Thursday, February 28, 2013

It's not just Colorado and Washington: The world is abandoning the US-backed drug war in favor of a more liberal approach to cannabis.


Hookahs, hash and the Muslim Brotherhood

Hookaholic Junior Pink 2 Hoses Hookah with Matching Case and AccessoriesMillions of Egyptians get stoned regularly, despite — or is it because of? — the conservative Islamic government.

SAYEDA AISHA, Egypt — Um Salma’s tiny café is tucked in a maze of alleys in the Sayeda Aisha slum, home to the tomb of Aisha, the Prophet Mohamed’s youngest wife.

Pushing through the café’s saloon-style doors, a haze of acrid hash smoke assaults the senses. Inside, a dozen-odd workers sitting on wooden stools cluster around water pipes.

The water gurgles with each puff on the hookah’s long, slender hose. Traditional Egyptian music — the kind you can imagine a woman belly-dancing to, evoking the Sahara — rasps from an ageing cassette player.

Under the glare of neon bulbs, patrons banter about the slum’s latest news.

And they get utterly, convincingly high.

These men are a community, they say, but political discussions are "haram,"  or forbidden. Politics breeds divisions. Shared hits of Um Salma’s hash builds bonds.

Sixty-years-old, widowed and strictly religious in a gray-brown scarf draped over her hair and chest, Um Salma is an unlikely guardian of one of Egypt’s oldest pastimes. Although she enables an illegal activity, she is by no means an outcast here.

Her café “Dulab” — the Arabic word for a cabinet where prized possessions are kept from prying eyes — is one of this ancient city’s many sanctuaries for hash-smokers.

Despite Egypt’s conservative Muslim government and its harsh drug penalties, Um Salma’s guests don’t fear law enforcement as they smoke the sticky brown resin, or its sister schwag known here as “bango.”
New 24" Hookah Skull Skeleton Huka with Briefcase
They say they have an understanding with local police, who rarely bother them.

From the 19th-century laborers who shocked Napoleon with their unabashed love for the intoxicant, to contemporary elite professionals — including, it is rumored, former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat — Egypt is perennially up in smoke.

“So many people do it,” said 27-year-old salesman and Cairo resident, Hazem Amin. “My friends say it shouldn’t be a crime, because life is so difficult. People need a way to relax.”

Egypt traces its hash habit to roughly the 12th century, according to a Columbia University report. Back then, Muslim Sufi mystics smoked the drug to reach spiritual ecstasy.

Today, it is more popular among the vast working poor like those at Um Salma’s, who inhale pipes and joints to unwind amid the crescendo of political and economic turmoil.

According to a 2007 government study, 8.5 percent of Egypt’s roughly 80 million people are “addicted” to some type of drug, including hash. The number of casual hash smokers is believed to be much higher. Drug prevention workers and rehabilitation therapists in the capital say there are likely 10 million, but perhaps as many as 15 million, casual users.

Getting high is a cheap escape. At Um Salma’s, four “heads” of hash-sprinkled tobacco placed atop the water pipe and burned with coal cost just $0.75.

“It’s used by members of the lower classes who start using at events like weddings, or to reduce stress,” said Dr. Nagwa Ibrahim, director of a drug awareness initiative started by Amr Khaled, a popular Muslim television preacher in Egypt.

There’s a deep irony to Egypt’s widespread drug use. Using hash or other drugs is a serious criminal offense here. Trafficking illicit substances is punishable by death, while possession of small quantities can draw life sentences, for addicts and infrequent users alike.

19" 1-Hose Blue Sapphire Hookah Set with BriefcaseEgypt is one of 32 countries that have laws mandating the death penalty for some drug offenses, though it ranks below places like Iran, China and Saudi Arabia for the number of offenders executed.

According to Amnesty International, over the last decade Egypt saw a marked decrease in the number of criminal executions. Because Egypt’s prisons are run by the highly secretive interior ministry, there are no statistics available. In 2010, a British citizen of Egyptian origin, Pierre Wassef, was sentenced for 25 years in an Egyptian high-security prison for drug trafficking, in a trial rights groups say was dogged by controversy.

These harsh penalties appear to stem from foreign influence, perhaps originating in Washington, DC.
Egypt’s drug laws were enacted under President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s. Soon after, Egypt came under the financial patronage of the United States.

Because the Egyptian government has long shunned transparency, it is impossible to know for certain whether the US pressured Egypt to adopt harsh anti-drug provisions. According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, a US-based advocacy network for policy and public health reform, countries that attempt an independent drug policy run the risk of losing crucial US aid. Egypt is one of Washington’s largest beneficiaries; a small part of that aid goes to training anti-drug agencies.

But as most Egyptians could tell you, the heavy-handed punishments have done little to stymie use.
Drug prevention workers say lax law enforcement since Egypt’s uprising two years ago has contributed to an increase in drug use and general flouting of the nation’s substance laws. Citizens smoke openly in the streets. If the security services intervene, a small pay-off typically fixes the problem. The country’s brutal police are still reeling from a near-nationwide assault on their ranks.
The authorities themselves are rumored to be involved in the trade.

“You go to prison and can still access drugs there,” said Wael, an addict-turned-therapist at one of Egypt’s few rehabilitation clinics for drug users.

In a nod to the population’s informal cannabis liberalization, plucky hashish-smoking netizens have launched an online pricing board for the capital’s cash-conscious smokers.

The website — or “How much is the hashish?” — allows buyers to anonymously post their location in Cairo, and the price they paid for a coin of hash, a pinky-sized quantity. The site keeps a running tab of hash prices. It has thousands of users.

Even with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood controlling the presidency, a long-standing belief that Islam doesn’t explicitly forbid hash is warding off appeals by more conservative Islamists to crackdown on the habit.

Tonic Pumpkin One Hose Purple Hookah with a Designer Case“My neighbor is quite devout. He prays five times a day at the mosque but smokes every day,” said 43-year-old Cairo resident, Shady Mohamed. “He says only alcohol is mentioned [as a forbidden substance] in the Quran.”

The Muslim holy book, does in fact include prohibitions on alcohol use — but does not mention hash as either forbidden or tolerated.

And while Islamists may oppose its use, hash-smoking and addiction should not be criminalized, some Brotherhood leaders say. They think rehabilitation is the way to treat what they see as a deepening social problem.

“We don’t believe in criminalizing it. We believe in treating drug users with kindness, as proscribed by Sharia [Islamic law] principles,” said Ali Ahmed Mohamed Omran, a leader of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in Minya province. “It is criminalized now, but that has not prevented people from using drugs.”

Mohamed says the Islamists know better than to go after a habit so popular with the poorer classes, which make-up the core of their political base.

“They’ve talked about [banning] alcohol and bikinis and other things, but never drugs,” Mohamed said. “If they deny people hash, the people will get angry and stop supporting them.”

And so despite the specter of draconian penalties, Um Salma’s remains open for business.

Egypt hash smoking

A man smokes a hashish joint at his home in Cairo on April 4, 2010. There’s a deep irony to drug use in Egypt, trafficking illicit substances is punishable by death while possession of small quantities can draw life sentences for addicts and infrequent users alike. (Victoria Hazou/AFP/Getty Images)


Drugs won the drug war: The world's lax narcotics enforcement

source: By Patrick Winn, GlobalPost

Marijuana 101PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — On the books, marijuana is illegal in Cambodia. But on the streets — in particular, the capital's main riverside promenade — travelers will find a poor man's Amsterdam.

Phnom Penh's downtown dealers are unabashed. After nightfall, they line Sisowath Quay, about a dozen blocks of Cambodia's finest riverfront real estate. Foreigners on an evening stroll down the main drag pass through a gauntlet of pot propositions: “You want smoke? Marijuana?”
They do not bother to whisper.

Those skittish of street deals can duck into one of several pizza shops, “Happy Herb's Pizza” or “Pink Elephant Pizza” among them. They are cannabis dispensaries concealed under a thin veil of innuendo. Pizzas ordered “happy” are dusted with flakes of ganja.

The effect: a high that fogs thought, puts lead in your footsteps, stokes the appetite (perhaps for more pizza) and throws a dull haze over the next 24 hours. That's right, 24 hours.

Traditionalists can order 10-gram bags from the kitchen stash for $20.

If the pizza shops aren't convenient enough, smokers can stay indoors and call the delivery hotline.
“Just don't smoke it on the street. That's all,” said a server at one of Phnom Penh's downtown pot-and-pizza joints. “Don't worry about police. Police know everything.”

Nations such as Portugal and the Netherlands have the most prominent reputations for rejecting the United States-helmed “War on Drugs” approach in favor of liberal narcotics laws. Latin American countries including Mexico and Colombia, bloodied by cartel carnage, have pushed the trend further by decriminalizing small amounts of pot.

But Cambodia — like Pakistan and Egypt — belongs to a lesser-recognized category: countries that have adopted U.S.-style pot laws under White House pressure but seldom enforce them. Its modern marijuana market offers a case study in de facto decriminalization.

Drug policy experts contend that nations such as Cambodia, impoverished and deeply reliant on US aid, must feign an anti-cannabis stance — even in the absence of political or popular support for police action against pot.

“If they didn't, there would be serious backlash from the U.S.,” said Benoit Gomis, a narcotics policy analyst with the London-based Chatham House research institute. “So is it worth making a big fuss about drug policy when you receive assistance for so many other things? Like your economy? That's a diplomatic calculation they have to make.”

The world says, legalize it!
Across the globe, pot tolerance is trending up. The list of nations that have to some degree decriminalized cannabis possession in small quantities grows by the year. An incomplete roster now includes Argentina, Australia, the Czech Republic, Colombia, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain and Uruguay.

In Italy and parts of Australia, users may grow a small amount on their terrace. In parts of India, state-managed shops in certain provinces can sell “bhang” — hash balls — and mystics can indulge with impunity. In Spain's Basque Country, smokers are free to join “cannabis social clubs” that cultivate their own pot to meet members' needs.

The Cannabis Grow Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing Marijuana for Recreational and Medical UseMexico is pursuing a radical change in its approach to drugs. After a six-year battle against gangs and traffickers that cost some 60,000 lives, the country's new president has announced a new emphasis on prevention. The government will spend $9.2 billion on social programs — including infrastructure, construction and longer school hours — in Mexico's 251 most violent neighborhoods.

“It's clear that we must put special emphasis on prevention, because we can't only keep employing more sophisticated weapons, better equipment, more police, a higher presence of the armed forces in the country as the only form of combating organized crime,” said President Pena Nieto in announcing the program.

Even in brutally authoritarian North Korea, police squads execute meth abusers while ignoring marijuana use, according to reports from Open Radio for North Korea and NK News.
But perhaps the boldest challenge comes from South America's Uruguay, where lawmakers are considering government-run marijuana emporiums. The proposed “National Institute of Cannabis” would sell pot at below-market rates, undercut the street traffickers and funnel the proceeds towards drug treatment centers.

This global loosening of pot laws is testing rigid United Nations drug conventions, which favor US-style prohibition and still regard marijuana as a dangerous narcotic.

“The starting point of the drug convention is that drugs are bad,”
Gomis said. “It says that if people are allowed to consume drugs legally, they'll consume way more drugs. And that will lead to more death and violence and social disorder.”

The UN conventions are clear: Countries that have signed on (as almost all sizable countries have) are not permitted to start up a regulated marijuana trade in the vein of booze and tobacco markets.
“Any shift away from the predominately zero-tolerance approach of the UN treaties generates a number of oppositional forces,” said David Bewley-Taylor, a drug policy specialist at Swansea University in Wales.

“The reach and well-established nature of the global drug prohibition regime,” Bewley-Taylor said, “ensures that most states are reluctant to deviate ... and risk being labeled by the international community a rogue state.”

But that standard is shaken now that the U.S. has developed its own rogue states: Washington and Colorado. Last fall, both passed referenda compelling the outright legalization of marijuana — although it remains to be seen how this will work while the federal government still bans the herb. Moreover, medical marijuana is allowed in a total of 18 states. America's position to “exert pressure,” Bewley-Taylor said, “has been undermined by the situation in Washington and Colorado.”
And politicians, long shy about an issue that could alienate soccer moms, are increasingly speaking out. Recently, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that people busted with small quantities of pot in the city will no longer spend the night in jail. He also called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to loosen marijuana laws.

The world, it seems, has reached a tipping point in the drug war.

Flouting a U.S. ultimatum
In the 1990s, when war-torn Cambodia was even more unruly than it is today, marijuana was traded openly. Vendors in Phnom Penh's downtown markets freely sold fat pillows of marijuana weighing a kilo or more. The herb grows naturally in the tropical nation of 15 million people, many of whom know pot as an old-timers' habit or an ingredient in upcountry soups.

But when the U.S. and other Western nations began showering Cambodia with aid in the 2000s, authorities suddenly deemed marijuana a nuisance and swept it from public view.

“The U.S. gave them an ultimatum,” said a UN drug analyst speaking on condition of anonymity. “They said, ‘You can either have foreign aid or legal cannabis.'”

Today, drivers of “tuk-tuks” (motorized rickshaw taxis) are Phnom Penh's go-to source for ganja. As in neighboring Thailand and Laos, tuk-tuk crews often act as intermediaries between travelers and vice: prostitutes, ganja or harder narcotics.

The pushy types park their tuk-tuks and work the riverside gauntlet. Some will advertise their wares by waving a still-fragrant, half-smoked joint under a tourist's nose. In plain view, they often swap US cash for bags of so-called “skunk,” marketed as a higher quality of pot.

But Chhon — plump, smiley and 30-something — is a less aggressive breed of downtown Phnom Penh dealer on wheels.

“I just ask a person if he wants a ride and then talk about ganja in the tuk-tuk,” Chhon said. “A lot of people want ganja. The police know what we do. If they catch you, they might ask for some small money but they don't stop it.”

That doesn't mean top authorities don't talk tough on pot. The national drug czar in 2008 went so far as to declare to a regional news outlet, The Mekong Times, that “marijuana is no longer available in Cambodia” after crop eradication campaigns.

But the government's own drug figures render such bold pronouncements absurd.

Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's BibleFor four years straight, Cambodia hasn't managed to report arrests for pot possession to the regional UN narcotics database. In the last reporting year, 2008, authorities reported a scant six marijuana-related arrests.

The nation's crop eradication efforts are similarly meek. In all of 2008, amid the run up to the then-drug czar's proclaimed end of pot in Cambodia, drug police destroyed a mere 177 square meters of marijuana fields — a size comparable to a typical three-bedroom apartment. Even that was a bonanza compared to the most recent eradication figures: just 200 or so cannabis plants destroyed in 2011, according to government figures.

“We've noticed in the past five or six years, the quality of reporting coming from Cambodia dropped,” said Tun Nay Soe, a senior officer with the UN's SMART program, which monitors global drug use trends. “We know they have plantations of cannabis that are grown commercially. But methamphetamine is much more of a problem there.”

Chhon is somewhat mystified by young foreigners' deep appreciation for marijuana. According to a UN survey, marijuana is the fourth most-popular drug among Cambodians: crystal methamphetamine, meth and even inhalants are more widely consumed.

“Ganja is not so big for Cambodians,” Chhon said. “Most people with money want ice.”
This is Southeast Asian code for crystal meth, which grows more popular by the year. Its jumpy highs and wretched comedowns are totally unlike the marijuana high and the substance is now classified as the region's top threat among regional drug agents.

But even Cambodian authorities indirectly concede that the pot prohibition stance in Washington, D.C., never really took hold.

Marijuana Grower's Handbook: Your Complete Guide for Medical and Personal Marijuana Cultivation“The extent to which cannabis is used in Cambodia is unclear due in part to a level of tolerance for its traditional consumption,” the National Authority for Combating Drugs stated in an annual report.
This “traditional consumption” — sprinkling marijuana in select dishes — is also prevalent in surprisingly strict places: communist-run Laos, and the wilds of Indonesia's Aceh province, the only Southeast Asian enclave controlled by Islamic Sharia Law.

“Even in my country, Myanmar, it's quite normal for people to put cannabis in their food as a spice,” Tun Nay Soe said.

Whether Cambodia and other U.S. aid-reliant nations keep up their anti-pot charade may largely depend on whether more influential nations can take on the prohibition regime. Officials in Mexico and other Latin countries, the chief targets of America's foreign drug war, could feel emboldened to loosen pot laws further as select U.S. states opt for legal pot sales.

“There's been a realization almost everywhere that criminalization and the hard approach on drugs just isn't working,” Gomis said. “It creates a bigger black market. It creates more violence.”
But Chhon is ambivalent about the future of Cambodia's pot laws. After all, U.S. interference shifted pot from the market stalls to the streets, where he can sometimes make $20-25 — no small sum in Cambodia — selling just one overpriced $40 bag to foreigners.

“Now, you can still buy ganja, you can smoke. There is still no trouble and no problem,” he said. “Just stay away from the street and don't be stupid.”

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bill unveiled to legalize medical cannabis

Source: Politico

Earl Blumenauer is shown here. | AP Photo

Flanked by more than 150 advocates from around the country, Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer on Monday put forward his legislation allowing states to legalize medical marijuana in an effort to end the confusion surrounding federal pot policy.

Blumeanuer’s legislation, which has 13 co-sponsors — including GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California — would create a framework for the FDA to eventually legalize medicinal marijuana. It would also block the feds from interfering in any of the 19 states where medical marijuana is legal.

At a press conference outside the Capitol, Blumenauer didn’t attack the Drug Enforcement Agency for targeting marijuana dispensaries or blame the Justice Department for forcing marijuana businesses to operate in a legal gray zone. Instead, he pitched his legislation as a solution to the confusion surrounding federal marijuana policy.

(PHOTOS: 9 pols who talked pot)

“Frankly, the people in the federal hierarchy are in an impossible position,” Blumenauer said, adding: “It gets the federal government and the Department of Justice out of this never-never land.”
On the heels of successful referendums legalizing marijuana in both Colorado and Washington state, Blumenauer and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition and set up a scheme to tax the drug.

The activists surrounding Blumenauer had just come from a four-day conference on medical marijuana, and many of them were veterans of campaigns to legalize the treatment in their home states. Some held a sign that wouldn’t be out of place at a tea party rally against the Affordable Care Act — “GET POLITICS OUT OF MY MEDICINE.”

(Also on POLITICO: Jimmy Carter okay with marijuana legalization)

Karen Munkacy, a doctor who helped lead the pro-medical marijuana side of a successful referendum in Massachusetts, said her breast cancer diagnosis forced her to “choose between breaking the law and suffering terribly. And I chose to suffer terribly.”

Scott Murphy, an Iraq War vet, said medical marijuana could help returning soldiers handle post-traumatic stress disorder or physical injuries. Murphy noted 22 veterans killed themselves each day in 2012.
“If medical marijuana could help just one veteran, it would be worthwhile,” he said.
Blumenauer’s bill isn’t likely to pass, but Americans for Safe Access Policy Director Mike Liszewski said bills in four states — New Hampshire, Illinois, New York and Maryland — have a chance of becoming law this year. In New Hampshire, where backers fell just a few votes short of overriding a governor’s veto last year, advocates are “really confident.” The state’s new governor, Democrat Maggie Hassan, supported medical marijuana as a state legislator.

Obama on the legalization of cannabis

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Hampshire's well-crafted medical marijuana proposal is part of a growing movement

 how to grow weed marijuana growing indoors outdoors soil hydroponics

Source: New Hampshire Sentinel Source
In recent years, 18 states have authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, principally for palliative care for dreadfully painful conditions, and nine more are now considering such a move. New Hampshire is in this latter group with House Bill 573, a piece of legislation that is carefully drawn and deserving of support.

The bill is similar in many ways to legislation that’s become law in every other New England state: It calls for registration of patients and close monitoring of cultivation, requires that qualifying patients first try other forms of relief, and sets strict rules about the financial relationships between prescribing doctors and treatment centers. The language of the bill runs close to 30 pages, and is vastly more detailed than the first such legalization in the land, in California in 1996; the law there is so spare and open-ended that the number of medical marijuana users is unknown, but is believed to exceed half a million people.

In New Hampshire, the most common guess is that 1,000 patients suffering from specific debilitating illnesses would register for medical marijuana treatment, a number that is roughly in line with the experience in Vermont, a smaller state that reports about 650 such patients.

And, as noted, the proposed New Hampshire law would closely regulate the prescribing patterns of doctors to avoid situations that have cropped up in some other states, including Oregon where a recent newspaper report turned up a prescribing doctor who saw up to 80 patients a day. (The doctor conceded to the Oregonian newspaper that his schedule was “absolutely asinine.”)

Digital Volcano Vaporizer with Easy Valve SetHouse Bill 573 also limits the number of treatment centers to five, and allows patients to cultivate a limited supply of marijuana under controlled conditions. Caregivers would have to pass criminal background checks.

For all the recent experience nationally with medical marijuana, little is sure about its social impacts. Regarding crime, for example, one can find conflicting studies about whether crime goes up or down when medical marijuana is legal, but, in this region at least — in Maine (which first authorized medical marijuana in 1999) and Vermont (2004) — there doesn’t appear to be evidence of increased lawlessness.

To be sure, medical marijuana is a complex issue. For one, federal law continues to treat marijuana as a controlled drug, a fact that former Gov. John Lynch cited as his main reason for vetoing medical marijuana bills as recently as last year. And, in some eyes, medical marijuana authorization is just a back-door approach to full decriminalization.

We disagree with the latter proposition; full legalization is a separate matter. As for Lynch’s rationale, we place value on Barack Obama’s statement that he’s open to the idea of medical marijuana so long as there are strict guidelines, and also pledges by Lynch successor Maggie Hassan that, while she has concerns about patients growing their own crops, she supports the principle of legalizing marijuana for the relief of pain and suffering.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Marijuana Patient Gets His Weed Back; Sues State For $6 Million


grow your killer potryan rileyHere are items that were returned to medical marijuana patient Adam Assenberg this week after a criminal case against him was dismissed last week. According to Assenberg, more valuable plants were destroyed.

Here are items that were returned to medical marijuana patient Adam Assenberg
 this week after a criminal case against him was dismissed last week. According
 to Assenberg, more valuable plants were destroyed.

This week, the cops gave Adam Assenberg his marijuana back.

It’s not the first time Assenberg has beat the police in court; in fact, he’s on
 something of a roll in his battle as a medical marijuana patient and activist.
Assenberg now plans to sue the state of Washington for $6 million after his
property was seized in an illegal raid on his home
last year, reports Linda Thomas at MyNorthwest.

The Whitman County prosecutor dropped charges against Adam
 last month, citing a new interpretation of medical marijuana laws in
Washington state. Then, earlier this week, he racked up another in his
string of victories in battling the authorities when a Superior Court judge
ordered that all property seized during a raid of his Colfax home — including
his marijuana — be returned to him.

Assenberg, who was badly injured 18 years
ago when he worked as a security guard for
 a company in Riverside, California, suffered
nine broken bones in his spine and wasn’t
 expected to walk again. He was also having
 dozens of seizures every day.

He started using medical marijuana regularly
in 2004; without it, “every day is a living
hell,” he said.

A few months after he started a dispensary called
Compassion for Patients in January 2011, the police arrested him
for “selling narcotics,”
 even though he was trying to abide by Washington state law.

“They assumed when they went to my house there would be thousands of dollars in
cash and pounds of pot,” he said. “They found $90 and seven ounces of marijuana.”

Also found were 82 immature cannabis plants that were taken out of their
containers, destroying them. “These were strains I worked on for years that
 I can’t replace,” Assenberg said.

Now that case is finally settled, with the prosecutor dropping charges, and
Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier has sided with Assenberg.

But Adam says there’s a “bigger issue here.”

He told his attorney last Friday to initiate a $6 million civil suit against
 the Quad City Drug Task Force, Whitman County and the
State of Washington for violating his rights under state law.

Ontario Medical Marijuana Dispensary Operator Targeted in Multiple Police Raids

Police executed raids today on at least three locations in Ontario, including the MCCM medical marijuana dispensary in Hamilton, the Hamilton home of the business's operator Pete Melanhead, and a growing facility in Brantford connected to the group.

According to CHCH Toronto:
The bust of a distribution shop in Hamilton and a grop-op bust in Brantford has put a dent in the local marijuana trade.

Hamilton police swooped down on a marijuana distribution shop at 174 King Street West. The shop used to be La Riviera Shoes but had only a few pieces of clothes in the window. No word yet on charges.

And Brantford police have arrested and charged three people, after finding a marijuana grow-up with over 55 plants inside a Brantford apartment complex. Police say they searched the property on Winniett Street Tuesday night and found $55,000 worth of marijuana plants and more than $400 worth of dried marijuana.
Though the CHCH story does not actually link the two events or indicate a connection between the two busts, a trusted source informed Cannabis Culture the Brantford apartment is a growing facility related to the MCCM. The same source told CC that Melanhead's Hamilton home was also raided, and that a fourth location related to the dispensary may also have been raided.
A CC source at the scene of the raid at Melanhead's home said media trucks and police arrived at virtually the same time.
MCCM's website says the group is "dedicated to the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes," and is there to help patients "navigate the complex Canadian medical cannabis landscape, advocate for more compassionate treatment of patients and help patients in need procure medicine."
UPDATE: The Brantford Expositor published the following today under the headline "Police bust Winniett Street grow op":
A Brantford man faces drug-related charges after police seized an estimated $55,000 worth of marijuana from a Winniett Street apartment Tuesday.
Member of the police street crime unit entered the apartment at about 9 p.m. and found a marijuana grow op in the second bedroom of the apartment. There were 55 plants in the bedroom and police also found 43 grams of dried marijuana worth about $430 as well as growing equipment.
Police have charged Krzysztof Lenda, 42, of Winniett Street with production of a controlled drug – marijuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of a controlled drug.
He was released on a promise to appear in court at a future date.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Exposing the scam? Customers reporting record loses

IS just a murky GIMMICK?

by Jim H - Follow on twitter

If you’ve been ripped off by an online marketing or web design firm, take the next step and report it. Website for cross-border consumer complaints.

UPDATED CONSUMER WARNING! also formerly known as
Freewebs - a loop of deception?

Customers Speak Out "You've let us all down"

Read before signing up for any "FREE" WEB HOSTING

First off, there is seldom anything that is ever free in this world.

How many times must we hear IT ? - If something is too good to be true, it usually (always) is. 

Countless business's and individuals who have started a website with Freewebs  are reporting huge loses of thousands of dollars. Freewebs has since changed their name to  Customers who registered their domains and paid for hosting through may be in for a real shock if they try to move their website to a different host.

The deeper our investigators dig, the more they are uncovering that lures small business's into building an entire online exposure while using a website builder that essentially LOCKS the entire website. 

From the moment you create your first free webpage with, any work you do on your business's website  is 100% controlled by someone else! Resistance is futile, and the Borg reference has a meaning for those webmasters smart enough to understand the correlation between and their infamous customer service methods.You will NOT get a real person and only automated emails are ever sent out in responding to any questions.
THCeeker News also found out through reliable sources that frantically edit their help forum before Google's spider-bots, and or newcomers pick up any bad publicity or bad vibes in the forums. Censorship at it's finest.

If you've been an international 
victim  please choose the following

Save your company's online image before you create any content using easy website builder. Think of it this way -  As every hour you spend on your lifetime dream is wasted with,  you can expect a minimum 10 hours of getting out of the black hole you have created under their guise of an honest, worthy host. Once you have spent too many hours, they seemingly own you because you can not go back. 

Your entire customer base could also be effected if you change hosts. Think about that. Your entire online network could be lost. You would now be considered to a willing hostage.

When it comes time to renew your business's website, you could possibly receive a friendly email notification that the rates have just gone up a ridiculous amount of money. What do you do now? You pay it or lose everything.

 Once you have paid money to them, it's pretty much game over as you have NO ACCESS to the index.html file. If you ever choose to change hosts, you NEED that file to transfer the website. That and the EPP code.

Typically bait and switch" operations are subject to legal issues. In the United States, courts have held that the purveyor using a bait-and-switch operation may be subject to a lawsuit by customers for false advertising

Although borderlines with these practices, and when confronted someone in their "Help forum" will usually appear from out of nowhere and very protective of the staff, just to remind you (usually pretending to be a 3rd party hostile "happy" customer that says you should have read the extra fine print in the contract that you agreed to.

 When not coerced legally to do otherwise, monopolies typically maximize their profit by producing fewer goods and selling them at higher prices than would be the case for perfect competition.

After your business's website is "out of order" for sometimes weeks, and just when you've thought you've lost everything......."To kick you when you are down, they will actually send a friendly email link to a 5 question survey when you are up and running again

 If you don't fill it out, you can expect many many more emails pleading for you to take the survey. The first question in the survey well might read, how do you feel after being denied Vaseline before and after we just repeatedly ....?

Here are just a few of the hidden or unsuspected dangers and difficulties when signing up with
  •  NO CONTACT NUMBER "it's like sending your money to a ghost" What happens when you try to communicate with a ghost? Go ahead, right now, and conjure up your favorite spirit, and see if you get an answer. I almost guarantee you will get the same results as with the customer support team.
  • If you switch hosts YOU WILL LOOSE all of your work.
  • You CAN NOT back up your website using
  • is under constant attack from hackers and many websites including their own main site, are left crippled for weeks at a time. In fact there are instructions readily available throughout the net on how to specifically hack One thing is for certain, they seem to have acquired many enemies along their way to riches. The point is, you must ask yourself if you are willing to trust any one company or person (with no telephone) with your most secure files? 
  • If were ever to dissolve as a company, over 40,000,000 websites worldwide would vanish because no backups exist and if they do, where are they? Any Webmaster NEEDS to physically view their index file.
    • After your website is completed they undoubtedly hold your website "hostage" and could charge ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY. Need we say more? Oh but wait, there is more. A lot more.
    • If anyone wanted their money back, they make it next to impossible because they deny all access to their website to anyone who stands up to them, and remember they have NO Phone number! Unreachable and very wealthy. Ask yourself why? Do it before you end up asking yourself, why me?
    • Resell your website? Great Idea! But Wait! What are you selling exactly? has all customers websites in a cage and locked up. No knowledgeable webmaster would ever want to buy it.
    Help weed these exploitative "black-hole" companies that prey upon innocent victims who's entire online business and identity are being put into jeopardy with NO OPTIONS OUT. Sharing this article with your friends WILL help protect your family and other vulnerable consumers.

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     Nothing I am writing is false, and may defend these claims at any time in the comment box below this article.

    • Actually when you do a Google search on them, (link may be deleted by, you can see posts in various forums.  " is the best thing ever"...I just can't survive without my!....and so really has to see these posts for what they are, and nothing more than pure positive propaganda put in place by the companies employees.

     Here is a post I found on from another angry customer. I copied it to share with the readers because all negative posts get deleted from their records as to not scare away potentiel customers.....

    "Webs you might read this you might not. I haven't a clue any more. I've sat up all night waiting for a response of you guys which never came. You said you'd keep us updated but you broke your word. When I wake up tomorrow I will be looking at other website companies to move my business to.
    Its just a matter of time now until your sites break again. When they do I know, just like tonight you will leave me wondering if they will be fixed or not. When I'm looking at other sites I will remember tonight. I don't want to move to another website provider. I have spent so much time getting my sites right for business, and i have spent alot of money on advertising them Truth is though I don't want to waste any more time or money. I want to establish my business with a firm that I can stay long term with who value their customers and can give a great service too. I thought that was you. You've let me down. You've let us all down  When I get up tomorrow I wont even know if my sites will be working. Its like this every day now. It just isn't good enough any more. Every customer is important to me. The low paying ones and the high paying ones. They all make it possible for me to work. One day when you have no customers. When everyone has had enough of being treated this way,you may realize that every one of your customers was important. By then though you will probably have none left.  Thank you for ignoring my requests for an update I understand I wasn't important enough for you to respond. .I am very disappointed."

    You have now been warned about, and I personally feel a little better, for I live by the same principles that if I were to see a rat in my neighbors cornfield, I'd take the time to tell them about it.

     *Especially if you are a business.
      If you are looking for a place to host your website,
      it's very simple if you remember this easy rule.


    All website designers know that at some point they will ALWAYS need to speak with their hosts representatives one on one.

    The following is an article I dug up on a search engine, that in my opinion really describes the company very accurately when it comes to my own personal experience with dealing with, and I would really, really, really welcome any rebuttal on their part. 

    Source: Rick speaking in a forum about is by far the worst hosting site on the net. Absolutely no customer support, I could not find a real person, a good phone number, nor anyone that actually runs the site. When asking for help on live chat they refer you to different departments and then that department refers you back to live chat, just a run around. 

    No help, no customer service, high prices after they get you, they make it easy to use their site builder and then you cannot move your site since the site builder belongs to them, so you get stuck with their service or your site is locked. 

    They will lock up your site of shut it down and then not tell you why. My site was shut down several times and then after countless emails and chats, a week or two later it would come back up with no explanation or reason for why it was down. WORST HOSTING EVER, you will be sorry if you use them.

     I've tried my very best to convince people in the article that there is NOTHING FREE in this world. Beware of anything claiming to be free.

    Recent Web-Hosting Articles

      Leading security experts at McAfee express their concerns over free web hosting that is currently being taken over by spammers. This warning comes from the fact that spammers are taking advantage of the sub level domains and are finding that use of third level domain names provides them with a contact point that seems like a legitimate source to outsiders.

    These spammers are smart. They get set up with the free web hosts and do look like any other actual business. It can be very confusing to consumers. That is why it works so well for these scam artists. You can get a nice website and a domain name with a free webhost. These look good because they have been taken care of just like any other real business website. This gives the spammers more time to be in business because it takes longer to figure them out.

    With these sites the spammers can actually send tons of messages. That can add up to millions in a matter of hours. Because they do this so quickly and efficiently they can actually scam thousands of people before they are caught. It will only take them a few days for that number of scammed people to grow to tens of thousands. Because the site looks good and the web host has others in legitimate business, it takes a little while to figure it out and shut them down.

    McAfee warns against using free web hosts for legitimate business websites and suggests that over time many free web hosts may have to be shut down due to this growing spamming issue.

    If you are looking for a web host for your new business then find one that will cost at least a small amount. None of them are very expensive and you can get top of the line service for less than $50 usually. You have to check the service out before you sign up with them. Read all of the fine print on the agreement so that you can be sure of the options that you are getting. If you do have a legitimate business then you should be able to pay around $50 a month to keep the site up. That really isn't much.

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    Time Hosted: 1 to 2 years
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    My experience with so called "site builders" incorporated into the purchase of any domain may look appealing to new webmasters, however could be very dangerous if you ever need to change your host. ALWAYS ASK and demand a clear answer before signing up.


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