Another hashish mega-haul in Mediterranean

Posted on July 3rd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

EuropeSpain's Guardia Civil on July 1 announced the seizure nearly 16 tons of hashish from a vessel intercepted 45 nautical miles south of Malaga. The crew of nine were all arrested—six Syrian and three Indian nationals. The 85-meter vessel, the Just Reema, was sailing towards the eastern Mediterranean under a Congolese flag when it was boarded by the Guardia in a joint operation with French and Italian police forces dubbed "Urca," coordinated through Europol. When the vessel was first searched at sea, police found only a cargo of about 1,500 tons of salt. However, once it was brought into port at Malaga for a more thorough inspection, agents discovered that the craft had a double bottom that hid 15.7 tons of hashish. Europol estimates the value of the haul to be about 24 million euros (about $ 26.5 million), if sold on the Spanish market. According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), over the past two and a half years European police forces in the Mediterranean have seized 22 ships carrying up to 30 tons of hashish each.

ISIS exploits opium backlash to gain Afghan foothold

Posted on June 30th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

AfghanistanFighters loyal to ISIS have seized substantial territory in Afghanistan, according to an ominous Reuters report June 29. Witnesses who fled fighting in Nangarhar province told reporters that hundreds of ISIS fighters in convoys of pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns seized several villages—and put local opium fields to the torch. "They burned poppy fields in Shadal village and banned shops from selling cigarettes," said tribal elder Malek Jan. Taxing opium production is a key source of Taliban revenue, but Reuters reports that ISIS loyalists in Nangarhar appeared to have other sources of money. Witnesses said they had plenty of cash. It is unclear where the money is coming from, but it frees ISIS to stigmatize the Taliban as soft on drugs.

South India ganja boom —linked to Maoist guerillas?

Posted on June 25th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

South AsiaA June 21 article in Sri Lanka's Sunday Leader claims a huge influx into the island nation of cannabis being grown in southern India. The news peg for the report was a find of 685 kilograms abandoned on a beach in India's southern Tamil Nadu state. Tamil Nadu, just across the Palk Strait from Sri Lanka, has apparently emerged as a key transit corridor. Sri Lankan naval forces have this year seized over 200,000 kilos of cannabis, and arrested scores in connection with the hauls—both Indian and Sri Lankan nationals. Two zones are identified as centers of Indian cultivation: the southern state of Kerala (just to the west of Tamil Nadu) and the border area between the eastern states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (formerly Orissa, up the coast).

Cannabis stigma used against ex-POW

Posted on June 22nd, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Bowe BergdahlFew people have had a more precipitous fall from glory to villainy than Bowe Bergdahl, the US solider held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan from June 2009 until he was released in exchange for five Guantánamo detainees in a deal brokered by President Obama in May 2014. He received a hero's welcome back in hometown Hailey, Idaho, which was festooned with yellow ribbons. Then the Republicans got their marching orders: the deal was to be portrayed as an Obama capitulation to the Taliban—and suddenly the former patriotic hero became a hot potato. In no time, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly was charging that "he may have even collaborated with the enemy." The New York Times in an editorial last year, "The Rush to Demonize Sgt. Bergdahl," noted that Republican lawmakers went so far as to delete tweets and website statements welcoming him home after the Bergdahl-bashing party line congealed. By March of this year, when the Army actually brought charges against him, right-wing NewsMax was taunting that Bergdahl is a "traitor" and "deserter" who deserves "death."

Delaware governor signs decrim bill into law

Posted on June 20th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

cannabisDelaware's Gov. Jack Markell on June 18 signed into law House Bill 39, decriminalizing possession and use of personal quantities of cannabis. The bill, which was approved by the state senate earlier that day, eliminates criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce. Police may still confiscate the cannabis, however. The penalty for public use is reduced to a $100 civil fine. Selling will remain a criminal offense. Prior to the new legislation, simple possession was a misdemeanor with penalties of up to six months in prison and as a $1,150 fine. A statement from the governor's office on the new law said: "The governor remains committed to reducing the number of people entering the criminal justice system and refocusing resources where they are needed most and House Bill 39 supports these efforts." The law will take effect in six months. (Jurist, June 20)

Colorado courts uphold worker termination for medical use

Posted on June 16th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

ColoradoThe Colorado Supreme Court on June 15 unanimously upheld a lower court decision that employers' "zero tolerance" drug policies are not pre-empted by the state's medical marijuana law. The court held that an employee can legally be fired for consuming cannabis off-duty, finding that the state's  statute on "lawful off-duty activitie"s implies that "lawful" is intended to protect only those activities permissible under both state and federal law. The opinion emphasizes that "employees who engage in an activity, such as medical marijuana use, that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute." Colorado law permits employers to implement drug policies of their choosing, with many opting to drop THC from pre-employment drug screening.

Medical marijuana backlash in Israel

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

Middle EastIsrael has been a global leader in medical marijuana, but the country's state-run program is now meeting a backlash amid concerns that it is serving as a cover for recreational use. Israeli news site YNet on June 15 reports that the new director of Ichilov Hospital at Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center, former Health Ministry director general Ronni Gamzu, has sent out a memo to his staff instructing that cannabis prescriptions be given only to patients with terminal cancer, and only with approval of the hospital's Oncology Ward. Gamzu's memo also instructs doctors to consider revoking the permits of patients who come to the hospital's pain clinic with cannabis prescriptions.

Canada high court rules for edibles

Posted on June 11th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

CanadaIn a unanimous decision, a seven-justice bench of the Supreme Court of Canada ruled June 11 that the ban on edibles in the government's medical marijuana program is constitutionally flawed and breaches patients' rights. "Inhaling marihuana can present health risks and is less effective for some conditions than administration of cannabis derivative," the court found. The case stemmed fron the December 2009 bust of Owen Smith, then a baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, who was arrested at his apartment with 200-plus cookies, a supply of cannabis-infused cooking oils, and some dried herb. He was charged under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act with trafficking tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In 2012, British Columbia Supreme Court Judge Robert Johnston acquitted Smith after ruling that the medical marijuana regulations were constitutionally flawed because they restricted patients' therapeutic use of cannabis. Canada's Supreme Court has now affirmed the acquittal. "I think across the country there will be a lot more smiles and a lot less pain," said Smith upon the news. (Vancouver Sun, Canadian Press, June 11)

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