quote:Adviescommissie: kabinet moet wietexperiment groter aanpakken
Meer deelnemende gemeenten, meerdere betrokken telers en geen grenzen aan de sterkte van de wiet. Volgens de commissie-Knottnerus moet het kabinet het experiment met legale wiet groter aanpakken dan nu het idee is. Dat is een voorwaarde om het wietexperiment te laten slagen, aldus de commissie.
"Dit experiment heeft een goede kans van slagen, maar dan moet het wel aan een aantal voorwaarden voldoen. Bij de teelt, de distributie en de verkoop. Maar ook bij preventie en toezicht", zegt voorzitter AndrÚ Knottnerus.
De commissie heeft de afgelopen maanden het geplande wietexperiment onder de loep genomen en brengt vandaag een advies uit. Daarin staat onder meer dat het experiment in "aanzienlijk meer" gemeenten zou moeten plaatsvinden dan de zes tot tien die het kabinet nu heeft vastgesteld. Volgens de commissie is het voor de waarde van het experiment van belang dat er grote en kleine gemeenten verspreid over het land meedoen aan de proef.
Niet afbouwen na vier jaar
Het wietexperiment gaat vier jaar duren. In die periode mag er in bepaalde gemeenten cannabis worden geproduceerd en ook worden geleverd aan coffeeshops. Het kabinet wil dat er daarna een 'afbouwfase' komt, waarin de situatie wordt hersteld zoals die bestond voor de proef. De commissie vindt dat bij een gunstig resultaat "onlogisch en riskant".
"Als het experiment een succes wordt, adviseren wij om het niet weer af te bouwen. Dat kan de motivatie om mee te doen aan het experiment bij voorbaat ondermijnen", zegt Knottnerus. Ook zijn er ethische bezwaren. "Deelnemende coffeeshophouders moeten dan weer terug naar de illegale verkoop."
Het reguleren van de teelt moet ervoor zorgen dat het illegale circuit uiteindelijk verdwijnt. Daarom lijkt het de commissie niet verstandig om eisen te stellen aan de hoogte van de werkzame stoffen in cannabis. Dat zou ertoe kunnen leiden dat consumenten die bijvoorbeeld sterke wiet gebruiken zich toch weer wenden tot de zwarte markt.
Het advies gaat in tegen eerdere uitspraken van het kabinet. Een paar maanden geleden zei minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus van Justitie en Veiligheid dat het in het experiment zou gaan om "een zeer lichte vorm van wiet".
De commissie pleit ook voor een groter aanbod aan wiet- en hasjvarianten die de coffeeshops tijdens het experiment kunnen aanbieden. De commissie denkt dat vijftien wietvarianten en tien hasjvarianten voldoende zijn om een goede eerste start te kunnen maken met de 'gesloten keten' die het kabinet voor ogen heeft.
Selectie van gemeenten
Waar het kabinet in het regeerakkoord spreekt over een uniforme proef, vindt de adviescommissie dat lokale verschillen mogelijk moeten zijn. Bijvoorbeeld als het gaat om verkooppunten. Volgens de commissie zou het experiment daar meer ruimte voor moeten bieden.
Verschillende gemeenten hebben al laten weten dat ze willen meedoen aan het wietexperiment. Welke er daadwerkelijk mogen meedoen, wordt pas later dit jaar bekend. De commissie-Knottnerus brengt dit najaar nog een advies uit over de selectie van de gemeenten.
Hoeveel telers er bij het experiment betrokken worden, is nog niet duidelijk. De commissie pleit ervoor om vijf tot tien telers in te schakelen. Bij veel meer kunnen toezicht en handhaving een lastig punt worden, bij minder is er te weinig concurrentie en kan er een monopoliepositie ontstaan.
quote:Onderzoek bevestigt: Alcohol en tabak veel gevaarlijker dan hasj
Gemeten naar de sterftekans per persoon en de negatieve invloed op de samenleving blijkt uit nieuw vergelijkend onderzoek dat hasj het minst schadelijke van alle genotsmiddelen is, en dat alcohol en tabak de grootste killers zijn.
Door het gebruik van een vernieuwende methode om sterfte te meten en te vergelijken hebben Duitse en Canadese wetenschappers bewezen wat eerdere onderzoeken al suggereerden:
Van alle genotsmiddelen, legale en illegale, die de mens nuttigt, is alcohol met afstand de dodelijkste.
Daarna volgen nicotine, coca´ne en hero´ne, terwijl cannabis (hasj) de minst gevaarlijke is.
Hun conclusie is dat de wereld beter af zou zijn als er meer gekeken werd naar de gevolgen van tabak en alcohol en minder naar alle illegale middelen.
Van alcohol naar coca´ne en hasj naar hero´ne
Het onderzoeksteam, onder leiding van professor en wereldberoemd verslavingsdeskundige dr. JŘrgen Rehm, voerde als eerste een vergelijkend onderzoek uit naar het risico van een reeks genotsmiddelen: hero´ne, nicotine, cannabis, coca´ne, alcohol, amfetamine, methadon en MDMA.
De methode die ze hebben toegepast om het risico in te schatten, Margin of Exposure (MoE), vergelijkt de hoeveelheid van het middel die nodig is om tot negatieve effecten te leiden met de hoeveelheid die gebruikers daadwerkelijk innemen.
Hoe hoger het verbruik in verhouding tot de marge voor negatieve effecten, hoe meer risico het middel met zich meebrengt.
Hasj is veel minder schadelijk dan alcohol
De uitkomsten laten aan duidelijkheid niets te wensen over: alcohol is dodelijker dan alle andere middelen en houdt het grootste risico in, zowel op individueel als op maatschappelijk niveau.
Op individueel niveau zijn alcohol en nicotine het dodelijkst, en vormen ze samen met hero´ne en coca´ne de middelen met een hoog risico, terwijl cannabis, amfetamine, methadon en MDMA veel minder gevaarlijk zijn.
Op maatschappelijk niveau is alcohol, een legaal genotsmiddel, de enige stof met een hoog risico: het is maar liefst 114 keer zo gevaarlijk en dodelijk als cannabis.
De wetenschappers maken de kanttekening dat het onderzoek geen rekening houdt met langetermijneffecten als kanker of het sociale risico van bijvoorbeeld het delen van injectienaalden.
quote:A comparative risk assessment of drugs including alcohol and tobacco using the margin of exposure (MOE) approach was conducted. The MOE is defined as ratio between toxicological threshold (benchmark dose) and estimated human intake. Median lethal dose values from animal experiments were used to derive the benchmark dose. The human intake was calculated for individual scenarios and population-based scenarios. The MOE was calculated using probabilistic Monte Carlo simulations. The benchmark dose values ranged from 2 mg/kg bodyweight for heroin to 531 mg/kg bodyweight for alcohol (ethanol). For individual exposure the four substances alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin fall into the “high risk” category with MOE < 10, the rest of the compounds except THC fall into the “risk” category with MOE < 100. On a population scale, only alcohol would fall into the “high risk” category, and cigarette smoking would fall into the “risk” category, while all other agents (opiates, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants, ecstasy, and benzodiazepines) had MOEs > 100, and cannabis had a MOE > 10,000. The toxicological MOE approach validates epidemiological and social science-based drug ranking approaches especially in regard to the positions of alcohol and tobacco (high risk) and cannabis (low risk).
Compared to medicinal products or other consumer products, risk assessment of drugs of abuse has been characterised as deficient, much of this is based on historical attribution and emotive reasoning1. The available data are often a matter of educated guesses supplemented by some reasonably reliable survey data from the developed nations2. Only in the past decade, have there been some approaches to qualitatively and quantitatively classify the risk of drugs of abuse. These efforts tried to overcome legislative classifications, which were often found to lack a scientific basis3. UNODC suggested the establishment of a so-called Illicit Drug Index (IDI), which contained a combination of a dose index (the ratio between the typical dose and a lethal dose) and a toxicology index (concentration levels in the blood of people who died from overdose compared with the concentration levels in persons who had been given the drug for therapeutic use)4. King and Corkery5 suggested an index of fatal toxicity for drugs of misuse that was calculated as the ratio of the number of deaths associated with a substance to its availability. Availability was determined by three separate proxy measures (number of users as determined by household surveys, number of seizures by law enforcement agencies and estimates of the market size). Gable6 provided one of the earliest toxicologically founded approaches in a comparative overview of psychoactive substances. The methodology was based on comparing the “therapeutic index” of the substances, which was defined as the ratio of the median lethal dose (LD50) to the median effective dose (ED50). The results were expressed in a qualitative score as safety margin from “very small” (e.g. heroin) to “very large” (e.g. cannabis). In a follow-up study, Gable7 refined the approach and now provided a numerical safety ratio, which allowed a rank-ordering of abused substances.
Despite these early efforts for toxicology-based risk assessments, the most common methods are still based on expert panel rankings on harm indicators such as acute and chronic toxicity, addictive potency and social harm, e.g. the approaches of Nutt et al.8,9 in the UK and of van Amsterdam et al.3 in the Netherlands. The rankings of the two countries correlated very well3,8. Similar studies were conducted by questioning drug users, resulting in a high correlation to the previous expert judgements10,11,12. The major criticism that was raised about these “panel” based approaches was the necessity of value judgements, which might depend upon subjective personal criteria and not only upon scientific facts13. The methodology was also criticized because a normalization to either the total number of users or the frequency of drug use was not conducted, which might have biased the result toward the harms of opiate use14 and may have underrepresented the harms of tobacco15. Problematic may also have been the nomenclature applied in previous studies, mixing up “hazard” and “risk” into the term “drug harm”. In chemical and toxicological risk assessment, the term “harm” is not typically used, while hazard is the “inherent property of an agent or situation having the potential to cause adverse effects when an organism, system, or (sub)population is exposed to that agent”. Risk is defined as “the probability of an adverse effect in an organism, system, or (sub)population caused under specified circumstances by exposure to an agent”16.
In the context of the European research project “Addiction and Lifestyles in Contemporary Europe – Reframing Addictions Project”, the aim of this research was to provide a comparative risk assessment of drugs using a novel risk assessment methodology, namely the “Margin of Exposure” (MOE) method. The Margin of Exposure (MOE) is a novel approach to compare the health risk of different compounds and to prioritize risk management actions. The MOE is defined as the ratio between the point on the dose response curve, which characterizes adverse effects in epidemiological or animal studies (the so-called benchmark dose (BMD)), and the estimated human intake of the same compound. Clearly, the lower the MOE, the larger the risk for humans. The BMD approach was first suggested by Crump17, and was later refined by the US EPA for quantitative risk assessment18. In Europe, the MOE was introduced in 2005 as the preferred method for risk assessment of carcinogenic and genotoxic compounds19. In the addiction field, the MOE method was never used, aside from evaluating substances in alcoholic beverages20,21 or tobacco products22,23. This study is the first to calculate and compare MOEs for other addiction-related substances.
quote:Durham police chief calls for legalisation of cannabis in UK
Mike Barton says ban on drug is damaging public safety and market needs to be regulated
A chief constable has called for the ban on cannabis to be scrapped, arguing that it damages public safety, puts users in more danger, and gives millions of pounds to organised criminals.
Mike Barton, who leads the Durham police force, said people growing a couple of plants for personal use would not be subject to raids in his jurisdiction. Durham police are rated as outstanding in their effectiveness by the official police inspectorate.
His comments came after the former Conservative party leader William Hague last week said the war on cannabis had failed and the class-B drug should be legalised.
Barton said his experience trying to enforce the ban led him to conclude it was damaging public safety, not protecting it. “Yes, it should be legal. That’s what I think based on my experience,” he said.
“When I joined the police in Blackpool 38 years ago there was one drug squad detective; now everybody is on it. I’ve seen a remarkable deterioration in drugs in society over the last 38 years. What we are doing is not working.
“The status quo is not tenable. It’s getting worse. Drugs are getting cheaper, stronger, more readily available and more dangerous. I have come reluctantly over the years to the conclusion that we need to regulate the market. If you can regulate the market you can make sure it’s old-fashioned cannabis – not skunk or spice.”
Hague, a former foreign secretary, last week sparked a debate by saying the legal prohibition on cannabis should be scrapped. The Home Office rejected his suggestion but has ordered a review about the use of cannabis for medical reasons.
Several states in the US have decriminalised or legalised cannabis use, as have countries such as Portugal.
Barton said the moral argument used against cannabis, that legalisation would be seen as a signal encouraging people to take it up, was bogus. He said: “If someone is an adult and makes a choice to do something that does not harm anyone else, who are we to judge? People have already made that judgment – a third of people have tried it.
“The people who think cannabis should be prohibited have secured the high ground on their moral position. But if it is a plant which is freely available and a third of people have decided they want to take it, the prohibition argument has lost its efficacy. Prohibition does not work. We are creating a latter-day mafia in the UK.”
He added the ban benefited criminals, not public safety. “Organised crime is buying land and property to launder their money. That money could be paying for the care of the elderly, education, rehabilitation of drug addicts,” he said.
Barton said in his area of Durham his officers would no longer apply to magistrates for a search warrant to raid the premises of small-time cannabis growers and those caught using for personal use will be offered a place in a rehabilitation programme called Checkpoint.
Barton said: “We will not apply for search warrants for one or two plants. We want to harness our energies and focus on industrial-scale drug dealers who are damaging society.
“If you have a small amount for personal use you will not be prosecuted, you go into Checkpoint. It frees up time to investigate more serious crime – that’s why we have a good detection rate.”
Barton said a debate about cannabis legalisation was needed. “An adult should be able to have cannabis without worrying what the police are doing,” he said. “That happens in many states of the United States and other countries and civilisation does not disappear before their eyes. We need a grown-up debate. Who said in a democracy we can’t discuss things?
“Privately I know of other [police] chiefs, not the majority. More and more are saying this is crazy.”
His call for a debate was supported by Simon Kempton, the vice-treasurer of the Police Federation, which represents 120,000 rank-and-file police officers. “The Police Federation believe that it’s time to have an informed and open public debate on the future of drugs legislation incorporating health, education and enforcement programmes,” he said. “After 100 years of prohibition on the use of drugs, it’s time to ask whether this approach is working to address the issues around drug use.
“The police service must focus efforts in areas that cause the most risk and harm to the public and for some chief constables that means focusing on areas other than cannabis.”
Former Scotland Yard senior officer Brian Paddick, now a Liberal Democrat peer, said: “Legalisation will reduce the harm it causes. You can control the strength and make sure under-18s don’t get hold of it, take it out of the hands of criminals and raise considerable amounts in taxation.”
Opium poppy growers in southern Mexico who helped fuel the U.S. heroin epidemic say prices for their product have been driven so low — apparently by the use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl — that they are turning in desperation back to another crop they know well: marijuana.
Beset by poverty and joblessness, farmers in the hills around the Guerrero state hamlets of Tenantla and Amatitlan say that prices for opium paste — which oozes from the bulbs of poppies after they're cut — have fallen so low they don't even pay for the cost of planting, fertilizing, irrigating, weeding and harvesting the raw material for heroin.
One local farmer points to a former opium poppy field tucked into the fold of steep hillside. The dried stalks of the poppy plants from last year's harvest can be seen sticking out among the 2- and 3-foot-tall stands of marijuana planted this year.
"We'll probably keep planting both," said the stocky farmer who asked not to be named for fear of arrest.
Read more here: https://www.fresnobee.com(...)9.html#storylink=cpy
quote:Mexico election: historic landslide victory for leftist Amlo
Baseball-loving nationalist who counts Jeremy Corbyn as a friend will be the new president
quote:A baseball-loving left-wing nationalist who has vowed to crack down on corruption, rein in Mexico’s war on drugs and rule for the poor has been elected president of Latin America’s second-largest economy.
quote:Amlo has repeatedly pledged to make eradicating corruption the main focus of his presidency, once he is sworn in on 1 December this year. “We will get rid of ... this cancer, that is destroying this country,” he vowed at his final campaign rally.
Analysts also expect him to pursue a less aggressive and less militarised approach to Mexico’s 11-old ‘war on drugs’ which has claimed an estimated 200,000 lives and is widely viewed as a calamity. During the campaign, Amlo has argued “you cannot fight violence with more violence, you cannot fight fire with fire” and proposed an amnesty designed to help low-level outlaws turn away from a life of crime.
quote:More drugs, more deaths, more damage... U.N. drug report shows global drug trade grows despite draconian enforcement efforts
In 2012, Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, referred to current drug control efforts as something akin to riding a stationary bicycle. "One keeps pedalling, pedalling and pedalling, and making great efforts,(...) only to find out one hasn’t really moved”. Today, as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) releases its latest figures on the drugs market, Santos’ words ring particularly true. In fact, the 2018 World Drug Report shows some countries are fruitlessly pedalling faster.
Between 2012-2016, the amount of drugs seized by law enforcement authorities increased noticeably. By around 60% when it comes to cocaine, opioids and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS); and a whopping 150% when it comes to ‘new psychoactive substances’ (NPS). Cannabis, an outlier in this trend, showed a slight downtick of roughly 10%.
If the ‘war on drugs’ is failing, it is not because of a lack of determination or of resources poured into it. Drug control efforts are estimated to cost over $100 billion/year globally. Only a week ago, a report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction concluded that the multi-billion counternarcotics strategy to eradicate the poppy market in Afghanistan had largely been unsuccessful. Even worse, these interventions have left a trail of devastation disproportionately affecting people who use drugs, small growers and other people in situations of vulnerability.
This failure is not the exception, but the norm. Drug control strategies of which the main goal is the eradication of drug markets are structurally pitted for defeat. Even countries that have gone to criminal lengths to achieve this chimeric aim are not even close to a “drug-free world”.
And the 2018 World Drug Report makes it fairly obvious. If the 2017 edition acknowledged that drug markets were “thriving”, this year’s edition shows they are actually excelling and diversifying. Drug use has never been higher, estimated at 275 million people. Cocaine and opium production have reached new heights, exceeding 1,400 and 10,000 tons respectively. A bourgeoning deadly market for high-potency opioids, such as fentanyl and analogues, has expanded. 72 new psychoactive substances (NPS) entered the market in 2016. And illicit drugs make up 48% of crypto-drug markets listings, despite regular, albeit relatively futile crackdowns.
More importantly, the Report shows the global drug control regime is failing in many other ways, which are more relevant to the “health and welfare of humankind” (the stated aim of the UN drug conventions).
Drug-related deaths are soaring, increasing by a dramatic 60% in just 15 years. In North America, the crisis is ravaging communities. It is estimated that more than 63,600 people died of drug overdoses only in the United States. The figures for Canada are also heart-rending, but contrary to its southern neighbour, public authorities and civil society are taking urgent remedial actions, such as expanding overdose prevention services.
While the Canadian government and others have shown commitment for harm reduction, this is far from being the case in most parts of the world. The Report shows that only 79 countries (a mere 40% of UN Member States) have implemented both needle and syringe programmes (NSP) and opioid substitution therapy (OST). This dearth of coverage stokes the HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs. In some regions of the world, HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs might exceed 50%.
Arrests, prosecution and incarceration for minor drug offences continue to be the norm, disproportionately affecting people in situations of vulnerability. The Report’s numbers show, for instance, how women are hit significantly harder by drug-related imprisonment. Globally, 35% of women in prison would be serving sentences for drug-related offences. And we know these women are often arrested for performing low-level, high-risk tasks in the illicit market; often under coercion.
This dire picture suggest that the proverbial bicycle is not really static. It has, in fact, been taking us in the wrong direction for decades. And yet governments keep pedalling...
The voices against this destructive inertia, however, are becoming louder. Every year, on the 26 June, the Support. Don’t Punish campaign mobilises thousands of people in hundreds of cities to “reclaim” the message of this international day. On this sixth Global Day of Action, activities will take place in a record-breaking 210 cities in 98 countries, making it the largest international demonstration for drug policy reform.
As the Report figures reflect, ignoring these deafening calls comes at a great human cost. In 2019, as the international community will meet again to discuss the future of global drug control, it would be negligent for countries not to meaningfully reflect on these impacts and change course. The harms of drug policy are not a fatality. In fact, many countries have advanced in new directions with positive results, as explained by the UN Secretary General.
New drug policies will need new indicators. And these new metrics need to drastically depart from the merely procedural. We need to know how many countries have improved the proportionality of sentencing for drug offences. Which countries integrate gender-specific provisions into their drug strategies and practices? How many extrajudicial killings are taking place in the name of drug control? How are countries integrating palliative care into their drug strategies? What evidence-based approaches are governments deploying to prevent overdoses?
In short, we need a people-centred approach with people-centred indicators.
It remains to be seen which countries will have the courage to get off the bicycle, and start walking with their communities.
quote:World Drug Report 2018
Following last year's 20th anniversary edition, the World Drug Report 2018 is again presented in a special five-booklet format designed to enhance reader friendliness while maintaining the wealth of information contained within.
Booklet 1 summarizes the content of the four subsequent substantive booklets and presents policy implications drawn from their findings. Booklet 2 provides a global overview of the latest estimates of and trends in the supply, use and health consequences of drugs. Booklet 3 examines current estimates of and trends in the cultivation, production and consumption of the three plant-based drugs (cocaine, opiates and cannabis), reviews the latest developments in cannabis policies and provides an analysis of the global synthetic drugs market, including new psychoactive substances. Booklet 4 looks at the extent of drug use across age groups, particularly among young and older people, by reviewing the risks and vulnerabilities to drug use in young people, the health and social consequences they experience and their role in drug supply, as well as highlighting issues related to the health care needs of older people who use drugs. Finally, Booklet 5 focuses on the specific issues related to drug use among women, including the social and health consequences of drug use and access to treatment by women with drug use disorders; it also discusses the role played by women in the drug supply chain.
quote:Brooklyn Judge Vows Not to Send People Back to Prison for Smoking Marijuana
Noting that marijuana has become increasingly accepted by society, a federal judge in Brooklyn made an unusual promise on Thursday: He pledged he would no longer reimprison people simply for smoking pot.
In a written opinion that was part legal document, part mea culpa, the judge, Jack B. Weinstein, 96, acknowledged that for too long, he had been sending people sentenced to supervised release back into custody for smoking pot even though the drug has been legalized by many states and some cities, like New York, have recently decided not to arrest those who use it. Under supervised release, inmates are freed after finishing their prison time, but are monitored by probation officers.
“Like many federal trial judges, I have been terminating supervision for ‘violations’ by individuals with long-term marijuana habits who are otherwise rehabilitated,” Judge Weinstein wrote. “No useful purpose is served through the continuation of supervised release for many defendants whose only illegal conduct is following the now largely socially acceptable habit of marijuana use.”
Supervised release, administered in courts across the country by the federal probation agency, was created in 1984 to help rehabilitate people who have finished prison terms. But certain violations can lead to reimprisonment: among them, using drugs, getting caught with weapons or associating with other known criminals.
Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, those on supervised release who use the drug — or even refuse to be tested for it — are required to be sent back into custody. But in his order, Judge Weinstein said that locking people up again just for smoking pot — especially at a moment when laws and attitudes are changing — was not only a waste of time and money, but also had an implicit racial bias.
“In this court, the majority of supervisees who face a violation charge for marijuana use are African- Americans,” the judge explained. “Since an African-American is eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana use, his or her chance of a supervised release violation for marijuana is much greater than a white person’s.”
Though Judge Weinstein said his new approach to supervised release would be carried out in all his future cases, his opinion was issued specifically in regard to Tyran Trotter, a 22-year-old Queens man who pleaded guilty in 2016 to distributing heroin. Mr. Trotter was sentenced in the case to two years in prison and to three years of supervised release.
Last year, after Mr. Trotter had served his time in prison, probation officials said he had violated the terms of his release by using marijuana and failing to comply with their orders to get treatment. The officials recommended that he be sent back to prison for another four months and be placed on two more years of supervised release.
But instead, Judge Weinstein refused to send Mr. Trotter back to prison and ended his stint of supervised release, essentially forgiving him of any violations. Mr. Trotter, the judge explained, had “stayed out of trouble” after being freed and was “trying to lead a productive life.” But he had a “chronic problem” that was getting in his way: an addiction to marijuana.
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“Many people from all walks of life now use marijuana without fear of adverse legal consequences,” Judge Weinstein wrote. But the criminal-justice system, he went on, “can trap some defendants, particularly substances abusers, in a cycle where they oscillate between supervised release and prison.”
Both the probation agency and the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn, which prosecuted Mr. Trotter, declined to comment on the ruling. But most federal judges seem to believe that designating drug use as a violation of supervised release “is not desirable,” Judge Weinstein wrote. He cited a survey from 2014 in which 85 percent of federal judges said that they should not be required to send people on supervised release back to prison for possessing an illegal drug. According to the study, 74 percent of the judges said the same about people who failed three drug tests in a year.
Federal courts have split over the issue. In 2010, a federal judge in Michigan found that using marijuana — even for legal medical reasons — was enough to reimprison people on supervised release. (A federal judge in Virginia found the same in 2016.) But in 2016 and then last year, two judges in Washington, D.C., decided to end terms of supervised release rather than send the defendants back to prison for using marijuana.
Judge Weinstein, who has sat in Federal District Court in Brooklyn for more than 50 years, has long been known for his progressive leanings and iconoclastic temperament. Last summer, he publicly called for more female lawyers to have speaking roles in court. A few months later, he said he wanted to personally investigate the problem of perjury by the police.
Just a few weeks ago, he took on the United States Supreme Court, saying that its justices had gone too far in curbing the public’s power to hold the police accountable for misconduct and abuse.
quote:Mexico: 40% of country is paralyzed by violence, says new chief of staff
Alfonso Romo, who’ll work under the new incoming president known as Amlo, says chronic insecurity has gripped the country
As much as 40% of Mexican territory is prisoner to chronic insecurity and violence, the future chief of staff of AndrÚs Manuel Lˇpez Obrador, the incoming president, has claimed.
Alfonso Romo, a prominent entrepreneur who was part of the leftist’s watershed election triumph last week, made the assertion during a summit of business leaders on Monday in Mexico City.
“Veracruz is paralyzed. Tamaulipas, paralyzed; Michoacßn, paralyzed. Guerrero, paralyzed,” Romo said, referring to four of the most notoriously violent states in a country that last year suffered a record 29,000 murders.
“I won’t go on, so I don’t scare you,” Romo added, according to the newspaper Unomßsuno which splashed the widely-reported claim onto its front page under the bright red headline: “Paralyzed by Insecurity”.
Lˇpez Obrador, or Amlo as he is widely known, made cutting violence a key prong of his third presidential bid and his promise to “pacify” Mexico helped him secure more than 30 million votes.
Amlo has vowed to rethink Mexico’s devastating and highly militarized war on drugs – which experts blame for at least 200,000 deaths since 2006 – and be tough on the social causes of crime.
In interviews this week, Amlo's future public security chief, Alfonso Durazo, said plans to reduce violence included raising police salaries, eradicating corruption, considering the decriminalisation of marijuana and an amnesty for low-level criminals, and placing a greater emphasis on crime prevention.
"The situation in which we find ourselves did not happen overnight ... and as a result we aren't going to resolve it overnight," Durazo admitted. But by the end of Amlo's six-year term, in 2024, Mexico would again be "a country of peace and tranquility", he predicted.
Ioan Grillo, the author of a book on Mexico's drug crisis called El Narco, said Amlo faced "a herculean task". "But then again because it's such a bad starting point, a little bit of improvement will go a long way."
"Drug trafficking will continue. Kidnapping will continue. Stealing oil, extortion, product piracy, human smuggling ... These things will continue. But if there is some reduction in the overall violence, or the most antisocial crimes, it will look OK," Grillo added.
"If in his first year he has a reduction of murders - by 10% or 20% even - if instead of being 29,000 there are 24,000, then that will look OK."
LEGALIZE , is veel goed koper en echt controleerbaar en beheersbaar.quote:Minister Grapperhaus van Justitie wil criminelen die door hun investeringen in de bovenwereld vaak buiten het zicht van de politie blijven, harder aanpakken. Hij trekt hiervoor eenmalig 100 miljoen euro uit, zoals was aangekondigd in het regeerakkoord. Het gaat daarbij met name om criminelen die geld verdienen met de illegale drugsproductie, schrijft hij in een brief aan de Tweede Kamer.
"We kunnen niet hebben dat hele woonwijken of recreatieparken door criminelen worden gegijzeld, omdat daar wietkwekerijen zijn of liquidaties plaatsvinden", zegt de bewindsman in het AD. Maar ook de aanwezigheid van gevaarlijke drugslabs in woonwijken en het dumpen van giftig chemisch afval uit die labs in de natuur wil de minister met de gerichtere aanpak bestrijden.
Horeca en vastgoed
Grapperhaus wil dat het extra geld gestoken wordt in onderzoek naar criminelen die hun geld witwassen in de horeca of in vastgoed. Ook worden ondernemers en lokale bestuurders bedreigd, en makelaars en advocaten gecorrumpeerd, zegt Grapperhaus. De verwevenheid tussen onder- en bovenwereld moet beter in kaart worden gebracht, en de betrokken organisaties moeten beter samenwerken, vindt hij.
"Nu heeft de politie een vermoeden, de fiscale opsporingspolitie weet iets. We moeten die puzzelstukken bij elkaar zien te krijgen."
Er komt ook aanvullende wetgeving, waardoor burgemeesters bijvoorbeeld meer middelen krijgen om panden te sluiten. Daarbij gaat het om panden waar drugs zijn gevonden of waar de productie van drugs wordt voorbereid. Eerder kondigde de minister aan dat er zwaardere straffen komen op het bezit van automatische vuurwapens - die steeds vaker worden gebruikt bij liquidaties - en voor zware delicten die in georganiseerd verband worden gepleegd.
Alle regio's is gevraagd wat nodig is voor de aanpak van de zogenoemde ondermijnende criminaliteit, waarbij de onderwereld zich middels zwart geld en intimidatie een positie verwerft in de bovenwereld. Van de 100 miljoen euro die Grapperhaus hiervoor beschikbaar stelt, gaat 85 miljoen euro naar de uitvoering van regionale plannen en 15 miljoen naar versterking van de landelijke onderzoekscapaciteit.
quote:Sri Lanka to begin hanging drug dealers to 'replicate success of Philippines'
Government says executions will resume after moratorium of almost 50 years, citing Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs
Sri Lanka will begin hanging drug dealers, ending a near-half-century moratorium on executions, as officials promised explicitly to “replicate the success” of the Philippines’ grisly war on drugs.
Sri Lanka’s decision to cite the Philippines as its model is certain to draw criticism. Under president Rodrigo Duterte 4,200 drug suspects have been killed in the Philippines, although rights groups say the true number could be at least triple that figure.
Announcing his decision to follow Duterte’s example, the Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, had told his cabinet he “was ready to sign the death warrants” of repeat drug offenders, according to his spokesman Rajitha Senaratne.
“From now on, we will hang drug offenders without commuting their death sentences,” he said.
Sri Lanka has commuted death sentences for serious crimes to life in prison since 1976, when the last execution took place.
Senaratne said there were 19 drug offenders whose death sentences had been commuted to life. Local media reports quote Senaratne as saying that they would now face execution.
Authorities say a tougher approach is needed to combat what they report as an increase in drug-related crime.
Senaratne cited a case this week in which a convicted drug dealer, whose death sentence had been commuted to life, had arranged the import of 100kg of heroin from behind bars.
“We were told that the Philippines has been successful in deploying the army and dealing with this problem. We will try to replicate their success,” Senaratne said.
Sri Lankan ministers have cited a growing drugs problem in the country for the decision. They say the country has become an increasingly important transhipment point for smuggling narcotics.
In 2016 Sri Lanka’s Police Narcotics Bureau seized more than 900kg of cocaine from an Indian-bound ship in Colombo, reportedly one of the largest seizures of the drug in the region.
Sri Lanka’s defence minister, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, suggested that the country’s armed forces be drafted in for a limited period to be used for drug enforcement.
The decision to end the moratorium on executions in Sri Lanka comes despite efforts by local human rights groups in 2016 to persuade the current president to formally revoke the death penalty.
quote:Minister wil makkelijker data delen bij aanpak fraude en hennepteelt
Minister Grapperhaus van Justitie en Veiligheid wil het makkelijker maken voor organisaties om gegevens te delen bij de aanpak van fraude, hennepteelt, witwassen en andere zaken. Dat blijkt uit het Wetsvoorstel gegevensverwerking door samenwerkingsverbanden.
Samenwerkingsverbanden kunnen overheidsorganisaties zijn, zoals gemeenten, politie, Openbaar Ministerie en de Belastingdienst, en private partijen die samenwerken in de bestrijding van ondermijnende criminaliteit, van verstoring van de openbare orde en veiligheid, of van misbruik van overheidsgeld en sociale voorzieningen. Volgens de minister blijkt dat deze partijen bij de aanpak van witwassen, hennepteelt of fraude tegen obstakels aanlopen die een "optimale uitwisseling" van gegevens belemmeren.
Zo kunnen partijen zonder een goede wettelijke grondslag vrijwel geen informatie delen als die blijkt te zijn verzameld voor een ander doel dan de activiteiten waarvoor het samenwerkingsverband is opgericht. Ook zijn de mogelijkheden beperkt om moderne analysetechnieken uit te voeren. Bijvoorbeeld een gemeenschappelijke data-analyse waarmee personen, organisaties of bedrijven in beeld worden gebracht met een verhoogd risico op crimineel gedrag. Verder is er onvoldoende ruimte om gegevens te verstrekken aan private partijen die aan samenwerkingsverbanden willen deelnemen.
Het wetsvoorstel moet deze knelpunten oplossen. "Als ervoor zou worden gekozen om niets aan de geschetste problemen te doen, zou het gevolg daarvan zijn dat het functioneren van samenwerkingsverbanden suboptimaal blijft", aldus een toets van het wetsvoorstel. "Zonder dat dit in cijfers valt uit te drukken, valt aan te nemen dat er daardoor bijvoorbeeld grotere schade door fraude wordt geleden dan in een situatie waarin betere uitwisseling van gegevens tot betere fraudebestrijding leidt." Het ministerie van Justitie en Veiligheid heeft het wetsvoorstel nu ter consultatie op internetconsultatie.nl aangeboden, zodat iedereen erop kan reageren.
Een wet om wetten te omzeilen.quote:Uit de memorie van toelichting
Gelet op de brede reikwijdte van de WGS heeft deze wet echter als voordeel dat zij een "kapstok" vormt waaraan samenwerkingsverbanden op uiteenlopende terreinen kunnen worden opgehangen, zodat het niet nodig is voor ieder (type) samenwerkingsverband waarvoor een wettelijke grondslag nodig is, een nieuwe formeel-wettelijke grondslag te creeeren.
quote:Police ‘decriminalising cannabis’ as prosecutions fall away
Government figures sent to Norman Lamb MP reveal fall of 19% since 2015 in people prosecuted for possession
Police forces are in effect decriminalising cannabis, campaigners say, after uncovering figures that show a substantial fall in the number of prosecutions and cautions for possessing the drug.
Last year only 15,120 people in England and Wales were prosecuted for possession of cannabis, a fall of 19% since 2015. Police issued cautions to 6,524 people in 2017 – 34% fewer than two years before.
The figures from the Ministry of Justice were released in response to a parliamentary question from the Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb, who called for a “regulated cannabis market” to protect public health. “It would confound all expectations if the number of people actually in possession of cannabis is falling, which strongly suggests that police are starting to decriminalise regardless of the government’s stubborn refusal to legalise and regulate the sale of this drug,” he said.
The debate on cannabis has reopened since the case of Billy Caldwell, the severely epileptic boy whose mother has been fighting to be allowed to treat his condition at their home in Northern Ireland using cannabis oil.
Although the home secretary, Sajid Javid, has announced a review of cannabis for medical use, Downing Street has said the government has no intention of decriminalising the drug. Yet there have been a growing number of calls from senior politicians and police chiefs for Britain to join Canada and US states including California, Massachusetts and Colorado, where cannabis is available for recreational as well as medicinal use.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said this month that “criminalising people” was not a good idea, while William Hague, the former Conservative foreign secretary, has said Britain ought to be preparing a lawful, regulated market in cannabis for recreational use.
The ministry’s figures show that nearly every police force gave fewer cautions and pursued fewer prosecutions for cannabis possession. Only in Cheshire was there a small rise in prosecutions, of 3%.
“The fall in prosecutions and cautions for cannabis possession is a welcome trend and a victory for common sense,” Lamb said. “The ‘war on cannabis’ unfairly stigmatises and criminalises young people who are doing no harm to others, while tying up police resources which should be better used tackling harmful crimes.
“However, this issue should not be left to individual police forces. We cannot tolerate a postcode lottery where cannabis users may or may not be prosecuted depending on where they live. The government must bring forward proposals for a regulated cannabis market in the interests of public health, with strict controls on price and potency, and give parliament a free vote.”
The Lib Dems have campaigned for legalisation since 2017, while the Green party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru favour decriminalisation.
Around 2.8 million people aged 16 to 59 took a drug last year, according to the Crime Survey of England and Wales, and more than one-third of adults have taken illegal drugs at some point.
The total number of arrests made for drug possession was 108,098 for the year ending June 2017, according to the latest available figures for police recorded crime, which is 36% down on 2006-07 and 10% less than the previous year.
Instead of offering a caution or prosecuting offenders, police have other options to sanction those in possession of drugs. They can give an official “cannabis warning”, which places a record of the incident on the police national computer, and a penalty notice for disorder, which is similar to a parking ticket.
But uses of both have fallen dramatically over the past decade. Police issued 139,666 notices in 2007, but only 18,211 last year. Similarly, the number of cannabis and khat warnings has dropped from 107,241 at their peak in 2009 to 33,514 in 2017.
quote:Tientallen kilo's drugs gevonden op marinierskazerne Doorn
In een materieelcontainer op het terrein van de Van Braam Houckgeestkazerne in Doorn heeft marinepersoneel gistermiddag 16 sporttassen vol met drugs gevonden. Het gaat om tientallen kilo's, meldt een woordvoerder van de marechaussee.
Het lijkt om coca´ne te gaan, meldt de marechaussee op Twitter. De drugs zijn naar het Nederlands Forensisch Instituut gestuurd voor nader onderzoek. Daar moet definitief worden vastgesteld of het echt coca´ne is.
Militairen die voor ondersteuning na de orkaan Irma op Sint-Maarten waren geweest, vonden de drugs gisteren in de container die afkomstig was van het eiland, zo bevestigt een woordvoerder van Defensie. De militairen zeggen van niets te weten.
De drugs zijn in beslag genomen. Als het inderdaad gaat om coca´ne, dan loopt de straatwaarde op tot honderdduizenden euro's.
Het Openbaar Ministerie doet onderzoek naar de herkomst van de verdovende middelen. Er is nog niemand aangehouden.
quote:Arrestaties en drugsvangst op Maasvlakte
De politie en de douane hebben in de nacht van maandag op dinsdag een inval gedaan bij een bedrijf op de Maasvlakte in de Rotterdamse haven.
Een woordvoerder van het Openbaar Ministerie heeft dat aan RTV Rijnmond bevestigd. Bij de inval zouden verdachten zijn opgepakt en een aantal sporttassen met drugs in beslag genomen. De actie duurde ruim drie uur.
De inval werd gedaan door het HARC-team waarin de Zeehavenpolitie, de douane, de FIOD en het Openbaar Ministerie samenwerken.
Het HARC-team is gespecialiseerd in onderzoeken naar de invoer, doorvoer en uitvoer van verdovende middelen. Het team is 24/7 paraat, heeft een eigen officier van justitie en kan daarom snel in actie komen.
quote:Southeast Asia Drug Use Persists Despite Death Penalty
HO CHI MINH CITY —
Southeast Asian authorities are not shy about doling out the death penalty to punish drug traffickers, and yet narcotics abuse has not abated. If anything, it is on the rise, which begs the question of whether the region’s war on drugs is working.
The latest report on global trends from the United Nations shows that while Colombia remains the world’s top source of cocaine, Asia is now emerging as a hub for both transportation and consumption of the drug. In 2016 cocaine seizures tripled across the continent in the span of just a year, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said in its June report.
But methamphetamine is making even bigger leaps in Southeast Asia because it is not as geographically restricted as cocaine, which depends on cultivation of the coca plant. Officials in countries around the Mekong region seized 65 tons of methamphetamine in tablet and crystalline form in 2017, the UNODC said in a separate report -- that is nearly 600 percent more than the amount seized a decade earlier.
The latest findings “show that drug markets are expanding, with cocaine and opium production hitting record highs, presenting multiple challenges on multiple fronts," said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.
Irony of drug policy
The apparent popularity of some drugs around the region stands in stark contrast to the “tough on crime” approach of many Southeast Asian governments, most of which have seen single ruling parties, military juntas, or authoritarian leaders consolidate power at the central level in recent decades.
In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has earned notoriety for alleged extrajudicial killings of drug crime suspects. In Vietnam, capital punishment is meted out, often to drug traffickers, more often than anywhere else on the planet except in China and Iran, Amnesty International says. The human rights group also referred to Malaysia as one of the “staunch supporters of the use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses.”
“Mandatory death sentences and the use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses remained an issue of high concern in Southeast Asia,” Amnesty International said in its roundup of state executions worldwide in 2017.
These trends might puzzle some who expect stiffer law enforcement to blunt the use and sale of drugs. But it is a tragic irony that legal crackdowns can actually fuel the narcotics trade, according to author Johann Hari. He writes in his book Chasing the Scream that when the police crack down on drugs, they drive up prices as buyers pay sellers a premium for the legal risk. Criminalization eliminates weaker rivals and allows the big players that are left standing -- usually gangs and cartels -- to corner the market and concentrate power, Hari said.
He is part of a growing chorus of people who question or outright reject the belief that the death penalty deters or reduces crimes like drug trafficking.
“The drug problem is a complex social issue that demands a multifaceted approach towards a lasting solution,” Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan, executive director of the Philippine Human Rights Information Center, told VOA. “PhilRights has always maintained that capital punishment, being punitive and retributive in nature, is a cure worse than the poison.”
The UNODC offers other possible explanations for the spread of drugs in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Buyers have new online options as it becomes easier to access the dark web, where hidden sites deal in contraband from weapons to counterfeit products to drugs. The anonymity of cryptocurrencies has facilitated these purchases on illicit sites. At one point in 2017 Vietnam was among the top three countries for bitcoin trading, though much of that had to do with investment and other legal business activity.
While the U.S. is grappling with an opioid epidemic, there could be spillover effects in other regions, and for similar reasons. One cause of the U.S. crisis was the labeling change that allowed certain opioids to be marketed as non-addictive because they didn’t take full effect immediately, but had a slow release. That allowed doctors to prescribe the painkillers more widely. In Asia the opioid of choice is tramadol. The UNODC said that not only are more people abusing tramadol here, but Asia is also the main source of illegal tramadol seized around the world.
As for methamphetamine, the agency said the ease of cooking rather than growing it could explain why the stimulant is taking off.
“This unique characteristic of synthetic drugs provides a comparative advantage for drug trafficking groups in the Mekong and neighboring countries,” the UNODC said, “as Asia is the center of global chemical and rapidly growing pharmaceutical industries.
There were 86 drug labs discovered in East and Southeast Asia in 2006; a decade later, the number surpassed 500, UNODC figures show. As with so much other data, it is unclear whether the abuse and sale of controlled substances are increasing -- or if authorities are just getting better at finding them.
quote:Opnieuw vier havenmedewerkers Rotterdam opgepakt voor helpen criminelen
Vier medewerkers van een containerbedrijf en een containerdepot in de Rotterdamse haven zijn opgepakt omdat ze criminelen hebben geholpen met het smokkelen van drugs. De aanhoudingen zijn vorige week al gedaan, maar pas vandaag naar buiten gebracht.
Volgens het Openbaar Ministerie kwam er in april informatie over een groep criminelen die samen met corrupte havenmedewerkers drugs zou invoeren via de haven in Rotterdam. Behalve de vier havenmedewerkers zijn nog twee verdachten aangehouden. Het gaat om mannen uit Rotterdam, Schiedam, Rijswijk en Ridderkerk.
Bij huiszoekingen zijn een automatisch vuurwapen, twee handvuurwapens en een groot geldbedrag aangetroffen. De havenmedewerkers zouden onder meer betrokken zijn bij de smokkel van een partij van 150 kilo coca´ne die verstopt zat tussen een lading ananassen.
Corruptie is in de Rotterdamse haven een groot probleem. Door alle veiligheidsmaatregelen die de laatste jaren zijn genomen, zoals het plaatsen van hekken en camera's en controles, hebben criminelen hulp van binnenuit nodig om hun drugs het land in te krijgen.
Vorige week werd nog een medewerker van een fruithandel opgepakt omdat hij had geholpen met de smokkel van 100 kilo coca´ne. Ook zijn douanemedewerkers aangehouden voor corruptie. Uit nieuw onderzoek van het OM zou blijken dat criminelen ook daar nog steeds handlangers hebben.
quote:Vind de beste prijs voor - Coca´ne
Vergelijk alle prijzen en bespaar tot 40% via Kiesproduct!
quote:Budding business: how cannabis could transform Lebanon
Report proposes legalising billion-dollar cannabis industry to rescue ailing economy
The town of Brital, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, is a jarring contrast of poverty and ostentatious wealth. Busted-up old vans drive on potholed roads next to gleaming Bentleys and Range Rovers with no number plates and blacked-out windows. Unemployment is rife, and yet the landscape is dotted by large gated mansions.
The town is home to some of Lebanon’s most powerful cannabis-growing families, who cultivate their crop openly in the fields nearby and possess a vast arsenal of weapons that has put them out of the reach of the law. Over the years, it has gained a reputation for being a no-go zone. But if economists and consultants are to have their way, Brital and the entire area will be transformed by the creation of a billion-dollar legal cannabis industry.
The Lebanese government will soon study proposals to legalise cannabis cultivation to export for medicinal purposes. The plan is part of a package of reforms proposed by McKinsey & Company – a global consultancy firm hired to come up with a five-year plan to rescue the ailing economy.
The decision to recruit outside help came in the wake of increasingly dire predictions about the country’s finances. Lebanon is the third most indebted country in the world, with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 153%. The civil war in neighbouring Syria made a bad situation even worse: economic growth has dropped from 9% before the conflict to about 2% today.
In a 1,000-page report handed this month to the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, McKinsey’s team of consultants recommended boosting tourism, creating a banking hub and investing in avocado production.
But it was the proposition to legalise cannabis cultivation that caught the most attention. The idea was given added weight when Raed Khoury, the caretaker economy minister, endorsed the plan.
“The quality [of cannabis] we have is one of the best in the world,” Khoury told Bloomberg, adding that the industry could be worth $1bn (ú760m) to Lebanon.
Most cannabis production in Lebanon is controlled by a collection of powerful clans in the Bekaa. The wealth they have accumulated over the years has made them a power unto themselves – armed to the teeth and willing to challenge the police and army when their livelihood is threatened.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, they are sympathetic to calls for legalisation.
“They totally agree with it. It’s a serious step towards reforming the Lebanese economy,” says Qassem Tlaiss, a resident of Brital who acts as a representative of the powerful Bekaa clans known to farm cannabis.
Tlaiss, who is not involved in cannabis production himself, says the region has been neglected by the government for decades, leaving people with little choice but to seek employment in the drug trade.
He blames the battle between farmers and the authorities for impoverishing the region further. The government makes periodic attempts to destroy the crop, which sometimes results in gunfights.
About 42,000 arrest warrants are outstanding for the district of Baalbek-Hermel – mostly for offences linked to the drug trade. Tlaiss heads a committee set up by the Bekaa clans to call for a general amnesty for the region.
“This is one of the reasons why the region is so poor. No one can work because there are so many arrest warrants out against us. Anyone who is suspected of anything cannot find a job,” he says.
Cannabis has been grown in the Bekaa Valley since at least Ottoman times. The industry reached its peak during the chaos of the country’s 1975-1990 civil war, when an estimated 2,000 tonnes a year was leaving by illegal ports on the coast.
The Syrian war, which erupted in 2011 just over the border, is today contributing to another boom for the growers. Farmers say their trade has grown by 50% since 2012, as Lebanese authorities have turned their attention to border security.
Today they bring in an estimated $175m-$200m a year, exporting to the Gulf, Europe, Africa and North America. Lebanon is the third largest exporter of cannabis resin in the world, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
It is unclear whether McKinsey’s plan calls for the government to work with established farmers in the Bekaa, or build an entirely new industry. Previous proposals put to Tlaiss by Lebanese officials suggested granting licenses to existing growers.
But while the expertise is there, the Bekaa has long been a complex web of competing interests, and the Lebanese state figures low down in the pecking order.
Tlaiss says the plan will face stiff opposition from Hezbollah, the Shia political party and militant group whose military strength rivals that of the Lebanese army, and for whom the Bekaa is a base of support and operations.
“Hezbollah is against it. They want to keep this region poor so they can attract young men to fight for them,” he says. “They are holding the joints of Lebanese politics and they can do whatever they want.”
Lebanon held its first elections in nine years in May, but it has still not formed a government. Decision-making here – especially involving big reform efforts – requires consensus among the country’s rival sects, which is rare.
“If you look at the history of reform attempts in Lebanon, it has been looked at from a purely political angle,” says Nassib Ghobril, the chief economist at Lebanon’s Byblos Bank. “If a reform is implemented and one side takes credit for it, it will be considered as a loss to their opponents. It’s a zero-sum game.”
And when things are agreed upon, rampant corruption tends to limit their effectiveness. Lebanon is ranked 143rd in the world in Transparency International’s index on corruption.
Walid Jumblatt, an MP who is the most vocal advocate for cannabis legalisation in the Lebanese parliament, questions the necessity of bringing in McKinsey. “I’m not going to read this bullshit report. I proposed this idea a long time ago. We did not need to pay a million dollars and a half to achieve a conclusion that we can legalise cannabis.”
Despite his reservations about the report, he still supports the idea. “It could be done, in theory. It could be one factor of improvement and development for the abandoned areas of Baalbek and Hermel.”
McKinsey declined to comment for this article.
quote:het Tijdschrift voor de Politie – jg.78/nr.1/16
quote:Sinds de Amerikaanse president Richard Nixon in 1971 de War on Drugs aankondigde, heeft die meer dan duizend miljard dollar gekost, zijn er miljoenen mensen opgesloten en honderdduizenden doden gevallen. Tevergeefs: drugs zijn goedkoper en wijder verbreid dan ooit. In Nederland kost de bestrijding zeker de helft van de capaciteit van politie en justitie en is driekwart van de grote rechercheonderzoeken erop gericht. En dat terwijl een meerderheid van de Nederlanders voor legalisering van softdrugs is. Hoog tijd voor een fundamenteel andere aanpak - en daarbij moeten we verder kijken dan de provinciale Nederlandse discussie.
quote:Mexico: homicides up 16% in 2018, breaking own records for violence
Country saw 15,973 killings in the first half of the year, the highest since records began in 1997
Homicides in Mexico rose by 16% in the first half of 2018, as the country again broke its own records for violence.
The interior department said over the weekend there were 15,973 homicides in the first six months of the year, compared with 13,751 killings in the same period in 2017.
The number is the highest since comparable records began being kept in 1997, including the peak year of Mexico’s drug war in 2011.
At current levels, the department’s measure would put national homicides at 22 per 100,000 population by the end of the year – near the levels of Brazil and Colombia at 27 per 100,000.
Security analyst Alejandro Hope noted: “The figures are horrible, but there are some signs that are halfway encouraging.”
For example, the growth in homicides seems to be flattening out; murders were up only about 4% compared to the second half of 2017. “The curve may be flattening out,” Hope noted, though he cautioned it was too early to tell.
Some areas, like the northern border state of Baja California, showed big jumps in murder rates, while others saw sharp drops.
'The only two powerful cartels left': rivals clash in Mexico's murder capital
Home to the border city of Tijuana, Baja California saw 1,463 homicides in the first half of the year, a 44% increase over the same period of 2017.
Authorities have attributed the spate of killings to battles between the Jalisco and Sinaloa drug cartels for control of trafficking routes in Baja California. The state is now Mexico’s second most violent, with a homicide rate for the first six months of the year equivalent to 71 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
By comparison, Honduras and El Salvador, two of the deadliest countries in the world, have homicide rates of about 60 per 100,000.
Mexico’s most dangerous state is Colima, on the Pacific coast, which saw a 27% rise in killings and now has a homicide rate of about 80 per 100,000. The Jalisco cartel is also active there.
The central state of Guanajuato, home to the colonial city of San Miguel Allende, saw a 122% increase in homicides, which were running at a rate of about 40 per 100,000. Authorities say much of the killing is related to gangs of fuel thieves who drill taps into government pipelines.
But in Baja California Sur, home to the resorts of La Paz and Los Cabos, a stepped-up police presence apparently helped reduce killings. The 125 homicides in the state, which sits to the south of Baja California, were less than half the number registered in the first six months of 2017 and a quarter the number in the latter half of 2017. Extra police and troops were sent in after warring drug gangs increased killings in the state in 2017.
Hope noted that in about half of Mexico’s 32 states and the capital, murder rates did not rise much or at all. “Now the growth is becoming concentrated” in some areas.
It is hard to tell why growth in homicide rates seem to have tapered off in historically violent states such as Guerrero, which is a main growing area for opium poppies, although Hope speculated that it could be related to the growth in the use of fentanyl.
Canc˙n: from tourist beach paradise to hotbed of Mexico's drug violence
Farmers in Guerrero say prices for opium paste have dropped to unprofitable levels because drug cartels are substituting it for cheaper, easier to obtain synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo, home to resorts like Canc˙n, Tulum and Cozumel, saw homicides rise by 132%, to the equivalent of about 35 killings per 100,000.
The state accounts for almost half of Mexico’s national tourism income. Mexico has seen international resorts such as Acapulco and Zihuatanejo, both in Guerrero, dragged down by a reputation for violence in the past.