Bill Weinberg's blog

Coming soon: Marley Natural brand cannabis

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

Bob MarleyReaction continues to mount to news that Bob Marley's name is to be further immortalized as a cannabis brand—not just a strain, but an actual brand name. Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity firm that invests in the cannabis industry, has struck a deal with the estate of the late reggae superstar to launch a global marijuana brand, Financial Times reports. The firm's Marley Natural subsidiary will start marketing its line next year, including "heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains," cannabis-infused skin creams and lip balms, and accessories such as vaporizers and pipes "based on those that Bob preferred." (Oh? Did Bob vape? Really?) Privateer CEO Brendan Kennedy said he is interested in markets including the Netherlands, Uruguay, Canada, Spain and Israel. 

Afghan opium boom again breaks record

Posted on November 17th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

opiatesOpium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose 7% from 209,000 hectares in 2013 to 224,000 hectares, according to the 2014 Afghanistan Opium Survey (PDF) released Nov. 12 by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Opium production may increase 17%, with yields estimated to reach 6,400 tons in 2014 compared to the previous year's total of 5,500 tons. These increases come after record highs were marked in 2013, when cultivation rose 36% and production by almost a half over 2012.

Civil libertarians skeptical on NYC cannabis policy

Posted on November 11th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

New York CityNew York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton whimsically held up a baggie filled with oregano to show what 25 grams (about an ounce) of herb looks like in announcing the new policy to stop making arrests for those found in possession of that much cannabis in public view. The policy is expected to curb the tens of thousands of arrests for low-level possession the NYPD makes each year—busts that disproportionately affect Black and Latino residents despite the fact that whites use the herb no less. Despite New York State's 1976 decriminalization law, the Big Apple has remained the marijuana arrest capital of the world—and arrests have actually increased since the supposedly progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio took office this year. Pot in public view is what is critical—allowing police to make arrests for what would otherwise be just a ticketable offense. But even under the new policy, possession in public view can still get you a summons and a $100 fine, and those smoking in public will still be subject to arrest.

Big Cannabusiness: Reconciling the Recreational Boom and the Medical Marketplace

CannabusinessOn New Year’s Day, as retail sales of cannabis went legal in Colorado, the state's dispensaries registered well over $1 million in sales. Despite cold and wet weather, most of the 36 shops that opened that day reported long lines, with some customers waiting outdoors for hours. By the end of the first week, by which time another dozen retail outlets had opened, the figure was a whopping $5 million. More than 100 dispensaries in the Centennial State have now received licenses for retail cannabis sales and over 500 are eligible to apply. More are applying every day.

"A new industry is developing in a nascent state in Colorado," says Rachel Gillette, director of the Colorado chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "We're not just talking about retail sales, but a lot of other types of business associated with it—construction companies, HVAC contractors, nutrient companies, lighting and equipment sales, packaging, printers, labeling, marketing materials, websites, marijuana tourism, attorneys, payroll companies… This could represent a lot of jobs."

Cannabis stigma exploited in Ferguson case —of course

Posted on October 23rd, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

MissouriOK, remember how George Zimmerman's legal team in the Trayvon Martin case attempted to introduce as evidence that the youth's autopsy had shown trace amounts of THC in his bloodstream—a blatant play at exploiting the irrational cannabis stigma? Well... here we go again. This time it concerns Michael Brown, the 18-year-old African American shot by police on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., sparking a local intifada. A copy of Brown's autopsy was leaked to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, which offers the following headline: "Official autopsy shows Michael Brown had close-range wound to his hand, marijuana in system." Other papers that have picked up the story have also headlined the absolutely irrelevant cannabis claim—for instance, New York's Daily News, which opted for "Michael Brown autopsy, officer's account indicate teen went for Ferguson cop's gun, had marijuana in his system: report." 

Northern California grow ops named as threat to salmon

Posted on October 21st, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

CaliforniaA Sept. 30 Associated Press story that got wide play in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest marked another concern about the ecological impacts of outdoor cannabis grows in the Emerald Traingle. The NOAA Fisheries Service in its new coho salmon recovery plan for the Northern California and Southern Oregon region finds that water use by the marijuana industry further threatens salmon already in danger of extinction. The plan calls for determining and decreasing the amount of water that growers illegally withdraw from creeks where young fish struggle to survive. Other threats from the unregulated industry include clear-cutting to make way for grows, punching roads that send sediment into streams, and use of fertilizer and pesticides that poison waters. Coho salmon have been listed as a threatened species since 1997, due to loss of habitat from logging, agriculture, urban development and dams, as well as overfishing—issues also addressed in the recovery plan. The highlighting of cannabis stems from a California Department of Fish and Wildlife study that said growers suck millions of gallons of water from salmon streams.

Mexico claims another blow against cartels: how real?

Posted on October 16th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

MexicoMexico claimed another capture of a long-fugitive cartel kingpin Oct. 9, when Vicente Carrillo Fuentes AKA "El Viceroy" surrendured without a shot after being recognized by federal police at a checkpoint in Torreon, Coahuila. A bodyguard in the car was also taken into custody. El Viceroy, top boss of the Juárez Cartel, was one of Mexico's most wanted fugitives, and the US was offering a $5 million  reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction. (CNN, Oct. 9) However, like Héctor Beltran Leyva of the Beltran Leyva Organization, who was apprehended just days earlier, the Viceroy headed a crime syndicate that was already in decline—squeezed out by the twin behemoths of the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas.

Sequel needed

Posted on October 3rd, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

Dean BeckerDean Becker, a former reporter at non-commercial KPFT in Houston, has produced a worthwhile if deceptively named book in To End the War on Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public. Rather than the activist how-to manual promised in the subtitle, it is a series of interviews with leading lights in the drug policy reform movement. And rather than explaining how, they are mostly making the case as to why the "drug war" must end.

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