Middle East

Lebanon's hashish valley drawn into Syrian war

Posted on June 2nd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastLebanon's hashish heartland of the Bekaa Valley, hit by rocket-fire from Syria on June 1, has become increasingly embroiled in the civil war raging across the border. The fertile valley, which was occupied by Syria from 1976 to 2005, is a patchwork of Sunni and Shi'ite areas, and during Lebanon's civil war in 1980s the hashish and opium trade there funded sectarian militias. There are now ominous signs of a return to this deadly rivalry. In late March, gunmen from the Sunni town of Arsal—a conduit for arms and fighters for the Syrian rebels—kidnapped a member of the powerful Shi'ite Jaafar tribe, who was absconded across the border to the rebel-held Syrian town of Yabroud, north of Damascus. The Jaafars retaliated by kidnapping six Arsal residents—ransoming them to raise the ransom money to free their comrade held in Yabroud. Lebanese security forces helped oversee the hostage exchange, and no charges were brought. Arsal has also been the target of occasional cross-border shelling, presumably by the Syrian military. On May 27, unidentified gunmen attacked a Lebanese border checkpoint near the town, killing three soldiers.

Legalization party wins with Israeli soldiers

Posted on January 25th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Middle EastIsrael's election results are in, and some 8,500 absentee ballots—mostly cast by Israeli Defense Forces soldiers—went to the Ale Yarok (Green Leaf) party, famous for its pro-legalization platform. The party failed to cross the 2% threshold for gaining a Knesset seat, receiving only 1.15% of the popular vote with 43,725 votes. However, if the Knesset was formed solely by absentee votes (known in Israel as double envelope votes), the party would have received four to five seats.

Iran: drug war execution spree

Posted on October 25th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastIran hanged ten men convicted of drug trafficking Oct. 22, defying pleas from the United Nations, European Union and human rights groups. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "appalled" by the  hangings, which add "to the alarming execution rate in Iran"—now at over 300 since the beginning of the year. "Most of the executions took place after summary trials, without the right to appeal and for offenses which according to international minimum standards should not result in capital punishment," she added. "I call on Iran, once more, to halt pending executions and to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty." The 10 men, who were hanged at a Tehran prison, were members of two drug smuggling gangs, according to Iran's judiciary. One of the men, Saeed Sedeghi, was a shop worker who Amnesty International believes was tortured and subjected to mock execution while serving in time in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison.

Lebanon: dissent grows to cannabis eradication

Posted on August 1st, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastThere is growing support in Lebanon's cannabis-producing eastern region (the Bekaa Valley, for centuries a major hashish production zone) for a proposal from Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt for the government to legalize and purchase the crop from the area's struggling farmers, establishing a program of controlled distribution for medicinal purposes. Advocates of the proposal say the yearly eradication of the cannabis crop by the Central Drug Control Office has led to corruption, and is breeding resentment.

Israeli scientists develop buzz-free cannabis

Posted on May 30th, 2012 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

THCIsraeli scientists have developed a non-psychoative cannabis variety, in what is being portrayed as a boost for medical marijuana. According to Israel's Maariv newspaper, the new variety looks, smells and even tastes "the same" as psychoactive varieties. "It has the same scent, shape and taste as the original plant—it's all the same—but the numbing sensation that users are accustomed to has disappeared," said Tzahi Klein, head of development at Tikkun Olam, the firm that developed what an AFP account calls "the species." Klein adds: "Many of our patients who tried the new plant come back to us and say: 'You tricked me'"—because they assumed they had been given a placebo.

Iran executes nine on drug trafficking charges

Posted on May 21st, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastIran on May 21 executed nine convicted drug traffickers at a Tehran prison. Seven of the men were hanged in connection with the confiscation of 500 kilograms of methamphetamine from a cargo ship bound for Southeast Asia, although Iranian media did not say when that seizure took place. The other two men were convicted of trafficking another 420 kilograms of the meth.

Israel's high court turns down petition for 420 smoke-in

Posted on April 22nd, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastIsrael's High Court of Justice on April 17 rejected a petition by a cannabis legalization group asking for a police permit allowing participants to publicly smoke the herb at a "420" rally in Tel Aviv advocating legalization. The petition was filed by the Dor Haemet (Generation of Truth) youth movement. According to Dor Haemet, Israel has over 1 million cannabis users. (InfoLive TV, Israel, April 17; Jerusalem Post, April 10)

West Bank settlers patronize Palestinian dealers

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastJewish settlers from the Tapuch Junction area of the West Bank are suspected of purchasing hashish and cannabis from their Palestinian neighbors in the nearby village of Hawara. Israeli police investigating drug-smuggling across the "Green Line" that divides the West Bank from Israel detained several Palestinian youth at the village last week—and found that a confiscated client list included settlers from neighboring militant Jewish communities, including Yitzhar, Itamar and Har Bracha. Four Jewish clients were subsequently detained.

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