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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

World News for February 2017 - by Rachel Bunting

Steps toward Decriminalization 
Israel: A new “four-strike” policy being put in place by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is allowing Israel to begin the process of “responsible decriminalization”. The policy will administer fines for being in possession of more than 15 grams of cannabis, instead of facing criminal charges. A proposal from a special ‘fact-finding’ panel would allow citizens to smoke and possess marijuana in their own home, but would have financial and legal ramifications if done in public areas. The four-strike policy would fine cannabis users caught with the drug around $263 (US) resulting in no criminal record.

     The fine doubles with the second offense. While the third offense can carry jail time, the court offers other options such as losing driving or gun licenses and completing a rehab program. The fourth offense is automatic incarceration. These new changes apply to those 21 and older, minors caught with the drug will be criminally investigated if they refuse to take part in a treatment program on the first offense. The second offense is required rehabilitation, while a third time can lead to criminal charges. The fines collected from offenders will be used for health education and treatment programs.


Former Actress Says, "It's not mine"
Japan: Saya Takagi, a former actress in Japan, was recently arrested for 55 grams of marijuana found in her home on Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture. Takagi advocated for medical legalization while running for an Upper House seat last summer. Shortly after her failed campaign her house was raided and marijuana was found. While the ex-actress admits to using marijuana, she claims the quantity of the substance found at her house was not hers. Her roommate, Shigenari Moriyama, has admitted that the dried plant was his, but is disputing the amount police are claiming they found. Police are charging both with possession of an illegal substance, though neither will be charged with using cannabis.



Legalizing Medical Cannabis
Ireland: A bill put forward by People Before Profit Dublin Mid-West, has passed Dáil Éireann, the lower house in the Irish Parliament. Now the bill will move to a public meeting in Galway. The public meeting will have speakers who have seen the medicinal benefits of marijuana use first hand. Joe Loughnane, a representative for People Before Profit Galway told the Galway Advertiser, The impact of the Bill being put forward has been huge as it could benefit so many people. If enacted, the Bill will give them the option of availing of medicinal cannabis in some form to relieve their suffering.” The meeting is open to all that wish to attend and share their story.


Marijuana Melons
Mexico: The US Customs and Border Protection at the Pharr International Bridge discovered more than 1360 kilograms of marijuana hidden in a shipment of fresh watermelons. The cannabis was disguised as watermelons and is worth more than $800,000. Port director Efrain Solis Jr. stated, “Our frontline CBP officers’ experience, vigilance, and attention to detail prevents the introduction of these dangerous drugs into our country. Smugglers continue to be creative as they attempt to introduce illegal narcotics into our country.” The concealed drugs were found with the help of a canine team. Homeland Security has taken over the investigation.



Doctor Arrested for Side Job
India: Mohammed Sujath Ali Khan, a former research coordinator at the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences, was arrested by the Malkajgiri Special Operations Team last month after he was found to be selling marijuana laced chocolates. Khan prepared the chocolates by combining marijuana powder with chocolate powder and making it into a paste which he then put into small cups and sold to customers. He advertised the sweets on his Instagram account and had patrons in almost all the major cities in the country. Officers confiscated 45 chocolate cups, Rs 12,520 in cash, a motorcycle, a laptop, and the ingredients used for his edibles.



Synthetic Cannabis Illegal in England
England: The Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971 was amended recently to include synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic marijuana, a substance that mimics the effects of cannabis, was reclassified in the country as a Class B controlled drug. Sometimes known as Spice or Mamba, the drug has more harmful effects than its natural counterpart. Police in West Midlands are spreading awareness of the law change, hoping to avoid having to arrest unknowing users. The force lead for drugs and new psychoactive substances, Chief Inspector Simon Inglis, stated, “Until recently such products were covered by the Psychoactive Substances Act, which was introduced last year, that made production and supply of such products criminal offences but possession was still not illegal. All of that has now changed with the revised legislation and the key thing for people to know is that possession of these substances is now a crime, meaning users face arrest and prosecution if they have it in their possession − just like any other controlled drug.”

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