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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

World News for September 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

Prison Plants

Australia: The operators of a privately-run correctional facility have a lot of explaining to do after 28 marijuana plants were found growing in the center’s vegetable patch. Minister for Corrections, Steve Herbert, said he would like to know how the plants came to be grown in the center and why they were not found earlier. Corrections commissioner Jan Shuard has requested a report from the GEO about the circumstances surrounding the incident. Shuard says, “Maintaining a safe environment for prisoners, and the security of the prison, is what the contractor is required to do. They’ve been asked to explain how this occurred within their prison [and] we will then determine whether or not they have met the standards to operate that prison.” The latest incident has many officials questioning whether private operators should be running correctional facilities for profit.

Toronto Raids Continue

Canada: Police in Toronto are continuing their crackdown on illegal marijuana storefronts in the city, raiding three more dispensaries last month. Six men were arrested after the raids were conducted on two dispensaries known as S.W.E.D. and one called Section 56. Nearly 9.78 kilograms of marijuana and $15,841 in cash were seized from the businesses. Police began their raids in May on 43, so far, of the up to 100 dispensaries in the city resulting in ninety people facing either drug or zoning charges. While the new Liberal government is still considering legalization for next year, police claim their raids are to protect the public from products that have not been tested or declared safe for public consumption. The Globe and Mail conducted an investigation into some dispensaries, sending nine samples to be tested in a lab. The investigation found that a third of the samples would flunk Health Canada’s safety standards for medical marijuana and they contained bacteria or potentially harmful mold. Police say the raids will continue, especially on dispensaries that “prompt public complaints or reports of sales to minors”. 

Possession of ‘Indian Hemp’

Africa: Agness Chisale, 26, was arrested last month by Malawi Police in Kasungu. Chisale was found to be carrying 3 bags of cannabis, also known in the area as Indian hemp, when she was stopped at Chisazima Road Block by officers conducting search duties. Authorities said the bags and their contents will be sent to Chitedze Research facility for analysis. The suspect will remain in custody until the analysis comes back and will most likely be charged with “Found in Possession of Indian Hemp without a License.” 

Diesel Dank

Morocco: Police at the Tangiers-Med port were able to prevent 244 kg of hashish from being smuggled into Europe last month. The illegal drug was housed in diesel containers and only found once the truck they were being transported in was scanned. The truck was registered in Morocco and driven by a 66 year old Moroccan citizen. The driver was taken into custody while the investigation is ongoing. Police in the area claim this is just another victory in their attempt to fight international drug trafficking.

Legalization Could be Coming to Italy

Italy: The Chamber of Deputies met in late July to discuss cannabis legalization. The discussion focus will be on a bill called Intergruppo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale. The bill calls for the decriminalization of possession of up to 15 grams for recreational use at home, and 5 grams for recreational use outside the home. Citizens would be able to grow up to five plants for personal use only while the government would allow for cannabis clubs to be opened and licensed for up to 50 members. Certain companies would also be licensed to produce and sell marijuana but it would remain illegal to import or export the drug as well as driving under the influence or using in public areas. Senator Della Vedova explains her support of the bill saying, “Prohibitionist policies have failed in their impossible aim to eliminate the use of drugs and have not reduced the illegal market for cannabis. Instead, organized crime has controlled the whole chain: production, processing, and sales. By legalizing cannabis, the State would cut off substantial income from organized crime and transfer the illegal profits to the State budget.”

Growing Allowed in NSW

Australia: New South Wales became the first state in the country to be allowed to grow marijuana. The state was issued a license by the federal government as part of research to find the best way to cultivate the plant. The government believes this step will “lay foundations for private growers to supply medical marijuana”. The state will also be conducting clinical trials to find the efficacy of marijuana for treating certain illnesses. The medication for those trials will be supplied by Canadian and British companies. The state will house their grow operation at a high security facility with strict regulations. The Minister for Medical Research, Pru Goward, has stated he would like to make New South Wales “a global leader in medical cultivation and research” and is hoping the $21 million committed to the research of medical cannabis will result in “proven, standardized, and legal pharmaceutical cannabis products that can be trusted”. Victoria and Tasmania plan to have medical marijuana legalized in their states by next year, though both will have different conditions to qualify patients for the drug. 

Don’t Jail Users, Help Them

Philippines: A group of pastors, from various denominations, have formed a counselling group in Tabuk City, Kalinga, called Shalom Kalinga, in an attempt to help drug abusers. The group focuses on people that turn themselves in to police without having to be brought in against their will. The group is still fairly new and is searching for more professional volunteers to serve as psychologists, psychiatrists, and lawyers. The Kalinga Police Provincial Office has had nearly 1,000 people surrender since the beginning of the group. Governor Jocel Baac stated earlier this year that reasonable assistance will be offered to anybody willing to reform and become productive citizens. Authorities have also issued a statement to operators of marijuana grow sites in Mount Chumanchill, urging them to surrender and attempt alternative methods of farming for their livelihood.

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