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Mexico taking big steps toward nationwide legalization of cannabis, Senate leader confirms

The Mexican government appears likely to legalize cannabis, potentially making Mexico the biggest legal weed market in the world.

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The Mexican government appears increasingly likely to legalize cannabis on a federal level, potentially making Mexico the biggest legal weed market in the world.

The move would amount to a massive u-turn after decades of prohibitionist policies led to the explosive growth of transnational drug cartels – and local cartel wars – in the Latin American nation, with demand from the U.S. fueling violence and crime.

According to Mexican Senate leader Ricardo Monreal of the ruling MORENA party, a cannabis legalization bill will be presented to the lawmaking body at some point within the next two weeks and is “likely to pass,” reports Los Angeles Times. The bill would enable private companies to sell the plant and its derivative products to the public.

If the Mexican Senate approves the bill, it will move on to the Chamber of Deputies – the lower house of Mexico’s bicameral Congress – where it is also believed to be likely to pass.

The move could finally determine the fate of cannabis legalization efforts in Mexico. Advocates of legalization have long argued that legalizing the plant would allow the country to advance alternative drug policies, halt the criminalization of drug users and refocus its security efforts to better address public health.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, popularly known by his initials AMLO, has long endorsed the need to radically reform the country’s laws to put an end to rampant drug violence in Mexico, where drug cartels still hold sway over the illicit trade of narcotics.

In a policy proposal for AMLO’s National Development Plan for 2019-2024, the government argues that the current “prohibitionist strategy is unsustainable,” adding that “the ‘war on drugs’ has escalated the public health problem posed by currently banned substances to a public safety crisis.” The document also notes that an end to prohibition is “the only real possibility” in terms of addressing the crisis.

Former President Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (PAN), which is bitterly opposed to AMLO’s MORENA party on nearly every issue, has also been a vocal proponent of legalization efforts. In a tweet Thursday, Fox further affirmed the need to legalize the use of the “wonder plant” of cannabis.

The country been on a steady path toward legalization for years, and gained momentum in 2018 after a Supreme Court ruling that the prohibition of cannabis was a constitutional violation of the people’s right to the “free development of personality.” The court further instructed the legislature to pass a bill permitting the legal use of the plant within a year. The court granted an extension until Dec. 15, 2020, after legislators failed to meet the deadline.

This past August, the president reminded the public that lawmakers would continue working on legalizing the plant after their return from summer break.

Under the bill, adults over 18 will be allowed to cultivate and possess up to 28 grams of cannabis for personal use. Possession of up to 200 grams would also be decriminalized.

Individuals would be allowed to grow up to 20 plants provided their annual yield isn’t in excess of 480 grams. Medical patients would be able to grow over 20 plants, if necessary. Public consumption of cannabis would also be allowed in all spaces besides those marked as “100 percent smoke-free.”

Cannabis sales would also be subject to a 12 percent tax, with revenue going toward drug abuse programs. The new laws and regulations would be enforced and overseen by the Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis.

Advocates have also expressed caution about moving forward while taking into account social equity concerns and safeguards to prevent transnational corporations from monopolizing the massive, burgeoning weed market in the North American country.

Echoing cannabis reform advocates across the world, social movement group México Unido tweeted that any bill that passes must prevent the monopolization of the market by big multinationals while simultaneously addressing the “matter of distributing the benefits of the market among those who have been most affected” by the long, tragic prohibition of cannabis.

Activists in Mexico City have been growing, harvesting, and consuming cannabis in “The Garden of Maria” since last February. The garden lies in a small plot of land just adjacent to the Senate building in the capital city. Police have not bothered to shut the garden down, giving strength to advocates for legalization who hope to finally close the chapter of the failed years-long war on drugs in Mexico.

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Animals

Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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