Middle East

Syrian hashish harvest workers stranded in Lebanon

Posted on December 28th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastWe noted a year ago that ISIS was burning the cannabis fields in its areas of control in Syria (even as reports mount that the entire "Islamic State" army is hyped up on speed). In Lebanon's hashish haertland of the Bekaa Valley, meanwhile, cannabis growers have been arming to defend their turf, crops and livelihood in case ISIS invades. Now, both Reuters and National Public Radio have run reports over the past week on the plight of seasonal migrant laborers who come from Syria to the Bekaa to help harvest cannabis and produce hashish—activities just winding down now. But those who have come this year from the Syrian province of Raqqa cannot return home. Raqqa is now controlled by ISIS, its eponymous provinicial capital the de facto capital of the "Islamic State." And if word got out that these migrant laborers had worked in the hashish industry, they'd be marked for death.

Tunisia Pirate Party adopts cannabis leaf logo

Posted on December 28th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

North AfricaTunisia, the first country to rise up and throw off its long dictatorship when revolution began to sweep the Arab world in 2011, is seen as the success story of the Arab Spring. With a new secular constitution, progressive forces have prevailed peacefully over an Islamist backlash. Rappers and feminist artists have become icons of the revolution. Now, Green Rush Daily reports that the Pirate Party of Tunisia has chosen to use the marijuana leaf as its identifying logo on the country’s ballot. It cites a write-up in Pirate Times, international organ of the movement, that "the Pirate Party of Tunisia has decided to participate in the next elections by highlighting the hemp symbol on its lists, which will attract the voters of those who support this cause."

Dubai: US citizen in the dock for hash-laced gummy bears

Posted on December 21st, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastA US citizen is in court in the Persian Guld emirate of Dubai for possession of gummy-bear sweets laced with hashish, the United Arab Emirate's The National newspaper reported Dec. 20. Prosecutors told the Dubai Criminal Court that the defendant, identified only as "JD," had brought the cannabis candy in from the US. Working as a manager in the Emirates, JD was busted in July at a cafe by narcotics officers acting on a tip. He was apparently intimidated into accompanying the officers to his residence, where he spilled the beans±or the bears. "He opened his fridge and picked up a plastic bag full of gummy bears," testified a police major. Nonetheless, in his court appearance this week, JD pleaded ignorance. "I used it but I didn't know what it was at the time because it was inside the sweets," JD told the judges.  

Egypt: author faces prison for writing about hashish

Posted on December 16th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

Middle EastEgyptian activist attorney Nasser Amin is challenging a law that calls for writers to be imprisoned for words that violate the country's "morals." The challenge comes in the trial of novelist Ahmed Naji, who could face two years in prison and a fine of nearly $1,300 for his work The Use of Life—because of its explicit sex scene and numerous references to hashish use. Amin argues that the law violates the Egyptian constitution, which only permits such punishment for published materials that are defamatory or encourage violence or discrimination.

Israeli vets see empty promise in medical marijuana program

Posted on December 10th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Middle EastAfter years of research into the question, in July of last year Israeli authorities made post-traumatic stress disorder the only psychiatric condition for which the Health Ministry will approve the use of medical marijuana. The decision, backed by the Israel Psychiatric Association, was a cause for optimism among many Israeli veterans suffering from PTSD. But a sobering account in Israeli daily Haaretz Dec. 8 finds that actually getting the stuff has proved difficult for sufferers—starting with the problem of getting the necessary doctor's recommendation, and then bureaucratic obstacles once they do. "We are a very small group of three or four psychiatrists who believe that in some PTSD cases cannabis is helpful," said psychiatrist Dr. Ilya Reznik, an Israeli executive board member of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines. "The pressure on our clinics is impossible. This is partly because people who get a permit and don’t come in every three months for follow-up risk losing their permit."

Saudi Arabia: hashish busts drop under harsh crackdown

Posted on December 7th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Middle East Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry announced last month that authorities in the desert kingdom have seized more than 28 tons of hashish and some 22 million amphetamine pills over the past eight months, as well as 57 pounds (26 kilograms) of heroin. They also  arrested 1,776 suspected smugglers and seized 1,230 weapons, including 184 automatic rifles. This actually represents a drop in interceptions from the previous year's figures, also announced at the end of Islamic calendar. The Ministry's Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki attributed the decline to escalated security along the border and harsh punishments for convicted smugglers. (Saudi Gazette, Nov. 17)

Saudi prince in Beirut airport mega-bust

Posted on October 27th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Middle EastWell this is rich. Just one month after a Qatari diplomat was busted for hashish smuggling at Egypt's main airport, AFP news service now reports that Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdel Mohsen bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz and four companions were detained at Beirut International Airport in what Lebanese authorities are calling the biggest bust in the facility's history. The prince was popped while "attempting to smuggle about two tons of Captagon pills and some cocaine," a security source told AFP. The source said the drugs had been packed into cases that were waiting to be loaded onto a private plane headed to Saudi Arabia—a whopping 40 suitcases full of Captagon, according to Lebanese media accounts.

Iran considers cannabis legalization?

Posted on October 27th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

Middle EastOxford University scholar Maziyar Ghiabi has a startling piece in Britain's The Conversation website (reprinted in The Independent) asserting that Iran's leaders are considering legalization of cannabis and opium. The Islamic Republic certainly lives up to its rep as a puritanical police state. Ghiabi admits that up to 70% of its inmates are charged with drug-related offenses (out of a total prison population of some 225,000, according to the World Prison Brief website). We've also noted a recent surge in executions in Iran, contributing to a global spike in death penalty use over the past two years. As Ghiabi writes: "Drug traffickers risk harsh punishments that include the death penalty." But he also tells us that Iran is now pursuing the kind of harm reduction policies that actvists have long pressed for in the US, including "distribution of clean needles to injecting drug users, methadone substitution programmes (also in prisons) and a vast system of addiction treatment."

Who's new

  • Baba Israel
  • Karr Young
  • John Veit
  • YosephLeib
  • Peter Gorman