Breaking News:Dangerous Delays: What Washington State (Re)Teaches Us About Cash and Cannabis Store Robberies [REPORT]

Politics Outside US

RSS Feed for this category

Bogota Targets Europe in Cocaine-Awareness Drive

United States
Financial Times

Europe: Belgian MP Joins Growing Cannabis Social Club Movement

Belgian Representative Stijn Bex of the left liberal party Spirit has become the first Belgian elected official to publicly join the growing Cannabis Social Club movement. The movement is designed to create associations of marijuana users who come together to grow limited amounts of marijuana to satisfy their needs without resorting to the black market. A project of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD), cannabis social clubs currently operate in Spain and Belgium.
Stijn Bex
The cannabis social clubs are a concrete manifestation of ENCOD's Freedom to Farm campaign, which, according to the cannabis social club web site, is "aimed at the right of every adult citizen in the world to grow and possess natural plants for personal use and non-commercial purposes."

In an open letter to the newspaper De Morgen, Bex announced he would become a member of Draw Up Your Plant, a cannabis social club in the Antwerp area. Draw Up Your Plant is working to establish a marijuana collective farm on the principle of one plant per member. Under current Belgian drug policy, possession of one female marijuana plant by an adult is given the lowest law enforcement priority.

Draw Up Your Plant is planning to start its first indoor garden at the end of November, and ENCOD reports that Belgian authorities plan some sort of hostile response. But the group is building support among the media, and now it has its first MP.

Canada: Supreme Court Overturns Conviction of Medical Marijuana Activist

In a decision handed down Thursday, the Canadian Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of Alberta medical marijuana activist Grant Krieger, who had been convicted of marijuana possession with the intent to distribute. The high court held that the trial judge had erred by directing the jury to find Krieger guilty.
Grant Krieger (courtesy
Krieger, who claims the right to distribute marijuana to seriously ill people to alleviate their symptoms, did not kowtow to judicial power during his trial (or before or after), and the trial judge repaid him by instructing the jury at his 2003 trial to "retire to the jury room to consider what I have said, appoint one of yourselves to be your foreperson, and then to return to the court with a verdict of guilty."

Two jurors objected at the time, one citing religious reasons and one citing reasons of conscience, and asked to be excused from the case, but the judge refused.

The judge's jury instructions were clearly unconstitutional, the high court ruled. "The trial judge's direction was not a 'slip of the tongue' to be evaluated in the context of the charge as a whole," the court wrote in its decision. "His purpose and words were clear. In effect, the trial judge reduced the jury's role to a ceremonial one: he ordered the conviction and left to the jury, as a matter of form but not of substance, its delivery in open court."

Krieger, who has legal permission from Health Canada to smoke marijuana for multiple sclerosis, is begging for a retrial. He wants to continue to use the courts as a forum for challenging the legitimacy of Canada's marijuana laws.

With Beheadings and Attacks, Drug Gangs Terrorize Mexico

New York Times

Middle East: In Battle Over Criminalizing Bongs, Israeli Justice Department Unit Calls for End to Persecuting Marijuana Users

A bill before the Israeli Knesset that would send people to prison for up to three years for possessing a bong has caused a breach in the Israeli Justice Ministry and provoked the ministry's Office of Public Defense (similar to a public defender's office in the US) to not only reject the bong bill, but also call for an end to the persecution of soft drug users. Instead, the Public Defense said, law enforcement should concentrate on large-scale dealers and traffickers.

It was the Justice Ministry's Legislative Department that drafted the bong bill, which is now before the Knesset's Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee. In addition to three-year sentences for bong possession, the bill proposes sentences of up to five years for bong sales.

But in her recommendation to the committee, Deputy Public Defense Attorney Dr. Hagit Lernau not only ripped the bill, but the arrest of pot- and hash-smokers as well. Hagit explained the "enforcement paradox" -- that harassing casual soft drug users can create greater social harm than benefit.

"The 'enforcement paradox' is that much greater when the issue in question is the use of drugs which cause relatively little harm to users and the nature of which is infrequent and, for the most part, ends with the beginning of serious employment and a person's domestication," Lernau wrote. "It is the social effect and not the drug use itself which ends up harming individuals. It harms their ability to evolve professionally and economically and become normally integrated in society."

Lernau also took after Israeli law enforcement: "Instead of ensuring and developing the necessary services needed for education, treatment and welfare, law enforcement chooses to concentrate on expanding criminal law despite the damages this causes," she wrote. "The result of this policy is dozens of criminal indictments on possession of several grams of cannabis drugs, without any practical wisdom to support it."

Israel should follow the example of Europe instead of trying to pass silly bong laws, Lernau added. The Europeans, she wrote, "concentrate efforts on mass importing/exporting and distribution, while taking a tolerant approach of explanation and treatment/rehabilitation towards users and drug cultivators for private use."

Europe: Spanish Medical Marijuana Group Goes Public with "Therapeutic Cannabis Bank"

A Spanish medical marijuana activist group, the Amigos de María, has announced the creation of the first publicly known medical marijuana dispensary in the country. Operating through the Internet, the "Cannabis Pharmacy" will provide information about medical marijuana, encourage patients to grow their own, and put patients in contact with listed growers who are prepared to donate part of their crops for patients.

While the Cannabis Pharmacy is the first public dispensary, it is not the first Spanish dispensary. As the group noted, "We are aware that other groups have been doing this for several years in a more or less clandestine form. The only new thing is that we have gone public in the hope that our politicians take note of the matter and normalize, once and for all, the use of cannabis, and until that time arrives, we can reduce the risks of the therapeutic use of cannabis."

Spain is moving jerkily toward acceptance of medical marijuana, with Catalan authorities having authorized a pilot program for marijuana in pharmacies last year. Earlier this year, authorities in Barcelona announced plans for a trial of the marijuana-based sublingual spray Sativex that will involve up to 600 patients and 60 participating pharmacies.

But the Spanish government does not recognize the informal dispensaries, making the move by the Amigos de María a challenge to the government. The Amigos are ready. "We are not afraid because we are convinced that what we are doing is right and will help the people," a spokesman told the Basque newspaper Noticias de Alava. "The law is only good if it is just, and in this case it isn't."

The group has already aroused the ire of the Ministry of Health, which accused it of encouraging youth marijuana use -- a big issue in Spain these days. The Amigos rejected that charge, noting that "At no time have we attempted, as the health minister insinuated, to promote the use of marijuana among young people, and it seems incredible to us that since our project is directed toward sick adults, that the health ministry mixes the two and says it is worried this will normalize use among the youth."

And so the battle is joined.

Opium Plan Poppycock, Experts Say

Ottawa, ON
Ottawa Sun

Random car stops for drugs (The Daily Telegraph, Australia)

United States

WOLA/USOC Press Release: Planning Murders While Negotiating Peace: Colombian Attorney General’s Office Releases Report on Evidence Found In Paramilitary Leader Rodrigo “Jorge 40” Tovar’s Laptop

From the Washington Office on Latin America and US Office on Colombia: Planning Murders While Negotiating Peace: Colombian Attorney General’s Office Releases Report on Evidence Found In Paramilitary Leader Rodrigo “Jorge 40” Tovar’s Laptop Who is “Jorge 40” and why is his computer so important? Rodrigo “Jorge 40” Tovar Pupo is one of the most powerful paramilitary commanders in Colombia, long-time head of the Bloque Norte of the Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). He was a lead negotiator with the Colombian government in the paramilitary peace process and is currently under official custody in the detention center in La Ceja, Antioquia, along with the top paramilitary commanders who are waiting to be legally processed under the Justice and Peace law. The computer in question was recovered when Tovar’s right hand man, a paramilitary known as “Don Antonio”, was arrested roughly seven months ago and his laptop was confiscated. The information on this computer sheds light on paramilitaries’ power structures, their involvement in criminal activities, and their links to politicians and to State security forces. What information did Colombian authorities find in “Jorge 40”’s laptop? According to the Washington Post, the internal investigative report by the Attorney General’s Office in Colombia released this month shows how unemployed farmers were paid to act like paramilitary combatants and to participate in demobilization ceremonies while real combatants continued committing crimes. The computer also contains a list of 558 individuals killed by paramilitaries during the cease-fire period. These are persons killed in just one region of Colombia (Atlántico) while paramilitaries were negotiating peace with the government. It provides evidence of paramilitaries’ involvement in the cocaine trade and reveals that the paramilitaries were awarded a number of profitable government contracts during the period. The information found in this computer is highly problematic because it provides evidence of the links paramilitaries have to local, regional and national politicians. This month, Colombia’s Supreme Court opened an investigation into three members of the Colombian Congress (Senators Jairo Merlano and Álvaro García and Representative Eric Morris of Sucre) for alleged links with the paramilitaries. The information found in this computer shows how paramilitaries continued to participate in illegal criminal activities throughout the negotiation and demobilization with impunity. Will the victims of the violence perpetrated by “Jorge 40”’s men obtain justice? Colombian President Álvaro Uribe recently issued a decree which will allow demobilized paramilitaries to reduce their sentences to less than 5 – 8 years. Paramilitaries will be allowed to discount from their sentences time served in the negotiation center and their working in productive projects. The decree issued was meant to clarify interpretation of the Colombian Constitutional Court decision with regards to the Justice and Peace law. Instead it disregards key aspects of the Court’s ruling. What type of justice have victims’ families received so far? On a recent trip to Colombia, WOLA staff spoke with an internally displaced Kankuamo indigenous leader from the Sierra Nevada (an area controlled by Jorge 40’s men). This IDP leader became forcibly displaced after watching his wife and daughter be raped by paramilitaries. His family still cannot return to their lands because of threats from ‘demobilized’ paramilitaries; meanwhile, the rapist, a mid-level paramilitary who was also wanted for 17 murders, served 2 months in jail and was released. Under the new decree, victims of paramilitary crimes committed should be notified of the legal processes against the accused so they can testify. However, according to the Colombian Commission of Jurists, the public notifications issued by the Attorney General’s Office are not being broadcast nationally via radio and television. In addition, they give only 20 days for witnesses to come forward. There are also no provisions to protect those who testify, making it extremely dangerous to do so. The decree also makes individual reparations virtually impossible – so those who have had land stolen by these groups will have little hope of ever getting it back. It is unclear how the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons, that include Afro-Colombian and indigenous persons who according to Colombian laws have rights over their territories, will ever have the opportunity to return to their homes if stolen land is not turned in by the paramilitaries. Current U.S. funding to the Colombian paramilitary demobilization The U.S. Congress has approved funding for the Colombian paramilitary demobilization process for up to $20 million in the Appropriations Act for FY 2006. The largest component of this funding is earmarked for reintegration of ex-combatants. The current productive programs for reinserted paramilitaries proposed by the Colombian government have been widely criticized by victims’ organizations. There is concern that some of these productive projects will be implemented on land appropriated by paramilitary groups. It is important that the effectiveness and impact of this funding is carefully monitored by Members of the U.S. Congress to ensure that U.S. funding does not contribute to the strengthening of criminal networks in Colombia. Recommendations · Closely monitor the paramilitary demobilization process and raise concerns about this process to the Department of State (DOS), USAID and Colombian government officials. Congress must make certain that the conditions laid out for assistance to Colombia in the Appropriations Act are being met – this requires the full dismantlement of paramilitary structures and appropriate progress on the process of bringing ex-combatants to justice. · Continue to express support for the rights of victims to truth, justice and reparations. · Ensure that U.S. funding of productive projects in Colombia through USAID is not financing projects that allow ex-paramilitaries to consolidate their political power in regions of Colombia and to develop their illegally acquired land holdings. USAID programs must take into account and strengthen the territorial rights of Afro-Colombians and indigenous persons. For more information: October 17, 2006 article by Juan Forero, Washington Post Foreign Service “In Colombia, a Dubious Disarmament” October 13, 2006 article by Hugh Bronstein, Reuters “Colombian warlord incriminated by his own laptop” October 12, 2006 press release by Colombian Commission of Jurists “CCJ asks for changes in the process for notifying of victims of paramilitaries” October 4 press release by Colombian Commission of Jurists “In spite of the changes, the Government continues to ignore the Constitutional Court decision in regulating law 975” Contact: Heather Hanson, Executive Director U.S. Office on Colombia 202-232-8090 Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Senior Associate for Colombia and Haiti Washington Office on Latin America 202-797-2171

Canada Grows Medical Marijuana for Its Citizens

In case anyone forgot. CBC News now reports that demand for government marijuana is increasing. Since this particular marijuana isn’t supposed to be very good, my guess is that Canadian patients simply prefer the convenience of not having to buy their medicine from criminals on the street.

So Canada spends tax dollars to provide medical marijuana to sick people, while here in America, we spend tax dollars trying to prevent sick people from getting medical marijuana.

If that doesn’t boggle your mind, consider that Canada provides marijuana even though Sativex is already available up there. Meanwhile our drug warriors want sick people here to wait indefinitely while the FDA figures out how to approve Sativex without admitting that marijuana plants are literally soaked in medicine.

And while Canadian patients are choosing between spliffs and sublingual sprays, Americans patients are choosing between suffering and breaking the law.

Even drug-fearing Americans generally agree that this doesn’t make much sense. But if our drug warriors are correct that marijuana can’t heal the sick without hurting kids, then we’ll be thanking them next year when all Canadian children become crack-addicted sex-workers.

United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School