Bill Weinberg's blog

Bolivia doubles territory open to coca cultivation

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

coca leafBolivia's President Evo Morales signed into a law March 8 a bill passed by the country's congress that nearly doubles the area of national territory open to coca leaf cultivation. Law 906, or the General Law of Coca Leaf, envisions new legal commerical and industrial uses for the leaf. It replaces the far more restrictive Law 1008, passed during the Reagan-led drug war militarization of the Andes in 1988—when Bolivia's transition to democracy after years of military dictatorship was still new. "The hour has arrived to bury Law 1008, which sought to bury coca leaf in Bolivia," the presidency office said in a statement. "This is an historic day." The signing ceremony at the presidential palace was witnessesed by a delegation of coca-growers.

GOP paranoids fear nuclear-cannabis terror plot

Posted on February 26th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

nuclear blastOne is tempted to facetiously ask what some of these Republican lawmakers have been smoking. Speaking in support of Trump's planned border wall with CNN on Feb. 22, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) offered this astonishing speculation: "There are national security implications here for a porous border. We sometimes used to make the point that, you know, if someone wanted to smuggle a dangerous weapon, even a nuclear weapon, into America, how would they do it? And the suggestion was made, 'Well, we'll simply hide it in a bale of marijuana.'"

Cannabis thrives both sides of divided Kashmir

Posted on February 24th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

South AsiaThe disputed region of Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan since 1949, has made scary headlines in recent months. Pro-independence militants are stepping up attacks on the India-controlled side, and the region is a potential flashpoint for war between the nuclear-armed South Asian giants. But it hardly comes as a surprise that a cannabis economy thrives on both sides of the Line of Control—despite the best efforts to suppress it by both Indian and Pakistani security forces. The Indian Police Service last week announced the arrest of Kashmir's most-wanted charas smuggler at a checkpoint in Tangmarg district, in the north of the India-controlled territory. The trafficker was named as Abdul Rehman Dar, but there is no reason to expect his fall to interrupt the illicit industry. The region's conservative Islamist press runs editorials scandalized by long-entrenched cultivation of bhang (cannabis) to produce charas (hashish), as well khash-khash (opium poppy).

No, Swedish riots do not vindicate Trump

Posted on February 23rd, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

EuropeIt seemed pretty fortuitous for Donald Trump. He left heads scratching when he told a crowd of supporters at a rally in Florida on Feb. 18: "You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this? They took in large numbers [of refugees]. They’re having problems like they never thought possible." A nice play to anti-immigrant hysteria, but there was one hitch: nothing had happened in Sweden the previous night. Critics had a field day with the bizarre flub, with Swedish activists even holding a mock "Pray for Sweden" vigil to taunt Trump. So it seemed a godsend for the prez when an immigrant district of Stockholm exploded into riots just three days later.

Deported to Honduras for a joint?

Posted on February 23rd, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

border wallThat's what almost happened to Josue Romero, a 19-year-old art student in San Antonio who had received a work permit under Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—which is now threatened by Trump. Picked up on a minor pot bust Feb. 21, Romero was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), held for two days—and told by ICE agents that he would be deported to Honduras. Instead, he was released, without explanation. "I can't describe how I feel. I just want to break down and cry," Romero told the San Antonio Express-News after his release.  "I was kind of devastated. Because I’ve never known a life outside of San Antonio."

Trump sanctions Venezuela veep as 'kingpin'

Posted on February 14th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

VenezuelaThe Trump administration has seriously turned up the heat on Venezuela, slapping sanctions on the country's vice president as a drug "kingpin." The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Feb. 13 officially named Tareck Zaidan El Aissami as a "Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker" under terms of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) of 1999. The order charges that El Aissami received pay-offs from a trafficking network linked to Mexico's Zetas narco-gang. Under the order, US nationals and corporations are barred from doing business with El Aissami, and all his assets within the country are frozen.

Trump pledges to escalate drug war

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

Shadow WatchIn a speech to police chiefs and sheriffs at the Washington DC meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs Association Feb. 9, Donald Trump dealt a harsh blow to any activists who may have been hoping for a tolerant stance on drugs from the United States' new president. As the conservative RedState.com blog happily headlines: "Trump Promises to Ramp Up the War on Drugs." With an almost touching innocence, it writes: "Citing his border wall as a solution along with confidence" in his Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, "Trump apparently believes he will succeed where everyone else has failed."

Philippines: Duterte to mobilize the army in drug war

Posted on February 6th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

South East AsiaThere was recently a sign that the Philippines' ultra-hardline President Rodrigo Duterte was going to rein in his murderous police in the face of mounting international criticism of their harsh anti-drug crackdown. It took the police killing of a foreign business executive, but Duterte finally pledged that he would disband and reorganize the National Police narco units. But human rights observers may have rejoined too soon. On Jan. 31—just one day after his announcement of the police overhaul—Duterte made a speech to army generals, telling them that while the police were off the drug war beat the armed forces would have to step in to replace them. Rather than taking a step back from the brink, it looks like the Philippines could be following the grim examples of Mexico and Colombia of turning the drug war into a real war, run by the military.

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