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Bill Weinberg's blog

Secession fever sweeps Colorado, California counties —cannabis backlash?

Posted on October 7th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

ColoradoOn Colorado's northeast plains, advocates of secession from the state have managed to put the question before voters in 11 counties this November —potentially bringing a split-the-state initiative to statewide vote by November 2014. As Weld County Commissioner and leading secession proponent Sean Conway explained to reporters, an "advisory" vote at the county level would require local lawmakers to request that state legislators introduce a constitutional amendment allowing the northeastern counties to go their own way. That would require two-thirds approval by both houses. Failing that, proponents could put the measure to statewide vote by collecting 80,000 signatures. Finally, the initiative would have to be approved by the US Congress. So it is an arduous process—but proponents are clearly dead serious.

Anabel Hernández speaks on Mexico's narco wars in the new order

Posted on September 27th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Anabel HernandezRenowned Mexican investigative journalist Anabel Hernández, author of Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathershas been receiving police protection since her reportage outed top figures in the country's security apparatus as collaborators with the drug cartels—predictably resulting in threats on her life. On Sept. 26 she spoke at an event hosted by New York University in Lower Manhattan, entitled "Too Dangerous for Words: Life & Death Reporting the Mexican Drug Wars." She spoke about her journey, and how she views the state of Mexico's narco-wars following last year's change of government.

Louisiana: 20 years for half an ounce

Posted on September 25th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

LouisianaIt seems positively surreal that in the same USA where states like Colorado and Washington are legalizing cannabis, states like Louisiana are sending hapless souls up the river for possession of less than ounce—but this is indeed the case. New Orleans public interest attorney Bill Quigley in a Sept. 23 piece on the website Common Dreams notes the case of Corey Ladd, 27, a local man who on Sept. 24 was sentenced by a city criminal court to a full 20 years of "hard labor" at a state facility for holding 15 grams—that is, just slightly over half an ounce. 

Saudi hashish seizures: Taliban blowback?

Posted on September 13th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

Middle EastThe arch-puritanical rulers of Saudi Arabia can't be happy about this. A Saudi border patrol ship intercepted a boat loaded with a half-ton of hashish bound for the kingdom's shores on the Persian Gulf Sept. 6—after an exchange of fire with the crew, in which two of the smugglers were shot, one fatally. The three surviving traffickers, identified as Iranian, were taken into custody, along with 552 kilograms of hashish. (Saudi Gazette, Sept. 11; Arab News, Sept. 8)

Washington and Colorado: the empire chills out?

Posted on August 29th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

cannabisDeputy Attorney General James Cole, the same who authored a notorious 2011 memo asserting that federal cannabis enforcement remains a "core priority" even in states that have passed medical marijuana laws, has just issued a new memorandum seeming to clarify Justice Department reaction to the legalization measures in Colorado and Washington state. While it is written in the usual dense bureaucratese that often hides as much as it reveals, on balance it appears to represent a retreat from the hardline posture the Obama administration has assumed regarding medicinal cannabis over the past two years. The text of the Aug. 29 memo is provided by our comrades at CelebStoner:

Medical Marijuana: The Struggle for Herbal Healing

Posted on July 2nd, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

cannabis ediblesOver the past generation, an informal alliance of activists, cultivators, entrepreneurs and medical professionals has struggled to redefine how the United States views the cannabis plant. Victories at state and municipal levels have created a new field of medicinal treatment for a wide variety of ailments in California and other mostly western states. Medical marijuana marks the starkest point in the divide between an industrial model of healthcare and a millennia-long tradition of herbal self-treatment—because nowhere else has the federal government been so intransigent.

Anti-cocaine vaccine approaches human trials

Posted on June 21st, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

cocaineRaw Story reported May 12 that researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have successfully used a vaccine to produce a long-lasting anti-cocaine immunity in non-human primates. "The vaccine eats up the cocaine in the blood like a little Pac-man before it can reach the brain," the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, said in a press release. "We believe this strategy is a win-win for those individuals, among the estimated 1.4 million cocaine users in the United States, who are committed to breaking their addiction to the drug. Even if a person who receives the anti-cocaine vaccine falls off the wagon, cocaine will have no effect." Human clinical trials for the vaccine are expected soon.

Seeing patterns, from Colombia to Cape Town

Africa and the War on DrugsFor those who have been wondering what the truth is behind the media sensationalism about global cartels establishing Africa as their new theater of operations, Africa and the War on Drugs  by Neil Carrier and Gernot Klantschnig (Zed Books, London, 2012) clears the air in a welcome way.

The authors, a pair of British academics, portray a strategy by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to hype the threat and replicate the hardline policies pursued in Latin America and elsewhere on the African continent. Drug trafficking has definitely been growing in Africa in recent years—ironically, the authors argue, as a result of "successes" in Latin America. As the old cartels and their smuggling routes were broken up, new more fragmented networks have sought new routes and markets. This conveniently coincided with South Africa's reintegration to the world economy after the end of apartheid, and more generally with Africa's globalization.

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