quote:Every 25 Seconds
The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States
quote:Every 25 seconds in the United States, someone is arrested for the simple act of possessing drugs for their personal use, just as Neal and Nicole were. Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime. More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year. And despite officials’ claims that drug laws are meant to curb drug sales, four times as many people are arrested for possessing drugs as are arrested for selling them.
As a result of these arrests, on any given day at least 137,000 men and women are behind bars in the United States for drug possession, some 48,000 of them in state prisons and 89,000 in jails, most of the latter in pretrial detention. Each day, tens of thousands more are convicted, cycle through jails and prisons, and spend extended periods on probation and parole, often burdened with crippling debt from court-imposed fines and fees. Their criminal records lock them out of jobs, housing, education, welfare assistance, voting, and much more, and subject them to discrimination and stigma. The cost to them and to their families and communities, as well as to the taxpayer, is devastating. Those impacted are disproportionately communities of color and the poor.
This report lays bare the human costs of criminalizing personal drug use and possession in the US, focusing on four states: Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and New York. Drawing from over 365 interviews with people arrested and prosecuted for their drug use, attorneys, officials, activists, and family members, and extensive new analysis of national and state data, the report shows how criminalizing drug possession has caused dramatic and unnecessary harms in these states and around the country, both for individuals and for communities that are subject to discriminatory enforcement.
There are injustices and corresponding harms at every stage of the criminal process, harms that are all the more apparent when, as often happens, police, prosecutors, or judges respond to drug use as aggressively as the law allows. This report covers each stage of that process, beginning with searches, seizures, and the ways that drug possession arrests shape interactions with and perceptions of the police—including for the family members and friends of individuals who are arrested. We examine the aggressive tactics of many prosecutors, including charging people with felonies for tiny, sometimes even “trace” amounts of drugs, and detail how pretrial detention and long sentences combine to coerce the overwhelming majority of drug possession defendants to plead guilty, including, in some cases, individuals who later prove to be innocent.
The report also shows how probation and criminal justice debt often hang over people’s heads long after their conviction, sometimes making it impossible for them to move on or make ends meet. Finally, through many stories, we recount how harmful the long-term consequences of incarceration and a criminal record that follow a conviction for drug possession can be—separating parents from young children and excluding individuals and sometimes families from welfare assistance, public housing, voting, employment opportunities, and much more.
Families, friends, and neighbors understandably want government to take actions to prevent the potential harms of drug use and drug dependence. Yet the current model of criminalization does little to help people whose drug use has become problematic. Treatment for those who need and want it is often unavailable, and criminalization tends to drive people who use drugs underground, making it less likely that they will access care and more likely that they will engage in unsafe practices that make them vulnerable to disease and overdose.
While governments have a legitimate interest in preventing problematic drug use, the criminal law is not the solution. Criminalizing drug use simply has not worked as a matter of practice. Rates of drug use fluctuate, but they have not declined significantly since the “war on drugs” was declared more than four decades ago. The criminalization of drug use and possession is also inherently problematic because it represents a restriction on individual rights that is neither necessary nor proportionate to the goals it seeks to accomplish. It punishes an activity that does not directly harm others.
Instead, governments should expand public education programs that accurately describe the risks and potential harms of drug use, including the potential to cause drug dependence, and should increase access to voluntary, affordable, and evidence-based treatment for drug dependence and other medical and social services outside the court and prison system.
After decades of “tough on crime” policies, there is growing recognition in the US that governments need to undertake meaningful criminal justice reform and that the “war on drugs” has failed. This report shows that although taking on parts of the problem—such as police abuse, long sentences, and marijuana reclassification—is critical, it is not enough: Criminalization is simply the wrong response to drug use and needs to be rethought altogether.
Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union call on all states and the federal government to decriminalize the use and possession for personal use of all drugs and to focus instead on prevention and harm reduction. Until decriminalization has been achieved, we urge officials to take strong measures to minimize and mitigate the harmful consequences of existing laws and policies. The costs of the status quo, as this report shows, are too great to bear.
Het artikel gaat verder.quote:Wouldn't it be cool if all drugs were legal? It's not just an idle question the 16-year-old version of yourself asked -- a groundbreaking report from two of the world's leading human rights groups calls for states and the federal government to decriminalize drug use. Like, ALL drugs.
With the opioid epidemic spiraling out of control -- overdoses happen so frequently in public, even librarians are equipped with the overdose antidote Narcan -- Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union argue that resources should be spent on treatment and prevention, rather than incarceration and legal battles.
It's not just opioids; all illegal drugs, even marijuana in some states, are creating generations of people who will spend the majority of their lives behind bars for even the slightest drug offense. Instead, the ACLU and HRW urge the focus to shift to "prevention and harm reduction."
"Until decriminalization has been achieved," the report states, "we urge officials to take strong measures to minimize and mitigate the harmful consequences of existing laws and policies. The costs of the status quo, as this report shows, are too great to bear."
quote:Amsterdammer (64) dealt harddrugs vanuit bejaardencomplex | NOS
De Amsterdamse politie heeft een man van 64 opgepakt die vanuit zijn woning in een bejaardencomplex harddrugs verkocht. Agenten kwamen hem op het spoor na meldingen van buren over overlast. "Er kwamen af en aan mensen uit die woning", zegt een politiewoordvoerder.
De Amsterdammer zou ook op straat vanuit zijn invalidenvoertuig de drugs aan de man hebben gebracht. Het gaat daarbij om coca´ne en hero´ne.
In de woning van de man, in het oosten van de stad, is een voorraad harddrugs gevonden, evenals een stroomstootwapen en methadonpillen.
"Ik ben vanaf begin jaren 80 politieman en ik heb nog nooit meegemaakt dat iemand vanuit een bejaardencomplex aan het dealen is. We gaan het meteen de kop indrukken, want het is natuurlijk onacceptabel."
Er zal melding van gemaakt worden bij de gemeente. "Het is gebruikelijk dat de woning van mensen die vanuit huis dealen dichtgetimmerd worden", zegt de politiewoordvoerder.
quote:The number of 18 to 24-year-olds in England entering treatment for addiction to heroin has plummeted 79% in 10 years, as the stigma surrounding the drug and changing tastes in intoxication have made it increasingly unfashionable.
In the year to March, 2,367 people from that age group presented with heroin and opiate addiction at the approximately 900 drug treatment services in England, compared with 11,351 10 years earlier, according to statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS).
They constituted a tiny fraction of the 149,807 opiate addicts who came for help to kick their habit throughout the year, a number that is itself 12% down on a peak of 170,032 who came for treatment in 2009-10. The median age of those users was 39, the statistics showed.
Michael Linnell, the coordinator of UK DrugWatch, a network of drug treatment professionals, said many of the heroin users currently accessing treatment would have become addicted during a boom in the drug’s popularity in the late 1980s. Young addicts were “as rare as hen’s teeth”, he said.
“For the Thatcher generation who didn’t see a future and there were no jobs or employment and the rest of it, it was an alternative lifestyle in that you were really, really busy being a heroin user: getting up, scoring, nicking stuff to get the money to score and the rest of it,” Linnell said.
“There was a whole series of factors until you got to that point where people from those communities – the poorest communities – where you were likely to get heroin users, could see the visible stigma of the scarecrow effect, as some people called it.
"They didn't want to aspire to be a heroin user because a heroin user just had negative connotations, rather than someone who was rebelling against something."
quote:Amount of cocaine seized in UK at highest level for a decade
Authorities confiscated over 4,000kg of the drug in 2015/16, a rise of a quarter on previous year
The amount of cocaine seized by the police and Border Force has surged to the highest level in more than a decade, despite an overall fall in the numbers of seizures, new figures show.
Authorities confiscated 4,228kg (9,321lb) of the class A drug in England and Wales in 2015/16, a rise of a quarter on the previous year and the largest quantity since 2004, according to Home Office data published on Thursday.
The amount of herbal cannabis seized has also surged, more than doubling from 15,105kg (33,300lb) to 30,493kg (67,226lb) – the highest level since 2008/09. However, there were sharp falls in the quantities of ecstasy, heroin, LSD and amphetamines picked up.
The jump in the quantity of cocaine seized was driven by a 31% increase in the quantity seized by Border Force officials, which was likewise the case with the quantity of herbal cannabis seized.
By comparison, the change in the amount of cocaine picked up by police forces was not statistically significant, while the amount of herbal cannabis seized on the streets of England and Wales actually fell 28%. The report said the large increase in overall cannabis seizures was down to a 159% rise in Border Force seizures.
Overall, the number of drug seizures fell by just over 10% to 148,553 in 2015/16 – the fourth consecutive annual fall. Total seizures of cannabis and cocaine fell by 12% and 1% respectively, the figures showed.
The report said the total number of drug seizures each year is “highly correlated” with the number of drug offences recorded by police. In 2015/16, there was a 13% fall in drug offences logged by forces, with the number dropping by 39% since a peak seen in 2008/09.
The Home Office would not comment on the reason behind the sharp increase in the amount of cocaine stopped at the border. The department stressed that the amount of drugs seized should not be taken as a measure of prevalence.
A spokesperson said: “Drugs seizures are just one part of our strategy to tackle the harms caused by drugs. Our approach remains clear – we must prevent drug use in our communities and help dependent individuals recover, while ensuring our drugs laws are enforced.
“We have seen a reduction in drug misuse among adults and young people compared with a decade ago and we are working with other government departments and key partners to develop a new drug strategy, which will be published in the coming months.”
quote:The Disastrous Impacts of Legalizing Recreational Marijuana
PHOENIX (Nov. 1) – Sunday night, CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ ran a story, “The Pot Vote,” highlighting the devastating public health and safety impacts on Colorado since the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The segment – which features the firsthand experiences and expertise of doctors, law enforcement, and prevention advocates, and CO Governor John Hickenlooper – serves as a cautionary tale to Arizonans considering legalizing recreational marijuana in our state. We can and should heed their warning.
NOT WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED:
“It’s affecting the emergency room, it’s affecting the operating room, it’s affecting just about every aspect of medicine that you could think of,”
“In the first nine months of this year, 27 babies born at this hospital tested positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. That’s on track to be about 15 percent higher than last year.”
“In the first 10 months of this year, 71 teenagers came into the emergency room at this hospital with marijuana in their system, which is on track to be about 70 percent higher than last year.
That worries Dr. Simerville because evidence is emerging that heavy teenage use – using 4 to 5 days a week – may be linked to long-term damage in areas of the brain that help control cognitive functions like attention, memory and decision-making.”
BUSTING THE “SAFER COMMUNITIES” MYTH:
“They said the black market will disappear. Well I can tell you the black market is alive and well and thriving. In fact, it’s exploding.”
“There’s huge differences between alcohol and marijuana and that’s one of the things the public really needs to understand. They think ‘Well, we can take all the rules and everything we’ve set up for alcohol and just transfer them over.’ And they can’t do that.”
GOV. HICKENLOOPER CAUTIONS STATES WITH LEGALIZATION ON THE BALLOT:
“I urge caution. My recommendation has been that they should go slowly and probably wait a couple of years. And let’s make sure that we get some good vertical studies to make sure that there isn’t a dramatic increase in teenage usage, that there isn’t a significant increase in abuse like while driving. We don’t have enough data yet to make that decision.”
Safer communities? False.
No public health risks? False.
The marijuana industry’s take on the Colorado experience clearly does not reflect Colorado’s reality.
Arizona, let’s learn from the mistakes of our neighbors in Colorado, and VOTE NO ON PROP 205.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE 60 MINUTES SEGMENT
quote:U.S. Attorney General says pot is not a gateway drug, prescription opioids are
Speaking at a Kentucky high school in September, 2016, U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, iterated to the kids that marijuana is not the gateway drug it has been made out to be.
She, instead, went on to blame prescription drugs as the main introduction to opioids in modern society. These, she says, are the main factor of things leading young people to harder drugs like heroin.
“In so many cases, it isn’t trafficking rings that introduce a person to opioids,” she said. “It’s the household medicine cabinet. Something you can have prescribed to you in good faith by a doctor. That’s the source.
“It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids," she continued. "It is true that if you tend to experiment with a lot of things in life, you may be inclined to experiment with drugs, as well. But it’s not like we’re seeing that marijuana as a specific gateway."
The announcement by the Attorney General that pot is not a gateway drug breathes new life into the legalization movement that is sweeping around the country. The feds have already backed off of state rights regarding the matter and now, high profile members of the administration are acknowledging that the dangers of pot have been overstated.
Overdose deaths in the US have increased 137 percent between 2000 and 2014. We no longer have the luxury of ignorantly blaming the hemp plant; we seriously have to investigate the medical industry's profit-pushing method of delivering hard pills to people on a whim.
Niet de meest geloofwaardige persoon natuurlijk, maar wat ze hier zegt klopt wel degelijk.quote:
quote:Jerrycans en tonnen met drugsafval gevonden in Rotterdam | NOS
In Rotterdam zijn meer dan 100 jerrycans en vaten gedumpt. Er zaten resten aceton in, een stof die nodig is voor het maken van xtc.
Het afval werd vanochtend gevonden, maar het is niet duidelijk hoe lang het er al lag.
Voetballers die in de buurt een wedstrijd speelden, werden tijdelijk van het veld gehaald. Na metingen van de brandweer bleek dat er geen gevaar was, schrijft RTV Rijnmond.
0quote:It’s high time: If we can legalize marijuana, why can’t we end the misguided War on Drugs? - Salon.com
America's wasted more than $1 trillion on demonizing drugs, many of which, like weed, have real medical benefits
On Election Day, my home state of California voted to legalize recreational cannabis, as did Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada. So the 2016 elections represented a substantial victory for the legalization movement, which has managed to pass referendums in seven states. With 57 percent of the country now supporting marijuana legalization, according to Pew, it seems likely there will be a nationwide victory sometime in the next few years. However, the War on Drugs is far from over.
Even if marijuana is legalized throughout the United States, there will still be numerous drugs in this country that remain very much illegal, and Americans will suffer because of this. Drugs like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and MDMA have all demonstrated great potential when it comes to medical benefits, and shown little potential for harm. Still, the idea of legalizing those drugs any time soon seems as likely as Donald Trump hosting a quincea˝era.
“LSD, psilocybin and MDMA, when combined with psychotherapy, have tremendous medical potential for treating psychiatric illnesses in people for whom other treatments have failed,” Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), told me in an email. “These psychedelic drugs need to be legalized, both through scientific drug development studies designed to obtain FDA approval for prescription use and through political means so that they are legalized for non-medical purposes like personal growth, spirituality, couples therapy, creativity, innovation, and celebratory experiences.”
Researchers in Switzerland found in 2014 that LSD can be helpful for patients dealing with end-of-life anxiety related to a terminal illness. The same sort of conclusion has been drawn for psilocybin. Psilocybin has also proven useful for treating severe depression. MDMA has shown great promise for treating PTSD, when used alongside psychotherapy. All of the drugs remain illegal in the United States, and there has been little effort to change that.
Let’s not stop there, though. The War on Drugs has cost America well over $1 trillion since it began under Richard Nixon. This war has been the main cause of our country’s mass incarceration problem. As it is often noted, we have 5 percent of the world’s population and roughly 25 percent of its prisoners. You cannot have a War on Drugs, you can only have a war on people. As Gore Vidal famously used to say of the War on Terror, you cannot have a war on a noun, as that is like saying you’re at war with dandruff. Too many can’t get jobs because of criminal records or lose decades of their lives over small offenses.
We must legalize all drugs. You cannot regulate a drug that is not legal, and you cannot stop addiction by throwing citizens in cages and putting in no effort to rehabilitate them. I am not arguing for the selling of meth and heroin at your local Target store, but I am arguing for a scenario where you are not put in cuffs for having one of those drugs in your pocket.
Portugal decriminalized all drugs nearly decades ago, and the country has not spiraled into hellfire and cannibalism. In fact, drug use decreased, drug-related deaths went down and the instances of HIV infections decreased severely. Of course, the country also initiated harm-reduction programs and invested in reducing addiction, but it appears decriminalizing the drugs didn’t turn every corner into a wanton cocaine party. Perhaps we could learn from this example.
Thanks to abuse of prescription painkillers, this country faces a widespread opioid crisis — and all those drugs are legal. While we divvied out legal pills that people didn’t really need to fill the pockets of greedheads, as Hunter S. Thompson called them, we locked up people using a different version of the same drugs. Many who got addicted to painkillers while on prescription turned to heroin when they couldn’t be prescribed them any more or couldn’t afford them. The whole system is toxic.
I’m calling for a true legalization movement. No longer should lives be ruined because of some minor drug experimentation or because a citizen who needed to make an extra buck sold some substances to a willing buyer. The legalization of marijuana will be a milestone, especially since it’s the most popular drug out there, but we cannot stop there. We should murder the War on Drugs and burn its cadaver. This “war” has been one of the biggest policy failures in American history, and we’ve known this for quite some time. Let’s grow up and move forward. We cannot call ourselves the land of the free when we represent the land of the detained.
quote:Police to investigate Keith Vaz over alleged drug offences
Former chair of home affairs select committee to be investigated after allegations that he paid for male escorts and offered to pay for cocaine
Conflict of interests? Het lijkt me alleen maar logisch als je niet tegen drugs bent dat je dan pleit voor legalisatie. Of mag je alleen de politiek in als je het eens bent met de huidige wetgeving?quote:Police are investigating suspected drug offences after allegations were made against the former chair of the influential home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz.
A Sunday Mirror article on 4 September this year said he had paid male escorts and had been secretly recorded offering to pay for cocaine if it was brought to a future meeting, though he stressed that he did not want any himself.
He was also accused of encouraging others to use poppers. The select committee he formerly chaired has criticised moves to ban the legal high and has investigated prostitution, leading to accusations of a conflict of interest.
quote:Sheriff Admits He Issued a False Alarm About THC-Tainted Halloween Treats - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Bureau County Sheriff's OfficeBureau County Sheriff's OfficeJames Reed, the Illinois sheriff whose Halloween alert confused Crunch Choco Bars with THC-tainted treats, now admits the error, reporting that laboratory analysis contradicted a field test that supposedly showed the Japanese candy "was positive for containing cannabis." In a press release issued last week, the Bureau County Sheriff's Office says "the suspicious candy bars...were found to be imported from Japan, and the design on the wrapper is actually a Japanese Maple Leaf, which closely resembles a cannabis leaf." It adds that "there was no intention of any harm to children in this matter, and the bars have been deemed safe for consumption."
Instead of apologizing for unnecessarily scaring parents and lending credibilty to the mythical menace of marijuana-infused Halloween candy, Reed offers lame excuses. "This product, while very uncommon to our area, can be purchased online," the statement says. Yet the sheriff's office claims "we decided to adopt these precautionary measures" because "attempts to locate [the candy] on the internet were unsuccessful." It is hard to imagine what those attempts entailed, since a Google image search for "Crunch Choco Bars" immediately revealed Reed's confusion.
Despite his embarrassing mixup, Reed implies that parents still need to worry about strangers with candy who are trying to get kids high. "Sheriff Reed would like to thank everyone who took initiative to research this product and contacted us with information related to this candy," the press release says. "There are numerous products, including candies, cookies, and beverages, containing THC/cannabis that we have encountered. We are extremely relieved that this particular candy was not one of them." Far from being a close call, this incident was a completely bogus scare, a fictional example of a nonexistent phenomenon. Had Reed's warning proved accurate, it would have been the first-ever documented case of cannabis candy distributed to trick-or-treaters in the two decades since California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use.
Prohibitionists immediately latched onto Reed's false alarm, pointing to it as proof of a menace they had already been citing as a reason to vote against medical marijuana in Florida and recreational marijuana in Nevada. "The cruel and unfortunate incident highlights the very real dangers legal marijuana has on children," the Drug Free America Foundation declared. "These children were intentionally targeted by adults that were not their parents with the malicious intent of poisoning them." Fortunately, voters saw through this save-the-children nonsense.
Colorado Marijuana Enforcement DivisionColorado Marijuana Enforcement DivisionIn Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the supposed threat of edibles in trick-or-treat bags never materialized, but kids do occasionally consume them by mistake. Hospital visits and poison center calls involving children unintentionally exposed to marijuana rose sharply after legalization. Marijuana still accounts for a minuscule share of hospital visits and poison center calls, and the outcomes are rarely serious. The problem nonetheless has attracted a lot of political attention. While keeping kids away from marijuana edibles is mainly a parental responsibility, legislators have tried to help by requiring child-resistant packaging, warning labels, and recently implemented markings on the products themselves (see above). None of these precautions can entirely prevent accidental ingestion, but it does not happen very often. Last year there were fewer than 50 poison center calls involving kids younger than 9.
Politicians in the Aspen area recently backed away from proposals to restrict or ban edibles in the name of child protection after discovering that unintentional cannabis consumption is not as common as they had been led to believe. "The problem we talked about initially might not be as rampant as we thought," Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo told county commissioners this week, seven months after they asked him to investigate the danger posed by edibles. "The reason it took so long was we kept looking for something we couldn't find." Comparing local edible sales to marijuana-related hospital visits involving patients 19 or younger, The Aspen Times Weekly calculated that "0.004 percent of sales led to the poisoning of a child."
0quote:The British Medical Journal declares the war on drugs a failure and backs policy reform | The Beckley Foundation
Welcome to The Beckley Foundation and our new website.
The beginning of the week saw the publication of an editorial piece in the British Medical Journal calling for doctors and medical professionals to take the helm of drug policy reform. Arguing that the war on drugs has failed and that prohibition leads to less safe drug consumption, they urge health professionals to use their authority to demand “pragmatic reform informed by science and ethics”.
The article cites the prevalence of drug use worldwide (1in 20 adults having consumed an illegal drug in 2014, and a quarter of 15-year olds in the UK having taken an illegal substance of unknown quality and potency) and points to the increasing number of drug related deaths in the UK . It asserts that rather than being a war on drugs, prohibition is a war on “the millions of people who use drugs, and disproportionately on people who are poor or from ethnic minorities”. The article also importantly highlights the fact that current drug laws impede research into the medical use of cannabis and other prohibited drugs despite evidence of potential benefits.
Joining the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty for Public Health, who published a report in June this year urging policymakers to stop treating drug use as a criminal issue and make it an issue of public health, this editorial is an important indicator of a changing sentiment among medical professionals in the UK. This year, the British Medical Association (BMA), who have repeatedly rejected calls for the regulation of cannabis, called for the Department of Health to take responsibility for UK drug policy and for “legislative change” to prioritise treatment over punishment of drug users this year.
The status quo is being challenged from numerous sides and a growing medical voice in this debate helps highlight the flaws of the United Nations treaties, whose aim is to “advance the health and welfare of mankind” by prohibiting the non-medical use of some drugs. It is assumed by prohibitionists, including the current UK government, that prevalence of use is an indicator of drug policy success. Politicians and policymakers frequently cite declining or stabilising drug use as progress, ignoring prevalence of problematic drug use or drug related deaths, figures that are arguably more important.
The UK government continues to proclaim the success of its drug policy in spite of the fact that 2015 saw the highest number of drug related deaths ever recorded in England and Wales. Drug related deaths and emergency incidents have increased sharply since 2010, despite crime surveys reporting a lower incidence of illicit drug use. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), heroin-related poisonings have more than doubled from 579 deaths in 2012 to 1,201 in 2015. Deaths from cocaine rose for the fourth year in a row and have increased from 112 in 2011 to 320 in 2015. Amphetamine-related deaths, including MDMA poisonings, have risen from 56 in 2010 to 157 in 2015.
The increased presence of British medical professionals in this debate is indicative that change is in the air. Although seemingly strides behind countries such as Portugal, the Czech Republic, the US and Uruguay, who are progressing towards liberalisation of drug policies, the UK position will become harder to preserve in the face of a rallying cry from public health organisations and medics in support of evidence-based health-promoting policies.
quote:VVD wijzigt koers en wil wietteelt slimmer reguleren | NOS
Een meerderheid van het VVD-partijcongres heeft gestemd voor het slimmer reguleren van de wietteelt. Op het congres in Noordwijkerhout werd een amendement met die strekking aangenomen. Meer dan 80 procent van de leden stemde voor.
De partij wil een nieuwe landelijke aanpak van het softdrugsbeleid en "af van de vreemde situatie" waarbij de teelt en inkoop van cannabis illegaal is, maar de verkoop wordt gedoogd.
De VVD blijft tegen de experimenten van verschillende gemeenten met wietteelt. Wat slimmere regulering van de wietteelt in de praktijk betekent, is nog niet duidelijk.
Politiek verslaggever Wilma Borgman noemt het "een opvallende koerswijziging" van de VVD.
Liberale fractievoorzitters uit het zuiden riepen anderhalve week geleden nogmaals op tot aanpassing van het huidige gedoogbeleid. Gemeenten in Noord-Brabant en Limburg hebben veel last van het huidige gedoogbeleid.
De Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten adviseerde vorig jaar al om de wietteelt te reguleren.
In september diende D66 een initiatiefwet in om de wietteelt te legaliseren. Dat voorstel kreeg steun van onder andere regeringspartij PvdA, maar niet van de VVD. Minister Van der Steur (VVD) en premier Rutte reageerden toen negatief op het voorstel.
Voorzitter Joachim Helms van de Bond van Cannabis Detaillisten noemt de koerswijziging van de VVD goed nieuws en hoopt dat de coffeeshophouders na de verkiezingen betrokken zullen worden bij de uitwerking.
"Ik begrijp dat de VVD die regulering graag landelijk wil regelen", zegt Helms. "Dan moeten we kijken naar bijvoorbeeld Canada. Daar hebben ze een paar hele grote kwekers, maar je moet ervoor zorgen dat er ook een heleboel kleinere zijn." Volgens hem moet de consument centraal staan, en ging dat in Canada niet goed.
quote:In Nederland mag je sinds 1976 hasj of wiet kopen bij coffeeshops. Die mogen het onder strenge voorwaarden verkopen. Hoe de shops aan hun softdrugs komen, is formeel een raadsel: de teelt is verboden. Het einde van dit omstreden gedoogbeleid lijkt nabij.
Een meerderheid binnen de VVD wil af van "de vreemde situatie" waarbij de teelt en inkoop van cannabis illegaal zijn, maar de verkoop wordt gedoogd. Daarmee lijkt er nu een forse meerderheid in de politiek om af te rekenen met het huidige softdrugsbeleid.
In september was er voor het eerst een Kamermeerderheid voor het reguleren van de wietteelt. Ook de Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten, ruim 20 burgemeesters en een groep hoogleraren zijn voorstander van het plan. Uit een enquŕte van onderzoeksbureau Motivaction bleek dat zeventig procent van de Nederlanders voor de legalisering van wietteelt is.
De VVD blijft fel tegen een experiment met legaliseren van de kweek. Over een alternatief zijn de critici van het gedoogbeleid het nog niet eens. Ze vinden wel dat er iets moet veranderen.
Hoe zit het nu?
Nederlanders mogen vanaf 18 jaar per dag vijf gram wiet of hasj kopen bij een coffeeshop. De shops (ongeveer 600 in 100 gemeenten) mogen een maximale handelsvoorraad van 500 gram softdrugs in huis hebben. In de praktijk is dat voor een deel van de coffeeshops te weinig om aan de vraag te voldoen.
Daarom wordt de voorraad van sommige coffeeshops meerdere keren op een dag aangevuld. Vanuit een geheime locatie wordt dan een nieuwe lading wiet naar een shop gebracht. De totale jaaromzet van alle coffeeshops wordt geschat op 1,7 miljard euro. Ongeveer 1,7 miljoen gemiddeld per shop.
Kweken onder dwang
Naar schatting verdwijnt de helft van al het geld in het illegale circuit. Vooral Limburg en Brabant kampen met georganiseerde misdaad die zich op grote schaal bezighoudt met wietteelt. Het komt voor dat mensen onder dwang van criminelen illegaal wiet verbouwen in hun huis of op hun grond.
Jaarlijks rolt de politie in Nederland gemiddeld elke dag zo'n 16 illegale plantages op. Vorig jaar waren dat er bijna 6000 in totaal, naar schatting een vijfde van het totale aantal kwekerijen.
Het buitenland kan wellicht als inspiratiebron dienen voor een nieuw beleid. Zo wordt in de Amerikaanse staten Colorado en Washington het gebruik en de teelt van cannabis toegestaan. Niet de staat maar commerciŰle investeerders zijn de eigenaren van de kwekerijen.
Cannabisclubs in Spanje
In Uruguay is wiet ook legaal en mogen gebruikers zelf kweken of lid worden van wietclubs. Soortgelijke cannabisclubs zijn er ook in Spanje. Het idee is dat er gezamenlijk wiet wordt gekweekt zonder winstoogmerk. Het gebruik is toegestaan zolang dat niet in het openbaar gebeurt.
Legaliseren, experimenteren of verbieden: een definitief besluit zal waarschijnlijk pas na maart komen. Dan zijn de Tweede Kamerverkiezingen geweest en kan een nieuw kabinet het oordeel vellen over 40 jaar gedoogbeleid.
quote:The decapitated bodies and heads of nine men have been found dumped on a roadside in the Mexican state of Guerrero, prosecutors said, bringing the number of bodies found over the weekend in the state to 14.
Roberto ┴lvarez, the state security spokesman, issued a statement on Monday saying the nine bodies showed “visible signs of torture”.
“This event shows that there is a strong battle between rival criminal groups who use extreme violence,” ┴lvarez said, referring to two drug cartels that operate in the area.
Some of the bodies had been dumped with their hands and feet bound, while others were hacked up and placed in plastic bags. They were found late on Sunday near the town of Tixtla.
The area has been the scene of brutal drug cartel slayings, often as part of turf battles between the Ardillos and the Rojos gangs
The grisly discovery came just hours after the dismembered bodies of three other men were found in five plastic bags on a roadside near the town of Teloloapan, in another part of Guerrero state.
┴lvarez said the three men had been reported kidnapped on 4 November from a town near Teloloapan – an area known for opium poppy production that has been the scene of drug gang conflict.
Also on Sunday, two other bodies were found near the Pacific coast port city of Acapulco. One belonged to an off-duty member of the navy.
It was not the first time that military personnel had been targeted in Acapulco.
In late October, two off-duty military men in civilian clothing were abducted from a market, and their bodies were found later in the city.
The military has been part of a stepped-up law-enforcement campaign in Acapulco, the once-glamorous resort that has been the scene of lengthy drug gang violence. But it was unclear if the killing of military personnel was part of a reprisal for that crackdown.
quote:Among the most consequential of Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointees so far is Jeff Sessions, the former federal prosecutor from Alabama who would take over the Department of Justice if he is confirmed as attorney general by his Senate colleagues. As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern wrote on Friday, Sessions could use his immense power to reverse decades of advances in civil rights. His potential to influence policy on the enforcement of criminal law deserves scrutiny as well.
Sessions would take over a Justice Department that, under the leadership of Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder before her, has been oriented toward making the criminal justice system less punitive—especially toward people accused of drug crimes. Sessions has been a vocal skeptic of those efforts, defending the use of harsh mandatory minimum sentences, attacking Obama’s campaign to grant clemency to federal prisoners serving excessively long sentences, and using his influence in the Senate to help kill the once-promising legislative push to reform the federal justice system.
It’s a record that should dismay anyone who believes the United States holds too many people in prison (about 210,000 in the federal system and 1.4 million more in the states) or that the war on drugs has ruined the lives of too many people who needed help rather than punishment. To find out what Sessions would actually be able to do as attorney general to advance his severe vision of justice, I called Mona Lynch, a professor of criminology and law at the University of California–Irvine and the author of a new book called Hard Bargains: The Coercive Power of Drug Laws in Federal Court. Our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, follows below.
quote:Verschillende bedrijven in de Rotterdamse haven zeggen dat de douane containers zonder controle doorlaat, schrijft het AD. Dat komt doordat er problemen zijn met het elektronisch aangiftesysteem van binnengekomen containers.
Vanwege die problemen is er een noodsysteem van kracht. Logistieke bedrijven moeten nu per e-mail aangifte doen. Ze krijgen dan vaak binnen ÚÚn of twee minuten al toestemming om een container door te laten. Medewerkers van die logistieke bedrijven zeggen dat de inhoud in zo'n korte tijd nooit kan zijn gecontroleerd. Het zou al weken zo gaan.
De douane zou vanwege het risico op bederf vooral containers met groente en fruit snel doorgang verlenen, terwijl die juist vaak gebruikt worden om drugs in te verstoppen. Regelmatig worden tussen de dozen bananen of andere tropische vruchten honderden kilo's drugs gevonden.
'Er zijn geen extra collega's'
Een woordvoerder van de douane bevestigt in het AD dat er problemen zijn met het aangiftesysteem. Ze spreekt echter tegen dat ladingen ongecontroleerd worden doorgelaten.
De krant haalt een bron binnen de douane aan die zegt te vrezen dat drugscriminelen op de hoogte zijn van de problemen. "Die zullen proberen hiervan te profiteren. Extra collega's inzetten kan niet, want die zijn er niet."
Er zijn al langer problemen in de haven met de aanpak van drugssmokkel. Het OM, de politie en de Rotterdamse burgemeester zeiden begin deze maand te vrezen dat door bezuinigingen bij de haven en de douane er straks onvoldoende capaciteit is om de smokkel aan te pakken. Ook zijn er zorgen over corruptie onder douaniers.
quote:OM: grote partijen drugs worden gedumpt in Europa | NOS
De Rotterdamse haven wordt overspoeld met drugs. Dit jaar is al meer dan 12.000 kilo coca´ne onderschept en daarmee dreigt 2016 een recordjaar te worden.
Ondanks de recordvangsten komen er nog veel drugs het land binnen. Volgens het Openbaar Ministerie komt dat onder meer doordat in Europa grote partijen drugs uit Zuid-Amerika worden gedumpt.
Opvallend is dat drugscriminelen regelmatig partijen van honderden of zelfs duizenden kilo’s versturen. Dat wijst er volgens sommigen op dat criminelen er veel vertrouwen in hebben dat de risico’s op ontdekking klein zijn, dankzij de hulp van corrupte havenwerkers en douanemedewerkers. Juist vandaag werd zestien jaar cel geŰist tegen douanier Gerrit G., die een belangrijke rol zou hebben gespeeld in de smokkel.
Volgens bronnen in het criminele milieu wordt gemiddeld een op de vier of vijf partijen drugs onderschept. Dat er nog veel drugs binnenkomen, blijkt uit de prijzen op de criminele markt.
In het criminele milieu in Rotterdam kost een kilo coca´ne momenteel 23.000 tot 25.000 euro, zeggen bronnen. Dat was tot voor kort nog 37.000 euro. Omdat het niet waarschijnlijk is dat het gebruik is afgenomen, is de enige logische verklaring voor de gedaalde prijs dat het aanbod is toegenomen.
Burgemeester Aboutaleb, het OM en de politie spraken onlangs hun zorgen uit over de reorganisatieplannen bij de douane. Hun vrees is dat er straks onvoldoende capaciteit is om de drugssmokkel in de Rotterdamse haven aan te pakken.
"Het ligt meer voor de hand om de opsporingscapaciteit in de Rotterdamse haven uit te breiden dan terug te brengen", zegt officier van justitie Barbara van Unnik.
quote:In a new interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama comes as close as he ever has to endorsing marijuana legalization, saying, "I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it."
quote:It sounds like Obama plans to push marijuana reform "as a private citizen." It's too bad he did not do more to advance the debate as president.