Bill Weinberg's blog

US legalization initiatives and the Mexican cartels: good news or bad?

Posted on February 16th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

MexicoIs the relieved pressure on cannabis in the United States undermining the Mexican cartels, as we'd long hoped? There are encouraging sigs. Global Post cites a new report by California cannabis industry think-tank The ArcView Group finding that legal marijuana sales jumped 74% in 2014 to a new high of $2.7 billion—a growth pace expected to continue for several more years. And Mexican producers may be taking the hit. In 2014, the US Border Patrol saw a plunge in pot seizures—1.9 million pounds, down 24% from 2011, the year before Colorado and Washington voted to legalize.  

Taiwan descending into drug war dystopia?

Posted on February 13th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

East AsiaIt's the kind of headline we're more used to seeing from Mexico or Brazil. On Feb. 11, Taiwan's Kaohsiung prison exploded into violence as inmates took two guards hostage and seized rifles and other weapons, starting a 14-hour stand-off in which the facility was surrounded by police troops. It ended when six of the rebel inmates killed themselves, according to authorities. 

ISIS on meth: evidence mounts

Posted on February 11th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

ISISOK, some of the sources have axes to grind, but claims are mounting that the ultra-puritanical ISIS are stoned out of their minds on meth. Reuters reported last month that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has noted a surge in trafficking across the Middle East of Captagon, brand-name of fenethylline—an amphetamine notorious for its popularity among militants fighting in Syria and Iraq. Black-market knock-offs of the stuff are being produced by armed factions in Syria, both to fund their insurgencies and for their own fighters' use. Reuters said, "Syrian government forces and rebel groups each say the other uses Captagon to endure protracted engagements without sleep." We're sure they're both right.

Napalm Death frontman to Indonesia: don't execute grandma!

Posted on February 7th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

South East AsiaIndonesia, facing global criticism over a spate of executions of foreigners on drug charges, is now under pressure from the grindcore lobby. The Independent reported Feb. 3 that Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway is personally petitioning President Joko Widodo for clemency—taking advantage of the fact that His Excellency Widodo is an avid fan. (The Independent amusingly shows him wearing a Napalm Death T-shit.) Last month, Greenway appealed in the case of two Australian members of the "Bali Nine," Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, facing execution on a heroin trafficking charge. Chan and Sukumaran are apparently also metal fans, and Greenway is reaching out to Widodo in a spirit of headbanger solidarity. Now, the English rocker has released an open letter to Widodo urging clemency for Lindsay Sandiford, a 57-year-old British grandmother who faces the firing squad in Bali on a coke-smuggling charge. Adopting considerably more dulcet tones than he uses onstage, Greeway writes:

California's Pinoleville Pomo tribe launches major grow op

Posted on February 5th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

CaliforniaThe Pinoleville Pomo Nation of Northern California's Mendocino County is set to be the first Native American tribe to grow cannabis, pursuant to the new Justice Department policy taking a hands-off approach to cultivation on Indian reservations. The 250-member tribe signed a contract last month with Kansas-based FoxBarry Farms and Colorado-based United Cannabis to develop a large-scale grow operation on its 99-acre rancheria just north of Ukiah. "We anticipate construction to begin in early February, and operations to commence by the end of the month," Barry Brautman, president of FoxBarry Development Company, told Indian Country Today Media Network. "Our first phase will include 90,000 feet of greenhouse space, and another 20,000 feet of indoor space." FoxBarry will also oversee distribution for California's medical market. Cannabis grown on the rancheria will be distributed only to card-holding medical users and dispensaries. “Our business model involves doing everything legally and by the book,” Brautman emphaszied to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

Lebanon legalization push

Posted on February 3rd, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastWalid Jumblatt is a name that was frequently in the news when Lebanon's civil war was raging back in the 1980s. The longtime leader of the Druze ethnicity is still around, now an MP with the Progressive Socialist Party—and has emerged as Lebanon's foremost voice for cannabis legalization. Noting the resilient hashish economy in the Bekaa Valley, Jumblatt has actually been pushing cannabis as a cornerstone of security and economic development in Lebanon, which shows growing signs of being drawn into the Syrian war. In comments Jan. 14 to daily As-Safir, Jumblatt said: "I hold onto my opinion on the necessity of legalizing the cultivation of hashish... It's time to allow hash to be grown and to overturn arrest warrants against people sought for doing so." 

ISIS burns cannabis, snorts coke?

Posted on January 15th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

ISISWe recently noted that the ultra-puritanical ISIS has been burning the cannabis fields in the territory it controls in northern Syria—and that the cannabis farmers of Lebanon are arming to resist any ISIS incursion across the border. Now comes the hilariously predictable news that ISIS fighters might be snorting cocaine to keep their spirits up! On Jan. 6, the Kurdish Daily News posted a video from the town of Kobani in northern Syria, where local Kurdish fighters have been resisting an ISIS siege since September. The footage shows Kurdish fighters holding a stash of white powder in a big plastic bag just taken from the house of an ISIS commander. Kurdish fighters interviewed on camera said the house had been seized from an ISIS "emir" (as they call their commanders) who had earlier taken it over from local residents. The "emir" was killed in the house-to-house fighting now raging in Kobani, and his home searched. In addittion to lots of weapons (of course), the coke stash was found. The Kurdish fighters said they believed the emir was distributing coke to his own followers to fuel their fighting spirit.

2014: international drug war round-up

earth2014 witnessed considerable fraying of the international Drug War consensus—but the horrific violence that finally sparked this long-overdue reckoning continued to take its grim toll. On the upside, Uruguay regsitered its first cannabis clubs, and Jamaica is now studying a decrim initiative. In a very hopeful sign, regional bodies in the Caribbean and West Africa are following suit with studies of potential decrim or legalization. And signs of the failure of the prohibitionist model kept mounting. For a second consecutive year, opium cultivation in Afghanistan broke all previous records—despite some $7 billion spent by the US to combat Afghan opium over the past decade. Hashish busts at sea—especially the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean—also soared. Saudi Arabia went on a beheading spree, targeting drug convicts (as well as those found guilty of adultery, "sorcery" and other such wackery). ISIS (whose beheadings somehow sparked far greater media outrage) started eradicating the cannabis fileds of northern Syria, after the Syrian civil war had sparked a regional hashish boom, with a profusion of militias needing narco-profits to fund their insurgencies. The same cycle that Afghanistan saw with both hashish and opium when the Taliban was in power before 9-11.

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