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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

World News for April 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

One Year for Two Grams
Somalia: Abdirahman Aden Mohamud, a 21 year-old man, was sentenced to one year and two months imprisonment after attempting to sell marijuana to a plain clothes officer three days prior. Mohamud approached the officer and offered the drugs. He was immediately searched, where two grams of cannabis were found on his person, and charged with trafficking marijuana as it was not for personal use. The court recommended his sentenced to be served at Mount Carmel Hospital for mental health treatment instead of the Corradino correctional facility and also ordered Mohamud to pay €1,000.

Airport Bust in the Persian Gulf
Dubai: An Indian man, called only HK by Gulf Today, has been detained in Dubai after being caught smuggling marijuana through the Dubai International Airport. Customs inspectors say HK slapped himself in the face with both hands after officers found a false compartment in the bottom of his luggage sealed with duct tape. HK first came to the inspectors attention when he asked Inspector IK where the exit to the airport was, apparently looking nervous and confused. When IK asked HK for his passport the man refused, until the inspector asked to check his bag. At that point HK tried to insist on giving the inspector his passport and refusing him access to the bag. IK acted on the suspicious behavior and took HK to a private inspection room where his person and bag were searched. Once removing the duct tape from the hidden compartment officers found marijuana and seeds. HK slapped himself in the face while admitting to smuggling marijuana and was referred to the Anti-Narcotics Office within the airport. 

Cannabis Shortage in NZ
New Zealand: Marijuana is illegal in New Zealand and can carry a NZ$500 fine for possession or a 2-14 year prison sentence for growing, cultivation, supply, or manufacturing, but that hasn’t stopped many Kiwi’s from indulging in the herb. New Zealanders who enjoy the benefits of the plant, however, are facing a problem other than legality, they are facing a cannabis shortage. A resident in the area, who has used the medicine for the last 14 years to treat depression and has had no problems finding it during that time, claims the shortage has forced him to go to his doctor for a prescription of anti-depressants. The price of the marijuana that can be found is outrageous and the quality poor. Many blame it on police efforts as well as flooding early last year that destroyed crops.

     One woman from California, who is now a citizen of New Zealand, may have opened other options for cannabis to come into the country. Rebecca Reider’s lawyer found a loop hole in the laws after her client was arrested for medical chocolate that had been sent to her from California where she had a prescription for the drug. The loophole allows someone with a valid medical card from overseas to bring a one month’s supply of their medication into the country. While this will not necessarily improve things for the black market, it does offer other opportunities to bring the plant into the country. Currently the only marijuana that is actually legal in New Zealand is a medicinal mouth spray, Sativex, and costs approved patients NZ$1,000 a month.

Big Grow Brought Down
Spain: An abandoned hotel on the coast of the Mediterranean was found, by Spanish police, to contain hundreds of marijuana plants. When police raided the building in late March, they found hundreds of marijuana plants in various stages of growth covering three of the five floors in the hotel. Four people were arrested on suspicion of running a marijuana growth operation. In total the police seized 2,491 plants, as well as fertilizers, ventilation equipment, and air conditioners. Authorities believe the haul would have a street value of €60,000 ($67,000). 

Couple Found with $2 Mil. in Marijuana
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: An investigation is still ongoing after the arrest of a man and woman from Longdenville involving $2 million worth of high grade marijuana. The Arouca CID and task force were forced to break down the door of the couple’s apartment after they refused to allow officers into the home. Once they entered the apartment officers found more than 100 blocks of compressed marijuana, which weighed nearly 150lbs. The suspects are currently awaiting charges and sentencing while police continue investigating the source and purpose of the marijuana. 

Happy Maha Shivaratri!
Kathmandu: March 7th began the Shivaratri (Night of Shiva) festival for those who follow the Hindu religion. The Shivaratri festival is the celebration of the marriage of Shiva, one of the major Hindu Gods, to the goddess Parvati, which followers believe saved the world from darkness. A general belief of the religion is that Shiva smoked marijuana before meditation to enable relaxation and focus. His followers try to imitate their God by smoking cannabis and remaining celibate. Many people travel to Nepal’s holiest temple, Pashupati, during this festival to sit around bonfires and smoke from clay pipes. The smoke from the fire mixes with the marijuana smoke which is meant to help devotees focus on communicating with Shiva. Though temple authorities have been cracking down on the use of Prasad (marijuana), they still allow it into the temple on Shiva Ratri as it is a holy holiday. Many followers renounce possessions and devote their lives to Shiva, believing love and culture should be valued over everything else.  

Aussie Father Avoids Jail
Queensland, Australia: The father of a 3 year old girl suffering from cancer was given a two-year good behavior bond in lieu of jail time after feeding cannabis oil to his daughter. Medical and recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in the state, though there is legislation pending that would allow for medicinal use. The father had researched the benefits of medical marijuana online and purchased oil from South Wales and the US to make chocolate for his child. He claims that not only did it help calm her while she was in the hospital, but it gave her the appetite she didn’t have before. The judge hearing the case had never heard one like it saying, “It is a case that I have not previously encountered. What you did, no matter how much you believed in the positive effects, was both wrong and illegal and certainly in circumstances where it was done without reference to the doctors treating your daughter.” The judge showed the man leniency as he had a clean record and promised he would refrain from giving the child the medicine until it becomes legal. 

Chile Begins Manufacturing Meds
Chile: Authorities in Chile have begun harvesting the largest legal marijuana field in Latin America. The 6,000 plants will be made into pain killers for the country’s cancer, epilepsy, and chronic pain patients. The crops have been protected by 24 hour surveillance, an electric fence, guard dogs, and video cameras throughout the growing season and will now be harvested by local workers wearing protective suits and gloves. The grow project will form the basis of three large clinical studies, which will be determined by the Chilean National Cancer Institute and two hospitals in the region, who will also give the free medication to those in need. While the Chilean president signed a decree allowing the manufacture of cannabis for medicinal purposes, the plant is still on the list of hard drugs in the country and possession is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Lawmakers in the area are currently working on a bill that would move cannabis off of that list and into a less severe category.

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