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.

Police extermination campaign in Brazil's favelas?

Posted on November 10th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilA harrowing report on National Public Radio Nov. 9 points to the possibility that the crackdown on favela gangs in the prelude to this year's contentious Brazil World Cup may have actually been a police extermination campaign of favela youth. On June 11—one day before the World Cup opened—two officers of the Military Police picked up three Black teenagers in Rio de Janeiro's Zona Norte. The three hadn't committed any crime, although they did have a history of petty offenses. The officers drove them up to the wooded hills of the Morro do Sumaré area, above the city. One was shot in the head and killed. One was shot in the leg and the back and left for dead. Another escaped. We know what happened because the officers left their patrol car cameras on, and the videos appeared on Brazil's Globo TV.  One officer taunts the youths: "We haven't even started beating you yet and you are already crying? Stop crying! You are crying too much! Be a man!" The officers are then heard saying "Gotta kill the three of them." And finally: "Two less. If we do this every week, we can reduce their number. We can reach the goal." The "goal" was apparently a crime-reduction target ahead of the World Cup.

Electoral advances in DC, Oregon, Guam...

Posted on November 5th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

leafIn the Nov. 4 elections, voters in Washington DC approved Initiative 71, a legalization measure allowing residents to grow up to six plants at home and possess up to two ounces. The victory portends a showdown with Congress, as the Republicans will now control both houses. Oregon approved Measure 91, a legalization measure giving regulatory control to the state liquor control agency and allowing Oregon citizens to grow up to four plants. We continue to await word on a legalization measure in Alaska. A medical marijuana measure in Florida was defeated. Guam became the first US territory to pass a medical marijuana measure. (Reuters, NPRSmell The Truth)

Cannabis clubs register in Uruguay —but backlash brews

Posted on November 4th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

UruguayUruguay started registering cannabis growers' clubs at the end of October. Under the plan, licensed clubs of up to 45 members will be allowed to grow a maximum of 99 plants annually, with  each club member permitted to produce up to 480 grams per year. This is an advance on the regulation approved in August, allowing personal cultivation of up to six plants. (BBC News, Oct. 31) And the private sector may get on board next. The government's Institute for Control and Regulation of Cannabis (IRCCA) reports that 22 private companies—10 of them foreign-based—have expressed interest in producing or distributing cannabis in the small South American nation. (TeleSUR, Aug. 28)

Terror interminable in Tamaulipas

Posted on November 3rd, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoMexico's northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, right on the South Texas border, continues to suffer the worst of the narco-violence that has been tearing the country apart for years—but with little media attention, as the local press is too terrorized by the cartels to even cover them. Now, courageous "citizen journalists" who have been taking up the slack are being targeted. Daily Beast on Oct. 21 noted the case of a crusading micro-blogger in the border town of Reynosa who went by the handle "Felina" (@Miut3) and used a photo of Catwoman as her Twitter avatar. Felina was an administrator of reader-generated Valor por Tamaulipas, which aggressively reports the frequent shoot-outs, slayings and abductions—in defiance of threats from the narcos. Last year, one narco-gang even distributed leaflets throughout Tamaulipas offering a reward of 600,000 pesos (about $48,000) for anyone who would reveal the names of the site's administrators. Finally, on Oct. 8, Valor por Tamaulipas received the following tweet: "We're coming very close to many of you watch out felina." It proved not to be a bluff...

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."

Colombia: Guajira crime lord falls, para links revealed

Posted on October 27th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

ColombiaColombia's President Juan Manuel Santos on Oct. 22 announced the capture of one of the country's top fugitive crime lords—Marcos de Jesús Figueroa AKA "Marquitos"—in the Brazilian jungle city of Boa Vista. The extraordinary operation was coordinated by police forces in both Colombia and Brazil. "Marquitos" was considered the reigning boss of the lucrative narco trade in Colombia's northern region of La Guajira, with access to both the Caribbean Sea and the porous Venezuelan border. He is held responsible for a long reign of terror by criminal gangs and their paramilitary allies in the region—personally culpable in at least 100 deaths, according to authorities. Santos took the apprehension of Marquitos as an opportunity to crow: "With this, we say to criminals that it makes no difference where you are, we are going to catch you." (El Tiempo, Oct. 23; El Espectador, El Tiempo, Oct. 22)

Honduras: new anti-narco force claims blow against Sinaloa Cartel

Posted on October 27th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

Central AmericaIn an operation dubbed "Saturn II," a unit of the new Honduran National Police elite anti-narco force, the Intelligence Troop and Special Security Response Groups (TIGRES), joined with DEA agents Oct. 2 to raid a house in the pueblo of El Porvenir Florida, near Copán on the Guatemalan border—scoring the arrest of one the country's reigning kingpins, José Inocente Valle Valle. The Valle Valle family is said to control the greatest share of cocaine passing through Honduras. Three other brothers of José Inocente remain at large, and face trafficking charges in the United States. Troops from the Guatemalan National Civil Police also participated in the raid. Among the items recovered in the house were 12 pieces of solid gold each impressed with the inscription "Sinaloa"—presumably indicating commerical ties between the Valle Valle family and Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel. (Tiempo, Honduras, Oct. 2)

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