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  • In Mexico, is legalized pot just a pipe dream?

    Surveys say most Mexicans are wary of legalizing marijuana — but their opposition appears to be softening
    NPR (US)
    Monday, February 5, 2018

    marihuana rolling jointAt a conference in late January, Mexico's top tourism official told reporters legalizing marijuana would help combat an epidemic of violence that has enveloped parts of the country. "It is absurd that we have not taken that step," Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid said. He said cannabis legalization should start in Baja California Sur, a state with hot spots like Los Cabos, and Quintana Roo, where Cancún is located. Both regions saw spikes in violence last year. The comments ricocheted across the Mexican media. Not only were they unexpected, but they also came six months before a presidential election in which a major debate is how to proceed with a U.S.-backed drug war that has contributed to Mexico's highest homicide rate on record.

  • One month after Sessions marijuana memo, where do U.S. attorneys stand on legal weed

    “We are united in the view that the federal government shouldn’t subvert the will of our citizens expressed at the state level.”
    The Cannabist (US)
    Monday, February 5, 2018

    It’s been a month since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, Obama-era Department of Justice guidance on enforcement of federal law in states that legalized marijuana in some form. Sessions’ marijuana policy shift didn’t just inject uncertainty into the legal cannabis industry — it empowered the Justice Department’s U.S. attorneys to enforce — or ignore — federal marijuana laws. So where do the U.S. attorneys stationed in the nine states (and Washington, D.C.) that have legalized recreational marijuana stand? Here’s what we know about the top federal prosecutors in those districts one month into the post-Cole Memo paradigm.

  • The secret housing program giving safe drugs to addicted residents

    Vancouver’s Portland Hotel Society has been quietly running an opioid substitution program for more than a year
    Vice (Canada)
    Monday, February 5, 2018

    canada stop fentrificationCanada’s opioid crisis has hit British Columbia harder than anywhere else. Last year, 1,422 people across the province died after taking drugs accounting for more than a third of all overdose deaths in Canada in 2017. The epidemic has B.C. health officials desperate for new ideas to bring the numbers back under control. And so, last December, the BC Centre for Disease Control said it plans to distribute hydromorphone (brand name Dilaudid) as a clean alternative to street drugs contaminated with fentanyl. Controversial though it might be, the idea is not entirely new. In Vancouver, the nonprofit Portland Hotel Society (PHS) quietly launched the hydromorphone program in September 2016.

  • How the U.S. Government is profiting from keeping pot illegal

    A new report suggests the feds could earn $5 billion in the next decade if weed stays federally banned – so where's the incentive for legalization?
    Rolling Stone (US)
    Thursday, February 1, 2018

    Because of the discrepancy between state and federal law, legal marijuana businesses are stuck paying twice as much as normal businesses – effective rates of up to 70 percent – in federal taxes. How much extra tax revenue makes it to the feds because of marijuana's illegality is not clear. The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation responded to a request from Colorado Senator Cory Gardner with the projected additional amount collected from legal cannabis businesses between 2018-2027 if it remains federally illegal: $5 billion. While AG Jeff Sessions is presenting marijuana legalization as a moral problem and encouraging prosecutors to go after state-legal weed businesses, the federal government may have a financial incentive to keep cannabis listed.

  • Canadian cannabis companies set their sights on South America

    Canadian cannabis companies have taken a particular interest in Colombia
    Forbes (US)
    Wednesday, January 31, 2018

    Much has been made of the marijuana M&A spree afoot in Canada. Just this year alone, licensed producer Aurora Cannabis Inc. agreed to acquire CanniMed Therapeutics Inc for $852 million, which would create the largest cannabis company in the world. Bank of Montreal got into the weed game with a $175 million deal with Canopy Growth Corp. Skyrocketing cannabis stocks are leading to comparisons to the dot-com boom, and American marijuana companies are looking North for more capital and a friendly business environment. Amid the frenzy, Canadian cannabis companies are increasingly setting their sights on South America, where several countries are liberalizing their cannabis laws. (See also: Latin America offers Canada a route to global dominance in medical marijuana)

  • India’s cannabis hot-spot experiments with alternative livelihoods

    The producers of the world's 'most expensive cannabis,' Malana Cream, are attempting to diversify, with mixed success
    Asia Times
    Wednesday, January 31, 2018

    india cannabis himalayaAccording to the Institute for Narcotics Studies and Analysis (INSA), a Delhi-based think tank, Malana has 351 families involved in making hashish. They produce 400-500 kg of the drug annually. Between 2006 and 2010, several initiatives were launched by the government to encourage cannabis growers to switch to alternative cash crops. Kumar remembers them distributing pea seeds and lilium (a medicinal herb) plants. But both failed. “Many questioned the quality of seeds and environmental conditions for growing the crop,” says JC Sharma, managing director of the state’s Horticulture Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation. He believes the perfect substitute for cannabis in Himachal lies in high-yield apple plantations.

  • Trafficked, beaten, enslaved: the life of a Vietnamese cannabis farmer

    The details of his case provide a rare insight into the conditions in which a significant proportion of cannabis is cultivated in the UK
    The Guardian (UK)
    Wednesday, January 31, 2018

    At 10, ‘Stephen’ was taken from Hanoi to London and then spent four years tending plants for a brutal drug gang. Now awaiting news of an appeal against deportation, he recalls his horrific experience – and his lucky escape. He was taken to a six-room house, where every room had been emptied and converted into a cannabis-growing area. “Three people stayed for the first few days to show me how to organise everything. Then they locked the door and left me alone,” he said. By this point, he thinks he was about 12 years old. (See also: Trafficked and enslaved: the teenagers tending UK cannabis farms)

  • Canadian weed companies are staking their claim in Europe

    The legal status of cannabis varies throughout Europe
    Vice (Canada)
    Tuesday, January 30, 2018

    Some of Canada’s biggest cannabis companies are expanding their presence in Europe through a series of strategic acquisitions, designed to secure a first-mover advantage in a region that is firmly on the path towards the legalization of medical weed. Two of the biggest deals in the Canadian cannabis space had Europe’s medical cannabis market in mind. When Aurora Cannabis succeeded in its takeover of CanniMed Therapeutics — a two-month bid that was fraught with hostilities — it not only acquired the most well-oiled medical marijuana machine in the country, it bought over a company whose advances in cannabis research perfectly complement Aurora’s own foray into the burgeoning medical cannabis markets of Denmark, Italy and Germany.

  • Illegal cannabis plantations becoming more advanced, better hidden

    There are around 30 thousand cannabis farms in the Netherlands that steal nearly 1 billion kWh of electricity each year
    NL Times (Netherlands)
    Tuesday, January 30, 2018

    Drug criminals are getting better and better at hiding their illegal cannabis plantations, according to grid manager Stedin whose been working with the police on discovering such illegal farms. Last year around a thousand illegal cannabis farms were found in three major cities, 22 percent less than the year before. But Stedin is certain that the number of cannabis farms is on the rise. "Organized crime is become more and more innovative in hiding cannabis farms", Barthjeu Ammerlaan, manager of the fraud department at Stedin, said. "Deeply hidden away in cellars of houses with masked ventilation is where you can find these hard to find plantations." (See also: Dutch councils vie to produce cannabis in bid to cut out criminals)

  • Philippine police return to war on drugs, cannot promise no bloodshed

    Duterte has stopped police anti-drugs operations twice due to questions over the conduct of the force
    Channel News Asia (Singapore)
    Monday, January 29, 2018

    Police in the Philippines resumed President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, making visits to the homes of users and dealers to convince them to surrender, but the national police chief declined to guarantee that blood would not be shed. The programme of visits, known as "Oplan Tokhang", made a comeback with an assurance from police chief Ronaldo dela Rosa that it should be free of violence if offenders agreed to go quietly and did not resist. But he could not promise a "foolproof anti-drug campaign that would be bloodless", Dela Rosa added, as the police were "not dealing with people who are in their proper state of mind".

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