Man to be Hanged in Singapore for Importing About Two Pounds of Pot

A man who imported one kilogram of cannabis (about 2.2 pounds) from Malaysia into Singapore in 2018 is set to hang after his appeal against the conviction and sentence was dismissed by the Apex Court on Tuesday, October 12.

Channel News Asia reports that Singaporean Omar Yacob Bamadhaj, 41, was sentenced to death in February after being convicted of one count of importing cannabis into Singapore. Bamadhaj was caught smuggling three bundles containing at least one kilogram of cannabis.

The country’s zero-tolerance policy for drugs has led to the hangings of hundreds of people, including dozens of foreigners. 

During a routine border checkpoint at Woodlands Checkpoint late in the night on July 12, 2018, police discovered the bundles Bamadhaj was carrying. His father drove the vehicle, but was found to be unaware of the cannabis bundles.

The Alleged Crime

Bamadhaj agreed to smuggle the cannabis—a Class A drug in Singapore—two days earlier on July 10, 2018 and collected three bundles wrapped in newspapers a day later near a mosque. Bamadhaj allegedly obtained the packages from two friends, Din and Latif. Bamadhaj first said that he agreed to deliver the packages and then said he did not know what they contained.

When asked why there were differences in his accounts, Bamadhaj reportedly replied, “I said that because I was not at the right state of mind. I was feeling high from the stick I had smoked with Din. High to me is like being semi-conscious.”

On Tuesday, Bamadhaj’s lawyer Hassan Esa Almenoar said there was reasonable doubt as to whether Bamadhaj imported the drugs knowingly or not, and said it was “difficult to conclude that he planned all this”.

Bamadhaj argued that the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers had coerced him into admitting to the crime, threatening him, saying, “If you refuse to admit to this, I will throw both you and your father to be hanged.”

Tourists who smoke pot may be in for a bit of culture clash if they choose to visit Singapore—a famously intolerant country with penalties for drugs reaching up to death by hanging. Singapore applies corporal and capital punishments to foreigners—going beyond what other drug-free countries do.

In  2016, when a Nigerian named Chijioke Obioha was hanged in Singapore for possession of 2.6 kilograms of pot.

Singapore and Cannabis

Some countries in Asia are exceptionally intolerant when it comes to drugs. In 2014, Jackie Chan’s son Jaycee did six months of hard time in jail after being busted with 100 grams of cannabis in China. But Singapore’s punishments for drugs make China’s punishments look like a cake walk.

In Singapore, you can be jailed for failing to flush the toilet. Business Insider published an article in 2012, entitled “How to Travel in Singapore Without Getting Caned.” It listed other serious Singaporean “offenses” including selling gum or sipping water on a train. Or standing too close to a child. One graffiti vandal, Mas Selamat bin Kastari, for instance, was slapped with “a terror plot” for political stencil graffiti.

Singapore is one of the worst places on the planet to get caught with pot. Singapore courts can dish out the death penalty to anyone caught with over 500 grams of cannabis—around 1,000 joints. 

Singapore also does hesitate to punish foreigners if they are caught with drugs, unlike other drug-free nations such as Saudi Arabia or China. In those countries, a foreigner caught with drugs would most likely be deported instead.

Singapore doesn’t even need evidence of drug possession to jail a foreigner. Singapore might be the world’s only country that will require drug tests to foreign nationals and then arrest anyone who fails the test.

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Man Caught Traveling With 80 Pounds of Weed Disguised as Christmas Presents

Cannabis culture includes a long, rich, and often times very interesting history of smuggling. And in many cases, these stories involve all sorts of creative methods for sneaking weed where it is not allowed.

Looks like this history has another incident to add to the books. This time, a man attempting to fly out of Nashville International Airport was caught with weed wrapped up to look like Christmas gifts.

Busted With Fake Presents

According to the Associated Press, the man who was allegedly trying to sneak the weed through the airport is 57 year old Somphone Temmeraj.

The man in question had reportedly flown from Seattle, Washington to Nashville, Tennessee. It is not entirely clear if Temmeraj was staying in Nashville, or simply transferring to another flight.

But one way or another, officers in the airport saw Temmeraj load his three bags onto a cart. The only problem was that the bags apparently smelled very strongly of marijuana. So much so, in fact, that reports indicate that both police officers and their K-9 units smelled it.

When officers approached Temmeraj, the man voluntarily let the cops search his bags. Inside were what appeared a bunch of wrapped Christmas presents.

But inside the holiday wrapping paper, the “gifts” were actually vacuum-sealed bags of weed. In total, Temmeraj was trying to transport 84 pounds of cannabis.

After discovering what was inside the packages, authorities arrested Temmeraj. He was then booked into jail in Nashville, and by Tuesday morning he had posted bail to be released.

It is unclear what will happen next for Temmeraj. The AP reported that there is no official word yet if he has a lawyer. And for now, Temmeraj has not issued any public statements.

Smuggling Weed Requires Creativity

There is nothing new about people coming up with creative ways to disguise weed for the purposes of smuggling it. In fact, there are numerous instances of exactly that.

Interesting examples include a woman tried to smuggle weed and meth into a jail by hiding it inside a bible. After arriving for visiting hours, the woman asked if she could give the bible to an inmate. A routine check of the book by a prison guard immediately found the hidden weed and meth. Needless to say, this attempt did not succeed.

In a somewhat similar story, smugglers created packets of weed shaped like carrots. They then wrapped the packages with orange tape and hid them inside a shipping truck. The shipment of fake, weed-filled carrots was eventually discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the Pharr International Bridge in Pharr, Texas.

And while weed smugglers often go the route of trying to disguise their herb, others focus on creative ways of transporting weed without detection.

For example, a couple years ago, somebody got caught trying to sneak weed into a prison with a drone.

Similarly, a smuggler in the Southwest tried to sneak weed between Mexico and Arizona by way of a zip line. The zip line was apparently high enough of the ground to clear border fences in the area.

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Founder of Cirque du Soleil Under Investigation For Growing Cannabis

The founder of Cirque du Soleil says it was all for personal use, but it is unclear if the government of French Polynesia cares. 60-year-old Guy Laliberté is being investigated in conjunction with a drug trafficking case after police saw photos on a man’s cell phone of the billionaire’s alleged marijuana cultivation operation.

The plants are supposedly located on Nukutepipi, Laliberté’s private island, located in the South Pacific in the Tuamotu archipelago. Laliberté’s new company Luna Rogue Entertainment released a statement on Wednesday calling him a “medical cannabis user” whose crop is “for his personal use only.” The company says he is being investigated “for alleged complicity in cultivation, possession and use of cannabis.”

Laliberté has yet to be charged of criminal wrongdoing.

“The disproportionate importance given to this matter, which is generally trivialized for someone in possession of several plants of cannabis for strictly personal use, greatly surprises me,” he said in a personal statement released Wednesday night.

Growing Cannabis for Personal Use is Illegal in French Polynesia

The entertainment mogul turned himself in for questioning on Papeete, the island that serves as the French Polynesian capital. He was detained, held for questioning, and appeared in court on Wednesday before being released.

Police were tipped off to what they say is Laliberté’s cannabis cultivation operation when they detained a man they suspected of drug possession, and found images of the plants on his cell phone.

Laliberté is no longer associated with Cirque du Soleil since he sold off most of his share in 2015, at which time its shows were pulling in $845 million every year. The divestment left him with $1.5 billion. After an aborted attempt to launch a DJ career, he used part of the payout to fund his new corporation, Lune Rogue Entertainment.

Thus far, that project has given birth to a $30 million pyramid known as PYI that houses psychedelic light and sound shows. It debuted in Paris, and is tentatively slated to move to Miami and New York for shows.

The Canadian businessperson got his professional start as a busker, then picked up skills as a stilt-walker and fire-breather. He founded Cirque du Soleil in 1984, and has carefully cultivated a reputation for being both a creative force and an avowed capitalist ever since.

“He’s a winner,” a Montreal tourism CEO told Forbes of Lalilberté. “His name is associated with winning.”

“I’m not stupid,” Laliberté commented for the same profile. “I evaluate danger, but I trust life is good. And I trust that there’s intelligence behind a decision we’re making, and if you want to be a game-changer, you just have to take risks.”

We’ll have to see how that descriptor bears out when it comes to the current cannabis charges.

“Mr. Guy Laliberté categorically denies and dissociates himself completely from any rumors implicating him in the sale or the traffic of controlled substances,” stated his company in Wednesday’s statement.

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Florida Man Arrested For Allegedly Stealing Electricity For Cannabis Grow House

Growing marijuana is a relatively labor- and resource-intensive project. That’s especially true of indoor growing efforts.

Along with the physical space needed to cultivate cannabis plants indoors, growers also need a lot of water and nutrients to keep the plants healthy.

Similarly, growers also use large amounts of electricity. Typically, they need power to run all the lights needed to encourage growth and flowering, and to maintain ventilation systems.

Many times, the process of using up all these resources—especially if it involves pulling power off of the public grid—raises red flags that can quickly put growers on law enforcement’s radar.

That’s exactly what happened with a 63-year-old illegal cannabis grower in Holiday, Florida. Law enforcement officers claimed the man was growing marijuana plants in a home and was illegally re-routing electricity to the site.

Arrested for Stealing Power, Growing Weed

As per local news source WTSP, Pasco County Deputies arrested a man identified as Pedro Julio Ruiz on August 30.

Initially, power company Duke Energy alerted cops to a property that saw a huge spike in energy usage. In fact, Duke Energy reportedly said that a power diversion was being used to send tons of power to the property.

All in all, Duke Energy said the property had diverted nearly $12,000 worth of stolen electricity.

When cops showed up at the home, they reportedly found a number of rooms that had been converted into grow rooms. In total, the home was being used to grow a total of 24 cannabis plants.

The grow operation was reportedly using multiple air conditioning units. Additionally, reports indicate that there were 24 ballasts and grow lights being used inside the home.

Ruiz does not live at the property. But he was reportedly linked to the property. And cops believe he was the one illegally growing weed and taking electricity.

Cops say they found property belonging to Ruiz in the home. This reportedly includes medication, legal paperwork, and a power bill, all of which had Ruiz’s name on them.

After making the arrest, authorities charged Ruiz with marijuana production and grand theft of utility services. Both charges are felonies. Ruiz is currently being held in the Land O Lakes jail on a $10,000 bond.

Facing Possible Legal Punishment

According to Newsweek, under Florida state law a person convicted of grand utility theft could face some hefty penalties. Specifically, they could receive up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Alternatively, they could also be fined up to three times the cost of the stolen utility.

In Florida, recreational cannabis is illegal. And getting caught with up to 20 grams of weed is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, and driver’s license suspension.

However, in early August, Democratic state Rep. Shevrin Jones introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession. If Jones’ bill passes into law, possession of up to 20 grams of weed would no longer be a criminal offense. Instead, it would be a noncriminal violation punishable only by a fine of up to $500.

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Shut Down After Owner Was Caught Selling Meth

An Oklahoma medical marijuana dispensary has been shut down after the owner of the shop was arrested on Wednesday for selling meth. Agents with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) arrested Jeffrey Peregrino, 38, the owner of the Left Handed Okies medical marijuana dispensary in Spiro, Oklahoma, who faces two counts of trafficking methamphetamine, according to a spokesman for the law enforcement agency.

“On two separate occasions, our undercover agents have recently purchased meth from the owner of ‘Left Handed Okies’ dispensary in Spiro. Both of the transactions took place inside the dispensary office,” said Mark Woodward, an OBN spokesman.

Authorities also issued an emergency suspension order to halt sales at the medical marijuana dispensary and confiscated the cannabis products that were on the premises.

Coty Jerrell, the owner of a Left Handed Okies dispensary in Shady Point, Oklahoma, told reporters that the two businesses are not related. He also said that he owns the rights to the name and plans to pull the moniker from the Spiro location as soon as he can. Jerrell emphasized that he does not approve of the use of meth and even some prescription drugs and believes that the medicinal use of cannabis is often a better alternative.

“‘Left Handed Okies in Shady Point is 120% against any kind of methamphetamine or opioids; the reason why we got into this industry is to fight this epidemic,” he said.

Peregrino was taken into custody by law enforcement officers and booked into the LeFlore County Jail on Wednesday afternoon. The OBN was assisted in the investigation by the LeFlore County District Attorney’s Office and the District 16 Drug Task Force.

Medical Marijuana Legalized in Oklahoma Last Year

The medicinal use of marijuana was legalized by Oklahoma voters in 2018 with the passage of State Question 788. The constitutional amendment was passed by a margin of 56% to 43% in a statewide election in June. Over 140,000 patients have already been approved to use medical marijuana and nearly 6,000 licenses for cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries had been issued by state regulators as of July 1.

On Monday, High Times announced that it is teaming up with cannabis dispensary and meditation lounge APCO MED for Oklahoma’s first-ever High Times Cannabis Cup. The festival of all things marijuana and competition to honor the state’s best cannabis products will take place on August 24 and 25 in Oklahoma City at the Lost Lakes Amphitheater.

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