2014: international drug war round-up

earth2014 witnessed considerable fraying of the international Drug War consensus—but the horrific violence that finally sparked this long-overdue reckoning continued to take its grim toll. On the upside, Uruguay regsitered its first cannabis clubs, and Jamaica is now studying a decrim initiative. In a very hopeful sign, regional bodies in the Caribbean and West Africa are following suit with studies of potential decrim or legalization. And signs of the failure of the prohibitionist model kept mounting. For a second consecutive year, opium cultivation in Afghanistan broke all previous records—despite some $7 billion spent by the US to combat Afghan opium over the past decade. Hashish busts at sea—especially the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean—also soared. Saudi Arabia went on a beheading spree, targeting drug convicts (as well as those found guilty of adultery, "sorcery" and other such wackery). ISIS (whose beheadings somehow sparked far greater media outrage) started eradicating the cannabis fileds of northern Syria, after the Syrian civil war had sparked a regional hashish boom, with a profusion of militias needing narco-profits to fund their insurgencies. The same cycle that Afghanistan saw with both hashish and opium when the Taliban was in power before 9-11.

Are the FARC narco-traffickers?

Posted on December 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ColombiaAmid peace talks in Havana, Colombia's FARC guerillas issued an angry communique Dec. 14, insisting "We are a rebel group, not narco-traffickers." This was in response to President Juan Manuel Santos'  suggestion that FARC drug-trafficking could be considered a "political crime," potentially sparing guerilla leaders prosecution. This of course won Santos howls of outrage from the right; now he gets it from the other side. The FARC statement accused the government of trying to "confuse the minds of Colombians" with a "distortion," and decried the existence of a "capitalist narco-trafficking business" in the country. (El EspectadorEl Tiempo, Dec. 14)

Nebraska, Oklahoma challenge Colorado cannabis law

Posted on December 20th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

ColoradoIn the most serious challenge yet to Colorado's cannabis legalization policy, the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma took the unusual move of filing a case against it directly with the US Supreme Court. The two states argue that "the State of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system...  Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining Plaintiff States' own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems." Lawyers for the Cornhusker State and the Sooner State assert that local authorities have registered a big uptick in cannabis entering their towns since Colorado legalized with the voter-approved Amendment 64 in 2012. The suit also claims Colorado's legalization policy violates the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.

Legal hemp coming to Lakota country?

Posted on December 19th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

South DakotaThe new Justice Department policy to take a hands-off approach to cannabis cultivation on Indian reservations could be a boon for the Lakota Sioux, who have long been pressing their right as a sovereign nation to grow industrial hemp. US Attorney for North Dakota Timothy Purdon (who is also the US Attorney General's pointman for Native American issues) told AP he's not aware of any tribes in either North or South Dakota actively considering a cannabis industry. The tribal council of the Oglala Lakota Nation this year rejected a proposal to allow cannabis cultivation on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwest South Dakota. The council's Law and Order Committee chair Ellen Fills the Pipe said: "For me, it's a drug. My gut feeling is we're most likely going to shoot it down." (The San Francisco Chronicle's cannabis-friendly Smell the Truth blog couldn't help noting the irony of her name, but also acknowledged fears, realistic or not, that rez pot sales could excacerbate already existing alcohol abuse problems.) But that's the smokable variety, not the industrial. Chairman Dave Archambault of the Standing Rock Sioux, with a reservation straddling North and South Dakota, said that his tribe might consider industrial hemp cultivation.

California Indian tribes to cash in on cannabis? Maybe not...

Posted on December 18th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

CaliforniaIn an historic move to respect Native American sovereignty earlier this month, the US Department of Justice (DoJissued a memo instructing US attorneys to not interfere with tribes cultivating or selling cannabis on reservation lands. The caveat is that the tribes have to be in conformity with state law, limiting the new policy to states that have legalized (Colorado, Washington) or have strong medical marijuana programs (California, Montana). Tribes must also maintain "robust and effective regulatory systems," as John Walsh, US attorney for Colorado, told the Los Angeles Times. But US attorney for North Dakota Timothy Purdon, the Attorney General's pointman on Native American Issues, added: "The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations." US News & World Report even speculated: "Marijuana may displace casinos as reservation cash cows."

Chicago link to Mexican mass abduction?

Posted on December 15th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Reuters on Dec. 10 reported that the alleged Chicago jefe of Mexico's Guerreros Unidos narco-gang faces federal charges with seven others for a plot that involved moving heroin and cocaine to the Windy City in passenger buses. Pablo Vega Cuevas and his brother-in-law, Alexander Figueroa, both of Aurora, Ill., were arrested in Oklahoma; three suspected accomplices were busted in the Chicago area. Warrants have been issued for three others, including one believed to be in Mexico. The investigation led to the seizure of 68 kilos of heroin, nine kilos of cocaine and more than $500,000 in cash. "These arrests will have a significant impact on the supply and distribution of heroin and cocaine throughout the Midwest," Dennis Wichern, the DEA's Chicago special agent-in-charge, said in a statement.

Restriction on medical marijuana enforcement in omnibus budget bill

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

medical marijuanaThe House and Senate appropriations leadership has hammered out a budget bill that includes an historic amendment to curb federal Department of Justice (DoJ) enforcement in medical marijuana states. The measure, which was originally passed by the House in May with a 219-189 vote, aims to prohibit the DoJ from spending taxpayer money to undermine state medical marijuana laws. "This is great news for medical marijuana patients all across the country," said Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), one of the co-authors of the House measure. "This amendment protects patients while the federal government catches up with the views of the American people. Patients will have access to the care legal in their state without fear of federal prosecution. And our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on fighting actual crimes and not wasted going after patients."

Sentencing in Sinaloa Cartel's Chicago connection

Posted on December 9th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

MexicoThe sentencing last month in a case related to the Sinaloa Cartel's Chicago connection provided further fodder for the increasingly plausible conspiracy theory that the DEA protected Mexico's biggest criminal machine. Federal Judge Ruben Castillo sentenced Alfredo Vázquez Hernández, who had been extradited after serving a sentence in Mexico, to 22 years in prison for shipping 276 kilograms of cocaine to Chicago hidden in railway cars. Federal  prosecutors said Vazquez was a top-ranking operative of the Sinaloa synidcate, who arranged airplanes, submarines, trains and trucks to move cocaine from Colombia to Chicago via Mexico. Vazquez was characterized as a lifelong friend of the cartel's now-imprisoned top kingpin "Shorty" Guzmán. Judge Castillo said this hadn't been proved, but stated:  “Given the amount, it’s nonsensical to think this was this defendant’s inaugural voyage into cocaine trafficking."

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