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Category Archives: War On Drugs
Social Equity Activist Launches Incubator For Cannabis Entrepreneurs And Victims Of The War On Drugs – Forbes
Posted: November 30, 2019 at 9:47 am
The landscape for marijuana sales is shifting so rapidly it is difficult for those who arent actively keeping track of state laws across the United States to know where it is legal.
Marijuana is fully illegal like it was in the 1970s in the whole country in only nine states. Most states have either legalized it, legalized medical marijuana or have decriminalized marijuana use. State policies will sometimes surprise you. Even in conservative Utah where I live, medical marijuana use is legal (though highly regulated). Eleven states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized marijuana.
The shifting sands have a tragic even if ironic outcome. In many places where marijuana is now legal, people are serving time or have served time in prison for activities that are now legal. Their records could haunt them forever.
Rashaan Everett, 24, is a cannabis entrepreneur who successfully launched a production and distribution business in California called Good Tree. In under two years, the business has generated $3.5 million, $2.2 so far this year, and he says the business is profitable.
Recently, he spun out the technology he uses in the Good Tree business to allow other cannabis entrepreneurs to license it as well. The new business is called Growing Talent. The new business will also operate an incubator to train the licensees.
Some of those entrepreneurs will receive training at a deep discount. Instead, the equity partners will get their training in exchange for equity in their respective businesses. To qualify for the program, the entrepreneurs must be people of color who were adversely impacted by the war on drugs for committingor being closely related to someone who committedthen criminal acts related to marijuana.
Growing Talent is now raising money on Republic.co, a FINRA-registered crowdfunding portal. Under Regulation Crowdfunding, the startup can raise up to $1,070,000 from ordinary investors anywhere in the country. The offering has garnered over $100,000 in support in just a few weeks. Investors dont need to be accredited under SEC standards of wealth to participate in the offering.
Everett says, As more and more states legalize cannabis, there is a huge opportunity to cultivate and train entrepreneurs of color, especially those affected by the war on drugs, so they can begin to sell, manage, analyze, and expand their businesses under a nationally recognized brand.
The cannabis issue again leapt to the nations consciousness in recent weeks, when former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said he opposed full federal legalization of marijuana and Senator Cory Booker famously quipped to Biden, I thought you must have been high when you said it.
Earlier this week, the FDA updated its official position on cannabidiol or CBD, the marijuana extract that contains virtually no THC, the chemical that creates the high that recreational users seek. Products containing CBD have proliferated in recent years and are now big business. The update includes the dire language, CBD has the potential to harm you, and harm can happen even before you become aware of it.
Everett says, It's slightly disingenuous of the agency to use such an alarming tone which startled the public (markets) without the emergence of new facts. Still, transparency around risks, manufacturing, and distribution is the only real solution moving forward. The FDA's statement reveals the need for proper research, clinical trials, and most importantly - regulation.
We need to deschedule so that we can learn more, he adds, referring to removing marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Agencys list of Schedule I controlled substances, those with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, that also includes heroin and LSD.
The crazy quilt, state-by-state approach to marijuana regulation in conflict with Federal law has odd effects. For instance, Good Tree, Everetts marijuana production and distribution business cant avail itself of Regulation Crowdfunding because Federal law still outlaws marijuana sales. But Everett believes, and Republic.co apparently agrees, that Growing Talent can.
One of the key issues the country must address, is how to treat people whose experience with the criminal justice system was related to their use or distribution of marijuana, something that is now legal in a dozen places. Everett is tackling this head on with his incubator program designed for them.
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Posted: at 9:47 am
If theres such a thing as the war on drugs the Government is Watford and the gangsters are Liverpool.
Unfortunately for the State, a lot of people are now supporting the narcotic equivalent of the Reds while an increasing number of younger men actually want to play for the team.
In the last few days weve seen the phenomena of the part-time dealer, an individual who, like a farmer, subsidises his income by dabbling in drugs.
Unfortunately for An Post worker Eoin Boylan it cost him his life but it wont put off other young men from following his criminal career path.
The likes of Love/Hate and a plethora of big-budget TV series like Narcos have a lot to answer for.
I have no doubt thousands of young men sitting in their living rooms are on the side of Pablo Escobar and not that of the law enforcement agencies opposing him in this never-ending war on drugs.
Along with the money, theres a certain cachet about being part of a drugs gang, especially if you have few other options in the way of gainful employment.
Theres a type of glamour to the extent Irish teenagers and young men are posing shirtless on social media with guns.
In their heads they are part of Mexican cartel or Nidge from Love/Hate especially when theyve been snorting their own product.
I know some of them and Im actually loosely related to a leading member of one gang which has been involved in dozens of recent incidents.
Five men have died in the killing fields of Coolock the latest is 22-year old postman Eoin Boylan who gardai believe was making around 1,000 a week from selling drugs.
His violent demise will not prevent others from taking his place or joining gangs no more than warnings from the authorities will deter the public from buying drugs.
For if the young men involved in the gangs are delusional so too are those who think they are going to win the war on drugs.
Simply urging habitual drug users to stop using cocaine and cannabis is akin to imploring bankers to stop screwing their customers its totally futile.
It goes along with the line that the unavoidable fact is violence shadows the drugs trade and there would be no drugs trade without the end user.
The trouble is it might be the case some people in the organisations making these pleas are drug users themselves.
It is not just the young who are fuelling demand as some in the media, legal profession, politics and banking also have a taste for coke.
Indeed some of our banks have been fined for laundering drug money... hardly a fitting punishment for a drugs war crime?
The public have been hearing his guff since after the murder of Veronica Guerin and the only difference from then and now is the gangs are better organised, have more guns and are less afraid to use them.
Weve been listening to these mantras for decades but recent statistics suggest cocaine use in Ireland has surpassed even Celtic Tiger-era levels.
As for winning the war on drugs, nothing could be further from the truth.
In the mid-1990s, John Gilligans gang was shipping in huge amounts of cannabis from the continent.
Now its believed Ireland is self sufficient when it comes to cannabis with the majority of the drug on the streets being produced in grow houses and its 10 times more potent than the stuff Gilligan imported.
Were it a legit industry its representative body, lets say Cannabis Growers Ireland would no doubt be boasting about an Irish success story.
Cocaine exporters would also be taking a bow as theres more than enough to go around here, leaving the Kinahan cartel able to open up new markets in lands as far away as Australia.
A Europol report this week warned Ireland has become an international base for the export of drugs.
The EU Drug Markets Report states Notably in Ireland many communities have been severely affected, with major impacts on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities and the functioning of local services and agencies.
This wont come as news to families on most of the housing estates around the country.
The widespread use of narcotics and the violence which followed it was once confined to the cities, but now drugs are everywhere.
Towns like Drogheda have rival gangs engaged in bloody feuds which has resulted in two deaths in the last three months.
Ive lost track of the murders Ive covered in my 25 years as a reporter and the situation regarding narcotics and violence is worse than ever.
The entire premise of the war on drugs is stupid in much the same way as the US Governments war on drink in the 1920s was idiotic and all Prohibition achieved was making the Mafia into the Kinahan cartel of its day.
Whether we like it or not, this State and the EU are facing stark choices and one involves the liberalisation of drug laws. The other is to carry on with the unwinnable war as communities continue to be devastated and the body count mounts.
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Posted: at 9:47 am
But its not just the old favourites that are available in such glut: psychedelic oddities such as DMT and 2-CB once known only to the tripping cognoscenti are now part of a narcotic smorgasbord found at every festival and every house party, along with LSD, nitrous oxide, and, of course, ketamine. And that is thanks to technology.
Read this next: The rise and fall and rise of ketamine
Darknet markets using encryption and bitcoin have revolutionised the way drugs are bought and sold, starting with the Silk Road in February 2011. And while occasional busts do occur, police claims of success are always overstated. As soon as one market closes, another opens. A quick scan of the web shows 25 markets all online today.
And even if you or your friends dont score on a darknet market, your dealer may well do.
Before 2015, I didnt have a connect for bulk mandy (MDMA), says Ben*, a 35-year-old bar worker and part-time dealer in east London. Now I get 250g for 1,200 on the dark web twice a month. Sometimes we use Wickr (a secure messaging app) if the markets go down. It costs me about a fiver a gramme. I knock it out at 3g for 100 (33 a gramme) delivered, on Friday and Saturday nights.
Read this next: We spoke to an ecstasy dealer from the acid house era
Ben uses WhatsApp and Signal (an encrypted messaging app) to collect orders in the week, and has two trusted workers making rounds at weekends. He, and they operate a multi-level marketing system: introduce new customers, and you get free drugs.
This model of technology-assisted acquisition and distribution is commonplace now, and its one that simply did not exist a decade ago.
Drugs, then, have never been more available, abundant, pure or cheap as they are in 2019.
And they have never been more popular, according to the latest Home Office data. Almost 4 per cent of people in England and Wales 1.25 million people reported they had taken a Class A drug in the last year. This is the highest proportion of Class A drug use since data-collection began in 1996.
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Posted: at 9:47 am
This year, VICE Studios released Rat Park, a documentary that dives into the socio-psychological causes of drug addiction. By looking at drug epidemics in three countriesPortugal, the United States, and the Philippinesthe documentary focussed on how class, wealth, social status, life struggles, and politics play into the ongoing war on drugs.
The title comes from an experiment performed by Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander in 1978. He found that by keeping lab rats in isolation and giving them the choice between morphine and water drips, almost all chose the morphine, and many died. However, when the rats were placed in a sort of rat havena rat park, as he called itwith open space, activities, and other rats, almost all of them preferred water to morphine. Thus, he concluded that there are numerous factors that cause someone to use hard drugs, and that addiction is not as simple as the drug itself.
The documentary first peered into the life of Justin Kunzelman, a former drug user in Florida who has started a harm reduction not-for-profit organization called Rebel Recovery. Florida has had an ongoing opioid epidemic for nearly three decades. Before the so-called pain clinics were recently shut down, opiates were easily accessible in the state. Now, many who have since become addicted to them have turned to the cheaper alternative: Heroin. With the governments unsympathetic view of addicts who cannot simply stop using, it is up to organizations like Rebel Recovery to help them through their addiction in the safest environment possible.
Next, the film covered Vincent Go, a photojournalist in Manila who is actively investigating the killings of drug-users that are being carried out by the controversial president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. Since his declaration of the war on drugs, over 20,000 people have been killed due to suspicion of drug usage.
Countries like Portugal, on the other hand, have taken things in the opposite direction. In 2001, Portugal decriminalized possession of all drugs, and according to the documentary, overdose deaths have decreased by 80 per cent since the law went into effect. Tiago Praca, a visual artist from Lisbon who had previously been used heroin and crack cocaine for over 20 years, explained why criminalizing and demonizing drug usage is ineffective in the film.
There will always be drugs, Praca said. So, if you want to solve  the problem, you just have to change the attitude.
Thomas Brown, an assistant professor of psychiatry at McGill, explained that Portugals success may cause other countries to follow suit.
The data from Portugal are promising, but decriminalization must be accompanied by a concerted, systematic, and an adequately supported bouquet of first, second, and third line preventative mental health strategies, Brown wrote in an email toThe McGill Tribune.
Norman White, a professor in the McGill Department of Psychology, agreed with Brown that decriminalization cannot be the sole solution.
Its pretty clear that the current policy of trying to prohibit all aspects of drug commerce and use is a total failure, White wrote. Some kind of harm reduction approach is clearly indicated.
Brown supports the idea that drug addiction is a complex concept.
Contribution to addiction is multifaceted: Environmental factors including drug accessibility, poverty, early life stress and trauma, [and] social genetics [are all factors], Brown wrote.
Indeed, Rat Parkshowcases that putting peopleand ratsin an environment where they can thrive socially and experience a high quality of life drastically diminishes their propensity to turn to drugs.
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Posted: at 9:47 am
LONDON Homeless drug users in Scotland will be allowed to inject pharmaceutical-grade heroin twice a day under the supervision of medical officials as part of a new program intended to reduce drug deaths and H.I.V. infection.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, a $1.5 million facility in Glasgow that opened on Tuesday will allow a handful of drug users to receive doses of the drug alongside other treatment for their physical and psychological health, according to Glasgow City Council.
The pilot project, known as heroin-assisted treatment, is the first such licensed operation in Scotland, a country that has been called the drug death capital of the world. It has struggled to cope with high rates of fatal drug overdoses and its worst H.I.V. outbreak in decades.
The program will target those with the most severe, longstanding and complex addiction issues, the City Council said.
It aims to reduce the risk of overdoses and the spread of viruses such as H.I.V. by prescribing diamorphine the clinical name for pharmaceutical-grade heroin for patients to inject in a secure clinical room under the supervision of trained medics.
The clinic opened in Glasgow, Scotlands largest city, after Britains Home Office granted it a license, and follows a similar initiative that began in Middlesbrough, England, last month.
Up to 20 patients are expected to take part in the first year of Glasgows program, with the number set to double in the second year.
Heroin-assisted treatment is a much more clinical service aimed at getting people stable, Andrew McAuley, a senior research fellow on substance use at Glasgow Caledonian University, said in an interview on Wednesday. The program is a significant step forward, albeit for a very small number of people.
The program, called the Enhanced Drug Treatment Service, is intended for those who have exhausted other treatment options such as residential rehabilitation, methadone and community addiction services. It is available only to drug users already involved with the citys team fighting addiction among homeless people.
The program is not intended to be long-term, with research suggesting that clinical benefits can be seen after six weeks of treatment.
It requires patients to visit the city clinic twice a day, seven days a week, a demand that may be too much for those not used to such a routine, Mr. McAuley said.
Its a large commitment, he said.
Glasgow has ambitious plans to support its residents with drug-addiction issues, but Scottish officials say it has been hindered by Britains 1971 drug law.
Glasgow officials have pushed for years to establish consumption spaces in the city where drug users could inject their own drugs in a safe, clean environment, but their efforts have been rebuffed by the British government.
Britains Misuse of Drugs Act, the 1971 law, stipulates that anyone concerned in the management of any premises or any occupier who knowingly allows drugs to be prepared there can face prosecution.
It is still illegal to have safe consumption sites, which puts us out of sync with most Western countries, said Mr. McAuley, whose research group will evaluate the Glasgow program. Glasgow is arguably the most compelling case for a drug consumption site.
Austin Smith, a policy officer at Scottish Drugs Forum, a national resource of expertise on drug use issues, said, This part of the law was to stop people opening up opium dens and was never intended to stop safe services, but that is what it does.
More than 100 supervised consumption services have been established in countries like Australia, Canada, France, Switzerland and Germany, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York-based organization that campaigns to end Americas war on drugs.
A report on Scotlands drug problem that was released this month by the British Parliaments Scottish Affairs Committee endorsed the treatment method.
Safe drug-consumption facilities are proven to reduce the number of drug-related deaths and can act as a gateway to further treatment, said Pete Wishart, the committees chairman. Every drug death is preventable, and these centers could play a vital role in addressing Scotlands drug crisis.
Scotlands drug problem has worsened in recent years, and official statistics indicate that drug-related deaths there are at a record high. Fatal drug overdoses have been highest among older users.
The number of deaths directly caused by drugs has risen in Scotland almost year on year since records began in the mid-1990s. And the number has climbed drastically: to 1,187 drug-related deaths last year from 244 in 1996, according to the National Records of Scotland.
Scotlands drug death rate is nearly three times that of Britain as a whole and is the highest in the European Union.
By some measures, Scotland has even surpassed by a small margin the United States rate of 217 drug-related deaths per million of the population.
The number of homeless drug users with H.I.V. in Glasgow also increased in recent years, which one study attributed to the sharing of needles and other equipment. City health workers say the outbreak has still not been contained.
This challenging social issue demands innovative treatments, the chairwoman of Glasgows Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Susanne Millar, said in a statement on Tuesday.
People might question why health services are spending money providing heroin for people with addictions, she said. The answer is we cant afford not to.
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Posted: at 9:47 am
At last the penetration of narcotics has caught the attention of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah who has ordered a high-powered task force to curb this problem, especially in educational institutions. The use of drugs in schools and colleges, especially the elite ones, is quite a new phenomenon, which has occasionally made headlines because of deaths of students from overdose. Seeing the prevalence of drugs, the chief minister reportedly said that we all had to work together to stop it right from the borders to cities to schools. His statement points to the failure of the law-enforcement agencies and border control bodies. For years, heroin and cannabis are being smuggled here from Afghanistan, cocaine from South Africa and synthesis and ice from China. Similarly, the widespread use of drugs on streets and campuses is the utter failure of families and parents to keep their youth on the right track. In all, the whole society should be blamed for the fiasco.
The new Sindh body to control drug abuse the Chief Ministers Task Force on Narcotics Control includes the chief minister as the head and director general of Sindh Rangers, inspector general of police, excise and health ministers and secretaries, chief ministers law adviser, regional director of the Anti-Narcotics Force and provincial heads of intelligence agencies as members. The results of the top-down approach will be measured in terms of controlling drug trafficking and coordinating with administrations of schools and colleges. Under the body, three sub-committees have been tasked with checking inter-provincial borders for surveillance on drug traffickers, monitoring and conducting operations against drug dealers, and coordinating with educational institutions to stop drug penetration.
Recently, Federal Minister Sheheryar Afridi announced conducting students drug tests across the country to ascertain the level of drug use in schools. The new task force may coordinate with the ministry as well as other provinces to launch a coordinated war on drugs in campuses. Most of the addicts start their catastrophic journey as recreational users only to end up as hardened addicts ready to be exploited by gangs of drugs dealers. While control on drug delivery is important, the rehabilitation of addicts should also be taken into consideration. *
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Posted: at 9:47 am
In the past ten years, we lost hope in American politics, realized we were being watched on the internet, and finally broke the gender binary (kind of). So many of the beliefs we held to be true at the beginning of the decade have since been proved to be falseor at least, much more complicated than they once seemed. The Decade of Disillusion is a series that tracks how the hell we got here.
Over the last 10 years, our narcotic landscape has been irreversibly altered. From the online drug trade opening its floodgates in 2010 to Denver decriminalizing magic mushrooms in 2019, this last decade has seen the biggest shifts in the drug trade and drug policy for half a century.
Some of these changes have been driven by science and technology, others by politics and money. Some have been positive, while others have proved deadly. But when we look back on the 2010s, we will see two forces at play: an increasingly resilient and deadly drug trade and a growing understanding that regulating it, rather than simply trying to annihilate it, could be the best way to stop it from spinning completely out of control.
Heres how the last ten years changed drugs forever.
When young people in Britain went crazy for mephedrone (a.k.a bath salts)the new, cheap, legal high they could buy over the internetthe authorities were blind-sided. Although it was a potent drug, kids could get it legally and cheaply delivered to their doors, with no need for a drug dealer. From universities to remote villages, pretty much everyone of a certain age was on it. Still, few could have predicted that this cathinone, alongside the cannabinoid spice, would change the global drug trade forever. Together, they busted open the doors to a new, increasingly toxic breed of synthetic drugs often made in China, sold over the internet, and delivered not by drug dealers, but by postal carriers.
While some states had already legalized weed for medicinal use, the legalization of just-for-fun weed was a major breakthrough. It triggered a mass social experiment What actually happens when you legalize cannabis?that has since been followed by eight other U.S. states, Washington D.C., and two countries (Uruguay in 2013 and Canada in 2018). Impact analysis is ongoing, but whats certain is that the pandemonium that critics predicted huge rises in drug use, addiction, and crime has not played out.
Burgos was arrested in May 2013 in Rhode Island after batches of heroin containing the synthetic opioid fentanyl, then a little-known drug on the underground narcotics scene, sparked a spate of fatal overdoses among his customers. Since then, the spread of fentanyl into Americas drug chain, on the back of a rise in opioid addiction, has led to a national opioid crisis. In 2017, synthetic opioidsmainly fentanylkilled 28,000 of the 70,000 people who died from drug overdoses that year.
Colombia hit a record-low level of coca leaf production in 2013, seemingly symbolizing a rare moment of success for the global war on drugs. It turned out the dip was only temporary. In fact, all the money spent on eradicating coca fields and chasing down the producers and traffickers had failed to kill off the trade. Since then, coca cultivation in the country called the worlds cocaine factory has more than doubled, from around 70,000 hectares to 169,000 in 2018, resulting in worldwide rises in the use and purity of cocaine, as well as deaths associated with its trade.
Following the successes of The Wire and Breaking Bad, Narcos, a drama about the hunt for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, launched a cartel genre takeover of Netflix in the second half of the 2010s. Now in its fourth seasondespite a location scout being shot dead in Mexico in 2017the show helped fuel a drug-crime obsession among the viewing public. Meanwhile, as Americans watch safely from their couches, the region in which the show takes place has reached a record number of drug war-related killings.
As some jurisdictions in the West were legalizing drug use, Rodrigo Duterte was rising to power in the Philippines, in part on the promise that he would tackle the countrys meth problem head on. In May 2016, he carried out a massacre of drug users that he gleefully compared to the Holocaust. In the three years since he came to power, there have been an estimated 29,000 state-sponsored killings of people suspected of being drug users and sellers in the Southeast Asian nation, a large-scale murdering exercise including innocent victims killed in front of their children. Since, Dutertes tactics have begun gaining favor in neighboring countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh.
The U.S. has spent $1.5 million a day to fight the drug war in Afghanistan, causing the deaths of many civilians along the way, 16 years after US-UK forces invaded Afghanistan to pursue the Taliban and eradicate opium crops. Yet the country is still the worlds top heroin producer. In fact, the amount of opium poppy grown in Afghanistan spiraled from 74,000 hectares in 2001 to 328,000 hectares in 2017. Alongside the U.S.-led failure to stem the cocaine trade, the 2010s provided final proof that the war on the worlds biggest drug producers appears doomed.
On the same day that the UN made its opium announcement, news of another overdose rocked the music industry: Lil Peep died in Tucson at age 21 after taking fentanyl and Xanax. The tragedy sparked a backlash against Xanax in the rap community, but nevertheless marked a waypoint in the drugs we are taking. Young people are now getting high on an ever expanding array of lab drugs, from fake benzos and Mexican meth, to ketamine, GBL, and fentanyl-laced pain pills.
For those who weren't paying close attention (most of us), vaping appeared to come out of nowhere. Then, seemingly overnight, it was as if everybody in the country had a JUULor at least, way too many teenagers on the internet did. But almost just as quickly, the fallout arrived: By 2019, a spate of vaping-related illnesses and deathslinked to vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent sometimes found in illicit THC cartridgeslaid bare the mess that occurs when sales of vaping accessories are left unregulated.
It was only this past spring that Denver became the first U.S. city to decriminalize the possession of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms. And, as more labs carry out tests of psychedelics to treat mental health problems, the tide seems to be shifting nationwide. Oregon is considering a therapy-based legalization structure, other California citiesincluding the state itselfhave succeeded or are pursuing decriminalization efforts, more donors are getting involved, and Johns Hopkins University in Maryland has plans to open up a new research center dedicated to psychedelics. As the decade ends, the potential of regulatingrather than prohibitingdrugs is being recognized. Yet whether this growing body of evidence can combat a century of damaging myth and propaganda about drugs? Well, well find out in the next decade.
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Posted: at 9:47 am
Representative Matt Gaetz was quoted in the article with, We are being dragged forward by our constituents.
Even if your constituency is and has been predominantly conservative, why are you complaining about meeting the demands of YOUR constituency? Isnt that the purpose of electing you to office?
Although I do agree with his thoughts that the recent amendment to the bill where the 5 percent excise tax will go to helping the people most targeted by the war on drugs start new legal weed businesses is most likely too progressive for the Republican controlled senate to pass if this gets through the house.
I believe the States Act would have a much better chance at becoming law, because it has had more support from both major parties. While it does not have the federal aid programs, those are things that could potentially be added later with a different majority senate. I would prefer to take a smaller progressive step in the present, than be stubborn for the aid programs and not see this pass for another 4 years (or ever).
I am not disputing the discrepancies that lie in the war on drugs and judicial system that attacks them between issues of race/sex/wealth; they are all skewed in some way or form, usually to the deficit of the less fortunate. However, current aid programs exist and we could develop more in the future; dont let this hiccup hold back the possibility of removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.
Payton Mitten, senior biology major, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh
Posted: at 9:47 am
In 2019 we bid farewell to one of crime fictions iconic investigators, Bernie Gunther. His final outing, completed shortly before author Philip Kerrs untimely death last year, is just as gripping and immersive as its predecessors. Metropolis (Quercus) is set in Berlin in 1928, where the young Gunther finds himself on the trail of a killer of sex workers and a serial murderer who targets disabled war veterans.
This years most impressive debuts include the brilliant literary thriller Kill [redacted] by Anthony Good (Atlantic), an inventive exploration of the morality of revenge after a terrorist attack, and Holly Watts To the Lions (Raven), the first in a new series featuring investigative reporter Casey Benedict. Others worth seeking out are Kia Abdullahs thought-provoking legal thriller, Take It Back (HQ); Laura Shepherd-Robinsons vivid evocation of the slave trade in Georgian England, Blood & Sugar (Mantle); and Scrublands (Wildfire), an accomplished slice of outback noir by Australian journalist Chris Hammer. American Spy (Dialogue) by Lauren Wilkinson is the story of black agent Marie Mitchell, recruited in the 1980s by the CIA as the bait in a honeytrap for the president of Burkina Faso, whose fledgling government the Americans are keen to destabilise.
Established practitioners who go from strength to strength include Mick Herron, whose Slough House series of spy thrillers the sixth and most recent title is Joe Country (John Murray) is being televised, with Gary Oldman slated to play the spectacularly repulsive Jackson Lamb. The final thriller in Don Winslows Cartel trilogy, The Border (HarperCollins), is social fiction at its finest, showing how Mexican gangsters, enriched by decades of Americas wrong-headed war on drugs, are now taking advantage of the opioid crisis. Theres more astute state-of-the-nation commentary, this time on Brexit Britain, from John le Carr in Agent Running in the Field (Viking), and on US race relations in Heaven, My Home (Serpents Tail) by Attica Locke. Also on the police procedural front, but in the UK, Jane Casey published her eighth DS Maeve Kerrigan book, Cruel Acts (HarperCollins), and Sarah Hilarys DI Marnie Rome made her sixth appearance in Never Be Broken (Headline) two intelligent series whose protagonists have real emotional depth.
Tana French took a break from her superb Dublin Murder Squad series for The Wych Elm (Viking), a compelling examination of the unreliability of memory, the effects of trauma and the relationship between privilege and what we perceive as luck. Other changes of direction include The Chain (Orion), a standalone thriller from Adrian McKinty, author of the Sean Duffy series, which invests a pyramid kidnapping scheme with compellingly appalling plausibility; and The Whisper Man (Michael Joseph), a police procedural with supernatural overtones by Steve Mosby, writing as Alex North. After almost a decade, Kate Atkinson was reunited with her series character Jackson Brodie. In Big Sky (Doubleday) the gruff PI returns to his native Yorkshire and becomes involved in a case of human trafficking and a historic paedophile ring.
Catastrophically dysfunctional friendships are the key ingredient in an increasingly popular domestic noir sub-genre, of which The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins) is an outstanding example. When a group of thirtysomething chums go on a mini-break to an exclusive hunting lodge in the Scottish Highlands, things soon begin to unravel: everyone, it turns out, has something to hide. Another exceptional read in this vein is Mel McGraths The Guilty Party (HQ), in which a group of friends all have reasons for not reporting the rape of a stranger who is later found dead.
Something this reviewer is delighted to see on the rise is what might be described as hot-flush noir put-upon middle-aged women against the world a hitherto neglected sub-genre that, given the crime-reading demographic, publishers really ought to be encouraging. Two stand-out examples are Helen Fitzgeralds sublime Worst Case Scenario (Orenda), a foul-mouthed, satirical revenge thriller in which Glasgow probation officer Mary Shields battles career burnout and the menopause, and The Godmother (Old Street) by Hannelore Cayre, translated from French by Stephanie Smee. Winner of both the Grand Prix de Littrature Policire and the European Crime Fiction prize, this witty, acerbic gem is the story of a fiftysomething widowed mother of two who, facing a precarious future, decides to become a drug dealer.
This year saw the 50th anniversary of the Manson murders and books exploring cults included Lisa Jewells The Family Upstairs (Century) and Fog Island (HQ) by Scientology survivor Mariette Lindstein, translated from Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.
Lastly, there have been a number of welcome reissues, including Susanna Moores erotic classic In the Cut (W&N), a terrifying tale of death and sex first published in 1995, and, from several decades earlier, The Listening Walls and A Stranger in My Grave (both Pushkin Vertigo), by the queen of north American domestic noir, Margaret Millar (1915-1994). It all adds up to a bumper year.
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