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Health officials urge caution as LA County inches towards mask mandate

 July 11, 2022 at 3:23 PM PDT

S1: Los Angeles is getting close to a mask mandate. San Diego ? Not yet.
S2: If we got to that high tier , maybe then we'd see some more conversations about bringing masking back.
S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. This is KPBS Midday Edition.
S1: There's another legal twist to the 2011 Coronado Mansion death of Rebecca Zahau , and our Port of Entry podcast returns with a focus on Bar's efforts to legalize marijuana. That's ahead on Midday Edition. How close is San Diego to a new indoor mask mandate ? County officials say we're not there yet , but southern California in general is getting very close. Rising rates of infection from the COVID variant Bay five are pushing up hospitalizations. Public health officials in Los Angeles say a new indoor mask mandate could go into effect there by the end of the month. And many infectious disease specialists say it's probably a good idea to mask up now even before any mandate goes into effect. Joining me is KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman. Hi , Matt.
S2: Hey , Maureen. Always good to be here with you.
S2: Under the governor's smarter plan , this was , you know , last year in the summer when we talked about reopening and getting back to a sense of normalcy. It talked about these triggers that might come , whether it be and it may not be a whole state wide thing. You know , we had a statewide mask mandate , but they want to look at region by region. You know , if they see cases going up in one place , they may do some targeted interventions , they say. So there's really no specific bar. Something else to keep in mind there is like the CDC transmission tracker a couple of weeks ago , a few weeks ago , San Diego was in the news from going to the from the low tier to the medium tier. It's where they recommend masking in the high tier , though , we're not there yet. You know , that's when they really recommend wearing masks , especially in indoor places. So if we got to that high tier , maybe then we'd see some more conversations about bringing masking back.
S1: And that's based on hospitalization numbers.
S2: You know , couple of months ago , even a few weeks ago , we were in the hundreds of COVID related hospitalizations in San Diego , but it's slowly been ticking upward. We're at today , Monday at 364 people hospitalized. And that's according to state data with 43 people in the ICU. Those numbers have been increasing. Now , I will note it's a far cry from where we were like in the winter surge as the last couple of winter surges , we had , you know , some of those we had about 1800 San Diegans hospitalized. That's when , you know , the system was being pushed to the brink , so to speak. We're nowhere near that. But it is concerning for health officials to see , you know , sort of this sustained increase.
S1: And we don't have really good information anymore about the number of new cases.
S2: So we know that we're seeing , you know , and so if you go get tested and you get an official PCR test , that's a lab test. Those are the ones that the county counts and the state. And we know that we're averaging over a thousand infections per day , pretty much , which is not good. That's when we were kind of coming off of the winter surge , seeing those numbers. But yeah , well , you know , we're hearing from officials like over at UC San Diego Health , they estimate that 90% of the cases that are being found are being done through at home testing. So that would mean that there's a lot more spread going on out here. But I imagine there's a lot of people listening right now , especially over the last week. I know at least like four people that have tested positive for COVID and all those people were using at home tests. So they're not being counted. But officials are definitely aware that the spread is out there and they're taking that into consideration when they think about these decisions.
S2: It's been used sort of to see maybe what's coming. We know that the wastewater data , it shows that the latest numbers show that it might be leveling off or coming down from some of the plants. It is pretty on track with what we're seeing in terms of cases. Now , you might say , well , it's coming down. The wastewater may be , but we're still seeing cases. There's a little bit of a delay factor in that. We see the wastewater numbers first and the cases second. Interesting , though , about the wastewater we touched on , you know , these highly infectious variants , Bay five and Bay four. We know from the latest wastewater data , looking at it right now , it looks like Bay five makes up 64% of what they're seeing and the bay for 13%. So that's above 70% that we're seeing with these new very infectious variants.
S2: We know that health officials say that they've been following the science. You know , the most recent mask mandate was indoors only. We know that indoors , when there's poor ventilation , that's when COVID can spread like wildfire. And especially these new variants , bay five bay for a lot of people , a lot of doctors I've talking to who have , you know , missed the COVID bug , so to speak , throughout the whole pandemic. They're starting to get COVID. And there's no way that we know if it's going to be four bay five. But I think if we do see a return to masking , it's going to have some commonsense to it in terms of , you know , we know that outdoors the risk can be a lot lower. Now , when you talk about big events like a Padre game or like a big rave , we know that can be higher risk. But I think if we do see it come back , it would be targeted. So it would be , you know , indoor masking as I think maybe where we could be heading.
S1: And besides being the most contagious before and Bay five are also likely to evade natural and vaccine immunity.
S2: And , you know , we're hearing from some doctors that. They're seeing people get reinfected in a matter of weeks. So some of this protection , you know , people thought , you know , I'm vaccinated , I'm boosted. And I also I recently got COVID. What we're seeing that these new strains as the virus , you know , gets smarter , it's easier to evade some of the vaccines we have now. We know that on the horizon that there is going to be an Al Macron specific vaccine coming out in the fall. But health officials are saying that you shouldn't necessarily wait for that if you're not vaccinated or boost it.
S1: Now , one piece of good news is that if you test positive for COVID , you may be able to get treatment now from your pharmacist. Tell us about that.
S2: It's supposed to become just sort of regular , you know , like you get sick and you go to your doctor or you go to your pharmacy and you get the COVID treatment. And we know that these treatments there's you know , there's a couple of them , there's packs loaded that we also have monoclonal antibodies packs a little bit like a pill that you take can just get out of pharmacy. Monoclonal antibodies , you can go in for an infusion. And these are all geared toward keeping people out of the hospital. Now , we know that the vaccines are geared toward that , but those who might be at higher risk after they get infected , something to keep in mind , too , it's these treatments have to be used within the first few days of symptoms. So if you get infected , you have symptoms , especially for those who are at higher risk. They're saying call your doctor or even call the county. You can go to one of these mark sites and get some of these treatments because they know they work and they don't want people to get sicker. So you get COVID. Call your doctor , get the treatment. That's what they want to preach.
S2: You know , there's always this talk about COVID fatigue and we hear that quite a bit even when some of the restrictions were coming down , you know , people saying , what are we supposed to do , close everything down again ? But the sort of challenging part is we know the virus isn't going away. And what it's doing is it's getting smarter in terms of evading our immunity. It's it's replicating with these variants that are more contagious. So I think what you're seeing right now is , you know , it's kind of interesting , like you go to a Padres game or something like that , or if you go to a restaurant , you see some people with masks , but it's definitely the minority. So if they were to bring back masking , it would be interesting to see. And you know , with when masking comes , you kind of have this interesting dynamic where it puts business owners in a weird position where they don't want to drive away business , but they also want to protect themselves and their employees. So I think it would be interesting if we had a return to mandated masking in San Diego.
S1: And I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt , thank you very much.
S2: Thanks , Maureen.
S3: As San Diego struggles with yet another spike in coronavirus cases , another virus has also been catching the attention of health officials in recent months. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention , there have been more than 750 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S. , with more than 130 of those in California. While only a small number of cases have been reported in San Diego , case numbers are growing in Europe and in other parts of the U.S. So how prepared is San Diego for monkeypox ? Joining me is an infectious disease expert from UC San Diego and UC San Diego Health , Dr. Robert Schooley. Dr. Schooley , welcome.
S2: Thank you.
S3: So to date , the majority of monkeypox cases in California have not been in San Diego County , and there is currently no local community spread of the virus that we know of.
S2: The county health department has a unit that is looking for cases and have been in contact with us about being prepared to provide care for people who need it. So I think preparations are well underway.
S3: And though we are talking about viruses here , we should note monkeypox is very different from COVID.
S2: It's by no means even close to as serious as smallpox. It's it's a virus. And the so called ortho pox family , these are viruses that particularly attack the skin and that are spread primarily by close contact skin to skin , but can be spread just by close contact with breathing , although again , not even close to the transmission efficiency of , say , coronaviruses , the viruses are a bit more hardy than some of the other viruses we've been dealing with , like coronaviruses that in the sense that they can stick around on clothing and bedclothes after people who have been in them with monkeypox have left. So we have to be careful about making sure that you don't come in contact with clothing and other surfaces that people with monkeypox while you show the Verizon.
S3: It generally , though , is not fatal.
S2: The fatality rate is less than 1%. It is more of a problem for people whose cellular immunity is damage. This would be people who are pregnant , for example , people who have severe T-cell immune defects. You wouldn't want a transplant recipient together with someone with advanced HIV disease. You would not want it to someone with lymphoma undergoing chemotherapy to get it. It can also cause scarring and has cause blindness when it involves the eyes. So it's not a trivial virus , although fatality is rare.
S2: They've been in contact with UCSD Health for us to provide care and evaluate people who need to be seen medically.
S3: In the current 2022 outbreak of the virus , monkeypox has impacted gay and bisexual men disproportionately.
S2: It has just found its way into that population. And if there are gatherings of large numbers of people that are in close contact of any kind , the virus can take advantage of that. And that's how it began to spread first in Europe and then in the U.S. But by no means has the outbreak been confined only to gay people.
S3: And what treatments are available for monkeypox.
S2: There are two drugs that are active. One of them is called T Parks and it's in the process of being made available through the county health department and UCSD. There is another drug called Brincidofovir , which is not yet available for this virus but is active against smallpox and we presume would be available would be active against monkeypox. That drug is one that was developed here by Dr. Carl Hostetler at UC San Diego.
S3: There have been reports of vaccine shortages in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
S2: One of them is called a cam twin. And there's plenty of that vaccine around. It's a vaccine that's closer to the smallpox vaccine and a little bit more likely to cause side effects if people use it. The other vaccine , which is called the J one in the U.S. vaccine , is a vaccine that's a little bit less likely to cause side effects , is safer to give to people with defects in immunity. And there is a bit of a shortage of it , although. Our new supplies are coming relatively quickly.
S2: We need to be careful to realize that this virus can spread to anyone who comes in close contact to someone who has monkeypox. So we need to be careful not to restrict case finding only to people who are presumed to be at risk , but primary risk. In other words , we know that the virus is disproportionately affecting people in the MSM community , but we have to be very careful not to assume that someone who comes in with a fever and skin lesions can have monkeypox because they're not in that community. We made that mistake with coronavirus when initially the CDC didn't want to investigate any cases of people who hadn't come from China recently. And once the virus begins to spread in the community , you have to have a wide net to be sure that you're catching all the cases. I think we learned that from coronavirus , and I think that's one of the mistakes we want make with this one.
S3: And you mentioned MSM.
S2: It's a terminology that we now use to refer to the male homosexual and bisexual population.
S2: So I don't think we're missing a lot of cases here in San Diego at present. And I think if the cases did begin to show up , particularly in the communities that have been at greatest risk elsewhere , we'd pick up the cases pretty quickly.
S2: We right now are kind of behind the curve , which is great. It gives us a chance to learn from what's going on elsewhere. And we have a very capable health department and a very cohesive community that is looking for these cases.
S3: I've been speaking with Dr. Robert Schooley , an infectious disease expert at UC San Diego and UC San Diego Health. Dr. Schooley , thank you so much for joining us.
S2: You're welcome. Good luck to you. Thank you.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Hyneman , the true crime mystery of the 2011 death of Rebecca Zack. How in Coronado took another turn late last week. There's a how family dropped its lawsuit requesting unreleased documents about the case from the San Diego Sheriff's Department. Instead , family members say they are now preparing to formally request the medical examiner to reclassify the death of 32 year old Rebecca Sample. From suicide to homicide or undetermined. The house nude bound body was found hanging from a balcony of the Spreckels mansion in Coronado just days after an accident that claimed the life of her boyfriend's six year old son. Joining me is San Diego true crime writer Caitlin Rother. She is the author of the book Death on Ocean Boulevard Inside the Coronado Mansion Case. And Caitlin , welcome.
S4: Thank you for having me on.
S1: This strange facts surrounding this case have led to continuing questions about the finding of suicide. Give us , if you can , a brief run through of the case , including things like the writing found near the body and how her body was discovered.
S4: Well , today is actually the 11th anniversary of the day that Max Shacknai. Jonah Shacknai , his son. And Jonah was Rebecca's boyfriend. He fell from an interior balcony. And Rebecca , how his body was found two days later outside , naked , bound and gagged by Jonah's brother , Adam. So upstairs in the bedroom where the hanging rope was anchored was a note that that said she saved him. Can you save her ? And down below , Adam Shacknai claimed that he came out of the guestroom , sort of the guest house in the courtyard , found her hanging , got a knife and a table , pulled it over and then cut her down. And meanwhile , all of this was being documented by this nine on one call. Several months later , there was , you know , an investigation that the sheriff's department ruled her death a suicide. And this is a how family to this day still insists that she was murdered. A civil jury agreed with them in 2018 and found Adam Shacknai responsible for Rebecca's stuff. Right.
S1: Right. And he continues to deny he had anything to do with it.
S4: Jonah was at the hospital. Max's mother was at the hospital. And so Adam was the only person who who was on the property who could have killed Rebecca how if she was , in fact , murdered ? I haven't taken a position on that because there's just too many unanswered questions.
S1: Well , after Adam Shacknai was found civilly responsible , the sheriff's department opened up another inquiry into Sal's death and once again came to the conclusion of suicide. And that's when there's a whole family sued for investigation documents they say they hadn't received.
S4: And that's very important. They did not reopen it. They did not investigate anything new. They didn't do any new interviews or re-interview anyone. All they did was effectively look at trial transcripts and , you know , discussions , theories that came out during the trial. But as far as they were concerned , there was no new evidence , only a new interpretation of existing evidence. Therefore , they just reconfirmed their suicide findings. And does the House believe there's more to it and there's corruption going on ? So they were using this lawsuit to try to get investigative documents because they were hoping to find some documents , texts , emails , internal correspondence , notes from roundtable meetings , you know , workbooks , secondary notebooks where which were not official investigative reports that maybe they could show that the sheriff had been hiding suspicions or other evidence that went toward toward murder. They were also looking for Adam Shacknai , phone records in particular , and the written instructions that Gore gave to the review team. However , he said this last week that there were never any written instructions. He only did it verbally and orally by phone.
S1: When the family filed the petition for a reclassification of Rebecca's death. They say that they have new. Evidence to show they claim that they going to submit new evidence.
S4: But for , for example , Adam Shacknai testified that he loosened the bindings around Rebecca's wrists so he could take her pulse. He said that on the stand. And I heard him there claiming , well , Dr. Lucas , the pathologist who did the autopsy , said that he said it was suicide because the findings were loose. And they're saying , well , then he didn't know that Adam volunteered , that he had loosened them himself. So that's one thing. Another area that they claim is new evidence is the pattern of lividity , which is when the heart stops pumping , there's purplish tint to the areas where the blood cools due to gravity. They're claiming she was tied up , strangled , hit over the head and killed before she was lowered over the balcony because her legs were bent. Her knees were bent when she was found by the police. So Adam Shacknai is the only person who ever saw her hanging. The police came. She was already cut down and on the grass. So the pattern of lividity means that her knees were bent and the pattern of lividity did not fit somebody who had been hanging straight down. It fit more a horizontal pattern as someone had been , you know , lying on the grass.
S1: Now , before this lawsuit was dismissed , the judge in the case hinted that what does the family really wanted was a new San Diego sheriff.
S4: I did see NBC seven reported that before the primary election , John Hamelin , who was the Republican candidate , even though it's a nonpartisan race , he said he was willing to reopen the criminal case. And Kelly Martinez said that she was open to an outside agency investigating the house death. I need to say that these statements were made before the primary election when Dave Myers was still running against them. And he was the one who has been saying all along that he would reopen the criminal case if he was elected. But now that he's out of the race , I'm not sure whether these two candidates will continue to maintain the same position if nobody's pressuring them to.
S1: Well , we'll continue to cover this. And I know that you will. I've been speaking with San Diego true crime writer Caitlin Rother. She's the author of the book Death on Ocean Boulevard Inside the Car Narrow Mansion Case. And Caitlin , thank you.
S4: Thank you.
S3: People who've served time in prison often face big obstacles when they get out. But there are several programs in San Diego County that aim to help make that transition easier. KPBS reporter Katie Alvarado shows us one that's using gardening to grow more than plants.
S2: Tomatoes are growing back there. We have all types of vegetables.
S4: There's nurseries and expansive gardens in places you might not expect. The Men's ist me reentry facility in Otay Mesa. And at the Women's Las Colinas Detention Reentry Program in Santee.
S5: So right now we're just cleaning up after the stuff off of the flowers.
S4: The people caring for the plants and vegetables are inmates with less than six months left in their sentences here. They're just students learning the art of horticulture , landscaping and farm to table sustainable growing.
S6: Now I'm going to plant and see how we're rooted.
S6: I've cut the end of the other leaf and then I'll just repot it.
S4: And 20 year old Brianna from the Coachella Valley now considers herself a farmer.
S5: Never would I have thought , but I'm very glad that I am.
S4: Francisco Quintero is a supervising correctional counselor with the program. He says they're growing more than plants here. They're helping people grow.
S2: We're investing in people here.
S6: So it's just really. Rewarding.
S2: Rewarding. Knowing.
S6: Knowing.
S2: That , you know , we're helping individuals that never got a chance in life and now we're equipping them with the proper tools necessary to knock them back.
S4: Tran can't believe he's become so skilled in such a short amount of time. This peaceful green house is a sharp contrast from a life he's healing from.
S6: No , this is not new to me , you know. So I'm a combat veteran and I came back feeling suicidal , feeling really , really down and out , you know ? And I felt like.
S2: No one. Understood.
S6: Understood. This program has been pretty much a safe haven for me.
S4: This program is a partnership between the San Diego Sheriff's Department and the San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department. When inmates complete the program , not only will they have the know how and certification , they will also be given connections to land a job. Tran says In an odd way , it's given him freedom , not just in here , but on the outside , too.
S6: This is an option. When I step out that door , at least I know I have this as an avenue of seeking employment.
S4: Brianna says she plans to take what she's learned and give back to her community.
S5: We have a community garden and desert hot springs. I don't know how it's doing right now , but I would really love to do something and show what I learned.
S4: Her favorite thing to grow.
S5: I really like the flowers because the flowers are super resilient. They grow and they die and they just come right back and they're just. I love them.
S4: A perfect metaphor for second chances. Exactly what this program provides.
S5: When you fall , you should always get back up. And I think that getting back up isn't just , okay , I'm going to try it again. No , it's you're going to find something that works for you. And I think that this works for me because it makes me mindful and it makes me genuinely happy.
S4: Over at East Mesa , Tran says back in the day , his mom would try to get him to garden with her.
S6: And I'm like , I don't I got stuff I need to do.
S4: But now he's looking forward to giving her a hug and a hand in the backyard.
S6: I only have my mom left. You know , my dad passed away last year. And I think this experience right here was meant to be , you know , for her.
S3: The suicide crisis among military veterans is a well-documented and deeply complicated phenomenon. This same issue among active duty servicemen , however , is increasing at an alarming rate in recent years. While official military statistics and active duty suicides offer little insight into the issue , experts say that the problem may lie in the increasingly high pressure demands of soldiers and the changing face of modern warfare. Joining me with more is Voice of San Diego reporter Will HUNTSBERRY. Well , welcome back to the show.
S2: I did.
S3: In your article , you profiled a young man named Kellen Watling , who was in the Navy and died by suicide just before his 23rd birthday. Tell me a bit about him.
S2: Yeah , Killen was a really smart young man. He had done really well in high school. You know , he was one of those people who kind of make it look effortless to be good at sports , to be friends with all the different groups of people in high school , to do well in his grades. And Kellen had also scored nearly perfect on one of the military aptitude test ads. And so when he graduated high school , you know , his parents , who spent a lot of time talking to me about him , they say he both really wanted adventure , but he also wanted to set himself up for the future. So he knew he had scored perfect on the ASVAB. He went to see a Navy recruiter and the Navy recruiter ultimately offered him a gig doing ultimately offered him a gig as a cryptologic technician. And so these are the people that kind of work in cyber warfare , the Navy.
S3: So he was in the battle space of the future. And you point out that troops in the battlespace of the future , like what ? Toilet , for example , do not face physical harm , but they experience acute psychological strain that military leaders are just now coming to better understand.
S2: One internal Department of Defense report found that stress among these people doing cyber warfare is common , persistent and disabling. So the psychological strain that these troops are facing is seems to be directly affecting their mental health.
S3: And in the article that you wrote , you mentioned warrior culture. And it's something that's behind much of the psychological strain as well. Can you explain what that is and how it fits into the military.
S2: In a warrior culture ? We asked people to do this to defend the country on our behalf. And so trying to insert into that culture this idea that , oh , we're going to take really great care of our mental health and we're going to say when something's wrong. There's a kind of like rubber meets road thing going on there , because the overarching message to troops is like , if you can suck it up and you can do your job , that's what we need you to do for your brothers and sisters and for your country.
S3: And so all of this leads us to a dark phenomenon by which suicide rates among active duty men age 17 to 25 are rising.
S2: I looked into local death certificates , but they didn't tell me a lot. I did see that deaths among young , new recruits did rise in 2020. But what I had to do to get at the right ways to do a Freedom of Information Act request , to get numbers from across the whole military. And what I was able to do was kind of isolate young men aged 17 to 25 and then figure out what the suicide rate was there. And I found that it was 45.6 per 100,000 in 2020 , which is almost double the rate for the same age group among civilians. And this is a problem that's kind of been flying under the radar , because what the military reports is the age and gender adjusted suicide rate for the whole military. And when you look at that , it's pretty comparable to the US population. If not , it is a little higher actually , but it's comparable. But you know , when we when we drill down on this subgroup of these young new recruits for whatever reason , and it's very difficult to pinpoint , they are at really high risk.
S2: Right. You know , one of the people I talked to was Jaylen Waddle. It's cousin. His name is Matt Donohoe. And he also served in the Marine Corps. And one of the things he told me is , you know , you get trained from day one to kind of bottle up your emotions and keep pushing. And so bottling up your emotions is not the correct strategy to dealing with your emotions. Right. So there's that one cultural problem. But then even when people do ask for help , there can be a problem. I think , you know , at this point , the military knows this is an issue. If you say you're considering harming yourself , all these things are going to spring into action. You're probably certainly going to see mental health professionals. You're going to be on watch by the other people in your team. But let's just say you're like really stressed out. Several of the people I talked to said that commanding officers aren't always keen to give their troops the time they need to get the treatment they need.
S3: And , you know , as you write , often the values of warrior culture are at odds with mental health needs.
S2: You know , they track suicides every year kind of at the global level. And they put out a report every year. And in fact , they are pouring money into this , hundreds of millions of dollars , even as the problem gets worse. What they most often say is that they're confused by the the rise in suicides , and they find it hard to explain. You know , when the most recent annual suicide report came out , that's what the Pentagon press secretary said. You know , each suicide is really complicated and it's hard for us to wrap our mind around this. You know , that makes sense because historically the suicide rate for active duty troops has been much lower than civilians. Troops get screened before they're allowed to join up , right ? They get screened for physical fitness. They get screened for mental fitness. And so for the longest time , they weren't experiencing the same mental health problems as the rest of the general population , it seemed. But now we have rising suicides in the rest of the country , and we have that meeting , this warrior culture mindset. And something is going wrong when those two things meet.
S3: I've been speaking with Voice of San Diego reporter Will HUNTSBERRY. Well , thank you so much for joining us.
S2: Thank you , Jane.
S3: And if you or someone you know might be considering suicide , please call 800 2738255.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. The KPBS podcast Port of Entry is back with new episodes , this time with a series of stories on how the border can change minds. Cannabis on the border is nothing new. For decades , we'd moved north from Mexico into the U.S. , an illegal trade that fueled drug cartels and drug violence. But with the legalization of recreational and medicinal cannabis in California and other U.S. states , all of that has changed. In this episode , Natalie Gonzalez and Alan Lilienthal profiled Tijuana politician and activist Juan Carlos Guerrero , who is pushing for the legalization of cannabis in Baja. Here's Natalie.
S4: When Juan Carlos came back to Tijuana in 2018 , he realized the cannabis industry was just starting to emerge here , and he saw this as an opportunity to start doing something that he knew.
S6: That's when I opened my eyes that I already know about plants. I already know I have greenhouses. I wanted to professionalize myself as a farmer in cannabis cultivation. And yeah I came back to Taiwan annoying a lot knowing that I that I had a lot more to learn than what I have already learned. But knowing that I knew enough that I could make something happen. So he reached out to a couple of friends with a law firm in search of obtaining something called an Amparo , which translates roughly into protection in English.
S4: So here's the thing. Let me explain this to you. While growing , selling , consuming cannabis is still technically illegal in Mexico. A Supreme Court ruling a few years ago fully decriminalized it. And then in 2021 , the federal Senate passed a general law to legalize cannabis. But since then , nothing has happened to actually put that law into practice. It is stalled , essentially held up , and many believe because of opposition from national political figures.
S6: So this Amparo that Juan Carlos got is basically a protection granted by that Supreme Court ruling against any action that lesser authorities may take. Now he has the legal right to grow and consume marijuana for his own personal use. The Amparo means he can have weed and cannot be prosecuted. So after a long process of two years and a half , two years , a federal judge told the federal government that they have to let me allow me to do what what I wanted , which was develop my personality through cannabis. I actually have it with me. I brought it to show it to you. The result of which is. Wow.
S6: The cultivar , of course , the chart Apapa processor transport card that causes your legal della semiotic cannabis sativa indica. Yeah , maricon.
S4: And guess what ? Juan Carlos was the first person in Baja California to get this Amparo. In fact , when the authorities issued it , everyone came out from the back office to check it out. And there was a lot of excitement , like , whoa , this is new. This is so cool.
S6: And I said , You know what ? Now I have the document. I have an official thing. I have to do something with this. And my first the first idea that came to my head was show some plants publicly. And that's that's how it happened. And I just sit in the middle of regulation with the plants with a jar full of actual flower and just let people know about.
S4: And yet this is the part where Juan Carlos gets arrested and. Well , he ended up in the statue. Yup.
S6: Yup. And of course , he was not supposed to get arrested because he has this Amparo , this legal permit we just talked about , that allows him to be in possession of cannabis. So his arrest was pretty much illegal.
S4: Pretty much. But anyway , he was put inside a cell with like 15 drug addicts.
S6: And it was it was people that have a serious problem with addiction , which I do believe they don't belong in jail. They belong in a rehabilitation facility or something like that.
S4: But don't worry about him too much , because eventually he was moved to another cell with different people. Yep.
S6: Yep. With murderers and robbers.
S4: Oh , that sounds way more chill.
S6: So you're safe.
S4: I'm so happy for him.
S6: I get to the New Deal. I lay on the floor. I try to sleep. And one , two , 3 hours. Half an hour. I don't know. After that , the guy that was next to me , another guy starts yelling at him , like trying to go at him.
S2: Then psych just. Getting.
S4: Getting. Nah , don't worry about Juan Carlos. He got out after , like 30 hours.
S6: Because like we said before , he was not doing anything illegal or wrong. Yes. Most people didn't actually knew that there was a legal way to get cannabis and all that. But that's that's part of the activism or the activist work , like show people the way to to be able to do it yourself. So Juan Carlos knew a lot about the cannabis industry and he was trying to educate people while breaking the stigma of weed. And all of these things combined pushed him back into politics. But this time he joined a different and more liberal political party called Movimiento Ciudadano.
S4: The Citizen Movement. And in 2021 , he ran as a candidate for state Congress.
S6: So they called me back in November , December , and they told me , you know what , we're looking for citizens. They're politically active. They're doing activism for social causes. And you seem like the right fit for cannabis , you know , and and do you want the candidacy ? So I said yes without actually believing that that was going to happen.
S4: When it comes to making big decisions , there is often a special someone to help us make the big jump.
S6: But today told me he's a very wise little one. She's almost 12 and she told me like that , if you're there , you're going to be able to do more , right ? I love politics. Everything is politics. We are doing politics right now. It's the it's the only profession or social activity that actually affects everyone around. And what is that about politics right now and why everyone rejects politicians is the fact that the people that has the will and the capacity of making good for everyone , that has the ideas and and the talent. They get tired pretty quickly of dealing with parasites.
S1: That was Tijuana politician and activist Juan Carlos Guerrero. Port of Entry is co-hosted by Natalie Gonzalez and Alan Lilienthal. You can listen to the full episode at KPBS dot org or wherever you listen to podcasts. Next time on Midday Edition , we'll hear from other advocates working to get cannabis legalized in Mexico.

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As Los Angeles County inches towards a possible return to an indoor masking mandate, San Diego health officials are urging similar caution. And as San Diego struggles with yet another spike in coronavirus cases, another virus has also been catching the attention of health officials in recent months. According to CDC, there have been over 750 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., with over 130 of those in California. Plus, the true-crime mystery of the 2011 death of Rebecca Zahau in Coronado took another turn late last week. The Zahau family dropped its lawsuit requesting unreleased documents about the case from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Instead, family members say they are now preparing to formally request the Medical Examiner to reclassify the death of 32-year old Zahau from suicide to homicide or undetermined. Also, people who’ve served time in prison often face big obstacles when they get out. But there are several programs in San Diego County that aim to help make that transition easier. Then, the suicide crisis among military veterans is a well-documented and deeply complicated phenomenon. This same issue among active duty servicemen, however, is increasing at an alarming rate in recent years. Finally, the KPBS podcast Port of Entry is back with new episodes. This time with a series of stories on how the border can change minds.