Middle East

Saudi hashish seizures: Taliban blowback?

Posted on September 13th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

Middle EastThe arch-puritanical rulers of Saudi Arabia can't be happy about this. A Saudi border patrol ship intercepted a boat loaded with a half-ton of hashish bound for the kingdom's shores on the Persian Gulf Sept. 6—after an exchange of fire with the crew, in which two of the smugglers were shot, one fatally. The three surviving traffickers, identified as Iranian, were taken into custody, along with 552 kilograms of hashish. (Saudi Gazette, Sept. 11; Arab News, Sept. 8)

United Kingdom to ban khat

Posted on July 10th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

khatThe herbal stimulant khat is to be banned by the British government—against the advice of its own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. In January the ACMD said khat should remain a legal substance, finding "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems. But Home Secretary Theresa May announced her decision to ban it last week, saying the risks posed could have been underestimated. Khat will be treated as a class C drug, along with anabolic steroids and ketamine. The Home Office said the ban was intended to "protect vulnerable members of our communities." 

Lebanon's hashish valley drawn into Syrian war

Posted on June 2nd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastLebanon's hashish heartland of the Bekaa Valley, hit by rocket-fire from Syria on June 1, has become increasingly embroiled in the civil war raging across the border. The fertile valley, which was occupied by Syria from 1976 to 2005, is a patchwork of Sunni and Shi'ite areas, and during Lebanon's civil war in 1980s the hashish and opium trade there funded sectarian militias. There are now ominous signs of a return to this deadly rivalry. In late March, gunmen from the Sunni town of Arsal—a conduit for arms and fighters for the Syrian rebels—kidnapped a member of the powerful Shi'ite Jaafar tribe, who was absconded across the border to the rebel-held Syrian town of Yabroud, north of Damascus. The Jaafars retaliated by kidnapping six Arsal residents—ransoming them to raise the ransom money to free their comrade held in Yabroud. Lebanese security forces helped oversee the hostage exchange, and no charges were brought. Arsal has also been the target of occasional cross-border shelling, presumably by the Syrian military. On May 27, unidentified gunmen attacked a Lebanese border checkpoint near the town, killing three soldiers.

Legalization party wins with Israeli soldiers

Posted on January 25th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Middle EastIsrael's election results are in, and some 8,500 absentee ballots—mostly cast by Israeli Defense Forces soldiers—went to the Ale Yarok (Green Leaf) party, famous for its pro-legalization platform. The party failed to cross the 2% threshold for gaining a Knesset seat, receiving only 1.15% of the popular vote with 43,725 votes. However, if the Knesset was formed solely by absentee votes (known in Israel as double envelope votes), the party would have received four to five seats.

Iran: drug war execution spree

Posted on October 25th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastIran hanged ten men convicted of drug trafficking Oct. 22, defying pleas from the United Nations, European Union and human rights groups. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "appalled" by the  hangings, which add "to the alarming execution rate in Iran"—now at over 300 since the beginning of the year. "Most of the executions took place after summary trials, without the right to appeal and for offenses which according to international minimum standards should not result in capital punishment," she added. "I call on Iran, once more, to halt pending executions and to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty." The 10 men, who were hanged at a Tehran prison, were members of two drug smuggling gangs, according to Iran's judiciary. One of the men, Saeed Sedeghi, was a shop worker who Amnesty International believes was tortured and subjected to mock execution while serving in time in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison.

Lebanon: dissent grows to cannabis eradication

Posted on August 1st, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastThere is growing support in Lebanon's cannabis-producing eastern region (the Bekaa Valley, for centuries a major hashish production zone) for a proposal from Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt for the government to legalize and purchase the crop from the area's struggling farmers, establishing a program of controlled distribution for medicinal purposes. Advocates of the proposal say the yearly eradication of the cannabis crop by the Central Drug Control Office has led to corruption, and is breeding resentment.

Israeli scientists develop buzz-free cannabis

Posted on May 30th, 2012 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

THCIsraeli scientists have developed a non-psychoative cannabis variety, in what is being portrayed as a boost for medical marijuana. According to Israel's Maariv newspaper, the new variety looks, smells and even tastes "the same" as psychoactive varieties. "It has the same scent, shape and taste as the original plant—it's all the same—but the numbing sensation that users are accustomed to has disappeared," said Tzahi Klein, head of development at Tikkun Olam, the firm that developed what an AFP account calls "the species." Klein adds: "Many of our patients who tried the new plant come back to us and say: 'You tricked me'"—because they assumed they had been given a placebo.

Iran executes nine on drug trafficking charges

Posted on May 21st, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastIran on May 21 executed nine convicted drug traffickers at a Tehran prison. Seven of the men were hanged in connection with the confiscation of 500 kilograms of methamphetamine from a cargo ship bound for Southeast Asia, although Iranian media did not say when that seizure took place. The other two men were convicted of trafficking another 420 kilograms of the meth.

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