quote:Pro-Marijuana Lawmakers Form First Ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus
Now that marijuana is legal in some form or another — whether for recreational or medicinal use — in 28 states, a bipartisan group of four lawmakers have joined forces to create the first Congressional Cannabis Caucus, aimed at reconciling federal regulations banning marijuana with states’ laws.
In a Thursday press conference, Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Don Young (AK), and Jared Polis (CO) announced the new caucus, the first of its kind (as if anyone had any doubts about that).
The goal of the group will be to “discuss, learn and work together to establish a better and more rational approach to federal cannabis policy.”
“The prohibition of cannabis has been a failure, and Americans across our nation are demanding a more sensible approach,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Following the November election, federal laws are now out of step with 44 states. The time is now to come together and bring the federal government in line with the will of the American people.”
Rep. Rohrbacher says if the major changes they’re looking for happen, including a shift on how the country views cannabis use, “many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”
Unsurprisingly, marijuana advocacy groups are pleased about the Cannabis Caucus. In a joint statement, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and others commended the lawmakers for leading the charge on cannabis policy, and said they look forward to working with the caucus members.
“The establishment of a Cannabis Caucus will allow members from both parties, who represent diverse constituencies from around the country, to join together for the purpose of advancing sensible cannabis policy reform,” the statement reads.
“The formation of this caucus is a testament to how far our country has come on the issue of cannabis policy,” the groups add. “There is a growing consensus that cannabis prohibition has failed, and it is time for a more sensible approach.”
Het artikel gaat verder.quote:Houston D.A. Will No Longer Prosecute Pot Cases, Outraging Other Prosecutors
Texas' Harris County, which includes Houston, will no longer arrest or prosecute most marijuana possession cases under four ounces starting on March 1, the county district attorney and city officials said in a press conference Thursday.
Harris County D.A. Kim Ogg and Houston city officials instead unveiled a new diversion program they say will steer thousands of people away from jail and a permanent criminal record, while saving the county millions of dollars in court, jail, and drug lab costs. It will also make the third-most populous county in the U.S. one of the more progressive on policing marijuana offenses, at least among places where the drug remains illegal.
"At 107,000 cases over the last ten years, we have spent in excess of $250 million dollars collectively prosecuting a crime that has produced no tangible evidence of improved public safety," Ogg said. "Additionally, the collateral damage to our workforce is immeasurable—because what we have done is we have disqualified, unnecessarily, thousands of people from greater job, housing and education opportunities by giving them a criminal record for what is in effect a minor law violation."
Under the new program, those caught with marijuana will be required to take a four-hour diversion class and pay $150 (excepting indigent offenders). They will have no arrest or court record. The county will still prosecute marijuana possession in some instances, such as near school zones, and juveniles are not eligible for the program. However, it still widely expands the previous diversion program offered by the county, which only applied to first-time offenders caught with under two ounces of marijuana.
Criminal justice groups such as Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project applauded the news.
"Prior to today, a person found in possession of four ounces or less of marijuana in Houston faced arrest and possible jail time," Rob Smith, director of the Fair Punishment Project, says. "Even four or five days in jail could mean a lost job or an uncared for child or elderly parent. Today, District Attorney Kim Ogg took an important step toward making the justice system more humane and fair by recognizing that shuffling more people through the system for non-violent drug offenses was doing more harm than good."
Naturally, however, this upset other prosecutors who enjoy throwing long-hairs and beatniks in jail, such as Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon.
"Unlike Harris County, Montgomery County will not become a sanctuary for dope smokers," Ligon said in response to the new policy. "I swore an oath to follow the law—all the laws, as written by the Texas Legislature. I don't get to pick and choose which laws I enforce."
This is an oft-repeated line by prosecutors, suggesting that their hands are tied by what laws legislators pass, but here's the thing: Prosecutors do pick which laws they enforce. They do it every day. Prosecutors have freedom to choose whether to file or dismiss charges, and they often have several overlapping criminal statutes to choose from, allowing them to overcharge or undercharge a defendant as they see fit. For a defendant, this can be the difference between misdemeanor possession, possession with intent to distribute, or drug trafficking and distribution. If a defendant agrees to take a plea deal—and an overwhelming percentage of defendants take the deal because of the leverage prosecutors wield—prosecutors can make more serious charges disappear.
quote:Tweede Kamer steunt legalisering wietteelt
Legalisering van wietteelt is een stapje dichterbij gekomen. De Tweede Kamer heeft met een krappe meerderheid een initiatiefwet van D66 aangenomen, waarin staat dat cannabis onder bepaalde voorwaarden legaal kan worden geteeld en ingekocht.
Het wetsvoorstel van Kamerlid Bergkamp regelt dat professionele telers die zich aan de voorwaarden houden een ontheffing kunnen krijgen. De teelt van de wiet wordt gecontroleerd door de overheid.
Bij de stemming schaarden 77 Kamerleden zich achter het voorstel en 72 keerden zich ertegen. Voor waren D66, PvdA, SP, GroenLinks, 50Plus, Partij voor de Dieren, Kuzu/Ízturk, Bontes/Van Klaveren, Van Vliet, Klein, Houwers en Monasch. Tegen stemden VVD, CDA, PVV, ChristenUnie en SGP.
Met de stemming in de Tweede Kamer is overigens helemaal niet zeker dat het voorstel van Bergkamp ook wet wordt. Ook de Eerste Kamer moet er nog mee akkoord gaan.
Als alle partijen in de senaat hetzelfde stemmen als in de Tweede Kamer, wordt de wet verworpen. Mogelijk wordt de manier waarop partijen verder omgaan met de legalisering onderwerp van discussie in de kabinetsformatie na de verkiezingen.
D66 wil met het voorstel het al jaren slepende gedoogbeleid doorbreken, het systeem waarbij coffeeshophouders wel wiet mogen verkopen, maar waarbij de drugs niet mogen worden geteeld of ingekocht. Volgens Bergkamp is de wet goed voor de volksgezondheid en voor het terugdringen van de criminaliteit. Voorstanders verwijzen ook naar de steun die veel gemeenten aan het plan geven.
Tegenstanders zeggen onder meer dat het reguleren van wietteelt in strijd is met internationale regels, dat het zal leiden tot meer verslaafde jongeren en dat de georganiseerde misdaad zal blijven telen voor de internationale markt. Het kabinet is ook zeer kritisch over het voorstel.
Het enige liberale van de VVD is de vrijheid van multinationals om geld te verdienen ten koste van burgers en gezond verstand.quote:Op dinsdag 21 februari 2017 15:40 schreef Basp1 het volgende:
Zou het dan toch ooit echt gebeuren in nederland.
En dat de nep liberalen van de VVD zich maar eens diep gaan schamen dat hun tegen stemmen.
quote:White House compares recreational pot to opioid crisis, says DOJ will be 'taking action' - 7NEWS Denver TheDenverChannel.com
WASHINGTON – White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at Thursday’s daily press briefing that he expects the Department of Justice will be “taking action” against states that have legalized recreational marijuana, and at the same time seemingly compared recreational use to the nationwide opioid crisis.
“There’s a big difference between [medical] and recreational marijuana,” Spicer said. “And I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people.”
Spicer was addressing a question about medical marijuana from an Arkansas reporter. State voters legalized a medical marijuana program in the state last year.
“This president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring them.”
But he added to the worry that some supporters of recreational marijuana have had since Jeff Sessions, who has in the past been a critic of legal recreational pot, was nominated and confirmed as the new U.S. attorney general.
Sessions is on record in the past saying that “Good people don’t smoke marijuana” and that “marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized” and that it is “a very real danger.”
“There is still a federal law that we need to abide by in kind of terms of when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,” Spicer said. “So I think there’s a big difference between medical marijuana, the states…that have set forth a process to administer and regulate that usage, versus recreational marijuana. And it’s a very, very different subject.”
He called on another reporter when the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush tried to follow up on Spicer’s statements, but that reporter also pressed Spicer on the marijuana comments.
“I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it,” Spicer said in regards to the DOJ’s stance on legalized recreational marijuana.
Eight states have now legalized recreational marijuana and 29 states allow medical marijuana, but Colorado has been the frontrunner in the industry since its voters approved medical marijuana in 2000 and recreational marijuana in 2012.
The recreational industry went active in 2014 and has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars to Colorado each year until 2016, when the state sold $875 million of recreational pot and $438 million of medical marijuana.
The state brought in nearly $200 million in revenue off the 2016 sales, much of which goes to school construction projects and public health initiatives.
Swift reaction from marijuana industry, Colorado politicians
Colorado marijuana industry leader Kristi Kelly, the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, told Denver7 earlier this month that she believed the dismantling of the legal recreational industry in the state would cause a recession.
“The economics of this are huge in Colorado,” Kelly said. “There is a billion-dollar economic impact in Colorado, which is directly attributable or affiliated with the cannabis industry, so that equates to 20,000 people licensed in trade.”
Marijuana industry leaders reacted swiftly to Spicer’s comments Thursday afternoon:
“Colorado is one of the only states in the nation that is seeing a decline in opioid deaths -- that's not a coincidence. Cannabis is a healthy alternative to pain pills and heroin, not a gateway to it,” said Isaac Dietrich, the CEO of MassRoots.
“The comments from Secretary Spicer are ignorant and disappointing, although not unexpected. The cannabis industry will fight any pressure from the federal government to set back the significant progress that's been made thus far,” said Jeffrey Zucker, President of Green Lion Partners.
Brian Ruden, who owns seven dispensaries in Denver, also said that such actions against the recreational industry would have far-reaching effects.
“There are thousands and thousands of jobs that rely on the marijuana industry indirectly,” Ruden said. “Electricians, plumbers, warehouse space – all things are impacted by the industry.”
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., issued the following statement in response to Spicer’s comments:
“The President has said time and again that the decision about marijuana needs to be left to the states,” Polis said. “Now either the President is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn, either way these comments leave doubt and uncertainty for the marijuana industry, stifling job growth in my state. The public has spoken on recreational marijuana, we’ve seen it work in Colorado, and now is the time to lift the federal prohibition.”
The office of the Colorado Attorney General also had something to say about Spicer's comments.
"Today’s comments by the White House Press Secretary were so general in nature that it’s impossible to discern what action the Administration actually will take on legalized recreational marijuana," said director of communications Annie Skinner. "Until the Department of Justice issues an official position, we won’t be able to chart a legal course of action for Colorado."
The Cannabis Business Alliance also issued a statement about Spicer’s comments.
“The legal cannabis industry takes power and money out of the hands of drug cartels and puts funds into state coffers and has the real potential to help offset the Federal Government’s budget shortfalls,” its executive director, Mark Malone, said in part in the statement. “Dialing back any level of legalization of marijuana would be extremely misguided and would turn back the enormous positive progress that has occurred over the last several years. Going after the legal marijuana industry would be a direct affront to the overwhelming numbers of Americans who have voted time after time to approve legal cannabis.”
“President Trump has said that this is a State issue so we expect him to be true to his word and continue to let States regulate cannabis,” Malone’s statement continued.
History of recreational and medical marijuana in regards to federal law
The Obama administration allowed states to operate medical and recreational marijuana business without much federal intervention, despite the plant still being classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which Spicer was referring to in regards to the medical pot industry, prohibits the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. It was first introduced in 2003, but did not become law until December 2014.
Sessions has only said he would "review and address" the recreational laws, but the DOJ has yet to issue any statement on how it will address federal enforcement of marijuana laws.
Spicer’s comments came minutes after he said transgender bathroom guidelines were a “states’ rights issue.”
quote:Boekpresentatie ‘De kwaal is erger dan het middel’
Boekpresentatie in boekhandel Gianotten Mutsaers, Tilburg, op donderdag 23 februari
2017 om 16.00 uur. De eerste exemplaren worden in ontvangst genomen door ex-premier Dries van Agt en Tweede Kamerlid Vera Bergkamp.
Pamflet: tien opstellen van specialisten onder redactie van ex-psychiater Freek Polak. Met medewerking van Hulya Cigdem, Edward Tellegen, Hedy d’Ancona, Kaj Holleman, Peter Cohen, Victor Everhardt en Cees Maris. ‘De drugsbestrijding levert maatschappelijk meer schade op dan de middelen
waartegen ze wordt ingezet,’ aldus Freek Polak. ‘Het drugsverbod is onnodig, onrechtvaardig, onwerkzaam en ondermijnend.’ Of het nu gaat om gezondheidsrisico’s, overbelasting van rechters en het OM, onveiligheid in woonwijken met plantages, of weggegooid overheidsgeld, vermeerderd met gederfde belastinginkomsten – ons drugsbeleid blijkt desastreus. Het merendeel van de bevolking wil van het verbod af, het merendeel van de Tweede Kamerleden ook. In dit pamflet leggen deskundigen uit dat de argumenten van de droogleggers onhoudbaar zijn en dat drugshandel dus moet worden vrijgegeven – en hoe dan. Nu nota bene zelfs de VS een federaal gedoogbeleid voor cannabis hebben, is het de hoogste tijd om het Nederlandse beleid te veranderen. Ex-psychiater Freek Polak is medeoprichter en bestuurder van de Stichting Drugsbeleid (DSB) en van het Verbond voor Opheffing van het Cannabisverbod(VOC). Tevens vertegenwoordigde hij van 2007 tot 2013 als bestuurslid de European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) bij internationale conferenties en vergaderingen van de VN en de EU.
quote:Huge cannabis farm 'was staffed by trafficked Vietnamese teenagers'
Three teenagers were found working in slave-like conditions at former nuclear bunker in Wiltshire, police say
A vast marijuana farm discovered in a former nuclear bunker in Wiltshire was staffed by trafficked Vietnamese teenagers working in slave-like conditions, police say.
The three teenagers, the youngest of whom was initially thought to be 15, and one adult in his 30s, were found working as gardeners inside the 1980s bunker after a midnight raid on Wednesday.
DI Paul Franklin from Wiltshire police said officers recognised that the four gardeners were victims, adding: “No one would do this by choice.” He described the living and working conditions in the 20-room bunker, hidden in the countryside, as “grim for anyone, let alone a 15-year-old”.
“This was slave labour. There is no natural light, no running water supplies, water had to be brought in. This is hard, manual labour – it’s not just a walk around with a watering can. I was shocked by the scale of it,” Franklin said. “There is no fresh air, just the cloying, sweet humid smell of the plants that permeates everything.”
Detectives were trying to establish whether the four men were able to come and go freely or were locked inside RGHQ Chilmark, built in 1985 to serve as the regional government headquarters in the event of a nuclear attack. The two-storey underground site is no longer owned by the Ministry of Defence, but remains intact, with protective nuclear blast doors still in place.
It was unclear whether the workers had been held there for several months, since the cannabis plants were seedlings, or if they were working in rotation with other gardeners. There were several thousand plants, approximately 200 in each of the bunker’s 20 rooms, at various different stages of growth, and police estimated the street value of the cannabis was over ú1m.
Three British men were charged on Friday afternoon with conspiracy to produce cannabis, and conspiring to hold another person in slavery or servitude. The four Vietnamese men were released from custody, and were told no further action would be taken against them. An age assessment conducted while they were in the police station provisionally put the three teenagers at about 19 years old.
There was plenty of food in a fridge in the bunker’s kitchen, police said, and a basic sleeping area in one room. “We believe they had no choice. I think they were held there in human-trafficking, slave conditions,” Franklin said. “We have never seen anything on this scale.” He said the men, who spoke no English, had been “very fearful and apprehensive” when they were arrested. Officers were trying to establish whether the men could be assigned to the national referral mechanism, the framework for identifying victims of human trafficking.
This week’s discovery is an extreme example of a phenomenon police have been aware of for the past decade: the large-scale trafficking by organised crime groups of vulnerable young people from Vietnam to the UK to work in cannabis farms. Often these farms are relatively small, located in terraced houses which have been stripped inside, fitted with complex ventilation, lighting and watering systems, and are tended by a lone gardener, who is often locked into the property, receiving food deliveries through the letterbox and gardening instructions by text message.
But police last year discovered a number of much larger operations, raiding an ex-Barclays bank in Grimsby, a disused sports centre in south Wales, and a recently emptied GP surgery in Cumbria that had all been turned into cannabis farms, tended by Vietnamese workers.
David Cameron visited Vietnam in 2015, and promised to crack down on the trafficking of children to work in UK nail bars and cannabis farms, but the flow of Vietnamese children into the country continues, and there has never been a prosecution of a people trafficker from Vietnam.
Franklin said there was a lack of public awareness about the conditions in which cannabis was produced for UK consumers. “On social media people are asking: ‘Why are police taking action on cannabis? It’s harmless.’ I think perhaps people don’t appreciate that these are the conditions people are working in, that people are being trafficked, and that this is what it takes to get that product on to the streets.”
Anne Read, the director of anti-trafficking and modern slavery at the Salvation Army, who has worked with Vietnamese people trafficked for cannabis cultivation over the past eight years, said their numbers had risen during the last two years.
“They tend to be young men, they are nearly always locked into a premises so they have no contact with the outside world. They don’t know where they are, what part of the country they are in, and they usually don’t speak English,” she said. “Sometimes their clothes are taken from them, so they are left in their shirts and underpants, making it harder to escape.”
Often young people were told in Vietnam they were going to be helped to find legitimate work in the UK, she said; sometimes they were unaware that this was an illegal activity, and were told they were growing Chinese medicinal herbs. “The traffickers encourage them to build up a debt over a period of time that they will never be able to pay off. Then they are trapped, threatened and frightened for their families.”
Chloe Setter, the policy head at children’s charity Ecpat UK, which specialises in child trafficking victims, said she was concerned that the age of the youngest teenager had been questioned: “Those found in cannabis factories are often teenagers from Vietnam who have no identity documents and whose ages are disbelieved. Such a culture of disbelief puts young people at risk and often leads to them being retrafficked.
“We are extremely concerned that, despite new legislation and oft-vaunted promises about eradicating modern slavery, there are still children and young people being exploited as ‘gardeners’ in cannabis factories across the UK, often right under our noses. Many people who smoke cannabis do not appreciate the exploitation that is involved in its production.”
quote:Novadic-Kentron is wÚl blij als er staatswiet komt
DEN BOSCH - De Brabantse verslavingszorginstelling Novadic-Kentron is wel degelijk voorstander van het reguleren van de wietteelt. De organisatie vindt dat het Rosmalense CDA-Kamerlid Madeleine van Toorenburg ten onrechte de indruk heeft gewekt dat Novadic-Kentron tÚgen is.
In ÚÚn van de debatten in de Tweede Kamer citeerde Van Toorenburg Peter Greeven, hoofd behandelzaken van Novadic-Kentron. Die zei in januari tegen het Brabants Dagblad 'dat cannabis een sluipmoordenaar is die zich in een rustig hoekje schuilhoudt, maar ondertussen wel je hele leven laat stagneren.' Van Toorenburg voerde het citaat op als ÚÚn van de argumenten tegen het reguleren van de wietteelt, waar het CDA fel op tegen is.
Uit de context
Novadic/Kentron betreurt het dat Van Toorenburg 'het citaat uit de context heeft gehaald'. En die context is dat Novadic/Kentron het juist prima vindt dat de overheid straks henneptelers gaan aanwijzen die de coffeeshops mogen bevoorraden. ,,De overheid kan dan invloed hebben op de producten die verkocht worden. Nu liggen de coffeeshops vol met opgefokte cannabis, vol met pesticiden", zegt Charles Dorpmans. Hij wijst er ook op dat volgens het dinsdag aangenomen wetsvoorstel van D66 gemeenten de mogelijkheid krijgen om extra eisen te stellen aan coffeeshops. ,,Het zou goed zijn om coffeeshops te verplichten om aan preventie te doen."
Als het wetsvoorstel ook door de Eerste Kamer wordt goedgekeurd, blijven coffeeshops verboden terrein voor jongeren onder de achttien jaar. Juist die groep had Peter Greeven op het oog toen hij het in januari had over 'cannabis als sluipmoordenaar'. ,,Die groep is het meest kwetsbaar voor cannabis", beaamt Dorpmans. ,,Jongeren van die leeftijd gaan aan het experimenteren. Dan kun je zeggen dat cannabis troep is en hartstikke slecht, maar dat is niet genoeg. Je moet die boodschap op een andere manier brengen." In de gemeenten Landerd en Someren is Novadic-Kentron daar druk mee bezig, zegt Dorpmans.
quote:A hidden cost of the war on drugs
AI just completed another paper (this time with my longtime partner in crime Vadim Kufenko) where we question an hypothesis advanced by Samuel Bowles regarding the cost of inequality. In the process, we proposed an alternative explanation which has implications for the evaluation of the war on drugs.
In recent years, Samuel Bowles (2012) has advanced a theory (well-embedded within neoclassical theoretical elements while remaining elegantly simple) whereby inequality increases distrust which in turn magnifies agency problems. This forces firms to expend more resources on supervision and protection which means an expansion of the “guard labor force” (or supervisory labor force). Basically, he argues there is an over-provision of security and supervision. That is the cost of inequality which Bowles presents as a coordination failure. We propose an alternative explanation for the size of the guard and supervisory labor forces.
Our alternative is that there can be over-provision of security and supervision, but this could also be the result of a government failure. We argue that the war on drugs leads to institutional decay and lower levels of trust which, in turn, force private actors to deploy resources to supervise workers and protect themselves. Basically, efforts at prohibiting illicit substances require that limited policing resources be spread more thinly which may force private actors to expend more resources on security for themselves (thus creating an overprovision of security). This represents a form of state failure, especially if the attempts at policing these illicit substances increase the level of crime to which populations are vulnerable. To counteract this, private actors invest more in protection and supervision.
Using some of the work of Jeffrey Miron and Katherine Waldock, we show that increases in the intensity of prohibition enforcement efforts (measured in dollars per capita) have significant effects on the demand for guard labor. Given that guards represent roughly 1 million individuals in the US labor market, that is not a negligible outcome. We find that a one standard deviation increase in the level of drug enforcement efforts increases the ratio of guards to the population by somewhere between 12.92% and 13.91% (which is the equivalent of roughly 100,000 workers).
While our paper concentrated on proposing an alternative to the argument advanced by Bowles regarding the cost of inequality, we (more or less accidentally) measured a hidden cost from the war on drugs. The insecurity (increased crime rates and spillovers from illegal markets into formal markets) brought forth by drug prohibition forces an over-provision of security and supervision (our supervision measure which includes workers that supervise other workers were smaller than with the security guard measure).
Basically, a hidden (private cost) of the war on drugs is that we must reallocate resources that we could have used otherwise. Its a little like when I say that it is meaningless to compare healthcare expenditures to GDP in Canada and the United States because Canadians assume costs in a hidden manner through rationing. Waiting lists in Canada are longer than in the US. The cost is lost wages and enduring pain and that cost will not appear in measures of expenditures to GDP. The war on drugs works the same way. There is a fiscal cost (expenditures dedicated to it and the taxes that we must impose), there is a crime cost (destruction of lives and property) and there is a reallocation cost of privately providing security which is hard to measure.
*The paper will be made public soon, its just under review for a WP series.
Filmpje op de site.quote:
quote:Amerikaanse kustwacht doet megavangst coca´ne bij Suriname | NOS
In internationale wateren voor de kust van Suriname is 4,2 ton coca´ne onderschept. De drugs hebben een straatwaarde van bijna 120 miljoen euro en waren aan boord van een vissersschip uit Saint Vincent. Woordvoerder Ricardo Castrodad van de Amerikaanse kustwacht heeft dat tegenover de NOS bevestigd.
De vangst werd op 16 februari gedaan tijdens een gezamenlijke operatie van de kustwacht van de Verenigde Staten en die van Trinidad en Tobago. Het schip, de Lady Michelle, is naar Puerto Rico gesleept waar de lading is overgedragen aan de Amerikaanse drugsbestrijdingsdienst, de DEA. De vier opvarenden uit Guyana zijn gearresteerd en zitten vast.
Castrodrad zegt dat het onderzoek nog niet is afgerond en dat hij daarom nog niet kan zeggen waar het schip vandaan kwam en wat de bestemming was. Volgens de kustwacht is de vangst de grootste in de Atlantische regio sinds 1999.
De vertegenwoordiger van het Caribische kantoor van de DEA, James Dolby, wijst op de toename van de coca´nestroom vanuit Zuid-Amerika. "Vanwege die toename moeten de drugsbestrijdingsdiensten in de regio hun krachten bundelen, zegt Dolby tegen het Spaanse persbureau Efe. "Deze actie is daar een mooi voorbeeld van."
quote:In Amsterdam is gistermiddag een 13-jarige jongen overleden nadat hij aanstekergas had ge´nhaleerd. Hij kreeg een hartstilstand.
De jongen was samen met een leeftijdgenoot toen hij onwel werd. Toen de politie bij de bovenwoning aan de Haarlemmerstraat arriveerde, was de vader van een vriend van de jongen bezig hem te reanimeren. Agenten namen de reanimatie over, maar die mocht niet meer baten.
Een leraar van de school waar de jongen zat, meldde dat hij aan lachgas zou zijn overleden. Maar dat klopt niet, zegt de politie. De recherche stelde snel vast dat het om aanstekergas ging.
Volgens een woordvoerder van de politie wordt aanstekergas al langer gebruikt onder jongeren, maar "op heel kleine schaal". "We worden er als politie heel af en toe mee geconfronteerd. Dan heeft er iemand honderd aanstekers onder zijn bed liggen."
Onlangs stierf in BelgiŰ een 19-jarige vrouw nadat ze aanstekergas had gesnoven.
quote:Jeff Sessions Wants to Bring Back 'Just Say No' - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Attorney General Jeff Sessions laid out a three-pronged approach to combatting illicit drug use today at the New Hampshire Youth Summit on Opioid Awareness.
"There are three main ways to fight back against this problem," Sessions said in his prepared remarks. "Prevention, criminal enforcement and treatment."
In contast with federal drug officials under Obama, Sessions doesn't seem too keen on treatment:
Treatment is also important, but treatment often comes too late. Individuals have already lost their jobs and flunked their tests. Then the struggle to defeat addiction can be a long process – and it can fail. Experts will tell you that recovery is not certain. For many, addiction can be a death sentence.
I have seen families spend all their savings and retirement money on treatment programs for their children—just to see these programs sometimes fail.
Ramped-up enforcement, however, is something he's much more enthusiastic about: "The President has issued an Executive Order to the Department of Justice to dismantle these organizations and gangs. We are going to get rid of them. Of that you can be sure."
Sessions also called for a revival of late 80s/early 90s anti-drug marketing, the most famous example of which is former First Lady Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign:
The most effective solution in the 1980s and early '90s—when, for example, we saw a significant decline in teen drug use—was the Prevention Campaign. People began to stop using drugs. Drug users were not cool. Crime fell dramatically, and addiction fell too.
The National Institute for Drug Abuse reported this past December—as in, three months ago—that past-year use of illicit drugs among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders "continu[es] to decline to the lowest level in the history of the survey." Meanwhile, buckets of studies have shown that Just Say No-era anti-drug programming doesn't work.
quote:Aboutaleb wil extra agenten voor strijd tegen onzichtbare criminaliteit | NOS
De nationale politie moet er zeker 5000 agenten bij krijgen. Deze uitbreiding is nodig om zaken als ondermijning aan te kunnen pakken. Deze oproep doet burgemeester Ahmed Aboutaleb van Rotterdam aan het nieuwe kabinet. "We hebben geen lucht meer in het politiesysteem."
In zijn eigen regio heeft Aboutaleb behoefte aan zeker 400 tot 500 politiemensen extra. "Ik moet enorm dealen met de capaciteit door zaken als terreur, de spanningen in de samenleving, polarisatie, cybercrime en de drugs in de haven. Ook grote evenementen vreten capaciteit", stelt de burgemeester.
Om niet zichtbare, maar wel samenleving ondermijnende criminaliteit aan te pakken, zijn veel mensen nodig. Niet alleen van de gemeente maar ook van opsporingsdiensten. Een aanpak die volgens Aboutaleb broodnodig is om criminele activiteiten terug te dringen.
Een van die gebieden waar Aboutaleb een offensief is gestart tegen ondermijning is de Spaanse Polder op het grondgebied van Schiedam en Rotterdam. Met een kleine duizend ondernemers en bedrijven is dit het grootste aaneengesloten bedrijventerrein van West-Europa.
Een deel van de ondernemers is volgens Aboutaleb malafide. "We hebben dit gebied de afgelopen 15 jaar op zijn beloop gelaten. Er waren nauwelijks klachten, maar de schijn bedriegt."
Vooral in de autobranche is er veel mis. In het gebied zitten meer dan 200 autobedrijven, waaronder veel verhuurbedrijven. De burgemeester schat dat een groot deel hiervan zich met andere activiteiten bezighoudt. Auto’s worden geleased aan criminelen, in auto’s worden verborgen ruimtes aangebracht om drugs, wapens en geld te vervoeren, gestolen auto’s worden omgekat. Bij een garage werd zelfs op zolder een bordeel aangetroffen.
Deze bedrijven faciliteren de zwarte economie, waarvan de drugshandel een onderdeel is, stelt Aboutaleb. Hij wil de malafide bedrijven aanpakken. "Een aantal zal moeten opdoeken. Mijn boodschap aan hen is duidelijk: maak dat je wegkomt, anders ga je het merken."
Het aanpakken van ondermijning heeft grote prioriteit voor Aboutaleb. "Het vreet aan de wortel van de samenleving. Het gaat om immens grote vermogens. Criminelen huren peperdure appartementen om er alleen hun geld op te slaan. Maar de aanpak vergt een lange adem. Het gaat vaak om langdurige onderzoeken."
quote:Homeless blighted by 'legal high' ú5-a-gram 'Spice'
Trade has not stopped after ban, but merely passed onto professional drug dealers.
Since the ban on 'legal highs' came into force last year, the emergency services in Manchester have recorded a drop in calls related to the drugs.
The 'head shops' have all closed, and the heavy users who would cluster around them are no longer a problem to police.
But the trade in 'legal highs' hasn't stopped. It has merely passed into the hands of professional drug dealers.
And with a stockpile of newly-banned drugs that they bought at a knockdown price, suddenly they have been able to flood the market with cheap psychoactive drugs - drugs known universally as `Spice'.
The customers are no longer the students, hipsters,office workers and partygoers who frequented the head shops. They are Manchester's homeless.
And for just a few pounds, begged on the streets of the city centre, they can suddenly afford to smoke themselves into oblivion.
In the last few weeks charity workers have noticed a sudden spike in the numbers of homeless admitted to hospital, suffering the effects of an apparent overdose.
They blame a new and powerful batch of Spice which has suddenly appeared, selling for as little as ú5 for a gram.
During the daytime, users can be seen, swaying and barely conscious, or slumped and comatose in the street.
And every evening, the blue lights of ambulances light the streets as case after case is taken to hospital.
Today scientists at the city's Metropolitan University analysed a sample of the drug - in an attempt to understand exactly what is being peddled to the city's poorest and most vulnerable people.
0quote:Spain Arrests, Drug Seizures Signal Colombia Cocaine Boom Could Hit Europe
Authorities in Spain seized over one ton of cocaine from a Colombian drug trafficking network and arrested dozens of its members, a potential sign that the surge in Colombia's cocaine production is altering trafficking patterns in yet another part of the world.
Spain's National Police captured 24 members of a Colombian drug trafficking group that was seeking to establish a new maritime route into Spain, reported EFE. The operation, which was carried out last weekend, also reportedly netted a seizure of 2,400 kilograms of cocaine.
"It is one of the most important operations against cocaine trafficking that has been carried out in Spain in recent years, not just because of the large quantity of drugs, but because of the number of people detained, some of whom are very important in international cocaine trafficking," said Ricardo Toro, the Director of the Special Response Group for Organized Crime.
"If [the authorities] hadn't triumphed with their operation, they probably would have installed themselves here, in Galicia and in other parts of Spain," Toro continued.
The investigation began in June 2016, according to EFE, when Spanish authorities identified a known Colombian drug trafficker who was attempting to open a permanent "oficina," or office, in Madrid.
More recently, the Spanish Civil Guard arrested 12 alleged members of a drug trafficking ring in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a city in one of the Canary Islands off the northwestern coast of Africa. Most of the suspects are of Colombian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian nationality, and are allegedly responsible for smuggling close to 400 kilograms of cocaine into Europe, EFE reported separately.
The raid of a Colombian drug ring in Spain is not exactly revelatory; the country has long served as the entry point for Colombian traffickers seeking a way into the lucrative European drug market. In 2014, Spanish police told InSight Crime that Colombians had set up between 12 and 20 "oficinas de cobro," which are criminal structures that are often involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.
Still, the amount of cocaine seized and the number of Colombians involved suggests Spain may be beginning to feel the effects of spiking cocaine production back in Colombia. Both the United Nations and the United States have registered significant increases in coca cultivation in recent years, and US officials recently told El Tiempo they believe there is now more coca being sown in Colombian soil than at any other point in the country's history.
There are already indications that the huge rise in cocaine production has impacted trafficking patterns in Latin America and consumption habits in the United States. A recent report by the US State Department linked Colombia's cocaine boom to greater availability and usage of the drug in the United States, something that hasn't been seen in nearly a decade. Seizures are also on the upswing in Central America and Mexico, as are confiscations of multi-ton cocaine shipments, which had become increasingly rare in recent years.
But with the amount of cocaine now flooding the market, it appears traffickers are willing to take bigger risks by sending larger shipments to more profitable markets like the United States and Europe.
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quote:Israel gives green light to decriminalize marijuana use
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli government voted on Sunday in favor of decriminalizing recreational marijuana use, joining some U.S. states and European countries who have adopted a similar approach.
"On the one hand we are opening ourselves up to the future. On the other hand, we understand the dangers and will try to balance the two," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet in broadcast remarks.
According to the new policy, which must still be ratified by parliament, people caught smoking marijuana would be fined rather than arrested and prosecuted. Criminal procedures would be launched only against those caught repeatedly with the drug.
Selling and growing marijuana would remain criminal offences in Israel.
"Israel cannot shut its eyes to the changes being made across the world in respect to marijuana consumption and its effects," Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a statement.
In the United States, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical use and since 2012, several have also approved marijuana for recreational use.
Shaked said Israeli authorities would now put their focus on education about the possible harmful effects of drug use.
Marijuana use is fairly common in Israel. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has said that almost nine percent of Israelis use cannabis, though some Israeli experts believe the numbers are higher.
Israeli police figures showed only 188 people were arrested in 2015 for recreational use of marijuana, a 56 percent drop since 2010, and many of those apprehended in that time were never charged.
About 25,000 people have a license to use the drug for medicinal purposes in Israel, one of the world leaders in medical marijuana research.
In February, a government committee gave an initial nod for the export of medical cannabis, though final legislative measures will likely take months.
0quote:Pharmaceutical Giants Caught Supplying Cartels With Tons of Bulk Ingredients to Produce Meth
Prosecutors in Belgium have recently announced that executives with pharmaceutical companies based in the country will be charged with knowingly providing drug cartels with prescription drugs that were used to manufacture methamphetamine.
The companies are accused of providing the Mexican drug kingpin Ezio Figueroa Vazquez with several tons of ephedrine, knowing that it would be used in the production of methamphetamine.
Prosecutors have said that there are seven executives who were charged with crimes, but they have not named these executives or the companies that they represent. However, Reuters uncovered that Sterop and Andacon are two of the three companies involved in the charges.
The companies claim that they had no clue who was buying the drugs, but prosecutors say that they have evidence proving that the executives had full knowledge of what they were involved in. The evidence reportedly includes email and phone surveillance.
Prosecutors spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said that Ezio Figueroa Vazquez received large shipments of ephedrine from these companies between 2006 and 2011, which cost an estimated 360 million euros.
As we reported last month, according to neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart, the top big pharma drug Adderall is nearly identical to crystal meth. Not only are these drugs similar, but it also seems that big pharma is the source of the cartel’s needed supply.
This arrangement makes sense because the only place to get massive quantities of a substance like ephedrine would be a pharmaceutical company, and most of these companies don’t really care who their customers are, especially if they are making millions of dollars on the deal.
quote:Now-Former Mayor Pleads Guilty After Drug Dealing ArrestNow-Former Mayor Pleads Guilty After Drug Dealing Arrest - Living Resistance
The former mayor of Fairfax, Virginia, pleaded guilty Monday to a felony drug distribution charge stemming from his arrest in August for selling methamphetamine to undercover officers in exchange for group sex.
Brandi Buchman | Courthouse News Service
Richard Silverthorne, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of distributing crystal meth in Fairfax County Circuit Court. The former mayor of Fairfax is to remain in custody until his June 9 sentencing hearing where he faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
The scandal began after Silverthorne was caught up in a police sting at a Tyson’s Corner hotel.
Police said they received a tip last summer that Silverthorne was using an online dating site to arrange trysts with men in exchange for drugs. According to local police, Silverthorne gave an undercover officer two grams of meth after meeting at the hotel.
Free on bond since the beginning of his case, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Grace Carroll revoked the privilege Monday, much to the dismay of Silverthorne’s family and friends who were present during sentencing.
Silverthorne resigned from his city position after his arrest. He was also fired from the Fairfax County Public School system, where he worked as a substitute teacher.
The largely white, affluent suburb right outside Washington, D.C. is the second wealthiest county in the nation.
The county has roughly 1.2 million residents, and is also home to some of the nation’s most powerful federal agencies including the CIA.
Median income in Fairfax County hovers right around $115,000 and corporations like Capital One, Northrop Grumman and Volkswagen are among its most prominent employers.
Published by Courthouse News Service.
quote:The intoxicating drug of an Indian god
The cannabis plant’s role in Hindu mythology has authorities turning a blind eye to India’s drug shops.
Het artikel gaat verder.quote:Although the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985 prohibits the production, sale and consumption of certain parts of the cannabis plant, the leaves are an exception. There are even government-approved bhang shops in towns like Jaisalmer and Pushkar, and more than 200 such shops – including Pathak’s – exist year-round in Varanasi. The intoxicating ingredient has always been popular with India’s Brahmin community, who were traditionally forbidden from imbibing inebriants like alcohol. In some especially religious parts of the country, including Varanasi, it is common to see babas and sadhus (holy men) consuming bhang directly or smoking it from a clay pipe known as a chillum.
quote:"Mostly in poor and minority communities our current laws are turning everyday Americans into criminals, sending them to jail, ruining their lives, tearing apart families and wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate people for marijuana use," Gabbard's statement said.
"The drug has been proven time and time again to be far less dangerous than alcohol, both for individual consumers as well as for the people around them," she adds.
The Hawaii congresswoman said the current laws surrounding marijuana put a strain on the justice system, and detailed her recent visits to prisons in Hawaii where she saw "crumbling infrastructure, the extreme overcrowding and facilities in dire need of upgrades."
Gabbard also highlighted the contradiction between federal law and those of individual states regarding marijuana, and how it has affected bankers and credit unions in Hawaii where marijuana is legalized but federal law prohibits them from dealing in financial transactions from marijuana.