war, an anonymous blogger running the site “El Blog Del Narco” continues to break the goriest stories, Al Jazeera English reported. The blog pulls many unedited, gruesome pictures uploaded by citizens to social networking sites like Facebook. While presenting one side of the violent story of drug war violence, the blog has even posted the statements of a purported spokesman for the Gulf cartel, allowing for a new medium for communication between hit men, traffickers, dealers – and the people affected by their violence. Visit the NSFW Narco Blog here.

Residents of Mexico City’s upscale San Miguel Chapultepec neighborhood discovered the dismembered body of a woman scattered over three blocks, The Associated Press reports. The discovery comes as authorities investigate the death of four women and a 14-year-old girl whose throats were slit in Acapulco over the weekend. All five worked at a beauty parlor in a neighborhood known for prostitution and drug dealing, according to the chief of detectives for the Guerrero state police. The mass killing of women is unusual in Mexico’s drug war but there is no indication that the two cases are related.

After five years and more than 34,000 dead in Mexico’s drug war, many Mexicans are organizing a movement called “ya basta” or “enough,” to bring an end to the violence, PBS NewsHour reports. Mexicans have gathered in marches and protests across the country in response to the violence that has killed thousands and displaced many more.

Illegal searches by the NYCPD occur very often but are rarely challenged in court, WNYC reports. Many defendants are told that they face “insurmountable obstacles when fighting marijuana charges” and the illegal searches that often lead to their arrests. More than 50,000 people have been arrested in New York City for marijuana possession last year and a great deal of the arrests take place in the police precincts where the most “stop-and-frisks” occur. More than a dozen men arrested told WNYC they were arrested for marijuana possession through illegal searches, none of which challenged the illegal search in court.

The US government said today that it would increase aid to Mexico’s state police in it’s anti-drug operations with a $500 million aid increase under the crime-fighting Merida Initiative, AFP reported. Many experts believe the nation’s state police are the weakest link in the fight against drug cartels due to a high rate of corruption. A statement after a meeting attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Mexican counterpart Patricia Espinosa condemned the “criminality and violence” of the drug war. This comes as the number of victims unearthed from mass graves in northern Mexico has risen to 279, Reuters reports.

The US’ seeming indifference to Mexico’s violent drug war has enraged frustrated Mexicans, according to Reuters. Even with today’s increase in aid the support pales in comparison to the more than $1 trillion spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. With an increasingly brutal war raging south of the border, Mexican historian Enrique Krauze told Reuters the Merida Initiative is “almost an insult.” Krauze said Mexicans can expect ten years of war “on [their] own,” adding, “The Obama administration has been a huge disappointment for us.”

Should Washington provide more aid to Mexico? Is the drug war winnable? Tell us what you think and check out The Economist’s interactive map of Mexico’s drug war violence.

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  • [...] Crawford on Drugs:“Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has announced his 2012 bid for a presidency, The Hill reports. Known for his small-government policies, Johnson rose to inhabitant inflection mostly due to his advocacy of pot legalization. The libertarian-leaning former administrator has done small bid to interest to a some-more normal tools of a GOPs base, observant of his position on legalization, It is what it is. From a context of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Im a usually politician thats observant a czar is wearing no clothes. Thats not such a bad deal.”(5) [...]

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