Scorpion-smoking: latest Pakistani craze

Posted on April 18th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

PakistanDon't try this one at home. A grimly fascinating report in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper April 15 features an interview with an aging scorpion-venom addict in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, near the border with Afghanistan. Sohbat Khan, 74, says he has been smoking scorpions to get high off the venom since the '60s, and only recently managed to kick the habit—by switching to opium. "Drugs are beaten by other drugs," he sadly told a reporter, speaking in his native Pashto. The stuff sppears be highly addictive, and when Khan could not find scorpions in his village, he would travel to Peshawar, the regional capital, to buy them in the market. The piece does not make clear if the scorpion trade is officially tolerated by authorities.

Iran under pressure to drop death penalty for drug offenses

Posted on April 15th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastUN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on April 14 issued a statement appealing to Iran to halt executions for drug offenses until the country's parliament debates a new law that would eliminate the mandatory death penalty for drug-related crimes. The statements came in response to the hanging of five men over the weekend, three of them on charges of narcotics trafficking. In at least one of those cases, a man sentenced to death in 2012 for possession of crystal meth, there were serious concerns about the fairness of the trial and denial of the right to appeal. The statement noted lthat ast year, at least 966 people were executed in Iran—the highest rate in more than two decades. The majority were hanged for drug offenses. At least four of those executed in 2015 were juveniles.

Surveillance of activists latest Chicago police scandal

Posted on April 14th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ChicagoThis has been a very bad week for the Chicago Police Department. Among the headaches was a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on "unsettling" reports of Chicago police monitoring peaceful protest groups, and is calling for City Council hearings on the claims. The statement came in response to a Chicago Sun-Times report finding that the department opened seven investigations since 2009 to monitor activist groups. E-mails released by the city under purblic pressure after the 2014 fatal police shooting of African American teen Laquan McDonald revealed that cops kept close tabs on protesters. Undercover officers were sent to monitor meetings of Black Lives Matter and other groups. (AP, April 10)

US anti-opium effort in Afghanistan: total failure

Posted on April 11th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Afghanistan John F. Sopko, the Pentagon's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, gave a sobering assessment last week of the situation in the country 15 years after the fall of the Taliban. Corruption is endemic and security practically non-existent. More than 700 schools have been closed in recent months due to the ongoing insurgency. And despite at least $7 billion in counter-narcotics spending, opium production hit 3,300 tons in 2015—exactly the same level it was in 2001 when the US invaded.

Global executions surge —yet again

Posted on April 6th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

nooseFor a third year running, Amnesty International's annual report on the death penalty notes an alarming surge in the number of executions worldwide—now reaching the highest total since 1989. At least 1,634 people were executed in 2015, a rise of more than 50% over the previous year. Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were leading the field, responsible for 89% of the executions. Iran executed at least 977 in 2015—the vast majority for drug-related crimes—compared with 743 in 2014. Those put to death included at least four who were under 18 at the time of the crime—which Amnesty called a violation of international law. Pakistan continued what Amnesty called as a "state-sanctioned killing spree" that began when a moratorium on civilian executions was lifted in December 2014. Pakistan sent at least 326 to the gallows last year, the highest annual total Amnesty has recorded for that country. Executions in Saudi Arabia rose by 76%, with at least 158 people put to death, Amnesty said. Most were beheaded, with the bodies often displayed in public.

Merle Haggard, redneck icon who embraced cannabis, passes on

Posted on April 6th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Merle HaggardCountry music legend Merle Haggard died at his ranch near Northern California's Lake Shasta on April 6, his 79th birthday. Haggard had the hard-living authenticity that helped make him an icon for the working folks of rural America. Of Okie stock, he grew up in Bakersfield and came up as a musician in the Central Valley town's local honkytonk scene—before actually turning 21 in San Quentin State Prison after a burglary conviction in 1957, as immortalized in his famous hit "Mama Tried." Unlike what the lyric said, however, he wasn't "doing life without parole." He was paroled in 1960, returned to his music career, acheived success, and was granted a pardon in 1972 by California's then-governor (and fellow conservative icon) Ronald Reagan.

Medical experts press UN on decrim

Posted on April 1st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

earthA group of 22 medical experts convened by Johns Hopkins University and The Lancet, Britain's foremost medical journal, on March 24 issued a call for the decriminalization of all non-violent drug use and possession, flatly calling the international war on drugs a failure. The paper by the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Public Health and International Drug Policy (PDF) calls on the world's governments to "move gradually toward regulated drug markets and apply the scientific method to their assessment." Dr. Chris Beyrer, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the senior author of the report, told the CBC: "We've had three decades of the war on drugs, we've had decades of zero-tolerance policy. It has had no measurable impact on supply or use, and so as a policy to control substance use it has arguably failed. It has evidently failed."

Prosecution of medical user sparks debate in Sweden

Posted on March 31st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

EuropeThe trial of a paralyzed man who was prosecuted by Swedish authorities for self-medicating with cannabis has sparked debate over legalization in the Scandinavian nation, according to a March 27 report in Sweden's English-language The Local. Andreas Thörn, 37, who broke his neck in a motorcycle accident in 1994, used cannabis for relief from neuropathic pain as well as anxiety and depression. He was initially acquitted in August 2015 after successfully using a medical defense. Thörn said he had tried numerous pharmaceuticals which did not help, and had run out of legal options. Claes Hultling, spinal injury specialist at the Karolinska Institute, testified that studies indicate barely a fifth of spinal cord patients can be treated with the drugs available today.

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