North Korea sends meth users to firing squad, marijuana still OK

Not that you could get there for this reason anyway, but North Korea is cracking down on narcotics use in a most North Korean way, which means you don’t want to get busted trying to score there.

Open Radio for North Korea reports:

According to a source in Hamkyungbuk-do, a declaration entitled “The Crackdown on Drug Use” was issued in Hoeryung (Hamkyungbuk-do) by the People’s Safety Agency. The declaration was posted on the window of a busy store and states that ‘any drug users will face a firing squad should they be caught. The declaration has been issued throughout the nation, the source said.

This is the first time the regime has announced a crackdown on druggies, but the sentence isn’t all that unusual. The big problem right now is meth, which is produced in Hamheung, and “even middle school students are openly using meth.”

The report adds, “North Koreans have lost hope and are depressed by the reality that they are living. They would rather be happy under the influence of drugs.”

Meanwhile, the land that the Kim family built is rather loose in its definition of “drugs.” Opium and marijuana, it seems, don’t count.

[photo by Stephen_AU via Flickr]

Drug tourists banned from Dutch city

Potheads take note: unless you’re Dutch, you are no longer welcome in Maastricht.

The Dutch city passed a measure to ban foreigners from its coffee shops, where marijuana and hash are legal to buy and consume. Marc Josemans, chairman of the Association of Official Maastricht Coffee Shops, brought suit against the city, saying the ruling violates EU laws guaranteeing free commerce and free movement. An EU court, however, just ruled in favor of the city, citing that drugs are not legal everywhere in the EU so do not count as regular goods.

Owing to its location on the border with Belgium and its proximity to France and Germany, Maastricht is popular with drug tourists, attracting about 4,000 a day. An estimated 70 percent of the customers at the city’s coffee shops are foreigners.

Amsterdam has been cleaning up its act too. It has dramatically decreased its red light district and there has been discussion about making coffee shops members-only establishments so as to discourage drug tourists.

The image is an advertisement distributed by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1935. Beware the friendly stranger.

Phoenix TSA fails to detect 20 trips with 20 pounds of pot – failure or fearmongering?

Fox news in Phoenix is covering the story of two men who were running a regular pot transport scheme, delivering pot to Chicago from their home airport. The men had apparently passed through Phoenix Sky Harbor airport over 20 times, each time with almost 20 pounds of pot.

The story focuses on why the TSA failed to detect the pot, and “what else may be getting through?”. Because the men used airline buddy passes, their regular activity failed to show up on any of the automated watch systems, so they were able to book a ticket, and head directly to the airport.

The TSA issued a statement about the incident: “The mission of the TSA is to ensure the safety of the aviation system and intercept dangerous items.

To me, that makes perfect sense – the TSA is not in charge of finding or detecting drugs. If a TSA agent happens to find a stash of marijuana hidden in a bag, I’m sure he or she would call for airport law enforcement, but in my opinion, expecting the TSA to add drugs and other items to their search list is just not possible – they have a hard enough time finding guns and bombs. That said, I can understand them not finding the pot once, or maybe twice – but to fail to notice it over twenty times does seem rather excessive.

What do you think? Is it fair to blame the TSA for not finding 20 pounds of pot taken on a plane over 20 times?


The Oakland airport pot conundrum

Airports in California are in a bit of a pickle – their state allows the medicinal use of marijuana, but until last year, no airport in the nation allowed users to legally carry their stash on a plane.

Oakland airport is the only one with an official policy permitting pot carrying passengers to fly, though officials do point out that they run the risk of being arrested if they are searched at their destination (if they are flying somewhere medicinal marijuana is not recognized).

Pot for medicinal use has been approved in California since 1996. Until 2008, any marijuana found at Oakland airport meant the cops would be summoned, and the stash thrown away – even though it was obtained legally. FAA regulations ban people from carrying marijuana on a plane – unless it is authorized by a Federal or State law.

According to a local Sheriff, some other Californian airports have an unwritten tolerance policy, while others like Burbank, Ontario and San Diego do not. The Sheriff says all airports in the state should have an official policy supporting the state law, but at the moment, Oakland airport is the only one.

Obviously this does not mean that any pothead can fly in and out of Oakland with a couple of baggies, the distribution and use is still regulated, but those people that need their daily joint to relieve pain can fly knowing they won’t be harassed.


Amsterdam invests millions to clean up the Red Light district

Amsterdam has long been a bit of asordid playground – it is one of the only places in the world where you can go to legally smoke some pot and visit a prostitute.

Because of its very liberal laws, Amsterdam created a pretty bad image of itself. To many people, the first thing they think of when you mention Amsterdam is not its many canals and beautiful architecture, but hookers and weed. It’s the main reason thousands upon thousands of tourists visit the city each year, helped by extremely low airfares from the European carriers.

The Amsterdam council is trying its best to change that image, and has started project “1012” (1012 is the postcode number for the city center).

The city has already purchased, and closed over 100 of the windows where women would display their “goods”. Next up are the many coffeeshops, which obviously sell more than just coffee. The city has created a multi-million Euro fund to pay for converting these stores to something less sleazy, like an ice cream shop or bar. One entrepreneur was paid 25 million Euro’s to close 60 of his windows, obviously making for a pretty decent retirement payment.

The end result should hopefully convert the old Wallen into a more tourist friendly district, without window after window of prostitution. That does not mean the city is completely abolishing the Red Light district – there will still be some windows, just a lot less than the current 482. Amsterdam clearly hopes to attract a different kind of tourist than the ones heading to their city for nothing more than sex and drugs.