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.

Supreme Court deals blow to Oakland medical program

Posted on March 22nd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

OaklandIn a blow to municipal power to regulate medical marijuana, the US Supreme Court on March 21 refused to hear Oakland's appeal of last year's ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the city cannot help defend Harborside Health Center in federal court. The Justice Department has been trying to shut down the flagship dispensary on the Oakland waterfront—dubbed a "superstore" by US attorney Melinda Haag. The city of Oakland tried to intervene in the case, asserting that Harborside's closure would rob the cash-strapped municipality of millions in tax revenues.

Cannabis interceptions on Mexican border down —again

Posted on March 20th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , .

MexicoFor a second year running, the US Border Patrol reports drastically reduced cannabis seizures along the Mexican border—and even the mainstream media can't help making the connection to the growing trend toward legalization and tolerance in the United States. In reporting the findings, the Washington Post uses the headline, "Legal marijuana is finally doing what the drug war couldn't." Last year, border agents confiscated some 1.5 million pounds—down from a peak of nearly 4 million in 2009. Increased domestic production in California, Colorado and Washington have driven prices down, especially at the bulk level. "Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90," a Mexican cannabis farmer recently told NPR. "But now they're paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It's a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they'll run us into the ground." 

Alabama prison riot: more to come?

Posted on March 16th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

AlabamaGov. Robert Bentley visited Holman prison in southwest Alabama March 15—in the wake of a bloody uprising at the facility. Inmates stabbed the warden and a guard when the trouble began four days earlier, then seized control of a dorm for several hours the day before the governor's visit. A Correctional Emergency Response Team was sent in to restore control. Both the warden and guard survived, but the facility remains on lockdown, with visitation rights suspended. Bentley pledged to address problems of overcrowding at the state's prisons during his visit, reported local WHNT.

Palestinian police in West Bank cannabis raid

Posted on March 15th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

Middle EastPalestinian police on March 12 raided a plant nursery in the West Bank village of Yasid, north of Nablus, and discovered more than 2,000 saplings of "narcotic hybrid cannabis" growing in seven greenhouses. A Palestinian Authority police spokesperson said in a statement the bust was part of an ongoing crackdown on drug use across the West Bank. Two suspects found on scene were arrested after attempting to flee the scene, the spokesperson told the indpendent Ma'an News Agency. The report did not mention what was done with the seized cannabis, but it was presumably incinerated.

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