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Africa

Khat thrives in independent Somaliland

Posted on September 14th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

SomalilandHere's a telling irony. We think of Somalia as a country that has basically had no functioning government for over a generation, and is beset by insurgents linked to al-Qaeda. Certainly, how a government treats a relatively harmless psychoactive herb is a good barometer of its general commitment to freedom. The herb in question here is khat, the mildly stimulating leaf that is chewed socially throughout the Horn of Africa. And we've noted how even the weak "official" government in Somalia has been cracking down on khat in a bid to appease the Shabaab insurgents.

Who is world's top cannabis producer?

earthThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) last week issued its World Drug Report 2017—its 20th annual survey of production, trafficking and eradication and enforcement efforts around the globe. In past years, the report has sought to quantify the amount of cannabis cultivated in each producer country—over the past decade consistently placing Morocco in first place, generally followed by Mexico and Paraguay. This general trend continues—with some new variations.

Somalia overturns ban of khat imports

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

khatSomalia on Sept. 13 agreed to lift its recently imposed ban on imports of the mildly psychoactive leaf khat after an outcry of protest from angry cultivators in neighboring Kenya. The decision was announced at a summit of East African leaders in the Somali capital, Mogadishu—the first such gathering in 40 years in the war-torn region. While it is widely chewed in Somalia, khat (also called miraa) is grown in Kenya and Ethiopia, where large farming communities rely on exports for their livelihoods. Reversal of the ban is apparently effective immediately. Kenya's foreign minister Amina Mohamed said at the summit, "The leaders have discussed relations between the two countries and...the Miraa ban will be lifted by September 14th."

Congo basin tribe uses medical cannabis: study

Posted on August 14th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

AfricaThe Slog blog makes note of a new report from anthropologists at Washington State University which appeared in the American Journal of Human Biology, entitled: "High prevalence of cannabis use among Aka foragers of the Congo Basin and its possible relationship to helminthiasis." The research found that roughly 95% of Aka men smoke tobacco (compared to 17% in Black Africa and 31% globally) and 68% smoke cannabis—both of which are correlated with lower rates of helminths, or parasitic worms. The Aka didn't tell researchers they smoke to prevent helminths, but to "increase their courage on a hunt, dance better, increase their vital force, or to increase their work capacity when working for Europeans or village people." They say cannabis is especially helpful when hunting elephants, and that women prefer husbands who smoke—which could account for the especially high rates of male smoking. But the researchers surmised that plant toxins in cannabis and tobacco alike serve to protect the Aka from parasites, and they are unconsciously self-medicating with the herb.

International drug trade funds Boko Haram insurgency

Posted on January 27th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

AfricaThe brutal Boko Haram rebels are gaining ground at a frightening pace in northwest Nigeria, even mounting a bloody attack this week on the region's major city, Maiduguri. Reports are mounting that the exremist movement is funding its insurgency by exploiting Nigeria's strategic place as a crossroads of the global narco-traffick. BBC News on Jan. 25 asked "How have Nigeria's militants become so strong?" It cited the findings of the International Crisis Group that Boko Haram "has forged ties with arms smugglers in the lawless parts of the vast Sahel region." Plenty of its arms (including tanks and armored vehicles) have been plundered from the Nigerian army itself. But plenty more are thought to have come from Libya, where arms depots were looted when Moammar Qaddafi's regime was overthrown in 2011. Trafficking networks have been moving that plundered war material across the Sahel and Sahara, integrating the traffick into routes already established for moving drugs and other contraband between West Africa, Europe and Asia.

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.

Police 'anti-crime' extermination campaign in Congo

Posted on December 5th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

AfricaThe decades-long civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo shows signs of winding down, but is apparently leaving in its wake a good old "anti-crime" police state that sees impoverished youth as a threat and seeks to exterminate them. Human Rights Watch reported last month that police in the DRC summarily killed at least 51 youth and "forcibly disappeared" 33 others during an anti-crime campaign that began a year ago. "Operation Likofi," which lasted from November 2013 to February 2014, was officially a crackdown on criminal gangs in Congo's capital, Kinshasa. HRW's report, "Operation Likofi: Police Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Kinshasa," details how uniformed police, often wearing masks, dragged suspected gang members—known as kuluna—from their homes at night and executed them. Police shot and killed the unarmed young men and boys outside their homes, in open markets where they slept or worked, or in nearby fields or empty lots. Many others were taken without warrants to unknown locations, never to be seen again.

Narco-counter-coup in Guinea-Bissau?

Posted on September 25th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

AfricaTwo years ago, a military putsch in the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau was dubbed a "narco-coup," with reports claiming the civilian president had been removed for his unwillingness to turn a blind eye to lucrative cocaine smuggling rackets by commanders of the armed forces. On Sept. 16, BBC News reported that the leader of the coup, armed forces chief Gen. Antonio Indjai, was dismissed by the new president, Jose Mario Vaz, who came to power following elections and a return to civilian rule earlier this year. Reuters suggests international pressure was behind the move. Indjai was replaced with Gen. Biague Na Ntan, described as a confidant of Vaz. Reuters notes that he is an ethnic Balanta like Indjai, which could smooth over resentment from the ethnic group that makes up about 60% of the army and security forces but just 25% of the population.

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