Southern Cone

Uruguay releases cannabis sales regulations

Posted on May 3rd, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

UruguayAuthorities in Uruguay on May 2 released details on how cannabis will be produced and legally sold in the country, following President José Mujica's bold legalization initiative that passed in December. With the announced regulations, Uruguay becomes the first country in the world to have a system to oversee legal cannabis production, sale and consumption. Licensed pharmacies will sell the herb for less than $1 (up to 22 pesos, or $0.95) a gram, with consumers allowed up to 40 grams (1.4 oz.) a month, or 10 grams per week. Private households may grow up to six cannabis plants. While the new regs are to officially take effect this week, it will be several months before the full system is in place. Diego Canepa, chief of Uruguay's National Drug Junta (JND), said: "Towards the end of November, early December, the sale of marijuana will already be available in the country through pharmacies." He added that the government will launch the licensing process for companies seeking to cultivate cannabis within the next 15 days. The government estimates Uruguay's current cannabis demand at between 18 and 22 tons per year, which would mean approximately 10 hectares of plantations. An Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA) has been established to maintain standards for quality. Use of the herb will be allowed in most public spaces where tobacco smoking is permitted, althought not at workplaces. Motorists caught "smoke-driving" will be subject to the same penalties as those under the influence of alcohol. To discourage "marijuana tourism," only Uruguayan citizens and residents will be allowed to purchase cannabis. (Al Jazeera, AFP, La Nacion, Argentina, RTVE.es, May 3; BBC News, TeleSur, May 2)

Rio: favela violence spills into Copacabana

Posted on April 30th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilAt least three cars, including a police vehicle, were set ablaze in the Rio de Janeiro favela of Complexo do Alemão on April 29 after the fatal shooting of an elderly woman—the latest in a series of such outbreaks as Brazilian authorities attempt to clean up Rio's slums before the World Cup games open next month. Arlinda Bezerra de Assis, 72, died after being shot in the stomach during a gun battle between police and presumed gang members. In another incident on April 23, the favela violence actually spilled into Rio's posh beachfront tourist districts—an unprecedented occurrence that doubtless struck fear deep into the hearts of the city fathers. The protests broke out in the Pavao-Pavaozinho favela, perched on the hills overlooking the famed Copacabana district. The riots were sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, 25, a popular dancer on Brazil's Globo TV network, had been discovered in the favela—apparently killed as "collateral damage" in another one of the frequent police shoot-outs with drug gangs. Residents swept down into  Copacabana, setting fires and hurling bottles at police, vehicles and businesses. The violence also spilled over into nearby Ipanema, another posh tourist district. The young dancer's funeral two days later also exploded into a riot, as mourners blocked traffic after leaving the Sao Joao Batista cemetery, chanting  "Justice! Justice! Police murderers!" Police used tear-gas to clear the intersection. The Military Police "pacification" campaign aimed at getting the favelas under control ahead of the World Cup and  2016 Summer Olympics looks like it may be backfiring horribly. (World Bulletin, April 29; AFP, April 25; Daily Mail, VOA, April 23)

Brazil: riot rocks Rio favela

Posted on April 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilMilitary Police occupied the favela, or shantytown, of Caramujo, in the city of Niteroi outside Río de Janeiro, following riots sparked by the death of two local youths in incidents with the security forces April 19. One of the victims, Anderson Luiz Santos da Silva, 21, was outside a church with his family on Good Friday when he was hit by a stray bullet—apparently from a shoot-out between police and local drug dealers. His nine-year-old brother was also wounded in the incident. "The young man died trying to protect his mother and sister," said Niteroi's Catholic Church in a statement. The second victim, Emanoel Gomes, 17, was killed when a police  armored vehicle crashed his motorbike. Residents set fire to vehicles and battled police, calling for justice. Amnesty International says some 2,000 people die every year in Brazil in careless and violent police actions. The favelas have been targeted for aggressive police action ahead of the World Cup, which Brazil is to host in June. Rio de Janeiro is also slated to host the 2016 Olympics. (Notimérica, April 20; BBC News, April 19)

Rio de Janeiro: military operation against favelas

Posted on April 4th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Southern ConeBrazilian Military Police backed by Marine troops occupied the massive Maré favela next to Rio de Janeiro's Galeao international airport on March 31, allegedly without firing a shot. The aim was to secure one of the city's most violent districts, long under control of drug gangs, ahead of the World Cup, to be held in Brazil in June. Shock troops of the elite Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE) and Marines in armored vehicles and helicopters secured the Maré area, where 130,000 people live in poverty on the north side of Rio. Police said they seized guns and 450 kilos of marijuana, and arrested two suspected dealers. But residents said most gang leaders slipped out the favela ahead of the occupation. The operation had been expected; in preceding days Police Pacification Units (UPPs) had been installed in 174 of Rio's favelas— home to around 600,000 people. (InSerbia, April 1; MercoPress, March 31)

UN report bashes legalization; Uruguay talks back

Posted on March 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

earthIn its newly released annual report, the UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) on March 4 took aim at legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington states, urging the US federal government to ensure that anti-drug treaties are "fully implemented on the entirety of its territory." INCB president Raymond Yans said the Colorado and Washington laws "contravene the provisions of the drug control conventions, which limit the use of cannabis to medical and scientific use only." Also singling out the new legalization policy in Uruguay, he added that such initiatives pose "a very grave danger to public health and wellbeing." (BBC News, The Guardian, March 4)

Brazil: prison violence spills into streets of Maranhão —again

Posted on January 9th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Southern ConeThe ongoing prison crisis in Brazil's impoverished northeastern state of Maranhão again made brief headlines this month after newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo released a gruesome video of gang warfare victims inside the violence-plagued and dangerously overcrowded Pedrinhas facility. The video was recorded on Dec. 17, the newspaper reported, describing how "other prisoners pose with the bodies, showing them off like trophies." The footage was turned over to the paper by a prison workers' union to raise awareness of the depth of the crisis. But Maranhão residents had sure been aware of it. There were more than 60 deaths at the facility last year—a higher murder rate than the outside world. Gang control of the prison was so complete that there were reports of inmates' wives being raped in conjugal visits. This finally prompted federal authorities to launch a crackdown over the new year. Military police took over the facility, and found 300 improvised weapons, as well as cell phones by which ranking inmates presumably controlled their outside drug networks. In response to the crackdown, gang leaders called for their supporters on the outside to launch an uprising. That's when the trouble really began...

Southern Cone neighbors react to Uruguay legalization

Posted on December 30th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Southern ConePresident José Mujica signed Uruguay's cannabis legalization bill into law on Christmas Eve, and the country's neighbors are preparing for the new policy to take effect—apparently with more trepidation than hope. Mujica is said to have discussed the question with Brazil's center-left President Dilma Rousseff on his visit last month to Brasília. Local media reported that she expressed fears about Uruguayan herb entering Brazil, and plans to beef up searches at the border—with stiff sentences of 10 years and up for trafficking (including "transnational" personal possession).

Uruguay prez signs cannabis legalization bill

Posted on December 26th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Southern ConeUruguayan President José Mujica on Dec. 24 signed into law his plan to oversee the production and sale of cannabis in the Southern Cone country. The Uruguayan Senate passed the measure to legalize production, sale and consumption of the herb earlier this month. The law makes Uruguay the first country to have a system to regulate cannabis production and sale; use of cannabis was already legal in Uruguay. The bill allows individuals over 18 to grow up to six of their own plants per person, creates state-supervised and controlled consumer clubs, and permits consumers to buy up to 40 grams per month from pharmacies. Uruguay's government has four months to draw up regulations for the program, such as how production licenses will be granted. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the UN body overseeing the implementation of international drug treaties, has criticized Uruguay's legislation as being illegal (PDF) under international treaties. (Jurist, AP, Dec. 25)

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