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New York City: dissent grows on cannabis enforcement —but Bratton intransigent

Posted on July 10th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

New York CityIn another sign of the new progressive tilt in New York City politics, the New York Post reports July 8 that Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has announced that he will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases. Thompson's press release said his new policy is to "prevent offenders—who are disproportionately young men of color—from being saddled with a criminal record for a minor, non-violent offense." But Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said his cops will keep arresting Brooklyn's cannabis tokers anyway. "In order to be effective, our police officers must enforce the laws of the State of New York uniformly throughout all five boroughs of the City," Bratton said in his own statement. "Accordingly, the Kings County policy change will not result in any changes in the policies and procedures of the NYPD."

British khat ban sparks Kenya backlash

Posted on July 8th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

khatThe United Kingdom's ban on possession, sale and importing of khat took effect at the end of June, officially making the midly stimulating leaf a restricted Class C drug—despite the counsel of the government's own advisors who had been appointed to study the proposed ban, and recommended against it. Unlike cannabis, khat cannot be easily grown in the UK, and must be consumed fresh to have any effect. Before the ban, over a thousand tons were flown in annually from East Africa and distributed from warehouses near Heathrow airport—in 2013 around £15 million worth (that's $25 million) was imported from Kenya. That trade is now going to end or be driven underground—costing the UK millions of pounds in tax revenues. Critics say the ban will also further criminalize African and Arab immigrant communities in Britain, who traditionally chew the leaf. (The Economist, June 28; ITV, June 27)

Caribbean, West African nations to study decrim

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

CaribbeanAt the semi-annual summit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), held July 1-4 in Antigua, regional leaders agreed to establish a commission to review marijuana policy and assess the need for reforms. The communiqué issued at the conclusion of the meeting stated: "Heads of Government agreed to establish a Regional Commission on Marijuana to conduct a rigorous enquiry into the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the Region and to advise whether there should be a change in the current drug classification of marijuana, thereby making the drug more accessible for a range of users." Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who pushed to get the issue on the agenda as chair of CARICOM, said: "It seems to me counterproductive to ignore the potential of an industry in respect of medical marijuana and to continue to expend police, national security, court resources on persons who consume a minuscule amount of marijuana in the privacy of their homes." (Drug Policy, July 7)

New York passes restrictive medical marijuana law

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

New YorkGov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law July 7 that makes New York the 23rd medical marijuana state. Patient advocates celebrated a deal struck last month between Cuomo and the state legislature that will protect qualified patients from arrest, prosecution and discrimination, and license up to 20 distribution facilities across the state. The new law empowers the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to license physicians to recommend marijuana to patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and a limited range of other medical conditions. However, the law only allows for products that use an extracted form of cannabis, such as oil or edibles, which are to be produced under a state-licensed manufacturing process. Advocates have voiced concerns over the law's 7% tax, and a prohibition on access to whole-plant cannabis. Advocates also raise concerns over the prohibitive cost for many patients who cannot afford to purchase what would otherwise be an inexpensive medicine to grow. The new law gives the DOH 18 months to establish regulations and will sunset in seven years. (ASA, July 7)

Burma burns opium, but UN sees hype

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

South East AsiaTo mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking June 26, Burmese authorities held drug-burning ceremonies, boasting the destruction of seized opium, heroin and methamphetamine said to be worth a combined $130 million. The mass burnings in Rangoon, Mandalay and Taunggyi were attended by officials from the DEA as well as from Chinese drug enforcement agencies. But UN officials meanwhile warned that illicit drug production in Burma continued to rise—mostly to supply a growing Asian market. Jeremy Douglas, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Southeast Asia representative, told The Irrawady website that Burmese opium production was "in 2006, at the lowest point, representing roughly 7% of the global production; it is now 18%. So it has increased year on year." As usual, the bulk of the opium was produced in Shan and Kachin states, where tribal armies have long used the opium trade to finance their insurgencies. But Douglas, speaking at a Rangoon press conference announcing release of the UNODC's new World Drug Report, also said Shan state has become a major transshipment point for methamphetamine—seizures of which in Southeast Asia are at the "highest levels ever recorded." 

China's cannabis contradiction

Posted on June 29th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

ChinaOn June 26, International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, China's Supreme People's Court announced with pride that a whopping 39,762 have been sentenced for drug-related offenses in the People's Republic the first five months of 2014, up more than 27% for the same period last year. The official state news agency Xinhua reported that a total of 9,168, or about 23%, were sentenced to more than five years, life imprisonment, or death. A quoted SPC official made much of a supposedly growing drug meance. "Drug-related crimes have been spreading from bordering and coastal areas to the country's inland," said deputy jurist Ma Yan. South China's Guangdong province, with its booming export zones and free-wheeling capitalism, has topped the list since 2007. Yunnan and Guangxi, bordering Southeast Asia's opium-producing Golden Triangle, also continued to report high rates of drug-related crimes. But such cases are also mushrooming in inland Chongqing and northern Liaoning, Ma said. No breakdown was provided of the substances in question, but a proporiton of the cases certainly included cannabis.

Massachusetts nixes DeAngelos' Boston dispensary over pot conviction

Posted on June 28th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

SteveDeAngeloOn June 27, Massachusetts' Department of Public Health rejected an application from Green Heart Holistic Health and Pharmaceuticals to operate a dispensary in Boston, despite giving the company initial approval. The reason stated for the denial is Steve DeAngelo's criminal record. Controversy over the Green Heart dispensary, awarded to Andrew DeAngelo, erupted when Steve's participation as the financial backer and "strategic adviser" was revealed. Since Steve wouldn't be physically working at the store, his name was not included in the application. DeAngelo pleaded guilty on Aug. 6, 2001 of possession of cannabis with intent to distribute and received a five-year suspended sentence and three years' probation.

High court: warrant needed for cell-phone searches

Posted on June 25th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Shadow WatchThe US Supreme Court issued a key ruling in favor of Fourth Amendment rights in the digital age June 25, finding unanimously that police in most cases need a warrant before searching the cellphone or personal electronic device of an arrestee. Chief Justice John Roberts firmly rejected arguments that searches of digital devices are comparable to searches police routinely carry out for contraband after making an arrest. In the cases of Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie (argued separetly, but decided together), Roberts wrote: "Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse... The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant."

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