Bill Weinberg's blog

Israel's 'king' of medical marijuana profiled

Posted on August 17th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastIsraeli newspaper Haaretz on Aug. 15 featured an interview with the "King of Israel's Medical Marijuana Industry," Aharon Lutzky—who rose to this position by chance. The fateful moment came when his son was injured in an industrial accident in the cotton gin at Kibbutz  Gvat, the agricultural collective in Israel's north where he was then living with his family. As part of his rehabilitation process, Lutzky's son began volunteering for the company Tikun Olam—Israel's largest producer of medical marijuana. Tikun Olam eventually asked the elder Lutzky to help by giving them business advice. Lutzky so impressed the owners that they offered him the position of CEO, which he still holds today. The profile provides a fascinating look at the evolution of Israel's ground-breaking medical marijuana program.

Congo basin tribe uses medical cannabis: study

Posted on August 14th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

AfricaThe Slog blog makes note of a new report from anthropologists at Washington State University which appeared in the American Journal of Human Biology, entitled: "High prevalence of cannabis use among Aka foragers of the Congo Basin and its possible relationship to helminthiasis." The research found that roughly 95% of Aka men smoke tobacco (compared to 17% in Black Africa and 31% globally) and 68% smoke cannabis—both of which are correlated with lower rates of helminths, or parasitic worms. The Aka didn't tell researchers they smoke to prevent helminths, but to "increase their courage on a hunt, dance better, increase their vital force, or to increase their work capacity when working for Europeans or village people." They say cannabis is especially helpful when hunting elephants, and that women prefer husbands who smoke—which could account for the especially high rates of male smoking. But the researchers surmised that plant toxins in cannabis and tobacco alike serve to protect the Aka from parasites, and they are unconsciously self-medicating with the herb.

Federal court finds drug dog unreliable —but upholds conviction

Posted on August 10th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

In an utterly maddening decision, on July 28 the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago found that a police dog in a drug bust was unreliable in detecting drugs—yet let the conviction in the case stand anyway! Lex, the drug-sniffing pooch of the police force in Bloomington, Ill.,  must have been at the "bottom of his class" at dog-training school, the court stated. The defense presented evidence that Lex signals for drugs 93% of the time, often inaccurately. The court admitted Lex only had a "59.5% field-accuracy rate," which is "not much better than a coin flip." It also agreed that giving the critter treats for each alert—false or not—was a "terrible way to promote" accuracy. But the conviction of Larry Bentley Jr was upheld, on the grounds that contradictory answers to officers' questions and other evidence separately justified the search of his car in a traffic stop, which turned up cocaine.

'Narco-jihadist' threat seen in North Africa

Posted on July 17th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

North AfricaWith ISIS in control of a chunk of Libya and Tunisia militarizing after a deadly terrorist attack, an article appears in the United Arab Emirates' The National warning of a "narco-jihadist" threat in North Africa. The commentary by Abdelkader Cheref, a professor at the State University of New York, warns that "huge quantities of Moroccan hashish transit through the Sahara where so-called narco-jihadists, who control a triangle of no-man's land between northern Mali and Niger, eastern Mauritania, southern Algeria and Libya, smuggle the shipments to Europe. There are mounting concerns regarding the links between Moroccan drug barons and narco-jihadists linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa."

Mexico: Chapo Guzmán escapes —again!

Posted on July 12th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

MexicoWell, that didn't take long, did it? A massive manhunt is underway in Mexico after the country's most notorious drug lord escaped from the country's highest security prison on the night of July 11. Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán stepped into a shower and through a secret door down a tunnel that led out of Altiplano Federal Prison. The lighted and ventilated tunnel was nearly a mile long, Mexico's National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido García admitted. Reports indicate the tunnel even had a "rail system." It came out in a warehouse.

ISIS exploits opium backlash to gain Afghan foothold

Posted on June 30th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

AfghanistanFighters loyal to ISIS have seized substantial territory in Afghanistan, according to an ominous Reuters report June 29. Witnesses who fled fighting in Nangarhar province told reporters that hundreds of ISIS fighters in convoys of pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns seized several villages—and put local opium fields to the torch. "They burned poppy fields in Shadal village and banned shops from selling cigarettes," said tribal elder Malek Jan. Taxing opium production is a key source of Taliban revenue, but Reuters reports that ISIS loyalists in Nangarhar appeared to have other sources of money. Witnesses said they had plenty of cash. It is unclear where the money is coming from, but it frees ISIS to stigmatize the Taliban as soft on drugs.

Cannabis stigma used against ex-POW

Posted on June 22nd, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Bowe BergdahlFew people have had a more precipitous fall from glory to villainy than Bowe Bergdahl, the US solider held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan from June 2009 until he was released in exchange for five Guantánamo detainees in a deal brokered by President Obama in May 2014. He received a hero's welcome back in hometown Hailey, Idaho, which was festooned with yellow ribbons. Then the Republicans got their marching orders: the deal was to be portrayed as an Obama capitulation to the Taliban—and suddenly the former patriotic hero became a hot potato. In no time, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly was charging that "he may have even collaborated with the enemy." The New York Times in an editorial last year, "The Rush to Demonize Sgt. Bergdahl," noted that Republican lawmakers went so far as to delete tweets and website statements welcoming him home after the Bergdahl-bashing party line congealed. By March of this year, when the Army actually brought charges against him, right-wing NewsMax was taunting that Bergdahl is a "traitor" and "deserter" who deserves "death."

Next: 'Jimi Hendrix' brand edibles?

Posted on June 9th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

Jimi HendrixWe noted last year that a Seattle-based equity firm is planning to market "Marley Natural" brand cannabis in states where it is legal. Now it seems guitar god Jimi Hendrix is to be thusly immortalized. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Toronto-based Nutritional High International Inc announced this week that it has "entered into an exclusive licensing agreement...under which the Company may manufacture and distribute various marijuana and hemp-based edible products using the song titles and bearing the likeness of iconic guitarist Jimi Hendrix." The products in question, to be marketed under the "Edible Experiences" banner, include "Purple Haze" and "Stone Free" lines. (There's already a Purple Haze cannabis strain developed by Dutch growers, although the song was more likely about the LSD experience.) In a cute twist, the "Stone Free" line is to be a preparation infused with CBD—the cannabinoid that is thought to have medicinal value but doesn't actually get you stoned.

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