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Five Washington state medical marijuana patients go to trial

Family members from a rural area of eastern Washington are expected to go to trial next month on federal marijuana charges, despite the Obama administration's repeated claims that it does not target seriously ill patients.

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New York governor announces medical marijuana pilot program

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

medical marijuanaNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced during his State of the State address on Jan. 8 plans for a medical marijuana pilot program that would permit up to 20 hospitals to distribute cannabis to patients with serious illnesses. According to a press release, the pilot program "will allow qualified eligible participants to seek relief for their symptoms in a safe and legal manner, while also evaluating the effectiveness and feasibility of a medical marijuana system," with the findings of the program to help shape future policy. The plan creates the program within current New York statutory authority—specifically, the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act of 1980, which allows the state to establish medical marijuana research programs in hospitals. Critics have claimed that the reliance on this statute is unworkable in the long-term. (Jurist, Jan. 9)

Brazil: prison violence spills into streets of Maranhão —again

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

Southern ConeThe ongoing prison crisis in Brazil's impoverished northeastern state of Maranhão again made brief headlines this month after newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo released a gruesome video of gang warfare victims inside the violence-plagued and dangerously overcrowded Pedrinhas facility. The video was recorded on Dec. 17, the newspaper reported, describing how "other prisoners pose with the bodies, showing them off like trophies." The footage was turned over to the paper by a prison workers' union to raise awareness of the depth of the crisis. But Maranhão residents had sure been aware of it. There were more than 60 deaths at the facility last year—a higher murder rate than the outside world. Gang control of the prison was so complete that there were reports of inmates' wives being raped in conjugal visits. This finally prompted federal authorities to launch a crackdown over the new year. Military police took over the facility, and found 300 improvised weapons, as well as cell phones by which ranking inmates presumably controlled their outside drug networks. In response to the crackdown, gang leaders called for their supporters on the outside to launch an uprising. That's when the trouble really began...

Mexico: nine dead in prison massacre

Posted on January 6th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoA "commando" of six gunmen gained access to a Mexican prison after midnight on Jan. 3, killed four inmates in their sleep, and then tried to shoot their way out, sparking a shoot-out with guards that left five of the attackers dead. The assialants infiltrated the Social Rehabilitation Center (CERESO) in Tuxpan, disguised in uniforms of the Guerrero state Ministerial  Police, telling guards they were bringing in a prisoner. Army troops were subsequently sent in to secure the facility. The slain inmates were said to be serving time for drug trafficking and kidnapping charges. (Borderland Beat, Jan. 4; BBC News, La Jornada, Jan. 3) This is the latest in a wave of cases of cartels taking their bloody turf wars to the inside of Mexico's prisons.

Southern Cone neighbors react to Uruguay legalization

Posted on December 30th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Southern ConePresident José Mujica signed Uruguay's cannabis legalization bill into law on Christmas Eve, and the country's neighbors are preparing for the new policy to take effect—apparently with more trepidation than hope. Mujica is said to have discussed the question with Brazil's center-left President Dilma Rousseff on his visit last month to Brasília. Local media reported that she expressed fears about Uruguayan herb entering Brazil, and plans to beef up searches at the border—with stiff sentences of 10 years and up for trafficking (including "transnational" personal possession).

NYC: police slaying survivors protest return of Bill Bratton

Posted on December 28th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

New York CitySome hundred New Yorkers gathered in the bitter cold Dec. 27 in front of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building in Harlem to protest mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's appointment of Bill Bratton as police commissioner. Nicholas Heyward is leading the effort to remind New York City of Bill Bratton's record the last time he ran the NYPD, from 1994 to 1996. During that time period, an officer of the Housing Police shot and killed Heyward's 13-year-old son, Nicholas Jr, as he held a toy rifle while playing cops-and-robbers in the  stairwell of his apartment building in Brooklyn's Gowanus Houses in September 1994. Said  Heyward: "It was painful for me to hear [de Blasio] chose William Bratton, who was police commissioner when my son was murdered. I cannot accept that he will be police commissioner again... Under William Bratton there was over 30 innocent unarmed people that were killed from 1994 to 1996 in New York City. And Bill Bratton failed to hold any of those officers accountable."

Khat-terrorism connection raises its dubious head —again

Posted on December 27th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

khatMuslim community leaders in Texas are protesting the latest outbreak of the perennial hype over the khat plant and its supposed links to terrorism. It began when a traffic stop near Houston last year turned up two men chewing the midly psychoactive but thoroughly illegal leaf. This sparked a year-long investigation involving local, state and federal agencies that has so far resulted in more than a half-dozen arrests. The Texas Department of Public Safety took the opportunity to link khat to terrorism in its statewide threat assessment. The statement referred to the "chewable narcotic plant grown in the Horn of Africa whose sale abroad is suspected to benefit Africa-based terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab." That assessment, the Austin American-Statesman reported last month, was based on Congressional testimony given more than a decade ago by Steven McCraw—then-FBI-assistant director, now DPS director—who said it is likely that khat proceeds "pass through the hands of suspected [Islamic militants] and other persons with possible ties to terrorist groups."

Uruguay prez signs cannabis legalization bill

Posted on December 26th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Southern ConeUruguayan President José Mujica on Dec. 24 signed into law his plan to oversee the production and sale of cannabis in the Southern Cone country. The Uruguayan Senate passed the measure to legalize production, sale and consumption of the herb earlier this month. The law makes Uruguay the first country to have a system to regulate cannabis production and sale; use of cannabis was already legal in Uruguay. The bill allows individuals over 18 to grow up to six of their own plants per person, creates state-supervised and controlled consumer clubs, and permits consumers to buy up to 40 grams per month from pharmacies. Uruguay's government has four months to draw up regulations for the program, such as how production licenses will be granted. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the UN body overseeing the implementation of international drug treaties, has criticized Uruguay's legislation as being illegal (PDF) under international treaties. (Jurist, AP, Dec. 25)

Guatemala considers legal opium cultivation

Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

opiatesGuatemala has emerged as a major opium producer in recent years, and now President Otto Pérez Molina—a conservative who is increasingly breaking with the US-led "drug war" consensus—is considering legalized and regulated cultivation of the poppy as an alternative to eradication. "We started exploring the capacity that we could have for controlled planting," said Pérez Molina. "What that means is that we would know exactly what extensions are being planted, what the production would be and that the sale would also be well controlled, especially for medicinal use." Interior minister Mauricio López added: "There are two paths; one is cultivated substitutes, and the other is the alternative which is controlled cultivation. This is what is already being done in other countries such as India and China, that is to say identifying hectares clearly, seeing how they are grown, carrying out the harvest, taking control of the commercialization and above all making sure this serves mainly the pharmaceutical industry."  

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