A drone by any other name...

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

Shadow WatchRevolution News notes that the Illinois State Police have been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones—but are refusing to actually call them drones. In a statement released to Sun-Times Media Wire, the state police department admitted that it is intentionally avoiding the word "drone" because "it carries the perception of pre-programmed or automatic flight patterns and random, indiscriminate collection of images and information." The force will add "unmanned aircraft" to its list of tools for the next two years. The state police said they worked with legal professionals and the American Civil Liberties Union to minimize the privacy impact on average citizens, and needed the drones primarily for "investigation of major traffic crashes."

Pakistan Coast Guard scores record-breaking hash haul

Posted on May 15th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

PakistanPakistan's Coast Guard on May 5 announced the seizure of more than three tons of hashish in a raid of an oil tanker bound for the Middle East, news agencies AFP and Reuters reported. The tanker was intercepted on a tip after it set sail from Pakistan's port of Karachi. Three crew members who hailed from the southwestern province of Baluchistan were arrested. Guardsmen used power-tools to pry open a secret chamber where the stash was hidden. Major Zafar Ahmed said the haul was the biggest ever scored in the history of the Coast Guard. He said the stash would have been worth some $50 million in the Middle Eastern countries where it was bound.

China: officialdom hypes drug scare

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

ChinaHong Kong's South China Morning Post reports May 12 that Chinese authorities are warning of a rapid rise in abuse of synthetic drugs. The number of "registered abusers" of synthetic drugs—a whopping 1.46 million who get high on methamphetamine, ketamine and ecstasy—for the first time overtook that of registered heroin addicts last year, according to the National Narcotics Control Commission. In total, there were said to be 2.95 million registered abusers of all drugs, but the NNCC estimated the real figure—including those not registered—was over 14 million. NNCC deputy chief Liu Yuejin said cross-border trafficking was also rising because of the increasing demand for drugs in the People's Republic—but also that internal production is rising, wth drug laboratories shifting from coastal areas to inland provinces.

Colombia: peace process in jeopardy?

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

ColombiaColombia's President Juan Manuel Santos on May 9 called upon his National Drug Council to halt the spraying of glyphosate on suspected coca fields following its recent reclassification as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The decision to put an end to 20 years of the US-backed aerial spraying was applauded by leaders of the FARC guerillas. The spraying has long been opposed by the FARC as well as by Colombia's peasant communities. Santos' announcement came one week after government representatives and FARC leaders met in Havana for the 35th round of ongoing peace talks—this time to focus on justice and restitution for victims of Colombia's long civil war. (Colombia Reports, May 10; Prensa Latina, May 3)

Mexico: Chiapas peasants march against narco-violence

Posted on May 5th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

MexicoMaya indigenous peasants in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas are marching cross-country to oppose violence by the local narco gangs and the corruption of local authorities that protect them. The "pilgrimage" left the rural town of  Simojovel some 15,000 strong at the end of March, and is now arriving at the state capital Tuxtla Gutiérrez, some 240 kilometers away through rugged country. The pilgrimage was organized by the Catholic pacifist group Pueblo Creyente (Faithful People) with the support of the local diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas in response to a wave of narco-violence  in Simojovel.  

Puerto Rico governor issues medical marijuana decree

Posted on May 5th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

medical marijuanaPuerto Rico's Gov. Alejandro García Padilla on May 3 signed an executive order calling a halt to prosecutions for medical use of marijuana on the island territory. Effective immediately, the order authorizes the Commonwealth's Health Secretary Ana Rius to permit medical use of "some or all controlled substances or components of the cannabis plant." The decree also calls on Rius to produce a report within three month "detailing the efforts made in compliance with this order, and the results obtained and the work plan to follow." Cannabis will be subject to taxation under the new plan, which is seen by most media accounts (e.g. PanAm Post) as a strategy to address the Commonwealth's urgent fiscal crisis.

#BlackLivesMatter and the cannabis stigma

Posted on May 4th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

BlackLivesMatterHere we go again. As with Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, conservative pundits are now exploiting the cannabis stigma to tarnish the reputation of Freddie Gray, the young African American man whose death at the hands of the Baltimore police last month led to an uprising in the city, a new national wave of #BlackLivesMatter protests, and finally charges against six officers. Daily Caller gloats in a headline: "Freddie Gray Had A Long Rap Sheet"... But take a look at the provided list of charges: "Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance... Possession of narcotics with intent to distribute... Possession of marijuana... Distribution of narcotics, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance..." Yeah, burglary and assault are on the list as well. But Snopes, examining the veracity of the claim, quotes the Associated Press: "Court records indicate that Gray's arrests were mostly for drug possession/distribution charges and various minor crimes, many of which were not prosecuted."

New York State push for cannabis justice

Posted on April 28th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

New YorkBack in March, Connecticut's Supreme Court, the state's highest, ruled that those convicted of past cannabis possession misdemeanors can have the charges erased from their records because the state decriminalized the herb in 2011. The  unanimous ruling came in the case of Nicholas Menditto, who will now have his 2009 possession conviction expunged from his record. (The Joint Blog, March 17; AP, March 16) Last week, reporter Jon Campbell wrote in New York's Village Voice that activists in the Empire State are hoping for a similar outcome. New York was one of the first states to decriminalize, way back in '77, and the cut-off point for an infraction rather than a misdemeanor is a full ounce (as opposed to a half-ounce under the Connecticut law). But New York pot arrests have ironically continued at the highest rate in the country—especially in the Big Apple, under the aggressive policing since the '90s. The loophole that cops used? Cannabis in public view remains illegal—and suspects are basically forced into pulling out their stashes when stopped by cops and ordered to empty their pockets.

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