Europe

Albania: security forces battle cannabis growers

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

AlbaniaHundreds of Albanian police, backed by armored vehicles, stormed the southern village of Lazarat June 16 after cannabis growers apparently fired machine-guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at officers sent in on a drug raid. Four people—a police officer and three villagers—are reported injured so far in the operation that remains underway. Smoke is reported to be rising above the village, with witnesses saying it was caused by locals burning cannabis plants before police closed in. Security forces have seized more than 10 tons of cannabis in the operation thus far. Lazarat is said to produce some 900 tons of cannabis annually, worth 4.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion)—equivalent to nearly half of Albania's gross domestic product. The village of some 5,000 people lives off the proceeds from the cannabis trade. Aerial photos suggest some 60 hectares were cultivated in Lazarat last November, amounting to an estimated half the total production of Albania. Heavily armed villagers have repeatedly fended off secuity forces sent in to eradicate the crop. 

Crimea: geopolitical flashpoint ...and hippie haven

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

CrimeaAll eyes are on the Crimean Peninsula, which has just been annexed by Russia after a popular vote to secede from Ukraine. Potential flashpoints for escalation, with grave implications for world peace, include the fate of the Crimean Tatar ethnic minority and the thousands of Ukrainian military troops that remain in the territory. But Crimea, with its agreeable climate (by Russo-Ukrainian standards), has also long been a hippie haven. Since 2007, "Fairy Town" festivals have been held several times each year in different parts of Ukraine, mostly Crimea. These events, on the model of the Rainbow Gatherings and Burning Man in the USA, are organized by a group calling itself the Rainbow Academy, based in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and the local Crimean capital Simferopol. And while Crimea's Black Sea coast is now more famous for the Russian naval fleet based there, it also hosts numerous nude beaches that have long been a magnet for Ukrainian and Russian hippies and self-styled Slavic Rastafarians. It will be interesting to see if these ecstacy-seeking bliss bunnies will continue to have a haven as Crimea is contested by rival powers—or, if some of the more activist-oriented Crimean hippies can play a role as peace-makers, advocating ethnic co-existence. We'd love to hear from any contacts in the Rainbow Academy...

Italy's high court strikes down tough cannabis law

Posted on February 13th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ItalyItaly's Constitutional Court on Feb. 12 struck down a 2006 drug law that tripled sentences for selling, cultivating or possessing cannabis, declaring the law to be "illegitimate." The law, passed by the conservative government of now-disgraced prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, was blamed for harsh prison overcrowding. An estimated 10,000 people may be released with its repeal.

Calabria connection broken in NYC-Italy cocaine sting?

Posted on February 11th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

ItalyA 15-count indictment was unsealed Feb. 11 in a Brooklyn federal court, charging seven defendants with narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and firearms offenses based on what an FBI press release calls their participation in a "transnational heroin and cocaine trafficking conspiracy involving the ‘Ndrangheta, one of Italy's most powerful organized crime syndicates." Italy's Polizia di Stato simultaneously announced the arrest of another 17 in the southern province of Reggio di Calabria by troops of the elite Central Anti-Crime Directorate. The coordinated international operation for two years monitored narco-trafficking networks between Latin America, Italy, Canada and the US. The Italian hub of the ring was identified as the port of Gioia Tauro in Reggio di Calabria. 

Mystery illness strikes Albanian cannabis harvesters

Posted on November 2nd, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

EuropeOK, no pun intended, but this one doesn't pass the smell test. Reuters reports all too credulously Nov. 1 that doctors in Albania say hundreds of people have fallen ill from harvesting cannabis. The hospital in the southern city of Gjirokaster said some 700 have sought treatment since June for the effects of planting, harvesting, pressing and packing the crop. "In the last two months about seven to eight people arrive in the emergency ward each day and many more have come earlier with disorders from hashish," Gjirokaster doctor Hysni Lluka told local Top Channel TV.  Lluka said women and teenagers, who account for some 40% of those working in the notorious cannabis district of Lazarat, had sought help for vomiting, stomach pain, irregular heart beats and high blood pressure. One patient reportedly arrived "in a critical state." Uninitiated readers are left with the clear impression that harvesters were suffering from severe cannabis intoxication.

Swiss decrim law takes effect

Posted on October 7th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

EuropeA cannabis decriminalization law took effect in Switzerland Oct. 1. From the start of this month, possession of up to 10 grams is punishable only by a fine of 100 Swiss Francs (approximately $110) for those over the age of 18. The new law is an effort to unify what had been a patchwork of policies that varied by locality. The measure is expected to save money by cutting back on the 30,000 cannabis-related cases that make their way to the courts each year.

Legal battles over Dutch coffee house crackdown

Posted on June 22nd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

EuropeDutch prosecutors are seeking up to one-month suspended prison terms for owners and staff of cannabis cafes in Maastricht for selling pot to foreigners in defiance of the new law. But meanwhile the Netherlands government was ordered to pay damages to owners of cannabis cafes after a court in The Hague said new measures turning the coffee-houses into members-only clubs were too harsh. The amount the state must pay is still to be determined. (The Age, June 13; BBC News, June 5)

Triads in Éire?

Posted on November 28th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

IrelandThe Garda Síochána, Ireland's national police force, say they broke up a network of drug gangs that were collaborating with Hong Kong-based Triad syndicates in a series of indoor cannabis grow operations that produced much of the island's supply. The Garda National Drugs Unit raided 236 premises and arrested 54 foreigners as part of the investigation codenamed Operation Wireless. Police say 4,200 cannabis plants were seized in Dublin, Meath, Wexford and Cork. Many of those arrested were said to be affiliated with the Wo Shing Wo, one of Hong Kong's most powerful Triads, with globe-spanning operations in drug trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution and gambling. (Dublin Herald, Nov. 21)

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