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Federal court to hear evidence on cannabis classification

Posted on October 25th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

medical marijuanaThe US District Court for the Eastern District of California will hold rare formal hearings beginning Oct. 27 to determine whether an indictment against Brian Justin Pickard and others for conspiracy to grow more than 1,000 marijuana plants violates the US Constitution, and whether marijuana is misclassified by the federal government as a dangerous drug with no medical value. US District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller will preside over the three-day hearing, which includes expert testimony from doctors Carl Hart, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University in New York; Greg Carter, medical director of St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Wash., and expert witness Chris Conrad.

Narco-counter-coup in Guinea-Bissau?

Posted on September 25th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

AfricaTwo years ago, a military putsch in the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau was dubbed a "narco-coup," with reports claiming the civilian president had been removed for his unwillingness to turn a blind eye to lucrative cocaine smuggling rackets by commanders of the armed forces. On Sept. 16, BBC News reported that the leader of the coup, armed forces chief Gen. Antonio Indjai, was dismissed by the new president, Jose Mario Vaz, who came to power following elections and a return to civilian rule earlier this year. Reuters suggests international pressure was behind the move. Indjai was replaced with Gen. Biague Na Ntan, described as a confidant of Vaz. Reuters notes that he is an ethnic Balanta like Indjai, which could smooth over resentment from the ethnic group that makes up about 60% of the army and security forces but just 25% of the population.

Peru: record coke bust points to Mexican cartel penetration

Posted on September 10th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

PeruA record-breaking cocaine bust on Peru's Pacific coast points not only to the country's booming production, but also the increasing role of the Mexican cartels in the Andean narco economy. Peru's Interior Ministry announced the haul in a Sept. 1 statement, saying National Police and DEA agents had uncovered an unprecedented 7.6 metric tons of coke hidden in a shipment of coal at a warehouse in the northern fishing port of  Huanchaco, Trujillo region. "This is the largest drug seizure ever in Peru," said Interior Minister Daniel Urresti, speaking at a Lima press conference below a banner reading "Historic Blow to Illegal Drug Trafficking" at the hanger where the shipment had been flown for incineration. "It's historic."

Burma burns opium, but UN sees hype

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

South East AsiaTo mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking June 26, Burmese authorities held drug-burning ceremonies, boasting the destruction of seized opium, heroin and methamphetamine said to be worth a combined $130 million. The mass burnings in Rangoon, Mandalay and Taunggyi were attended by officials from the DEA as well as from Chinese drug enforcement agencies. But UN officials meanwhile warned that illicit drug production in Burma continued to rise—mostly to supply a growing Asian market. Jeremy Douglas, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Southeast Asia representative, told The Irrawady website that Burmese opium production was "in 2006, at the lowest point, representing roughly 7% of the global production; it is now 18%. So it has increased year on year." As usual, the bulk of the opium was produced in Shan and Kachin states, where tribal armies have long used the opium trade to finance their insurgencies. But Douglas, speaking at a Rangoon press conference announcing release of the UNODC's new World Drug Report, also said Shan state has become a major transshipment point for methamphetamine—seizures of which in Southeast Asia are at the "highest levels ever recorded." 

Victory for hemp in Kentucky

Posted on June 6th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

leafUniversity of Kentucky agronomy researchers on May 27 planted a small hemp plot at Spindletop Research Farm outside Lexington—marking a victory in the state's showdown with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The seeds used were part of a shipment from Italy that was only released after Kentucky's Agriculture Department filed suit against the federal government, naming the Justice Department, DEA and US Customs and Border Protection. The breakthrough came after attorneys for the state and federal government met twice with a federal judge in Louisville, the DEA agreeing to issue a permit for release of the shipment—which Kentucky authorities said was not legally needed. Kentucky attorneys argued that the recent US Farm Bill allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp pilot projects for research in states that permit hemp cutlivation. Several more test crops were planted at other sites around the state in the following days. (ABC, Lexington Herald-Leader, May 27; AP, May 14)

Five Washington state medical marijuana patients go to trial

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

Family members from a rural area of eastern Washington state are to go to trial next month on federal marijuana charges, despite the Obama administration's repeated claims that it does not target seriously ill patients. The federal trial of the "Kettle Falls 5" is scheduled for May 12, pending several pretrial motions which will be heard on April 22 before US District Judge Fred Van Sickle in Spokane, Wash. Because of marijuana's illegal status under federal law, patients like the "Kettle Falls 5" are typically prohibited from raising a medical necessity or state law defense in federal court..

DEA chief: Mexican cartels move into Colorado, Washington

Posted on April 5th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

leafDrug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart, in testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee April 2, went on the offensive against the cannabis legalization initiatives in Washington state and Colorado. "What was explained to the voters was how much money that they'd be raising," Leonhart said. "What was explained to the voters was that this was good for law enforcement, because then police could go after the real crimes. What was told to the voters is that this would collapse the Mexican drug cartels." Instead, Leonhart asserted, Mexican drug cartels are "setting up shop" in Washington and Colorado in anticipation of a cannabis boom. "Whatever the price will be set in Washington and Colorado, criminal organizations are ready to come in and sell cheaper," she said. She also claimed, without offering evidence, that many cannabis shops get their supplies from grow operations controlled by cartels. 

Congress calls on Obama to reclassify cannabis

Posted on February 13th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

medical marijuanaEighteen members of Congress joined together Feb. 12 in calling on President Barack Obama to use his authority to reclassify cannabis from its current position as a dangerous drug with no medical value, alongside heroin and LSD. The letter (PDF) says that cannabis' current status "makes no sense," and requests that Obama "instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way." The Congressional letter comes just days after Obama told The New Yorker magazine that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol.

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