Quick Hits: Over 300 Dead in Philippine-Sanctioned Drug War Executions


MANILA, Philippines – Over 300 people are dead in the streets at the urging of the newly elected president, who has called for police and vigilante executions of drug dealers and users. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared war on illegal drugs at the start of this month and shows no concern about the international outrage over the killings. “Double your efforts. Triple them if need be,” Duterte told his police forces. The figures on the dead come only from the police killings and don’t include drug dealers killed by vigilantes. Duterte has promised presidential pardons for any police convicted of human rights violations in the crackdown. In fear for their lives, over 60,000 drug consumers surrendered themselves to the authorities. During his campaign for president, Duterte promised that up to 100,000 would be killed to rid the Philippines of drugs.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – Marijuana advocacy had a substantial presence at the Democratic National Convention. Protestors aligned with Philly NORML and DCMJ marched two fifty-one foot inflatable prop joints through the sweltering heat of the Philadelphia streets. Downtown, marijuana industry executives, politicians, and reform activists mingled at a reception to discuss how the fight for legalization continues in the next Democratic administration. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told USA Today, “Marijuana legalization ranks with marriage equality as the two social issues that have evolved the most rapidly in public opinion.” Marijuana is already on the ballot in six states, with California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine voting for legalization and Florida and Arkansas voting on medical marijuana.

TALLAHASSEE, Florida – The family trust behind the popular Southern grocery store chain Publix has donated $800,000 to the campaign opposing medical marijuana in the state of Florida. The group Drug-Free Florida successfully fought the 2014 medical marijuana campaign with millions donated by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. This time around, Carol Jenkins Barnett, worth $1.8 billion herself, is emerging as the prime funder for the group, which needs only to reduce support for the amendment below 60 percent. Back in 2014 she had also donated $500,000 to Drug-Free Florida. As a grocery chain that also maintains pharmacies, Publix might suffer an economic hit from medical marijuana legalization, as a recent study shows fewer pharmaceutical prescriptions are issued in medical marijuana states. Publix officials note that the donation from Jenkins Barnett is a personal donation, not on behalf of Publix. Ironically, Jenkins Barnett, age 59, stepped down from her role with the company to battle early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which research shows medical marijuana may be able to prevent or alleviate.

LONDON, England – Researchers have discovered that consumers who mix tobacco with cannabis, as is popular in Europe and among young people in America, have more difficulty with dependency issues. “Cannabis is less addictive than tobacco,” remarked lead researcher Chandni Hindocha, “but we show here that mixing tobacco with cannabis lowers the motivation to quit using these drugs.” Between 77 and 90 percent of European cannabis users mix tobacco in their joints. Mixed cannabis and tobacco use is popular with over half of Australian cannabis consumers and one-fifth of New Zealand consumers. Such mixing is less popular in Canada, at 16 percent, and rare in the United States, at less than one in twenty. Public health officials are suggesting that a campaign to encourage cannabis-only use would reduce costs surrounding the harm from tobacco use.

Russ Belville

"Radical" Russ Belville is a blogger, podcaster, and host of The Russ Belville Show, a daily two-hour talk radio show focused on the evolution of the legal marijuana industry in the United States. The program is airing live at 3pm Pacific Time from Portland, Oregon, on CannabisRadio.com, with podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. Russ began his marijuana activism in 2005 with Oregon NORML, then in 2009 went on to work for National NORML, and found and direct Portland NORML.in 2015.