Josh Harkinson

Josh Harkinson

Reporter

Born in Texas and based in San Francisco, Josh covers tech, labor, drug policy, and the environment.

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Nevada's GOP Stopped Opposing Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage. Here's What Happened Next.

| Tue May 13, 2014 4:27 PM EDT

Last month, the Nevada GOP voted to strip opposition to abortion and marriage equality out of its official party platform. This really shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone who'd been paying attention: Brian Sandoval, the state's Republican governor, is pro-choice and doesn't want the state to defend its same-sex marriage ban in federal court. And even Bob Cashell, the 74-year-old, Texas-born, former truck driver who serves as the mayor of staunchly conservative Reno now backs marriage equality.

Even so, a lot of Republicans in other states are freaking out.

"The Nevada GOP action to remove marriage and life from their platform is a disgrace," wrote Oklahoma Republican National Committee member Carolyn McLarty in a recent email to some 100 Republican National Committee delegates. "Both are direct attacks on God and family."

But so far, Nevada's GOP delegation stands by its decision. "Nevada is home to many diverse people, including a large LGBT population," Nevada Republican National Committeewoman Diana Orrock wrote in a letter released on Friday at the RNC's spring meeting in Memphis. "The GOP is by definition a party of inclusion not exclusion.… Excluding an entire group of American citizens based solely on their sexual preference towards the same gender is not only divisive but in the 21st century it is unacceptable."

Anyway, so much for the idea of hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention in Las Vegas. It sure would have been fun.

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Will American Pot Farmers Put the Cartels out of Business?

| Wed May 7, 2014 2:56 PM EDT

For the first time ever, many of the farmers who supply Mexican drug cartels have stopped planting marijuana, reports the Washington Post. "It's not worth it anymore," said Rodrigo Silla, a lifelong cannabis farmer from central Mexico. "I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization."

Facing stiff competition from pot grown legally and illegally north of the border, the price for a kilogram of Mexican schwag has plummeted by 75 percent, from $100 to $25, the Post reports:

Farmers in the storied "Golden Triangle" region of Mexico's Sinaloa state, which has produced the country's most notorious gangsters and biggest marijuana harvests, say they are no longer planting the crop…increasingly, they're unable to compete with US marijuana growers. With cannabis legalized or allowed for medical use in 20 US states and the District of Columbia, more and more of the American market is supplied with highly potent marijuana grown in American garages and converted warehouses—some licensed, others not.

As notes David Downs of the East Bay Express, this is a really big deal. In the past decade, Mexican drug cartels have murdered an estimated 60,000 people. The DEA annually spends more than $2 billion to deter the transport of illicit drugs across the border. "So now we have both the DEA and cartel farmers screaming bloody murder about legalization," Downs points out. "Sounds like we're on the right track."

Of course, the American pot boom is also creating problems of its own, with some Mexican traffickers moving north to California and other states to set up vast "trespass grows" on remote public lands. To be sure, the illicit market for weed will prop up criminal syndicates for as long as pot remains illegal, yet this week's news is some of strongest evidence to date that legalizing and decriminalizing pot will ultimately make everyone safer.

Quick Reads: "The Noble Hustle" by Colson Whitehead

| Fri May 2, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
The Noble Hustle

The Noble Hustle

By Colson Whitehead

DOUBLEDAY

Like rednecks at a demolition derby, novelists keep showing up at the World Series of Poker. To be sure, other writers (notably James McManus) have won far more prize money playing high-stakes hold 'em, but none can match the self-deprecating charm of Colson Whitehead, a recently divorced New Yorker who figures that being "half dead inside" gives him the perfect poker face. With just six weeks to train, he juggles bus trips to Atlantic City with picking up his daughter from school. He finds something oddly reassuring about sharing tables with a hoodied "Robotron" and a grizzled "Methy Mike." The Noble Hustle, part love letter, part dark confessional, captures perfectly the mix of neurosis and narrative that makes gambling so appealing.

This review originally appeared in our May/June 2014 issue of Mother Jones.

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