Southeast Asian governments have the toughest drug laws on the planet. But a death sentence for selling weed?
Thankfully Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice for attorney general, forgot that he too once proposed executing pot dealers. Whew.
In Myanmar, vegetable seller, Nur Alam Mohd Hussain, was recently sentenced to death for trafficking cannabis. The 29-year-old was found guilty on the basis of for possessing five pounds of weed, which in his trial he called “fictitious.”
Hussain was arrested last November carrying two envelopes given to him by a third person. When the police surrounded him at a gas station, he dropped the envelopes and ran, later saying he didn’t know what was in them but had assumed they were stolen car parts.
Myanmar authorities, according to the New Straits Times, said he should have been able to smell the cannabis which “were in large quantities” (5 pounds?), and by not doing so, “it can be concluded that he had knowledge that the cannabis was for trafficking.”
Myanmar, which has been an important cog in the international drug trafficking network for many years, is part of the legendary “Golden Triangle.” This is a region of Southeast Asia that spans three countries (Myanmar, Laos and Thailand) and produces most of the world’s heroin.
Myanmar (also known as Burma) is the world’s second largest producer of opium, after Afghanistan, and also produces significant quantities of weed.
Currently methamphetamine production is also soaring in Myanmar. Many poor farmers rely on the drug business, which by some estimates once accounted for 50 percent of Myanmar’s GDP.
While many countries in the region still seek the death penalty for cannabis possession or sale, actually carrying it out often meets with fierce international protests; instead, they tend to convert the penalty into a prison sentence.
Even so, Iran, (where in 2015 almost 400 people were executed for dealing in heroin, amphetamines or cocaine), Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia adopt a “generous” approach, imposing lengthy prison sentences and corporal punishment for hash or weed dealers.
According to a World Coalition Against the Death Penalty report that covers from 2005 to 2015, there have been no official executions in Myanmar in the past 10 years for drugs.
We can only hope Mr. Husain the veggie vendor gets off the hook.
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