UN sees decline in Afghan opium: Pyrrhic victory?

Posted on October 23rd, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

opiatesOpium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan decreased 19% in 2015, compared to the previous year, according to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey figures released Oct. 14 by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The area under poppy cultivation in 2015 is estimated to be 183,000 hectares, compared with 224,000 in 2014. This marks the first time the area under cultivation has decreased since 2009. Indeed, in 2014 and 2013, record-breaking highs in opium production were reported. "I hope the survey will serve to inform policies and efforts to build on these hard-won achievements," said UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov. He added that sustaining progress "depends on the resolve of the Afghan Government, and on the international community, which must devote the needed resources and make a long-term commitment to addressing a threat that imperils all our societies."

Legal cannabis in Canada 'right away'?

Posted on October 21st, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

CanadaCannabis legalization proponents in Canada are rejoicing in the wake of the Oct. 19 elections that gave the Liberal Party a clear majority and position its leader Justin Trudeau to become prime minister. The son of Canada's revered former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin openly advocates legalization. He even admitted to Huffington Post in 2013 that he had toked since becoming an MP representing Montreal in 2008.  He also revealed that his late brother, Michel Trudeau, was facing cannabis possession charges before his death in an avalanche in 1998, and that the experience influenced his position. In vivid contrast the Conservative Party's incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been leading a crackdown on Canada's medical marijuana program, and even recently called cannabis "infinitely worse" than tobacco. But how easy will it be for Trudeau to follow through on his promise to legalize?

Burma: will ceasefire wind down opium war?

Posted on October 18th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

South East AsiaBurma's President Thein Sein signed a ceasefire Oct. 15 with eight armed rebel groups, in a bid to bring the country's multiple ethnic insurgencies to an end before next month's general elections—the first since a nominally civilian government took over and pledged a democratic transition in 2011 after decades of dictatorship. The agreement seeks to incorporate rebel groups into the political process, ending a war that has persisted (with varying levels of intensity) since Burmese independence in 1948. But while the pact is optimistically dubbed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), seven armed groups involved in the peace talks did not sign the final deal. Among the seven non-signatories is the largest rebel army, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), with an estimated 25,000 fighters. Trying to put a good face on things, Thein Sein said , "history will judge the value of the NCA not by the number of signatories but how the terms of the NCA are effectively implemented." Also not signing on are the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Kokang armed factions along the Chinese border. One of the most significant groups signing on to the deal, the Karen National Union (KNU), actually entered a bilateral ceasefire with the government in 2012.

Torture on Indonesia's death row

Posted on October 18th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

South East AsiaAmnesty International on Oct. 15 released a report finding that Death Row inmates in Indonesia are routinely beaten and coerced into confessions, and denied the right to counsel. President Joko Widodo's government has executed 14 prisoners since  he took office in October 2014—all for drug charges. According to the report, dubbed "Flawed Justice," in half of the 12 cases Amnesty analyzed, prisoners said their "confessions" were extracted by torture. One Pakistani man, Zulfiqar Ali, was held incommunicado at a private house for three days as police brutalized him. He was beaten so badly he required kidney and stomach surgery—but his confession was still used against him in court. No other independent investigation into the heroin charge against him was carried out. Amnesty is urging Indonesia to instate a moratorium on the death penalty and create an independent body to review Death Row cases.

Mexico: narco hand in assassination attempt on ex-governor?

Posted on October 17th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

MexicoBeing the governor of Mexico's Pacific coastal state of Colima seems to be high-risk proposition —even once you're out of office. Two gunmen shot Fernando Moreno Peña, Colima's governor from 1997 to 2003, as he ate breakfast in a restaurant in the state capital on Oct. 12. He was struck six times, although doctors say he will likely survive. In 2010 another Colima ex-governor, Silverio Cavazos, who held office from 2005-2009, was slain outside his home. Gustavo Vázquez Montes, Cavazos' predecessor, met his fate in a plane crash while returning from meetings in Mexico City in 2005. The cause of the crash was never determined, but mysterious plane crashes appear to be a favored way of getting rid of members of Mexico's political elite. All three men were members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)—Mexico's generations-ruling political machine, which once again holds the presidency after finally losing it for two terms starting in 2000.

Cannabis legal in North Korea? Don't believe the hype

Posted on October 12th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

DPRKHere we go again. The Weed Blog was last week the latest to repeat the urban legend that cannabis is legal in North Korea. Earlier this year, the same click-bait nonsense was heard on a YouTube video produced by TopTrending.com. The mis-informed line goes like this (in the Weed Blog's gushy prose): "North Korea doesn’t consider marijuana a drug at all, and is completely legal in the country. [Sic] That's right. I can repeat that: marijuana is completely legal in the country of North Korea." You can repeat it all you want, but that doesn't make it true. It's an absurd irony that probably the most cannabis-unfriendly country on Earth has won a rep as a free zone where the stuff is legal. How did this all get started?

Mexico: extraditions signal continued Sinaloa impunity?

Posted on October 10th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

MexicoMexico on Sept. 30 extradited 13 people to the United States—including two accused high-ranking drug lords and several suspects in two high-profile attacks on US citizens. One was the 2011 deadly ambush of US immigration agents in San Luis Potosí state; the other the previous year's killing of US consulate workers in Ciudad Juárez. The two accused kingpins were Edgar Valdez Villarreal AKA "La Barbie" of the Beltran- Leyva Organization and Jorge Costilla Sánchez AKA "El Coss" of Los Zetas. The US Justice Department hyped the extraditions as signaling a new coordination effort between Mexico and Washington following a June meeting between US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her Mexican counterpart, Arely Gómez. As AP noted, extraditions had fallen dramatically since 2012, the final year of President Felipe Calderón's term, when Mexico sent 115 people to face criminal charges in the US. Under President Enrique Peña Nieto, the number dropped to just 66 last year. (AP, Sept. 30)

Honduras oligarchs busted for money-laundering

Posted on October 10th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Central AmericaThree members of the ruling elite in Honduras were charged by US authorities with money-laundering this week. Yankel Rosenthal, a former minister of investment and president of the popualr Club Deportivo Marathon soccer team, was arrested Oct. 6 upon landing at the Miami airport. His cousin Yani  Rosenthal  and uncle Jaime Rolando Rosenthal, a four-time presidential candidate and owner of El Tiempo newspaper, were also detained. Grupo Continental, owned by the Rosenthal family, is a pillar of the Honduran economy, with holdings in real estate, tourism, industry and telecommunications. US officials now say these businesses helped launder narco-profits, transfering dirty money from New York to Honduras over a period of more than 10 years. The three men provided "money laundering and other services that support the international narcotics trafficking activities of multiple Central American drug traffickers and their criminal organizations," said the US Treasury Department in a statement. Seven of their businesses were labelled under the US Kingpin Act as "specially designated narcotics traffickers." Yankel Rosenthal, who served in President Juan Orlando Hernandez's cabinet until stepping down unexpectedly in June, has won popularity in Honduras through his largesse. Among other public works, he built a brand-new stadium in the city of San Pedro Sula, which was named after him. (El Heraldo, Oct. 8; BBC News, Oct. 7)

Who's new

  • Baba Israel
  • Karr Young
  • John Veit
  • YosephLeib
  • Peter Gorman