The Arizona health department released its final draft of medical-marijuana rules on Monday, The Arizona Republic reported. After a four month process, the state’s medical-marijuana program begins April 14 when patients can begin the application process through Arizona’s department of health services. Qualifying patients with certain debilitating conditions can receive up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from between 120 and 126 dispensaries throughout the state or cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants if they live 25 miles or farther from a dispensary.
Meanwhile, a Delaware bill legalizing medical marijuana cleared the Senate 18-3 on Thursday and now moves on to the House, BusinessWeek reported. Under the bill, with a doctor’s written recommendation, patients with certain serious or debilitating conditions that could be helped by marijuana would be allowed to possess up to six ounces.
MSNBC featured U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) this week, who supports legalizing marijuana. Polis said that legalizing marijuana would be a “death blow” against cartels, save money and lives. (Link to Polis’ page: fearlesscampaign.com/drugpolicy) Is a member of Congress’ support of legalization proof that drug policy reform has gone mainstream? MSNBC notes a Gallup Poll that shows support for legalization in the U.S. has gone up to 46 percent in 2010 from 31 percent in 2000.
America’s drug czar Gil Kerlikowske addressed calls for legalization in a q & a with Foreign Policy saying, “I’ve never seen any of the legalization arguments that say, here’s how it will work and here’s how we’ll regulate it. Heaven knows, we’re not very successful with alcohol.” Read the interview here.
A Texas jury has found two men guilty of kidnapping an American drug trafficker murdered in Ciudad Juarez in 2009, the Associated Press reports. In this rare case of drug war violence spilling across the border, prosecutors say Cesar Obregon-Reyes and Rafael Vega broke into the house of Sergio Saucedo, bound he and his wife and kidnapped him in front of their children for a Mexican drug cartel. Saucedo was found dead with his hands chopped off on a street in Juarez, across the border from El Paso.
A United Nations report has called on the Mexican government to consider withdrawing the military from the streets following a sharp increase in human rights abuse claims since the Army was first deployed four years ago to fight drug traffickers, The Christian Science Monitor reports. The UN human rights office working group responsible for the report said the military and other government forces have become involved in an increasing number of cases of rape, torture, disappearance and arbitrary shooting. Because troops are tried in military courts instead of civil courts for rights abuses, most cases go unpunished. Calderón has sent a proposal to Congress to try cases of torture, rape, and disappearance in civic courts, but many say that change is not enough.
Mexico’s Attorney General Arturo Chavez resigned Thursday, in the face of harsh criticism from women’s groups that he did little to solve hundreds of rapes and murders plaguing the state of Chihuahua, the San Francisco Examiner reported. Marisela Morales has been nominated to take Chavez’s place as the first woman to fill the post in Mexico’s history if confirmed by the Mexican Senate. Chavez, nominated in 2009, is the second attorney general to resign since Calderon took office in 2006.
U.S. lawmakers debated Thursday expanding border security and whether military involvement is necessary in fighting the Mexican drug war against cartels, UPI reports. Members of the House Homeland Security subcommittee were shown videotapes of Gulf and Los Zetas cartel members attacking military and law enforcement in Mexico. Both the House and Senate are writing bills for border security next year and expanding the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative designed to help the Mexican government battle the organized crime syndicates.
Finally, check out this eye-opening story from The Washington Post on the La Familia drug cartel, “Mexico’s drug lords fall, but war goes on.”
-DR & AJC