New York City

New York State push for cannabis justice

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

New YorkBack in March, Connecticut's Supreme Court, the state's highest, ruled that those convicted of past cannabis possession misdemeanors can have the charges erased from their records because the state decriminalized the herb in 2011. The  unanimous ruling came in the case of Nicholas Menditto, who will now have his 2009 possession conviction expunged from his record. (The Joint Blog, March 17; AP, March 16) Last week, reporter Jon Campbell wrote in New York's Village Voice that activists in the Empire State are hoping for a similar outcome. New York was one of the first states to decriminalize, way back in '77, and the cut-off point for an infraction rather than a misdemeanor is a full ounce (as opposed to a half-ounce under the Connecticut law). But New York pot arrests have ironically continued at the highest rate in the country—especially in the Big Apple, under the aggressive policing since the '90s. The loophole that cops used? Cannabis in public view remains illegal—and suspects are basically forced into pulling out their stashes when stopped by cops and ordered to empty their pockets.

Will Loretta Lynch wind down drug war?

Posted on April 26th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Loretta LynchPresident Obama's nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, was confirmed by the Senate after a long delay due to Capitol Hill party politicking on April 23. She becomes the first Black woman to head the US Justice Department, and she brings some credentials to the job that will hearten those concerned with social justice. As US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, she prosecuted the NYPD officers who sodomized Abner Louima in a New York police station bathroom with a broken broom handle in 1997. But at her confirmation hearing she appeared to tilt right, telling senators on Jan. 29: "[N]ot only do I not support the legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization. Nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general." CelebStoner blog ominously notes that she has won support from such intolerant hardliners as New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who called her "a remarkable prosecutor with a clear sense of justice without fear or favor."

Remembering Judith Malina, matriarch of Living Theatre

Posted on April 16th, 2015 by Baba Israel and tagged , , , , , , .

Judith MalinaJudith Malina, co-founder of the legendary Living Theatre, a ground-breaking and activist-oriented troupe that helped pioneer the countercultural explosion of the 1960s and still challenges audiences today, died April 10 at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, NJ. She was 88 and still actively involved in the Living Theatre. This remembrance is offered by Baba Israel, a New York-based hip-hop artist and cultural worker whose parents were core members of the Living Theatre.Global Ganja Report

Crown Heights peanut butter connection

Posted on April 2nd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

New York CityWhen Brooklyn neighborhood website CrownHeights.info reported on April 1 that a kosher grocery store in the Jewish enclave had received in the mail 10 bags of cannabis hidden in vacuum-sealed plastic containers of peanut butter—well, we thought it was an April Fool joke. But the website's source was the previous day's New York Post, and it looks pretty legit. The grocery, Kahan's Superette on Kingston Ave., apparently reported the find to the police. "Wrong delivery address results in the seizure of 10 large bags of marijuana wrapped in peanut butter," the 71st Precinct tweeted, along with a photo of the gooey mess. "I have no idea where it came from. It was just dropped off," a worker at the store told the Post. The store sells such fare as kosher chicken, bagels, cream cheese and fresh salmon, according to its Facebook page. Nobody seems to have asked if Kahan’s had ordered a shipment of peanut butter—maybe to make peanut butter macaroons for the upcoming Passover holiday.

Parents of missing Mexican students take campaign to US

Posted on March 31st, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

MexicoMarch 28 saw more angry protests in Mexico's conflicted southern state of Guerrero, as students from the rural college of Ayotzinapa clashed with police in the state capital Chilpancingo at a march demanding the return alive of the 43 abducted students from the school. Cars were set on fire as police attacked the marchers. The 43 students disappeared during protests in the Guerrero town of Iguala last September, and are now believed to have been turned over a murderous narco-gang by corrupt police. The weekend before the  Chilpancingo demonstration, family members of some of the 43 missing students held a vigil in New York City's Union Square—one stop on a tour of US cities to raise awareness on their plight and protest Washington's "Drug War" aid to Mexico's brutal and corrupt police forces. Felipe de la Cruz, a spokesperson for the Ayotzinapa families, told the crowd in Union Square: "Here, from the heart of imperialism, we are not going to permit this case to be closed." The group's most recent stop, on March 29, was Minneapolis, where they held a public forum at the city's Church of the Ascension. (Siglo de Torreon, TeleSURStar-Tribune, March 29; La Jornada, March 22)

New York City Council calls for cannabis legalization

Posted on March 26th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

New York CityThis week, the New York City Council called for the state of New York to pass legislation to tax and regulate cannabis, as well as to close loopholes in the state's decriminalization law that allow arrests for small quantitites to continue. As part of its State Budget and Legislative Agenda for the 2015-2016 legislative session, the Council urged the state legislature to pass both the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA) and the Fairness and Equity Act. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced her support for cannabis legalization in November, but this marks the first time that the issue has been part of the Council's official legislative agenda.

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.

Civil libertarians skeptical on NYC cannabis policy

Posted on November 11th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

New York CityNew York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton whimsically held up a baggie filled with oregano to show what 25 grams (about an ounce) of herb looks like in announcing the new policy to stop making arrests for those found in possession of that much cannabis in public view. The policy is expected to curb the tens of thousands of arrests for low-level possession the NYPD makes each year—busts that disproportionately affect Black and Latino residents despite the fact that whites use the herb no less. Despite New York State's 1976 decriminalization law, the Big Apple has remained the marijuana arrest capital of the world—and arrests have actually increased since the supposedly progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio took office this year. Pot in public view is what is critical—allowing police to make arrests for what would otherwise be just a ticketable offense. But even under the new policy, possession in public view can still get you a summons and a $100 fine, and those smoking in public will still be subject to arrest.

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