Politics Outside US

RSS Feed for this category

Canadian "Up in Smoke Cafe" Raided, Probably Closed for Good

Location: 
Hamilton, ON
Canada
Publication/Source: 
Cannabis Culture
URL: 
http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/4795.html

Editorial: It's Time to Get Real About Opium in Afghanistan

David Borden, Executive Director, 7/28/06

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/borden12.jpg
David Borden
I wouldn't say that many countries are truly rational about drug policy yet, but some of them have more people, in more prominent positions, who have gotten there. When they do, it tends to transcend traditional political boundaries -- for example, Conservative party leader David Cameron in Great Britain, who suggested legalization during the run-up to his selection for the post, and others in his party who asked him this week to support a licensing scheme for Afghan opium as opposed to the current regime of total prohibition and sporadic and ineffective eradication efforts.

What some of the Tories are saying is that it's unrealistic to think we can be effective against an industry that makes up 50% of the struggling nation's economy, that when eradication efforts happen, they drive farmers into the Taliban's corner and seem correlated with outbreaks of violence, that instituting a legal opium crop (which could be used and is actually somewhat needed for the legal medical market) would reduce the illicit market and deal a blow to evil-doers by bringing the money above-board and reducing their access to it.

Given the substantial threats existing to security and the role movements operating from Afghanistan have played in some of them, I vote for realism. These Brits are right -- trying to pull the plug on Afghanistan's opium trade is a truly insane idea -- we would only find out how insane if we were actually to succeed. The war against drugs is a war that cannot be won -- too many people are determined to take them and are willing to pay the money that it takes to get them.

In that sense, the bad guys will always have more resources to work with then the good guys. In a larger sense, the lines dividing the bad guys from the good guys are more than a little blurred, when the enemy apparently include destitute third-world farmers who only want to save their families from starving, and ordinary American and European citizens who only want to be left alone to indulge in their pastimes in private.

Cameron, of course, is from the other side of the aisle as current British prime minister Tony Blair, and even if the Conservatives were in power, they doubtless don't all support his views about legalization. Doing something about it is even harder still than that. And of course the Afghans get to have some say in what happens in their country too, and they are not all on board even with the moderate proposal of licensing for the medical supply. (Our editor Phil Smith found that out when he attended last September's conference in Kabul on the idea.)

Still, you have to start somewhere, and a the top political leaders in a nation that is the US's closest ally seems as good a place as any. A desperate country like Afghanistan that urgently needs stability and to reduce criminality also would seem a worthy place, even more so in light of our own related interests there. It's time to get real about opium in Afghanistan.

Feature: Holy Smoke Bust Mobilizes Interior British Columbia Cannabis Community

Although the owners of Holy Smoke, the Nelson, British Columbia, head shop and culture center, wouldn’t exactly put it this way, the raid on their shop two weeks ago tomorrow is igniting a holy war in the cannabis-friendly Kootenay region of the province. When Nelson city police ended a de facto truce by arresting Holy Smoke co-owner Paul DeFelice for allegedly selling marijuana at the store, Holy Smoke and its supporters started mobilizing to fight back, and they've only just begun.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/nelson2.jpg
Nelson, British Columbia: Conflict Amidst the Beauty, Thanks to the Drug Warriors
Just north of the US-Canada border above Spokane, Washington, Nelson, a city of 10,000 located along the shoes of Kootenay Lake's West Arm, is a veritable reefer redoubt. While official figures are naturally impossible to come by, marijuana growing is a major local industry, both in Nelson and in the nearby Slocan Valley. Area youths take it across the mountainous, forested border on foot and by mountain bike, on skis and on snowmobiles, while bigger operations may employ helicopters and sophisticated tracking devices. Area merchants have told DRCNet they know when the crops are coming in because that's when their sales increase.

Holy Smoke is the most visible symbol of the region's cannabis culture, but there are plenty more if one looks, from the hemp shop on downtown Baker Street to the dreadlocked young denizens of the town to the four marijuana grow supply shops -- the small town has twice the number of the entire Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area -- not to mention the smell of sativa and indica smoke washing through the air not infrequently.

The shop, co-owned by DeFelice, Alan Middlemiss, and attorney Dustin Cantwell, has been a center of the region's cannabis culture since it opened in 1996. A year later, Nelson police raided it, but were laughed out of court by a judge who demanded they learn how to properly do searches, and since then they have largely left the place alone. Even as whispers that marijuana was being sold from the store spread within the community, police failed to act. In fact, Nelson police told DRCNet off the record earlier this year that they believed selling at the shop had made street dealers scarce. If so, that has all changed now.

DRCNet attempted to speak with Nelson police this week, to no avail. The officer in charge of the raid, Sgt. Steve Bank, curiously warned that more arrests were coming, then went on vacation, and no one else at the department wanted to talk about the raid.

With DeFelice facing possible prison time for alleged marijuana sales -- something Holy Smoke is careful to neither confirm nor deny given the parlous legal situation -- and police threatening more busts in the near future, the shop and its supporters are rallying around the cause. "We are preparing to take a 'lowest law enforcement priority' measure to the city council," said Middlemiss, "and we are taking to the streets."

At the same time six Nelson police officers were raiding Holy Smoke and arresting DeFelice, a 15-year-old girl was dosed with Rohypnol and raped, Middlemiss said. "If the police had their priorities straight, that might not have happened."

Holy Smoke and its supporters will tap into the Nelson area's long traditions of nonviolent protest and counterculture activism, he said. "Nelson has a long and glorious history of nonviolent action, from the First Nations to the Doukhobors [a Russian sect that emigrated to the region a century ago] to the draft dodgers, even the Japanese who were interned in camps near here in World War II organized and protested. We have a rebellious nature here, but we've been lulled into complacency," he told DRCNet.

The Kootenay region cannabis nation will hold a mass march and protest in Nelson on August 5. "I think there is huge support for responsible marijuana use around here, for reordering police priorities, for making adult marijuana use the lowest priority," said Middlemiss. "But we need to be consolidating, we need a really large march, and we're hoping people will literally come out of the hemp woodwork for it. This will be a massive pro-marijuana rally, not a smoke-in, and we are expecting mass support," he said.

"Look, our community has had enough of US choppers flying around looking for a benign herb, we've had enough of illegal DEA operations in our country, we've had enough of wasting our tax dollars on nonviolent drug offenses," Middlemiss continued. "We want to get to the bottom of our drug problems, but the police are the worst way of going about it."

Support for Holy Smoke and marijuana legalization is not limited to the dreadlocked set. "Our supporters include bus drivers, janitors, mothers, lawyers, dentists. The chamber of commerce and local businesses will support us at the city council," said Middlemiss. "Heck, the chamber has even asked us to advertise because they get so many people coming to town and asking them how to find us."

With similar attacks on another cannabis café, Hamilton's Up in Smoke, and a new conservative national government rumbling ominously about toughening the marijuana laws, the Holy Smoke folks are feeling like they may be pawns in a larger, more sinister game. "The conservatives want to stifle the alternative culture, but here in Nelson, it is part of the fabric of the city and every business in town depends on the cannabis economy. We are wondering if the marching orders are coming from Washington," Middlemiss said.

"I think this is part of some sort of joint DEA-Canadian justice ministry operation," said Holy Smoke co-owner Dustin Cantwell. "The orders for this must have come from on high. The conservatives who came to power with Prime Minister Harper and his gang are embracing the American agenda, and they're starting with folks like us who stick out of the water. But we're the tip of the iceberg. Below the water line is our mass base."

Holy Smoke is still open and still smoking, both indoors in its smoking room and outdoors on the nearby public land turned into a mini-park by local cannabis consumers who enjoy looking across the lake at Elephant Mountain as they toke. And it remains headquarters both for the local cannabis community and the upcoming protests. Contact them via the web site if you want to help.

Europe: British Conservatives Call For Legal, Licensed Afghan Opium Production As Troop Toll Mounts

Using the occasion of a visit to Afghanistan this week by Conservative Party leader David Cameron, several leading Tory Members of Parliament urged him to push for legal, licensed opium production in that war-torn country, The Guardian reported. The calls came as at least six British soldiers have been killed this summer battling a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan's southern opium-producing provinces and echo the position first elaborated last year by the Senlis Council, an international security and development group.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/opium-smaller.jpg
the opium trader's wares (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith during September 2005 visit to Afghanistan)
In concert with the Americans, NATO forces have taken responsibility for security in Afghanistan's Taliban-friendly south, and now Tory MPs are complaining that the coalition's insistence on eradicating the opium crop is endangering the lives of British soldiers. With opium accounting for nearly half of the national economy, farmers and traffickers alike are fighting to save their livelihoods, and sometimes turning to the Taliban for protection.

"The poppy crops are the elephant in the room of the Afghan problem," Tory whip Tobias Ellwood told the Guardian. "We're in complete denial of the power that the crops have on the nation as a whole, and the tactics of eradication are simply not working. Last year we spent $600 million on eradication and all that resulted was the biggest-ever export of opium from the country."

Instead, Ellwood said, opium farming should be licensed, with the harvest being sold legally in the open. That would help farmers, address a global shortage of opioid pain medications, and limit the supply of opium to the black market, where, after being processed into heroin, much of it finds its way into the veins of European junkies. According to Ellwood, the licensed opium plan has the support of several Conservative MPs and senior military figures in Afghanistan.

Conservative leader Cameron has been open to outside-the-box thinking on drug policy issues. He has called for prescription heroin and even urged the United Nations to consider legalizing drugs.

The Guardian quoted one unidentified NGO worker who has traveled extensively in Helmand province as saying that eradication efforts were merely driving peasants to join the Taliban. "The better-off farmers pay local commanders bribes so they don't have to eradicate, but the others have their main source of income cut off," said the worker, who did not wish to be named because of the danger of being identified in southern Afghanistan. "Then the Taliban come to their villages and say, 'We will pay your son to work for us and give him weapons and food.' If you look at the timing of the eradication programs and the flare-ups of the violence, often it happens in the same week."

The NGO worker said Taliban members had been spotted walking the streets armed in broad daylight in Helmand's capital, Lashkar Gar, and that Arab fighters had been spotted within 10 miles of the capital. "We're pouring gas on the flames of the violence with this eradication campaign. By alienating the locals we're playing into a sophisticated political plan on the part of al-Qaida and the Taliban to destabilize southern Afghanistan. The political naivety of the international community in doing this is mind-boggling," the worker said.

Belgian Cannabis Activists to Plant Seeds to Protest Seed Ban

Here is the text of a press release from ENCOD and "Draw Up Your Plant," a Belgian pot users' organization: Belgian cannabis consumers united in "Draw Up Your Plant" will put the seed for the first mother plant, in spite of controversy on the possession of seeds Thursday 27 July, 12 hs. in the Botanic Garden of Antwerp (in front of the glasshouses) On Thursday 27 July, a seed of cannabis will be put in a flowerpot. The scene of this event will be the Botanic Garden at the Leopoldstraat in Antwerpen, Belgium, at 12.00 hs. From this seed the first motherplant of our association 'Draw Up Your Plant' will grow, that later this year will be used to provide our collective cannabis plantation with clones. Possession of cannabis seeds in Belgium is prohibited by law. Possession of 3 grams of cannabis by adults is tolerated by a ministerial decree of 2005. Sometimes you find seeds in a bag of cannabis. So this is another example of the contradictions within the law. The Belgian drug policy also in this case does not guarantee legal security to the citizens of our country. If I get stopped by the police who finds 3 grammes of cannabis with one seed in my possession, am I committing a criminal offence? Do I loose the right on the possession of these 3 grams of cannabis? Or does the police confiscate the seed and am I allowed to keep my cannabis? How can I escape persecution in this case? Should I sort the seed off my cannabis first? And what do I do with the seeds? Is there a place where I can bring them? In short, enough questions to answer. Maybe we will get to know the solution for this dilemma on Thursday 27 July in the Botanic Garden of Antwerp. There a cannabis seed will be used that has been taken from the dosage of personal use (of less than 3 grammes) of one of the members of "Draw Up Your Plant". . What will be the reaction of the authorities? Best wishes, Stijn Goossens Philippe De Craene Joep Oomen TREKT UW PLANT (vzw i.o) STAD/ENCOD/VOLVOX Lange Lozanastraat 14 2018 Antwerpen Tel. 03 237 7436 GSM: 0479 982271 / 0486 499 453 E-mail:[email protected] / [email protected] Website: www.encod.org / www.hardcoreharmreducer.be / www.cannaclopedia.be
Location: 
Antwerp
Belgium

Colombia to Aid in Afghan Drug War

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Washington Times
URL: 
http://washingtontimes.com/national/20060725-110053-5562r.htm

Kootenay Cannabis Community Mobilizing Over Holy Smoke Bust

The powerful cannabis community in BC's Kootenay region is not taking the Holy Smoke bust lying down. Holy Smoke will undertake a strong legal defense, and supporters will hold what they promise to be the largest pot rally in the area's history on August 5. Here is an update from Holy Smoke co-owner Alan Middlemiss from the Cannabis Culture forums: http://www.cannabisculture.com/forums/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=current&Nu... This is an update about the situation here in Nelson... The "Imminent arrest" threats seem to have subsided to threats of "Imminent vacations", with the crown attorney and the lead officer on summer holidays for the next 2 weeks or more. Apparently they cannot get any warrents to search or arrest anyone caught up in "operation vista" until the crown gets back. So we wait, and work. We are moving the date of our community rally to Saturday August 5th. There are several reasons for this not the least of which is the forecast for heavy rains this saturday. We plan to go to the Spearhead outdoor concert in Kaslo the night before and spread the word to the masses. There is quite a lot of interest from a broad range of people in Nelson, so it promises to be the biggest pot rally ever held in the Kootenays. I will fill in the blanks shortly. Sorry about the changed date, but its all for the best.
Location: 
Nelson, BC
Canada

Canada's Prince of Pot Ties the Knot in Sunny, Smoky Vancouver

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Canadian Press
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=bcd840e1-6f61-4766-b1cf-ed7822ca76ba&k=6641

Pressure Mounts on Karzai as Afghan Violence Surges

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Reuters
URL: 
http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-07-23T053339Z_01_ISL42604_RTRUKOC_0_UK-AFGHAN-KARZAI.xml&archived=False

Interpol Medical Marijuana Letter, Michael Krawitz

A nice letter from Michael Krawitz. I can't speak to the meaning of the treaties insofar as they could be said to support medical marijuana, but at a bare minimum the DEA's claim that international treaties preclude medical marijuana is amazingly bogus -- even by DEA standards! And Michael is right -- in moral terms, at least, what's going on now is a crime against humanity. Dear Interpol, My name is Michael Krawitz. I am a patient advocate in the United States of America. My organization [NGO] is Patients Out of Time, an organization on the roster of the International Narcotics Control Board. I have come to you today in a desperate attempt to seek justice in a matter of grave importance to thousands of seriously ill individuals of the state of California in the United States of America and by extension tens of thousands of similarly situated individuals across America. The crimes I am about disclose are crimes against humanity involving violation of the Single Convention Treaty on Narcotic Drugs, the international Declaration of Human Rights and involves either corruption or gross incompetence at the highest levels of police agencies of the United States. Background: As I am sure you know Cannabis [aka marihuana or marijuana] is both a schedule 1 and schedule 4 drug in the Single Convention On Narcotic Drugs simultaneously calling for the prohibition of non medical use and providing for it's medical use. I also feel confident that you know that the Netherlands is currently distributing Cannabis to patients via prescription [and has done so for 5 years] under the control of the appropriate United Nations bodies attesting to it's international legality as a medicine. I am not sure that you realize that the United States government drug police, the United States federal Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, has been misstating the international law for years to justify an overall prohibition of this important medicine even from those who most need it medically for the relief of suffering. Please accept as evidence of this the following link to DEA United States Congressional testimony from 2001. http://www.dea.gov/pubs/cngrtest/ct032701.htm This misstatement of the international law has been propagated down the food chain to lower government bodies and is most recently evidenced in the text of a lawsuit brought to California state court by the council for the County of San Diego, California USA. Please see the text of the lawsuit at the following link: http://aclu.org/images/asset_upload_file802_23911.pdf The Crime: Evidently emboldened by the misguided lawsuit from San Diego the United States federal Drug Enforcement Administration has taken the unprecedented step of seizing medicine from every not for profit distribution center in the area. They have done so without making arrests and have made it clear they do not intend to return the medicine and further have threatened these same facilities with further raids should they restock with medicine. Please note that these distribution centers and indeed the California medical Cannabis law itself was set up as a humanitarian and stop gap measure to deal with the fallout from the United States intransigence with regard to the medical access to this important medicine. In 1988 a federal judge working for DEA ruled the medical prohibition improper even by DEA's own rules and the DEA instead of following the judges order to reschedule the medicine to allow patient access appealed the ruling and was allowed to disobey the judges ruling for administrative reasons. Before 1970 and since 1937, in the United States, prescription access to Cannabis was expressly allowed and taxed for control. Since 1970 prescription access to Cannabis has been arbitrarily prohibited by the United States Government in violation of both the Single Convention Treaty and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but to my knowledge the DEA has never undertaken to actually take away this medicine directly from those who need until recently. Most recently, this last Friday to be exact, I began receiving panicked emails stating "the DEA is here taking away our medicine" from patients and care givers across San Diego. Patient access to Cannabis under California law is only allowed via doctors orders as part of medical care, access to wit is specifically protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am being very kind when I say this may just be caused by gross incompetence since surely the DEA must be considered the United States leading experts on the international drug control convention and surely they know that patient access is not prohibited. To be honest I am personally afraid of reprisals from the DEA just for coming forward to bring you this information. Please, in honor of those who have given their lives to ensure member nations worldwide the protection of these treaties, act on these charges and bring justice back where it has been pushed aside. I say this as a disabled veteran of the United States Air Force, a citizen of the United States of America and a representative and volunteer of a non governmental organization working to defend the truth about this important medicine and those who require it to relieve their suffering. Sincerely yours, Michael Krawitz Patients Out of Time www.medicalcannabis.com ###
Location: 
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, 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, Safe 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