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Bill Weinberg's blog

Bolivia's African king speaks for coca growers

Posted on December 11th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .
BoliviaAmong the coca-growing peasants of Bolivia's Yungas region (the country's prime legal cultivation zone) is a substantial Afro-Bolivian population—descendants of slaves who were brought in by the Spanish colonialists to work in the silver mines and haciendas centuries ago. Some have inter-married with the indigenous Aymara people of the Yungas, forming a distinctive Afro-Aymara culture.

Shape of Canada's new cannabis order hangs in balance

Posted on December 10th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

CanadaPretty ironic timing. Just as Canada is moving toward legal cannabis, dispensaries are coming under more legal pressure and being forced to shut down—most recently in Toronto. On Dec. 7, the city's Cannabis Culture outlet—which had been targeted in a police raid back in March—finally shut its doors, and seemingly this time for good. The Ottawa Citizen reports that police arrived at the popular Cannabis Culture dispensary on Bank Street with a bailiff, who changed the locks and posted a notice on the door saying the lease was being terminated.

Duterte fudges police death toll to justify drug war

Posted on December 9th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

South East AsiaThe Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte—trying to justify sending the National Police back into drug enforcement after he was pressured to withdraw them by a public outcry over their slaying of innocent civilians—seems to have just been caught in a lie. He stated Dec. 7 that 242 police officers have been killed in anti-drug operations since he took office on June 30, 2016—this by way of providing a rationale for the police killing thousands of Filipinos in this same period. He said, in his typically crude syntax: "[W]hy is it, if it is not that dangerous and violent, why is it that to date, I have lost 242 policemen in drug-related raids and arrest?"

Afghanistan opium production hits new record —again

Posted on November 20th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

opiatesThe latest stats from the UN's annual Afghanistan Opium Survey are in, and the news is grim. Opium production in the war-torn country jumped nearly 87% in 2017, to record levels—an estimated 9,000 metric tons (9,921 US tons). Areas under poppy cultivation rose by 63%, reaching a record 328,000 hectares (810,488 acres), according to the joint survey by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Afghan Counter-Narcotics Ministry. The survey also found that the number of poppy-free provinces in the country decreased from 13 to 10, with Ghazni, Samangan and Nuristan provinces joining the list of poppy-growing regions. This boosts the number of Afghanistan's 34 provinces now cultivating opium from 21 to 24. 

Darfur: cannabis cover for counterinsurgency?

Posted on November 19th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

AfricaSudan's conflicted western region of Darfur has receded from the headlines since the wave of global concern about genocide there a decade ago. But horrific violence in the stark desert region continues—and there are signs that Sudan's regime is resorting to the tried-and-true tactic of using drug enforcement as a rationale for counterinsurgency. AFP reports that Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), usually used to fight rebels in the country's conflict areas, are now boasting a massive hashish haul of 19 metric tons in the state of South Darfur.

Duterte backtracks on drug war de-escalation —surprise!

Posted on November 18th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

South East AsiaJust a matter of weeks after the Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte won rare favorable headlines by pledging to pull the National Police out of his ultra-deadly "war on drugs," he is already backpeddaling and threatening to send them back in—as cynics had predicted. Duterte made his threat Nov. 18 in a speech at a business event in his hometown Davao City (where he first honed his death-squad tactics when he served there as mayor). "The drug problem, if it becomes worse again, the police has to enter the picture," he said in his typically crude syntax. "I want it eradicated if possible."  

Duterte drug war de-escalation: how real?

Posted on October 16th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

South East AsiaThe Philippines' notoriously ultra-hardline President Rodrigo Duterte won rare favorable international headlines Oct. 12, when he said he would pull his National Police force out of his brutal "war on drugs," which has now reached the point of mass murder, with an estimated 8,000 slain since he took office last year. The move came in response to a wave of public outrage after the police slaying of an unarmed youth in the working-class Manila suburb of Caloocan City in August.

Will Emerald Triangle's small growers survive legalization?

CaliforniaThe wildfires devastating Northern California are obviously taking their toll on this year's cannabis harvest. And this in the critical countdown to legalization, which takes effect in Golden State in January. This even won coverage in the New York Times Oct. 13. The paper cited Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, saying that at least seven cannabis farms had been destroyed, and that he expected the number to "increase significantly" as people return to their homes.

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