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The states of Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana.  Now tiny Uruguay—in South America—will be the first nation to go that route.  Other countries are watching what Uruguay admits is "an experiment?" Is the 50-year-old War on Drugs a trillion-dollar failure? Also, a record winter storm threatens Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and the new film American Hustle — and some of what actually happened.

Banner image: People participate in the so-called "Last demonstration with illegal marijuana" in front of the Congress building in Montevideo, as Senate debates a government-sponsored bill establishing state regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana, December 10, 2013. Photo: Andres Stapff/Reuters

Making News Record Winter Storm Threatens Syrian Refugees in Lebanon 8 MIN, 21 SEC

The UN's High Commissioner for Refugees is "extremely concerned" about tens of thousands of Syrians still fleeing into Lebanon as the worst storm in decades hits the mountains and valleys. Yesterday, Josh Wood was in the Bekaa Valley. He writes for Al Jazeera America and the Global Post.

Josh Wood, Al Jazeera America (@woodenbeirut)

Main Topic Uruguay Opts Out of the War on Drugs 35 MIN, 28 SEC

Marijuana use has been legal in Uruguay since 1974.  But now, that South American country of just three million people has caught the eye of the world as the first to permit and regulate cultivation and sale, establishing a legitimate marijuana business. Uruguay's President, José Mujica, says, it's "not about being free and open," it's because illegal drug traffic is "more destructive socially than the drug itself." Most people in his own country do not agree, and the action violates a 50-year old international treaty. But many world leaders call the War on Drugs a vastly expensive failure and they're watching to see if Uruguay can build a viable alternative.

Anthony Boadle, Reuters News Service (@anthonyboadle )
Peter Reuter, University of Maryland
Hannah Hetzer, Drug Policy Alliance (@DrugPolicyNews)
Kevin Sabet, University of Florida / Smart Approaches to Marijuana (@kevinsabet)

Reefer Sanity

Kevin A. Sabet

Today's Talking Point Covering the Sting Operation behind 'American Hustle' 7 MIN, 50 SEC

Many films carry the vague message, "based on a true story." A new film carries the equally vague but tantalizing, "some of this actually happened." American Hustle features an FBI operation with a fictitious Arab sheikh and a con man who persuades public officials to take bribes. Anybody who's read a review of the film knows that. But, did the FBI really conduct an operation like that?  The answer is yes in what came to be called "Abscam" after a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer broke the story. She is Jan Schaffer now in Washington with the Institute for Interactive Journalism at American University.


Jan Schaffer, American University (@janjlab)

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