+
More

The Mexican Supreme Court's marijuana ruling could save lives on both sides of the border.

Mexico's War on Drugs was a violent failure. Legalizing marijuana may right that wrong.

In 2006, then-Mexican President Felipe Calderón went all in on his country's version of the War on Drugs.

Calderón empowered the military to take action against Mexican drug cartels and put an end to the flow of drugs to the United States. What he got was unprecedented violence, with 100,000 dead and more than 26,000 people missing.


A Mexican soldier stands guard during the incineration of about 6,000 pounds of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and psychotropic pills in 2012. Photo by Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP/Getty Images.

As U.S. decriminalization and legalization policies took hold, illegal importation of marijuana from Mexico fell.

This may seem obvious, but once Americans were able to legally grow, purchase, and possess marijuana (as we can in an increasing number of places within the U.S.), there was less incentive for the cartels to continue taking risks in drug-running.

Time reports that U.S. Border Patrol seizures of marijuana fell from 2.5 million pounds in 2011 to 1.9 million pounds in 2014. Even more impressive is that in 2014, with only five U.S. states legalizing marijuana, the Mexican army confiscated nearly a third less marijuana at the border than in 2013.


A Mexican soldier stands guard next to marijuana packages recovered near the U.S. border in 2010. Photo by Francisco Vega/AFP/Getty Images.

With more Americans able to acquire marijuana legally, illegal trade between Mexico and the U.S. declined, as did violent crime.

In 2011, Mexican police departments reported 22,852 murders. In 2014, that number dropped to 15,649. Reduce the cashflow to cartels, and they're less able to enact violence against others — it's simple math.

Guns recovered during a cartel raid. Photo by Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images.

But now, a recent ruling from Mexico's Supreme Court might bring the country a whole lot closer to decriminalizing marijuana and putting an end to the violence.

Though the court didn't strike down any of the country's existing anti-marijuana laws, today's ruling, which states that individuals in Mexico have the right to grow marijuana for personal use, puts those laws on extremely shaky ground. After all, if people have a right to possess and use marijuana, existing laws stating the contrary may soon fall to legal challenges.

Demonstrators both for and against decriminalization of marijuana gathered outside the courthouse in Mexico City on Nov. 4, 2015. Photo by Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images.

Calderón left office in late 2012. His successor, President Enrique Peña Nieto, unveiled a new policy aimed at reducing violence instead of engaging cartels in military standoffs. While he doesn't support the legalization of marijuana outright, his approach has been significantly less destructive than Calderón's.

Will Mexico's marijuana laws ultimately fall? Will legalization continue to make its way across the U.S.? One can hope.

One can argue that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than marijuana. After all, no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose, and in states that have legalized it, there haven't been any of the ill effects opponents of legalization warned of. Once you factor in the 100,000-plus lives lost to cartel violence and the War on Drugs, legalization is a no-brainer.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

Honorees, speakers and guests on stage at We the Peoples

True

Some people say that while change is inevitable, progress is a choice. In other words, it’s a purposeful act—like when American media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner established the United Nations Foundation 25 years ago.

Keep ReadingShow less

Fox was granted the award for his contributions to Parkinson's disease research through his foundation.

Following his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease back in the early '90s, beloved “Back to the Future” star Michael J. Fox became an unwavering advocate for others living with the condition. His Michael J. Fox Foundation, founded in 2000, has become the leading provider of funds for Parkinson's research in the world. A large chunk of that research goes into investigating potential cures for the disease.

His contributions to Parkinson's research were highlighted at the 13th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, Nov. 19, in Los Angeles as a recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which honors individuals "whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”

As the now-retired actor took to the stage to accept his honorary Oscar, he delivered a speech full of emotion, grace and a sense of humor that shoots straight to the heart.

Keep ReadingShow less
True

Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!

However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!

Keep ReadingShow less

Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train" actually saved 21 missing children.

Anyone who was a teen in the '90s will remember the grunge era. Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were topping the charts with their gravely metaphorical lyrics, but they weren't alone. Soul Asylum burst onto the scene with their solemn anthem "Runaway Train" complete with a video that showcased missing kids.

The video gave missing and exploited children a much bigger platform to be recognized on, because before the video was showcased on MTV, milk cartons were the common method to distribute these photos. In theory, milk cartons seem like a pretty effective way to highlight missing children, but in reality, eventually people would become blind to the photos.

The music video for "Runaway Train" was played all around the world and to the target audience that would most likely recognize the faces. It should come as no surprise, then, that the video helped to bring home 21 missing children. What is surprising, is that the band had to push to keep the pictures of the missing kids in the music video because people didn't think it was working.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo pulled from video

Texas dad giving heartfelt speech.

This article originally appeared on 07.06.17


A baseball cap on his head, his hands tucked snugly in his front blue jean pockets, Ken Ballard stood in front of a room of onlookers, admittedly a little out of his element.

But the issue at hand was so critical, Ballard said, he couldn't keep quiet.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Your child being diagnosed with a mental health condition is not your fault

One of the most important things a parent can do is let go of the guilt.

Your child being diagnosed with a mental health condition is not a parental failure.

My heart dropped when I read the message from my friend. Normally the exchange is pleasant and I look forward to our conversations but before I even opened the message, the preview told me that something was wrong. All I could see was, "Did you hear about Edith's son?"

I hesitated before opening the message because I knew it wouldn't be good, and sadly, I was right. Our friend posted that she was planning funeral services for her 15-year-old son, explaining that he died by suicide. I didn't have the words so I waited days to reach out to share condolences.

It hit too close to home. I have a 14-year-old son. I've talked to my children about mental health and how it's always OK to seek help, even when it feels hopeless. I've given tools to clients and friends who are struggling with their own child's mental health diagnosis and the script remains the same, "I feel like it's my fault."

Keep ReadingShow less