Outside the Bubble

Marijuana legalization increases in popularity

Studies show that marijuana is a very popular illicit recreational drug, with nearly 17 million Americans age 12 and older reporting use in the past month in the United States. Although only two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized the recreational use of cannabis there are many states that have made exceptions for medical cannabis and decriminalized cannabis use, including California and Oregon. According to Gallup polling recently, a surge in support for legalization of marijuana in the United States was seen through telephone interviews performed this past month. 58 percent of interviewed participants favored legalization, a large difference from the 12 percent who favored it when the same question was asked in 1969. (Gallup, “For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana,” 10.22.13)

On the White House website, the government states all the dangers of the drug and how legalizing the drug will only decrease prices. The website stated that although the government still has a firm position against this legalization, the Obama Administration has commented that as long as Colorado and Washington apply strict policies for sale and distribution, their newly implemented policies will not be challenged. California was the first state to legalize the use of medical marijuana under the California Senate Bill 420. Researchers found that marijuana has become a substitute for alcohol for younger people there and that although still unsafe, driving high is less dangerous that driving drunk. A professor of UCLA commented, “If it turns out that cannabis and alcohol are substitutes, then by my scoring system, legalizing cannabis is obviously a good idea. Alcohol is so much more of a problem than cannabis ever has been.” (NY Times, “Few Problems with Cannabis for California,” 10.26.13).

The cities with strict regulations on their stores have had few problems with regarding distribution. With the increasing support for legalization for marijuana, more states may vote to legalize marijuana in the coming months.

 

Chinese reporter confesses to taking bribes

A newspaper reporter from Southern China issued a public apology for taking bribes to submit false stories on one of China’s biggest machinery companies, Zoomlion. The reporter, Chen Yongzhou, admitted to submitting papers written by others for large sums of money, “citing a payment of about $80,000 in one instance.” (NBC News, “In stunning about-face, China paper issues public apology as reporter ‘confesses to bribery,” 10.27.13) Chen’s articles in The New Express newspaper accused Zoomlion on financial irregularities, which the company denied. Chen stated that, “In this case I’ve caused damages to Zoomlion and also the whole news media industry and its ability to earn the public’s trust.” (BBC, “China Reporter Chen Yongzhou ‘confesses’ on TV,” 10.26.13).

With heightened control over the media from the government, correspondents have commented that this was a bold move for the newspaper to print “Again: Please Release Him” on the front page. (BBC, “China Paper in Second Front Page Plea Over Journalist,” 10.24.13). These pleas from the newspaper garnered the public’s sympathy and created widespread attention for the scandal.

Many people are doubtful of Chen’s confession as many human rights activists believe “public confessions in China are often forced and violate the accused’s right to due process” (Reuters, “Detained Chinese Reporter Confesses to Taking Bribes,” 10.26.13).

China has a history of corruption within the media, usually through speech limitation or censorship by the government. There is a combination of “monitoring of news content, legal restrictions on journalists, and financial incentives for self-censorship” (Freedom House, “Speak No Evil: Mass Media Control in Contemporary China”). Media censorship is enforced by the Communist Party. By essentially erasing incriminating information that may affect how the people view the government and the corruption, many thing that the governement hopes to ensure their power.

However, the Chinese people are well aware of the corruption and censorship. With this type of doubt on the government, the public has been supporting Chen and his freedom, as many believe he was forced to “confess” to his articles and has been wrongly jailed. The New Express has yet to comment on his confession.

 

—Shelia Hu, Guest Reporter

 

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