Cynthiana farmer Brian Furnish has a successful tobacco and cattle operation but wants to make life better for his family and many other Kentucky farmers who once depended on tobacco for their living.
“I’ve seen what’s happened with the decline of tobacco,” said Furnish. “Central and eastern Kentucky need a new crop. If we can build an industry around hemp here, it’ll be beneficial to growers.”
Furnish is also the chair of the Kentucky Hemp Industry Council, a 16-member group from around the state and nation that represents various stakeholder in hemp’s future, from farmers and crop processors to industries and retailers that want to process and sell hemp products. Hemp’s fiber and oil can be used in a multitude of goods, including food, paper, building materials, beauty products and much more.
Kentucky is entering its second year of industrial hemp pilot projects. The first round in 2014 produced a wealth of data about production methods, seed varieties, harvesting, processing techniques and uses for harvested hemp.
“We’re looking to conduct a wide scope of pilot projects in 2015,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a strong advocate for hemp and a Republican candidate for governor.
“There are more agriculture processors in Kentucky today making an investment in the state, signing contracts and hiring people. This is something we’ll be able to look back at and say ‘This was a good decision,’” said Comer.
Comer says one company that showed an early interest in developing the state’s hemp industry is Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soaps, a company selling hemp formulated soaps, organic bars, lip balm and body care products, according to its website. The company donated $50,000 to aid the hemp council’s work in promoting a future for hemp in Kentucky.
Comer says hundreds of others have applied for permits to participate in this year’s hemp pilot program. “There’s no shortage of farmers who want to grow hemp,” he said.
Lexington attorney Jonathan Miller is legal advisor for the hemp council.
“We would like to resume our leading role as the industrial hemp capital of the globe,” he said.
Miller and others have lobbied Congress and President Barack Obama’s administration to try to regain full legalization of hemp, which was banned 75 years ago, along with its intoxicating plant cousin, marijuana.
In the last year, no hemp has been commercialized in Kentucky. It remains in the experimental stage.
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I want to personally congratulate #9 known as Francis Darrell Hayden, of Loretto Kentucky for being the ONLY ONE on President Obama’s “Pardon list” that had been convicted on Marijuana charges.
MSNBC broke the story today that Obama had pardoned 22 “drug offenders” serving federal time for various offenses.
“To further this progress, the President has established a clemency initiative to encourage individuals who were sentenced under outdated laws and policies to petition for commutation,” White House counsel Neil Eggleston wrote shortly after the president’s commutations were announced.
Each of the sentences commuted on Tuesday will expire on July 28, 2015.
The rest of the individuals pardoned where doing their time for other drug offenses which include cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.,
“I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around,” Obama wrote. “Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity.”
Although I am glad to see any non-violent drug offender released from prison, it is somewhat bittersweet that only one of those who were pardoned was convicted for Marijuana and that person just happened to live in Kentucky. I would like to see President Obama release ALL Marijuana non-violent offenders from the prison system as well. Not only is it clearly a mistake that they were convicted of a victimless crime in the first place it is equally as bad to continue to keep them confined.
The entire list can be seen here.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Rastafarian businessman (Shutterstock)
In a classic case of “unintended consequences,” the recently signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana may have opened the door for the establishment of the First Church of Cannabis in the Hoosier State.
While Governor Mike Pence (R) was holding a signing ceremony for the bill allowing businesses and individuals to deny services to gays on religious grounds or values, paperwork for the First Church of Cannabis Inc. was being filed with the Secretary of State’s office, reports RTV6.
Church founder Bill Levin announced on his Facebook page that the church’s registration has been approved, writing, “Status: Approved by Secretary of State of Indiana – “Congratulations your registration has been approved!” Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love, Understanding, and Good Health.”
Levin is currently seeking $4.20 donations towards his non-profit church.
According to Indiana attorney and political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, Indiana legislators, in their haste to protect the religious values and practices of their constituents, may have unwittingly put the state in an awkward position with those who profess to smoke pot as a religious sacrament.
Shabazz pointed out that it is still illegal to smoke pot in Indiana, but wrote, “I would argue that under RFRA, as long as you can show that reefer is part of your religious practices, you got a pretty good shot of getting off scot-free.”
Noting that RFRA supporters say the bill “only spells out a test as to whether a government mandate would unduly burden a person’s faith and the government has to articulate a compelling interest for that rule and how it would be carried out in the least restrictive manner,” Shabazz contends the law may tie the state’s hands.
“So, with that said, what ‘compelling interest’ would the state of Indiana have to prohibit me from using marijuana as part of my religious practice?” he asked. ” I would argue marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and wine used in religious ceremonies. Marijuana isn’t any more ‘addictive’ than alcohol and wine is used in some religious ceremonies. And marijuana isn’t any more of a ‘gateway’ drug than the wine used in a religious ceremony will make you go out and buy hard liquor. (At least not on Sunday.)”
Shabazz concluded, “I want a front row seat at the trial that we all know is going to happen when all this goes down.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
To my defense there was a lot of interruptions yesterday, more so than usual. But damn! You would think I could remember the gist of what I was going to post ???
Too much to do with not enough “up” time, and no one that can help me to keep up.
So, I guess I’ll just have to live with the “mistakes” I make and hope everyone else understands as well.
I never dreamed that I would have gotten into the position I am in – I did not aim for it – It just happened.
I wanted to be the one to just post “a blog” for Kentucky. Not, “many” blogs and websites – and to top it all off I never learned HTML/PHP which puts me at a huge disadvantage.
I may not be the best at everything I do, but it is not for lack of trying…
And as far as the post: “A conversation I didn’t expect”, well, I do not know what the Hell I was expecting!
Peace and Prayers to you All!
ShereeKriderRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga
For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II
Siberian summers do not last long. The snows linger into May, and the cold weather returns again during September, freezing the taiga into a still life awesome in its desolation: endless miles of straggly pine and birch forests scattered with sleeping bears and hungry wolves; steep-sided mountains; white-water rivers that pour in torrents through the valleys; a hundred thousand icy bogs. This forest is the last and greatest of Earth’s wildernesses. It stretches from the furthest tip of Russia’s arctic regions as far south as Mongolia, and east from the Urals to the Pacific: five million square miles of nothingness, with a population, outside a handful of towns, that amounts to only a few thousand people.
When the warm days do arrive, though, the taiga blooms, and for a few short months it can seem almost welcoming. It is then that man can see most clearly into this hidden world–not on land, for the taiga can swallow whole armies of explorers, but from the air. Siberia is the source of most of Russia’s oil and mineral resources, and, over the years, even its most distant parts have been overflown by oil prospectors and surveyors on their way to backwoods camps where the work of extracting wealth is carried on.
Thus it was in the remote south of the forest in the summer of 1978. A helicopter sent to find a safe spot to land a party of geologists was skimming the treeline a hundred or so miles from the Mongolian border when it dropped into the thickly wooded valley of an unnamed tributary of the Abakan, a seething ribbon of water rushing through dangerous terrain. The valley walls were narrow, with sides that were close to vertical in places, and the skinny pine and birch trees swaying in the rotors’ downdraft were so thickly clustered that there was no chance of finding a spot to set the aircraft down. But, peering intently through his windscreen in search of a landing place, the pilot saw something that should not have been there. It was a clearing, 6,000 feet up a mountainside, wedged between the pine and larch and scored with what looked like long, dark furrows. The baffled helicopter crew made several passes before reluctantly concluding that this was evidence of human habitation—a garden that, from the size and shape of the clearing, must have been there for a long time.
It was an astounding discovery. The mountain was more than 150 miles from the nearest settlement, in a spot that had never been explored. The Soviet authorities had no records of anyone living in the district.
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/for-40-years-this-russian-family-was-cut-off-from-all-human-contact-unaware-of-world-war-ii-7354256/#rVebKTUpSX8mlJfW.99
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Have you ever been pulled over at a DUI police check point? Even if you were not drinking, or perhaps aren’t even a drinker, these checkpoints fill many drivers with anxiety, as police officers scour cars they pull over for anything amiss.
Most of the tickets given out at these checkpoints are for seatbelt violations or other things not related at all to drunk driving and DUIs. If you have nothing to hide, waiting in line for these checkpoints is at best a time-consuming nuisance that might make you late for work or dinner.
But now, a bold lawyer is arguing that these checkpoints are not only unconstitutional, but that police do not have legal grounds to do anything but tell you to drive on if you present your drivers license at the window – with the window rolled up – and a sign that tells them you do not consent to a search, that you have no comment and that you want your lawyer.
Warren Redlich is a South Florida attorney, but he says this holds true everywhere.
Redlich explains that his goal is not to protect drunken drivers, but to instead inform innocent people about their rights to not be presumed innocent and illegally detained without probable cause.
Some clients, he explained, have never had a drop of alcohol, but if they rub police officers the wrong way, then they are slapped with DUI charges, because the officer claims he could “smell alcohol” on them or that their speech was “slurred.” It’s then up to them to prove their innocence in court.
“The point of the card is, you are affirmatively asserting your rights without having to speak to the police and without opening your window,” Redlich explained.
But Sheriff David Shoar of St. Johns County, president of the Florida Sheriffs Association says that “they wouldn’t be allowed out of that checkpoint until they talk to us. We have a legitimate right to do it. If I was out there, I wouldn’t wave them through. I want to talk to that person more now.”
One video from December 31 at a Levy County, Florida checkpoint, shows Redlich’s associate Jeff Gray with the flyer that his attorney suggested, along with his license, registration and insurance card, all in a plastic bag dangling outside barely cracked car window. The officers examine the contents, then waive him on.
The flyer boldly states: “I remain silent. No searches. I want my lawyer.”
“I’m not anti-cop. I’m anti-bad government and anti-bad cop. I support good cops,” Redlich said. “I would like if police didn’t waste their time with something like checkpoints and would focus their attention on violent crime.”
Have you tried this at a checkpoint before? Let us know what happened.
(Article by Reagan Ali)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
A comprehensive bill introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday aims to deal a significant blow to the federal government’s long-running war on medical marijuana.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, introduced by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Don Young (R-Alaska), is a House companion bill to identical Senate legislation from Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced earlier this month. Each bill seeks to drastically reduce the federal government’s ability to crack down on state-legal medical marijuana programs and aims to encourage more research into the plant.
The historic Senate version of the bill has also gained traction with two new sponsors since its introduction: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
“The science has been in for a long time, and keeping marijuana on Schedule I — with heroin and LSD — is ludicrous," Cohen said in a statement Tuesday. "I am pleased to join with Congressman Don Young in introducing this important bill to bring the federal government in line with the science and the American people, respect states’ rights, remove the threat of federal prosecution in states with medical marijuana, and help our citizens access the treatments they need.”
Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance, a reform group, told The Huffington Post that the House version of the bill was introduced because "momentum is so strong" for the bipartisan CARERS Act.
"This has become one of the few issues Democrats and Republicans can agree on," Piper told HuffPost in an email. "The tide is quickly turning against marijuana prohibition, and the war on drugs in general; it’s only a question of when, not if, reform will happen."
The bill calls for six major policy changes. Here’s what it aims to accomplish:
Allow patients, doctors and businesses to participate in their states’ medical marijuana programs without fear of being prosecuted by the federal government.
Under this legislation, the Controlled Substances Act would be amended so that states could set their own medical marijuana policies. It would clarify much of the legal ambiguity that currently exists between federal guidance, congressional intent and state laws on medical marijuana — not by forcing states to legalize medical marijuana, but by protecting the states that choose to do so.
The sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana all remain illegal under federal law. The states that have legalized the drug in some form or another have only been able to do so because of federal guidance urging prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations.
To date, 23 states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana and 12 others have legalized the limited use of low-THC marijuana for medical purposes. All such state laws, and the people who act in compliance with them, would be protected by this bill.
Reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous substance, moving it from Schedule I to Schedule II.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, the U.S. has five categories for drugs and drug ingredients. Schedule I is reserved for substances that the Drug Enforcement Administration considers to have no medical value and the highest potential for abuse. Marijuana has been classified as Schedule I for decades, alongside substances like heroin and LSD.
This legislation would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug — a category for less dangerous drugs that have an accepted medical use. Rescheduling marijuana wouldn’t make the drug legal under federal law, but such a move would essentially mark the federal government’s first-ever acknowledgement that the plant has any medical benefits.
Give veterans easier access to medical marijuana.
Currently, doctors who work for the Department of Veterans Affairs are prohibited from helping patients acquire medical marijuana, even in states where it is legal.
This legislation would lift that ban and would allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients suffering from certain conditions, where permitted by state law.
Nearly 30 percent of veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a 2012 VA report. Some research has suggested that marijuana may help with PTSD symptoms, which can include anxiety, flashbacks and depression. A recent study found that PTSD symptoms in patients who used cannabis were reduced by an average of 75 percent.
Eliminate barriers to marijuana research.
Getting the federal government to sign off on a marijuana study is exceedingly difficult — but two of the most prohibitive federal barriers to marijuana research would be lifted under this new legislation.
Currently, all marijuana research must go through a Public Health Service review, a process established in 1999 by the federal government after a 1998 Institute of Medicine report called for more scientific research into the medical value of marijuana. No other Schedule I substance is subject to this process. That extra step would be removed entirely under the CARERS Act.
Secondly, federal authorities have long been accused of only funding marijuana research that focuses on the potential negative effects of the substance. The DEA has also been accused of not acting quickly enough when petitioned to reschedule marijuana and of obstructing research into the drug.
Currently, the federal government is the only institution authorized to grow research-grade cannabis. The CARERS Act would allow for no fewer than three additional licensed growers, a move that would end the federal monopoly on marijuana research and potentially hasten the discovery of new medical applications for the plant.
Remove low-THC strains of marijuana from the controlled substances list.
The strength of a strain of marijuana is generally measured by its percentage of THC, the plant’s main psychoactive ingredient. There are multiple strains of marijuana that have little to no THC, but high levels of CBD, or cannabidiol, a compound that has medical value but does not produce the "high" sensation associated with THC.
While nearly two dozen states have broad medical marijuana laws that allow for the cultivation, production and distribution of medical marijuana, another 12 states only make provisions for low-THC strains, and those only under certain circumstances. Because those states generally don’t allow for the regulated sale or cultivation of marijuana, patients are forced to seek out the plant on the black market, or from another state with more relaxed laws that allow out-of-state patients to purchase medical marijuana. Even so, transporting marijuana across state lines remains illegal, leaving patients in a bind.
The CARERS Act would remove marijuana with less than 0.3 percent THC from the CSA’s schedules altogether, allowing states to import low-THC/high-CBD strains for patients who need it.
Open up banking for marijuana businesses.
The legislation would expand banking access for medical marijuana businesses, enabling them to function more or less like traditional businesses.
Legal marijuana is already a billion-dollar industry. But because of banks’ fears of being implicated as money launderers, marijuana-related businesses are often forced to be cash-only, putting retailers’ safety at risk and creating problems with taxes and employee payroll. Despite Treasury Department guidance that supporters hoped would ease interactions, most banks are still extremely wary of working with marijuana businesses since the plant remains illegal under federal law.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Next month, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case which challenges Oklahoma’s use of “liquid fire” in executions. The drug – potassium chloride – is one of a cocktail of drugs currently used in some states to carry out death sentences, a cocktail that has led to botched executions. Nancy E. Millar comments on the upcoming case, which challenges the drug’s use under the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. She writes that while it is impossible to predict what the Court will decide, its previous decisions and statements might provide some indication of how the justices are leaning.
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari (review) on an important case that will force it to re-examine, and perhaps reconfigure, the troubled lethal injection landscape. The case, Glossip v. Gross, challenges Oklahoma’s use of a three-drug protocol to carry out its executions and follows a recent spate of botched executions.
In April last year Oklahoma used midazolam as the first drug in its three-drug sequence for the first time. That execution, of Clayton Lockett, has been called a “bloody mess” and widely condemned as one of a series of badly botched executions to be carried out in several states over the past year. In the words of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, during the Lockett execution, he “awoke and writhed on the execution table for some time after the drugs had been injected and officials confirmed him to be unconscious. He was overheard to say, “‘Something is wrong,’” and, “‘The drugs aren’t working.’” . . . Eventually, some 40 minutes after the lethal injection drugs were administered, Lockett died.”
Oklahoma planned to execute Charles F. Warner via the same three-drug method shortly after executing Lockett, but postponed the Warner execution in light of the problems. This gave the lawyers for Mr. Warner and three other prisoners time to ask the Court to stay their scheduled executions—but the Court declined to do so. Consequently, in January, Oklahoma executed Mr. Warner using the same three-drug protocol that had caused an uproar in Lockett’s death. Less than two weeks later, the Court granted certiorari in Glossip in order to review the constitutionality of that protocol. The Court subsequently stayed the three other prisoners’ scheduled executions.
The petitioners in Glossip—death-sentenced prisoners awaiting execution in Oklahoma—argue to the Court in their brief, filed on March 9, that the use of the three-drug protocol violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Because midazolam does not produce a “deep, comalike unconsciousness,” they argue, it leaves prisoners vulnerable to experiencing “constitutionally intolerable” pain and suffering. Potassium chloride, the third drug in the protocol, feels like “liquid fire” when injected into a person who has not been already rendered deeply unconscious, the petitioners claim, and “injecting a prisoner with liquid fire is just as unconstitutional as lighting him afire.”
The Supreme Court has not addressed the constitutionality of a lethal injection protocol since Baze v. Rees in 2008. In Baze, the Court ruled that the three-drug cocktail at issue in that case—the sedative sodium thiopental, the paralytic pancuronium bromide, and heart-stopping potassium chloride—did not violate the Eighth Amendment. However, the Court found it uncontested that, “failing a proper dose of sodium thiopental that would render the prisoner unconscious, there is a substantial, constitutionally unacceptable risk of suffocation from the administration of pancuronium bromide and pain from the injection of potassium chloride.”
Seven years later, in Glossip, the Court faces just such a scenario: Because midazolam now has failed to render at least two prisoners unconscious, in the Wood and Lockett executions, the Court must squarely confront the situation it deemed “constitutionally unacceptable” in Baze.
While it is impossible to predict precisely what the Court will decide, it is instructive to look to previous decisions and other indications of the justices’ leanings to date.
Baze was a split decision with only three justices signing on to the majority’s reasoning, but seven total justices agreeing with the judgment. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion in Baze, joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. Baze established that, to prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim, a prisoner must demonstrate a “‘substantial risk of serious harm,’ an ‘objectively intolerable risk of harm’ that prevents prison officials from pleading that they were ‘subjectively blameless for purposes of the Eighth Amendment.’” Ruling on the narrow issues presented in Baze, the majority held that the petitioners did not show that the risk of an inadequate dose of the first drug in Kentucky’s three-drug cocktail was substantial and rejected the argument that the Eighth Amendment required Kentucky to adopt alternative procedures identified by petitioners.
Justice John Paul Stevens concurred in the judgment, but warned that the majority opinion would “generate debate not only about the constitutionality of the three-drug protocol, and specifically about the justification for the use of the paralytic agent, pancuronium bromide, but also about the justification for the death penalty itself.” He noted that pancuronium bromide was so widely recognized as causing extreme pain in a conscious patient that several states had enacted legislation prohibiting its use in animal euthanasia.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote his own concurring opinion, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, disagreeing with the majority’s statement of the governing Eighth Amendment standard but agreeing with the judgment. Under Justice Thomas’s interpretation of the Constitution, “a method of execution violates the Eighth Amendment only if it is deliberately designed to inflict pain.”
Justice Breyer also concurred, agreeing with the judgment only and approving of the standard suggested by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissent: To determine the constitutionality of an execution procedure, a court should examine “whether the method creates an untoward, readily avoidable risk of inflicting severe and unnecessary suffering.” Under this proposed test, the Court would examine three factors: the “degree of risk,” the “magnitude of pain,” and the “availability of alternatives.” Justice David H. Souter joined Justice Ginsburg’s dissent.
Justices Stevens and Souter are no longer on the Court, replaced by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. Both new justices, along with Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, would have stayed the executions of Warner and the others when they filed their application in mid-January. (Notably, five votes are required to stay an execution, while four votes are sufficient to grant certiorari; thus, Oklahoma executed Warner even though the Court decided to review the state’s protocol.)
It is clear that Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg will side with the petitioners in Glossip, while Justices Thomas and Scalia will not. Given Justice Breyer’s agreement with delaying the Warner and Gross’s executions, and his approval of the standard announced by Justice Ginsburg in Baze, he is expected to agree with the petitioners’ arguments against the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s protocol. Justices Roberts, Kennedy, and Alito—the only three Justices who supported Baze’s judgment and reasoning—stand somewhere in the middle.
Last year, in Wood v. Ryan, a First Amendment challenge to Arizona’s secrecy about the drugs that were to be used in Mr. Wood’s then-scheduled execution, Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski dissented from that Court’s denial of rehearing en banc, noting that:
Whatever happens to Wood, the attacks [on lethal injection] will not stop and for a simple reason: The enterprise is flawed. Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful—like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.
Next month, the Supreme Court will squarely confront yet another attack on the U.S. lethal injection landscape, following a series of executions where the brutality and savagery of the method were on full display.
Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of USApp– American Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.
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Mitch McConnell, who is leading the fight to stop the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, pointed out last week that he has a surprising ally: “Iconic liberal constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe — who was President Obama’s constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School — said he agrees.” The lawsuit to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the greenhouse gas emissions of existing power plants would, if successful, close out the sole realistic channel that might allow the United States to comply with its international climate commitments, and thus likely doom any international agreement to limit the effects of climate change. The endorsement of Tribe, a famous liberal law professor, has become the right’s favorite talking point. Last December, The Wall Street Journal devoted an entire editorial to extolling this smackdown of Obama from an unimpeachably favorable source. “Professor Tribe delivered a constitutional rebuke this week to the Obama Administration,” the Journal gloated, “that is remarkable coming from a titan of the liberal professoriate.” Reason, the Daily Caller, Jonathan Adler, among others, have likewise touted Tribe’s defection to their side.
None of these conservatives managed to note, even parenthetically, what may be a salient fact: Tribe is being paid for his advocacy by a coal company called Peabody Energy. Only the Journal comes close to disclosing the relationship by noting, “Mr. Tribe joined with the world’s largest private coal company,” though “joined with” makes it sound like Tribe volunteered to endorse Peabody’s argument, as opposed to being hired to do so.
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Tribe is playing an important legal role, which has to be evaluated on its own terms. Other law professors, like Richard Revesz, Jody Freeman, and Richard Lazarus, have called Tribe’s legal argument frivolous and absurd. Tribe has responded. But aside from the legal case Tribe has devised, his advocacy is also playing a crucial public role in the debate — even liberal professor Laurence Tribe noted that Obama’s climate regulations must be unconstitutional, which sounds very different from even coal company lawyer Lawrence Tribe agrees that Obama’s climate regulations must be unconstitutional. Should anybody put weight on Tribe’s endorsement of the anti-Obama lawsuit, any more than they should have taken Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz’s word for it that O.J. Simpson was innocent?
Tribe, over email, insisted that he personally agrees with his arguments on behalf of Peabody. “I agreed to accept Peabody as a client only on the condition that I’d continue to speak my mind even if not everything I’d say would be to Peabody’s liking,” he wrote.
What makes Tribe’s defense a little strange is that his advocacy has not been limited to narrow legal arguments against the constitutionality of the proposed regulations. Tribe has argued for preserving coal’s cherished place in American economic life. In his legal paper, he writes:
[B]oth Democratic and Republican Administrations have promoted the prudent use of domestic coal in order to reduce dependence on imported oil. In contrast, the Proposed Rule will require a dramatic decline in coal-fired generation of electricity, in order to implement EPA’s system of state-by-state mandates. In fact, under EPA’s plan, the agency envisions that coal generation would be eliminated altogether in 12 states. The Proposed Rule thus reverses policies that reach back to John F. Kennedy. As Hillary Clinton observed in 2007, “I think you have got to admit that coal — of which we have a great and abundant supply in America — is not going away.”
And in his testimony before Congress last week, Tribe calls the administration’s plan to reduce coal use “radical”:
There should be no mistake about how radical EPA’s proposal to phase out the use of coal to generate electrical power actually is. Secretary of State John Kerry described U.S. policy regarding coal-fired power plants: “We’re going to take a bunch of them out of commission.”
He argues instead for subsidizing carbon-capture technology as an alternative means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions:
Today, greenhouse gas emissions from state-of-the-art coal plants are materially (25 percent) lower than those of traditional power plants, due to improved boilers, increased efficiencies, and other innovations. The United States could also support carbon-capture and storage technologies. An “all of the above” energy policy can support all forms of domestic energy production that will minimize carbon emissions, protect consumers and American jobs, and ensure that the U.S. remains independent from unreliable foreign sources of energy. But burning the Constitution is one thing we should not do as part of our national energy policy.
This is an argument made energetically by coal companies but rejected by energy analysts. Tribe is right that coal has grown less dirty than it used to be, but it’s still far dirtier than any other source of electricity.
The Clean Power Plan would allow states to invest in carbon-capture strategies, and they would dearly love this. But it’s a highly expensive technology that isn’t competitive with other forms of clean energy, and therefore isn’t expected to be widely used, because the regulations encourage states to find the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. Tribe is advocating a climate policy that makes no economic sense from any standpoint except the self-interest of the coal industry.
I asked Tribe if his guideline about speaking his mind applies to his broader defense of coal or only to his narrow legal arguments. Tribe responded by insisting he was only making narrow legal arguments. His response on this point simply makes no sense to me and seems to contradict the plain meaning of his words. But I will share the whole thing and allow readers to judge:
On the contrary, my advocacy has been confined to arguments about the legality of EPA’s regulatory strategy. In my congressional testimony last Tuesday, for instance, I said: “I want to make clear at the outset that my testimony addresses only the lawfulness of what EPA proposes to do; I claim no expertise in, nor will I be testifying about, the pros and cons of EPA’s plan as a response to the issues posed by climate change. My conclusion as a legal scholar and student of the Constitution is that EPA’s proposal not only exceeds the agency’s statutory and legal authority but also directly violates limits enacted by Congress to restrict EPA’s power and raises serious constitutional questions.”
The fact that the paper I submitted last December quoted statements by Hillary Clinton and others about how, under present policies, “coal . . . is not going away,” doesn’t change that one iota. Those statements were historically accurate (and indeed uncontroversial) descriptions of the situation as it has existed up to now, and they are relevant to my Fifth Amendment point. As I said in my testimony, “a central point of the Fifth Amendment’s combined requirements of Due Process and Just Compensation is that, except when phasing out intrinsically harmful activity that injures identifiable individuals or businesses, the Government is not free simply to pick those whose investment-backed expectations are to be eliminated for the greater good. When regulating an entity out of existence generates diffuse benefits for the public at large that exceed the targeted costs imposed on the unlucky few, the Fifth Amendment’s basic teaching is that the few should be justly compensated by the many. The point is not that the Government is bound by a constitutional duty not to change course — no constitutional principle freezes the Government in its tracks. But when the Government’s change in course drastically undercuts investment-backed expectations that amount to property interests, the Government is bound by a constitutional duty to pay, whether under the rubric of just compensation or under the rubric of due process.”
The same is true of my quotation from Secretary Kerry about the administration’s intent to “take a bunch of [coal-powered plants] out of commission.” That’s exactly what Secretary Kerry said, and I quoted it just to underscore the inaccuracy of the claims that the EPA Clean Power Plan isn’t targeted at that goal. I haven’t expressed any personal opinions or made any policy arguments “on behalf of a coal-inclusive energy strategy” but have made factually indisputable statements about what’s going on insofar as it might be relevant to my legal analysis. And, when you refer to my “policy views on coal,” I truly don’t know what you’re referencing. I have expressed no such views.
I followed up by asking Tribe if he would disclose what percentage of his income has come from energy companies. He replied, “It’s a very small percentage. And I’m afraid I don’t have any more time to devote to this dialogue today, so I’ll need to beg off on further questions.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
March 24, 201511:22 AM ET
Recreational marijuana has been legalized in four states, but that doesn’t mean it’s a tested consumer product. Some of those potent buds are covered in fungus while others contain traces of butane, according to an analysis of marijuana in Colorado.
Last May, after people began getting sick from edible marijuana products, the state of Colorado began requiring all products to be tested. Washington has mandated testing too, with a detailed checklist of items to analyze, including potency, contaminants, moisture and microbiology.
Marijuana testing is a new phenomenon. Even though people have been purchasing medical marijuana in Washington since 1998, the state never mandated testing until it approved recreational marijuana in 2013. Other states are still in the process of building a list of requirements for marijuana testing.
Each state has licensed private labs to analyze the products; they charges manufacturers a fee. Consumers can find some parts of the results, such as potency, printed on packaging, while others are available by request. And the lab must be independent from the producer and manufacturer; there’s no in-house testing like there is in the cigarette industry.
So what are labs looking for? First, it’s important that manufacturers and producers show how potent the weed is, kind of like printing the alcohol content on a bottle label.
"It became very clear [that we needed to test for potency] when we had people coming in from out of state," Mary Meek, director of business development for CHARAS Scientific, a Denver lab, tells Shots. "We had 21 years olds coming in on spring break and getting sick," she explains.
Because many growers don’t yet test their weed for potency, two buds might vary in their THC content – and in effects. So even if a manufacturer uses the same recipe every time, their products might vary from brownie to brownie.
Since labs like CHARAS Scientific are the ones evaluating every marijuana product, they are the ones who can use their analyses to look for trends. They presented some of their findings on Monday at an American Chemical Society meeting in Denver.
They found that marijuana’s potency has been increasing, with THC content as high as 30 percent. That’s about three times stronger than marijuana in the 1980s. THC is the component that produces the marijuana high.
Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesperson with the Washington State Liquor Control Board, told Shots that some of the labs in Washington have seen THC levels as high as 40 percent.
As THC levels climb, the levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, have been declining. That’s problematic for medicinal marijuana users since it is more often associated with medical benefits than THC.
"They kind of counteract each other," explains Meek. "You have these artisan growers that have been focused on cross breeding for THC and they’ve been losing CBD."
And then there are the contaminants. Many of marijuana products contain traces of butane, a chemical used to extract the potent THC from marijuana buds. Bacteria and fungi can grow anywhere, and sure enough, they’re growing on marijuana buds, which means that they’re in marijuana products.
"I think it’s rare that you would ever find zero fungal growth," says Meek. "But what we’re testing for is the stuff that will make you sick." Neither she nor the state of Colorado want to see E. coli or Salmonella in marijuana products.
To add to the complication, Meek and her colleagues have to think about how each product will be used. "There’s no data for what the consequences would be for smoking rather than consuming," she says. The jury’s still out on how smoking E. coli might impact human health.
For now, the goal is to find an acceptable level for contaminants in marijuana products, just as the FDA requires manufacturers to test food and hygiene products for bacterial contamination. Meek thinks this is only the beginning. "Eventually it will all have to be on the label," she says.
- thc infused
- recreational marijuana
- E. coli
- Product Testing
The United Nations remains adamant that the efforts displayed by the United States and Uruguay to reform marijuana laws is a direct violation of international drug treaties, and perhaps the beginning of an international shakedown – if an adequate explanation for the blatant disregard for world law is not communicated.
The latest report from the International Narcotics Control Board claims it is keeping a watchful eye on Uruguay and the U.S. due to their policies on the legalization of marijuana being “inconsistent” with the regulations hashed out during the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to establish a national cannabis industry, while Uncle Sam has permitted Colorado and Washington state to operate retail pot markets for the past year. To add to the apparent defiance of international law, the U.S. government recently allowed Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes.
This states’ right approach to legalization will likely continue to be authorized for any state that wants to implement similar policies in the future. However, all of the laws that have legalized cannabis, so far, go against the grain of signed treaties, according to the report.
Interestingly, the INCB indicates that they are likely the culprit behind the continued prohibition of marijuana in the United States, as the report states that Board “continues to engage in a constructive dialogue” with the American government, and strongly encourages the government to maintain marijuana’s Schedule I status.
Although INCB president Lochan Naidoo said he understands the U.S. plans to supervise the impact of legal marijuana on public health and safety, the treaties limit the use of cannabis for only medicinal and research purposes; therefore the events currently underway in Colorado and Washington are clearly insubordinate. Even in the case of medicinal cannabis, the Board is not entirely sure if these programs comply with drug treaties.
The INCB concludes that “In the United States, the results of ballot initiatives in the states of Alaska and Oregon, and in Washington D.C., on the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes represent further challenges to the compliance by the Government of the United States with its obligations under the international drug control treaties.”
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
By Sirius J · Fri Mar 13, 2015
Here’s a bite-sized primer on cannabigerol, commonly known as CBG, and its place on the forefront of cannabinoid research.
What is CBG?
Scientists first discovered cannabigerol, or CBG, in 1964 as a constituent of hashish. In 1975, researchers found out CBGA (the acid form of CBG) is the first cannabinoid formed in the plant; the first expression of cannabis’ unique class of constituents. From there, CBGA gets transformed into THCA, CBDA or CBCA by the action of enzymes. CBGA is the essential precursor for all the cannabinoids we know and love.
Does CBG get you high?
While mostly regarded as a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, technically the jury is still out on this one. Until someone dabs purified CBG, we won’t know what ingesting significant amounts of it actually does. CBG needs higher temperatures to vaporize.
What does the medical research say about CBG?
Just recently in January 2015, researchers discovered that CBG had neuroprotective effects in mice with Huntington’s Disease, a disease characterized by the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. CBG slowed down progression of colon cancer in mice, a promising result that may soon lead to a new treatment method. Evidence suggests CBG is a highly potent alpha-2-adrenoceptor agonist and moderately potent 5-HT1A-receptor antagonist, giving it a wide range of potential therapeutic potential as an antidepressant, for the treatment of psoriasis, and as an analgesic.
In spite of all the good research, in one study CBG reversed CBD’s antiemetic properties by interacting with it at the 5-HT1A-receptor site.
Where do I find CBG?
CBG is minor cannabinoid in pretty much all varieties of Cannabis, generally less than 1%. Nevertheless, narrow-leafleted drug strains from the Indian-subcontinent, were found to have slightly higher levels of CBG than others. Without becoming a landrace strain hunter, relatively high amounts of CBG can be extracted from budding plants about three-quarters of the way through flowering. Information on CBG content throughout flowering can be gathered from an analysis done on Bediol®, a medicinal strain produced by Bedrocan BV Medicinal Cannabis, a Dutch supplier of research grade pot. They flowered the Bediol® for eight weeks and analyzed the content of different cannabinoids every week; CBG was the highest at week 6.
What is the future for CBG?
Another puzzle piece in the story of medical cannabis, research on CBG is certain to continue. As consumer interest in CBG rises as well, breeders will soon be on the case of making a high-CBG strain.
The state Supreme Court has denied an appeal by the maker of Children’s Motrin in a case that resulted in a $10 million verdict for a family of a 3-year-old severely injured after taking several doses of the medicine.
The ruling Wednesday denying allocatur in Maya v. Johnson & Johnson followed a July 2014 decision by the Superior Court upholding the damages for injuries the child suffered that included being left blind in one eye, damage to her reproductive system and permanent disfigurement of much of her skin.
The $10 million in compensatory damages was awarded by a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas jury against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil on the claim that the drugmaker failed to adequately warn of the risks of taking over-the-counter Children’s Motrin. The jury did not award punitive damages nor did it find that Children’s Motrin was negligently designed.
On appeal to the Superior Court, McNeil argued it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because its warning label was drafted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The pharmaceutical company argued it couldn’t have been found negligent for not including in its list of symptoms “skin reddening,” “rash” and “blisters” when it wasn’t required to do so by the FDA.
But Superior Court Judge Kate Ford Elliott said in her 37-page opinion that the company was mistaken, citing to the court’s 2011 ruling in Daniel v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, in which the court rejected a federal pre-emption argument and found it was the manufacturer that bears responsibility for providing an adequate label.
McNeil further argued on appeal that Brianna Maya failed to show her use of Children’s Motrin was the cause of her symptoms, Ford Elliott said. The company argued Maya’s mother testified she would have relied on the doctor’s advice to administer the drug regardless of what the warning said.
But Ford Elliott said the mother testified she would not have given the drug had the warning label contained the word “blisters” or warned of skin rashes.
“Therefore, there was testimony that an adequate warning would have prevented Brianna from receiving the last four or five doses of Children’s Motrin,” Ford Elliott said. “Moreover, two of [Maya’s] expert witnesses testified that stopping the Children’s Motrin sooner would have substantially improved Brianna’s prognosis.”
Ford Elliott went on in her opinion to reject some claims by McNeil related to the jury instructions given at trial. She did find in favor of the drug company on one such argument, however, but ultimately determined the trial court’s error didn’t warrant a new trial.
McNeil argued the trial court mistakenly told the jury that it could consider the conduct of other pharmaceutical manufacturers whose drugs were taken off the market when the court should have said the jury could “not” consider such evidence.
“Ultimately, however, the issue does not compel a new trial because McNeil was not prejudiced by the trial court’s alleged mistake,” Ford Elliott said. “As [the Mayas] point out, the instruction really only pertains to their claims for negligent design defect and punitive damages, both of which the jury resolved in favor of McNeil.”
Alfred W. Putnam Jr. of Drinker Biddle & Reath represented McNeil during the appeals process. He declined to comment on the Supreme Court’s decision.
Howard Bashman of Willow Grove argued the case on appeal for the Mayas and Keith Jensen of Jensen & Associates in Fort Worth, Texas, represented them at trial. Bashman said he was pleased the court denied review given it wasn’t a case for which he felt review was warranted.
Jensen had said at the time of the Superior Court ruling that Maya was the first verdict holding McNeil liable for failure to warn consumers of the symptoms of deadly skin diseases allegedly caused by Motrin.
Maya, now a teenager, was given doses of Children’s Motrin when she was 3 years old in alternation with over-the-counter Children’s Tylenol because she had a fever over the course of two-and-a-half days, according to the trial court’s opinion.
On the morning of the third day, Maya was taken to a local hospital in Martin, Tennessee, because of a rapidly spreading rash over her entire body, including blisters on her mouth, chest and vaginal area, according to the opinion. She underwent several forceful debridements of her skin, followed by skin grafts of pig skin or skin from cadavers, because of the risk of infection from so many open wounds and blisters.
Two days after being taken to the hospital, Maya was transferred to Shriners Burns Hospital in Texas, according to the opinion. At that point, 84.5 percent of Maya’s body was estimated to be covered with open wounds.
Maya’s injuries were not from burns, however, but from Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis, which is part of the same disease process in which the human body attacks its own skin and mucous membranes, according to the opinion.
The medical staff at Shriners determined that Maya’s use of pediatric ibuprofen, or Children’s Motrin, was the cause of her disease, according to the opinion.
Maya has undergone 16 eye surgeries, and she required surgery to stop her menses from backing up in her abdomen, according to the opinion.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
A trio of high-profile senators this week unveiled a package of drug reforms that would effectively end the federal war on medical marijuana once and for all. The bill, from Republican Rand Paul and Democrats Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, wouldn’t legalize medical weed across the country, but it would remove the threat of federal prosecution for patients who use it in states where it is legal. It would also represent a federal acknowledgment of weed’s medicinal potential—something the U.S. government has repeatedly refused to concede since Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs in the 1970s.
Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.
The legislation is bipartisan, sound, and long overdue. Frustratingly albeit unsurprisingly, then, it is unlikely to make it very far in the current Congress, a reality even the nation’s chief weed advocates have readily admitted. Its short-term fate notwithstanding, though, the bill is a clear sign of just how quickly the drug debate is evolving in Washington—and may just foretell how nationwide legalization will eventually come to pass.
That Paul, Booker, and Gillibrand have teamed up on the bill is telling, and the good news for the pro-pot crowd comes in both the chicken-and-egg variety. On the one hand, as rising stars on the national stage, all three will have ample opportunity to further their cause—particularly Paul, who is expected to officially jump into the race for the GOP presidential nomination later this year. On the other, it’s unlikely that the trio would have made this a priority if they were the least bit nervous that their efforts would come back to bite them. And they have good reason to be confident in that regard: A majority of Americans back full-scale marijuana legalization, and even those who don’t tend to believe that it’s simply a matter of when, not if, the nation’s eight-decade-long prohibition of pot comes to an end.
Still, believing legalization is inevitable doesn’t make it so. The question, then, is how we get from the present—with Congress bullying Washington, D.C., officials in a bid to stop them from following the will of voters and making weed legal—to full, nationwide legalization?
The Senate legislation offers just such a road map. The bill’s most important provision would change how pot is classified under the Controlled Substances Act, the 1970 law that is the backbone of federal drug policy. Currently, the government labels marijuana a Schedule I drug, a classification that puts it in the same category as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and a handful of other heavyweights. Those drugs, according to the federal definition, have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The Senate bill would drop weed to Schedule II, a classification for drugs that still have a significant potential for abuse, although less than their more restricted brethren. More importantly, the Schedule II classification is reserved for drugs with some medical benefits—things like methadone and Adderall—meaning placing pot in that category would be a de facto admission that weed does indeed have a role to play for some patients.
The path from legal medical weed to the recreational stuff isn’t as straight of a line, although the two are clearly connected.
It’s hard to overstate just how much that would change the way the federal government deals with pot. It would open the door wider for universities to research medical uses for marijuana without fear that Drug Enforcement Administration agents are seconds away from kicking down their doors, while also giving the green light to doctors at Veterans Affairs hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans. In many ways, the reclassification would represent the biggest change in the government’s attitude toward pot since Nixon decided that weed was what was fueling his counterculture critics. (Or, as he famously put it, “They’re all on drugs.”)
To date, 23 states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana, siding with the medical consensus that cancer patients and others can benefit from marijuana use and against the federal ban that has always been more about politics than science. (Another 12 states, meanwhile, have legalized the limited use of low-THC, high-CBD pot for those with prescriptions.) A change in classification would be the first major domino to fall in the fight to end federal prohibition. Not only would it allow medical marijuana to more easily flourish in those states where it is already legal, it would also make other states where medical weed is not yet legal more likely to follow suit.
Related Articles:Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Three senators want to stop federal law enforcement from interfering with legal pot.
Conor Friedersdorf Mar 10 2015, 8:30 AM ET
Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, but the drug remains illegal under federal law. Imagine a retired grandmother who is suffering terribly with a serious illness. Her doctor believes that marijuana might help. Her neighbors don’t mind if she fills a pot prescription: They overwhelmingly voted to give her that right. Sure enough, the woman finds that smoking weed lessens her suffering. Should the federal government be empowered to arrest her for consuming it?
Many in Congress think so. And while federal agents are unlikely to intervene in this sort of case because the optics would be so awful, the law allows for it.
But Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, and his Democratic colleagues, Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, hope a legislative majority will endorse a less-callous approach. Tuesday, they are introducing a bipartisan bill that would “allow patients, doctors and businesses in states that have already passed medical-marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution.”
Exaggerated notions of the harmfulness of marijuana cannot survive in a society where cancer patients consume it.
The bill is expected to divide Republicans. Senator Paul, his colleague Ted Cruz, and Governor Rick Perry, among others, have some regard for the 10th Amendment, which states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” They also believe that states can act as laboratories of democracy: People in different regions can live under a system of their liking while acting as a model for other Americans as they weigh the best approach.
Other Republicans want the federal government to override the will of the people in various states. They argue that many people who get medical marijuana cards don’t really need the drug—it’s hardly unique among prescription medications in that sense—and they fear that the availability of medical marijuana will lead to full legalization, as it has in states including Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. They’re right to think so. Exaggerated notions of the harmfulness of marijuana cannot survive in a society where cancer patients consume it. And as exaggerated worries fade, support for prohibition plummets.
That isn’t because marijuana is harmless. Regular use is bad for one’s health. Some users become psychologically addicted. Long-term use carries unknown risks. There are prohibitionists who have a very clear understanding of the drug’s costs and benefits, and continue to staunchly oppose legalization of any kind. But most people who see the costs and benefits of marijuana clearly conclude that preventing other Americans from smoking it at the point of a gun is deeply immoral. Most people are unwilling to send SWAT teams into family homes, lock humans in cages, and enrich drug cartels all in the hopes that a War on Drugs that has failed for decades will improbably turn out to be successful in the end.
Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority, an advocacy group, sees this latest bill as evidence that popular opinion is influencing politicians. “The fact that two young Democrats with likely long political futures have teamed up with a probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate shows how medical marijuana is a nonpartisan, noncontroversial issue that draws support from across the spectrum,” he wrote.
Roughly half of Americans now favor outright legalization of recreational marijuana. The day isn’t far off when public opinion will have shifted enough to bring about a bill to that effect at the national level. That various states are experimenting with medicinal and recreational marijuana leaves us better prepared for that moment. Enabling those experiments is a step in a responsible direction.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted: Friday, March 6, 2015 7:30 am
LOUISVILLE — What does it take to legalize casinos in Kentucky?
According to court rulings and attorney general opinions, Section 226 of the state Constitution would have to be amended. That section does not explicitly outlaw “casinos,” but forbids “lotteries” other than the state lottery. Lotteries are principally regarded as the sale of tickets and awarding of prizes to winning ticket holders.
But lotteries are also defined as “any scheme for the distribution of prizes by chance.” That was the view taken by state courts and former Attorney General Greg Stumbo when, in 2005, he wrote an opinion saying, “The case law is clear; to be a “lottery,” the winner must be chosen “purely by chance.”
Somehow, the “purely by chance” doctrine was applied to card games as well as the play-and-pray games of slot machines, roulette and dice. Poker, blackjack and baccarat players would beg to disagree, as success at those games require a high degree of skill to go with elements of chance.
In any case, amending the Constitution has become the go-to route to bring casinos to Kentucky. A bill must be introduced in the General Assembly, and at least 60 percent of each chamber — the House and the Senate — would have to vote for the bill. From there, Kentucky voters would have their say on the proposed amendment. A simple majority would make it law.
Two such attempts in the past three years have failed. In 2012, a bill supported by Gov. Steve Beshear was approved by the Democratic-controlled House but rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate, despite the co-sponsorship of Sen. Damon Thayer, who went on to become Senate majority leader. In 2014, several bills were issued in both chambers, and all died in committees.
This year’s bill calls for a maximum of six casinos in the state, no more than one in any Congressional district and only in counties of at least 85,000 in population. Its sponsor? Stumbo, now speaker of the House.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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Originally posted on Patients for Medical Cannabis:
What follows is the raw material for a research project originally meant for Wikipedia, which has strict guidelines about what sources are considered reliable. Mostly recent studies found in PubMed were used.
For 5 millennia, Cannabis sativa has been used throughout the world medically, recreationally, and spiritually. As a folk medicine marijuana has been “used to treat an endless variety of human miseries,” although typically under the aegis of strict cultural controls, according to DuPont. The first medical use probably occurred in Central Asia and later spread to China and India. The Chinese emperor Shen-Nung is known to have prescribed it nearly 5 millennia ago. Between 2000 and 1400 bc, it traveled to India and from there to Egypt, Persia, and Syria. Greeks and Romans valued the plant for its ropelike qualities as hemp, although it also had medical applications. The medieval physician Avicenna included it in his…
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Originally posted on stevenhager420:
Aristophanes was the Neil Simon of ancient Greece, famous for writing comedies lampooning the historical figures of his day. Students of theater and classics read at least one of his plays during freshman year.
I was watching a Chris Bennett video yesterday when Dr. David Hillman of the University of Wisconsin introduced the idea of Socrates being a stoner, as evidenced by The Clouds, Aristophanes’ parody of the famous philospher. Plato felt this play contributed to the climate of mistrust that resulted in Socrates being put on trial for corrupting youth and introducing new deities, a trial that condemned him to death.
Since I’d never heard mention of a cannabis connection to Socrates, I had to revisit the play to check it out for myself. Initially, Socrates flies in from above seated in a basket that apparently has the magic ability to float as if suspended from a balloon.
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One evening last November, a handful of policemen in Kenya’s sweltering port city of Mombasa were handpicked to help in the final stages of a U.S.-led drugs sting that spanned three continents.
The target was a mansion in the wealthy beach suburb of Nyali. The policemen were banned from using their mobile phones and the names of the men they wanted were kept from them until two hours before the raid. Secrecy was deemed vital in a region known for its corruption.
The quarry that night were the alleged leaders of the "Akasha organisation." The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had spent years infiltrating Akasha and alleges that the gang is part of a heroin supply chain that stretches from the poppy fields of Afghanistan through east Africa to the cities of Europe and the United States.
Inside a mansion girded by palm trees and a two-metre cobblestone wall, police captured the alleged leader of the crime syndicate, Baktash Akasha, his brother Ibrahim, and two other men. Kenyan police charged them with trafficking narcotics to the United States. Prosecutors in the United States subsequently indicted all four on charges including conspiracy to import heroin.
In documents filed in a court in the Southern District of New York on Nov. 10, the U.S. prosecutors alleged that the Akasha organisation was responsible for the "production and distribution" of large quantities of narcotics in Kenya, Africa and beyond.
All the men deny the Kenyan charges and are fighting a U.S. request to have them extradited. Instead, they want their case heard in Kenya.
The raid was part of a wider effort by the DEA and Kenya to counter the growing power of drug cartels operating in east Africa. But while the raid was a success, the story of the operation highlights the many hurdles to slowing drug flows: corruption, porous land borders, poor maritime surveillance and a weak judiciary.
The operation, revealed in court documents and interviews, came at a crucial time. Law enforcement agencies are worried that a record opium harvest in Afghanistan will flood global heroin markets this year. The United Nations reported Afghan opium cultivation rose 7 percent in 2014. Western drug agencies are worried this will grow further following the withdrawal of all British and many American troops from Afghanistan.
Western officials are concerned that increased drug trafficking in east Africa could destabilise the region. They fear a repeat of what happened on the other side of Africa in Guinea-Bissau, which has been flooded with South American drugs. The United States has called that west African country Africa’s first "narco state."
Most Europe-bound Afghan heroin still goes through the established "Balkan route" via Iran and southeast Europe. But a spate of seizures along the Kenyan and Tanzanian coastline over the past few years points to a switch to a "southern route" via Africa.
Short of funds and anti-trafficking expertise, east African countries rely on the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) to go after drug traffickers. While the 30-nation naval force was set up to protect busy shipping lanes from Somali pirates, it is intercepting more and more drug deliveries. Last year it seized 3.4 tonnes of heroin, a 66 percent increase on 2013.
To help, Western law enforcement agencies are stepping up operations in east Africa and countries closer to Afghanistan. The DEA says it plans to re-open its office in Karachi, Pakistan, to work with DEA agents in Nairobi and with Pakistani authorities.
Britain, which estimates it is the destination for about 20 percent of the heroin shipped through east Africa, has also stepped up its presence in the region.
"Now it is not just about us here in Kenya," Hamisi Masa, the head of Kenya’s elite Anti-Narcotics Unit, told Reuters. "The whole world is concerned."
THE FAMILY BUSINESS
The Akasha family has been involved in the drug trade for years, Western diplomats allege.
In the 1990s, the clan was led by Baktash’s father Ibrahim. U.S. Embassy cables published by WikiLeaks describe Ibrahim Akasha as a drug baron. "The Akasha family long controlled drugs (then mostly hashish, heroin, cannabis) along Mombasa to Europe," said a cable dated Jan. 9, 2006.
In 2000, Ibrahim Akasha was killed in a drive-by shooting in Amsterdam’s Red Light district, according to the cables. That dented the business and split the family. Baktash and his half-brother Nurdin, better known as Tinta, Ibrahim’s son with another of his wives, accused each other of murder plots against the family.
Tinta could not be reached for comment.
The DEA had been monitoring the Akashas for years, according to Cliff Ombeta, a lawyer representing the Akashas in Kenya.
By 2014, when the agency began the operation to catch the Akashas, Baktash had taken over the family business. A burly man with a receding hairline, he had built close links with major Pakistani heroin traffickers, the DEA alleges.
One such contact, the U.S. indictment states, was Gulam Hussein, also known as the "Old Man." Hussein had lived on and off in Kenya since 2012. The indictment describes him as "the head of a transportation network that distributes massive quantities of narcotics throughout the Middle East and Africa."
Another alleged contact was Vijaygiri Goswami, an Indian businessman who had spent more than a decade in a Dubai jail for drug trafficking offences. Goswami is married to 1990s Bollywood star Mamta Kulkarni and had built business empires in Zambia and South Africa.
Goswami and Hussein were captured with the Akasha brothers in the Mombasa raid. As well as the heroin charges, U.S. prosecutors have charged the Akashas and Goswami with conspiracy to import methamphetamines, according to the indictment in the New York court.
None of the men have pleaded to the U.S. charges, according to Daniel Arshack, a New York-based lawyer for Goswami. He said he was confident all four men will not be extradited. "We have no reason to believe that the allegations in the U.S. indictment are supported by facts," he said.
According to U.S. court documents and to Kenyan lawyer Ombeta, who represents not just the Akashas but also Goswami and Hussein, the DEA sting started in March last year.
Ombeta told Reuters the sting against his clients amounted to entrapment.
An undercover DEA source posing as a member of a Colombian drugs cartel was introduced to Baktash by a friend of the Akashas. The friend "was also a DEA agent," Ombeta said.
The DEA would not discuss details of its operatives or informants. Ombeta said the man pretending to work for the Colombians was a Moroccan national who had been jailed for a drug trafficking offence in the United States. Peppering his conversation with talk of a private jet and ambitious business plans, the man cultivated an image of opulence, Ombeta said.
Soon after their first meeting, the Moroccan man gave 3 million Kenyan shillings ($32,870) in cash to the Akashas as a goodwill gesture, Ombeta said. "He was flashing money so they could see this was someone who has money and is ready to buy."
The Moroccan man told Baktash Akasha that the Colombians wanted to buy high-quality heroin to sell in the United States, according to prosecutors. In one of many conversations recorded by the DEA, Baktash allegedly said that he could get them unlimited amounts of "white crystal," a reference to pure heroin.
Weeks later, Baktash allegedly told one of his Pakistani suppliers that the Colombians wanted 500 kg (1,100 lb) of "carat diamond," a reference to high quality heroin.
The supplier replied the heroin would cost them about $12,000 per kg and said that he had 420 kg of pure heroin.
As the DEA source was negotiating with the Akashas, the CMF naval force made a series of seizures in Indian Ocean waters off Kenya, Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar. The U.S. extradition document links at least one of these shipments to Hussein.
In April 2014, CMF forces boarded a traditional wooden dhow and found a tonne of heroin stashed among cement bags. That was roughly equal to all the heroin that 11 east African governments had seized between 1990 and 2009, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
Then in July, for the first time ever, Kenya’s navy made a major heroin seizure. Tipped off by a Western agency, it intercepted a rusting vessel that had set off from Pakistan. A week after they towed the ship into port in Mombasa, officials discovered nearly 800 kg of heroin in its diesel tank.
According to a U.S. extradition document, the man responsible for that second shipment was Gulam Hussein. U.S. court documents allege Hussein told undercover DEA sources he had transported "tons of kilograms of heroin by sea."
Undeterred by the seizure, Hussein, the Akashas and Goswami allegedly set about agreeing a deal on their upcoming shipment.
In mid-September, Baktash told the Moroccan man that a heroin supplier known as "The Sultan" had sent a representative with a one kilogram sample of heroin for the Colombians to test, court documents allege.
The shipment arrived in Kenya in October. Goswami allegedly told the Moroccan that he was working with Baktash to get another 500 kg.
As the sting neared its end, the DEA and Kenyan authorities grew worried that word would leak.
Junior officers in the Kenyan police earn less than $200 a month. Such low pay helps fuel corruption, according to Kenyan officials. "Drugs barons have bought some of our officers and this is very sad," Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa told journalists in December. "We have information that police vehicles and ambulances are being used to transport drugs within (Mombasa) county and the coast region."
The Mombasa police rejected this claim. It said Marwa’s statement was "shocking" but promised to conduct an internal investigation.
In the days leading up to the raid, Kenya’s Anti-Narcotics Unit (ANU) suddenly transferred nearly 30 police officers, including some of its own men, away from the Mombasa region.
Local media linked the redeployments to the Akasha bust, saying most of the policemen were moved because of corruption fears. Hamisi Masa, the ANU chief, told Kenyan press he was behind the transfers, but called it a "regular" move.
Fearful of possible corruption, the DEA has in the last three years helped set up a special "vetted" unit within the ANU. Officers who want to join the inner circle have to pass extra checks including polygraph tests. Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) carries out similar vetting and due diligence checks with local security officials. It is also beefing up its Kenya team.
In early November, Baktash’s brother Ibrahim allegedly delivered 98 kg of heroin to the man from the Colombian cartel in Nairobi, unaware that the DEA was clandestinely recording their meetings. A couple of days later, he allegedly delivered 1 kg of methamphetamines.
Soon after, Ibrahim left Nairobi on a commercial flight to Mombasa, and the DEA and ANU made their move.
ANU officers handpicked several regular policemen to provide back-up and then hid in a mansion opposite the Akasha home. At about 1.30 am on Nov. 10, they launched their raid, arresting the men and confiscating laptops, tablets, mobile phones and cars.
"There was no resistance … just shock that they had been caught completely unaware," said one member of the Anti-Narcotics Unit.
Ombeta, the Kenyan lawyer representing the four men, said Baktash has told him that he suspects his estranged brother Tinta collaborated with the DEA.
The four men have also told their lawyer that their initial mistrust of the Moroccan man had receded as he splashed more and more cash around.
The men deny any involvement in drug trafficking, Ombeta said, but were tempted by the sight of all that money.
"They were taken over by greed," Ombeta said. (Additional reporting by Edith Honan; Edited by Simon Robinson and Sara Ledwith)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Two pro-cannabis protesters interrupted a marijuana legalization press conference at the State House Thursday afternoon demanding that the substance be referred to cannabis and that any other term is as derogatory as referring to African Americans as the “N-word.”
In the video taken by WPRO’s Andrew Augustus, protesters holding signs marked with Bible verses, could be heard saying that slang terms for cannabis is “offensive to their religion” and that lawmakers wouldn’t refer to supporter of the Voter’s Rights Protection Act as the “N-Word” and that they shouldn’t do the same to marijuana.
The two activists are Allan Gordon, who says he has been fighting for legalization for 20 years, and Anne Armstrong who famously declared her write-in candidacy for Governor of Rhode Island in a YouTube video by smoking marijuana.
“From a single cannabis plant it’s impossible to produce the small limit they allow,” said Gordon.
Gordon and Armstrong are both in favor of legalizing cannabis but are against the regulation of it.
“It should be treated like any other plant or any other herb and there should be a system of safeguard and controls,” added Armstrong.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Josh Miller and Representative Scott Slater and will be introduced to both the House and Senate floors.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
KENTUCKY — Kentucky Hemp is coming back. Fiber, seed, fuel, oil, and artisan products are simmering in the recently revived hemp industry.
Research and debate about bringing hemp back has circulated since the 1990s, when other countries like Canada and Australia re-legalized hemp production. Finally, last year, the 2014 Farm Bill provided a framework for U.S. state agricultural departments and universities to plant hemp seed on U.S. soil as long as individual state law allows it.
Now, Kentuckians are turning their research and theories into a promising hemp industry.
“We don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” said Josh Hendrix of the newly formed Kentucky Hemp Industries Association (KYHIA). “We haven’t had a hemp industry for over 70 years.”
He says research is necessary to reduce risk to farmers. His organization and others, who have participated in hemp trials, are testing for the best seeds to plant, and the best way to harvest and process hemp crops. Part of KYHIA’s mission is to disseminate its research and provide education about the hemp industry.
Hemp production was deterred in the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. Then, in 1970, the Controlled Substance Act coupled hemp with the drug, marijuana, making hemp illegal as a narcotic. Hemp does not hold the drug’s THC properties, but the plant is from the same genus, cannabis, and looks similar.
Before 1937, 98% of hemp seed used in the U.S. came from Kentucky. Now, they have no seeds. Hemp trials have used seeds imported from other countries.
“2014 was a celebratory year, just to get seed in the ground,” said Hendrix. “2015 has seen a nice expansion, with 326 applications.”
Kentucky farmers can submit applications to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to participate in the hemp revival. They must provide production plans to be approved, and pass a background check to appease the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Kentucky U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with two Oregon senators, submitted a bill on January 8, 2015, to decouple hemp from marijuana, and remove hemp production from DEA enforcement.
“We don’t know if or when it might become a legal crop,” said David Williams, of the University of Kentucky. “We also do not know how large an industry the market will support. We extrapolate based on data from other markets, but we cannot know exactly what the market will be in the U.S.”
A Promising Market
Kentuckians have deep roots with the hemp plant, and have grand plans for bringing the industry back. Industries, like tobacco and coal, are facing hard times, and hemp may offer both profitable alternatives.
Hemp advocates, like Hendrix, also see hemp as a crop to sustain dwindling family farms, and increase young and new farmers. Artisans can use hemp for cloth, beauty products, teas, and countless other items. The organic market for hemp is also highly profitable and growing.
Seventh generation family farmer, Andy Graves, grows conventional grains like soy, wheat, and corn. His generation is the first in his family to not grow hemp. The Graves family was the top hemp seed producer when hemp was legal, and is set on renewing that legacy.
“The market is so big,” Graves said. “We haven’t even scratched the surface.”
Graves is also the CEO of Atalo Holdings, Inc. The group contracted 5 farms to grow hemp in 2014 and for 2015 they’ve expanded to 26 farms. Atalo has three subsidiaries: Hemp Oil Kentucky, Kenex, and Kentucky Hemp Research and Development — each focuses on seed, fiber, and research and development, respectively.
Oil from seed, Graves said, has a quick return. Once Atalo has a revenue stream from oil, it will invest in fiber operations. Fiber operations have a higher barrier to entry because of the cost of new machinery.
Hemp seed can be harvested using the same equipment as conventional grain. As far as processing, Graves said that seed pressing equipment that is currently used for chia and sesame seeds can also be used for hemp. He will add chia and sesame to his portfolio as well.
Graves is using the most popular hemp seed for oil: Finola, from Finland. Atalo has guaranteed a no loss crop by securing a deal with Hemp Oil Canada to buy any seed Atalo cannot sell.
Atalo has been approved for 356 acres of hemp, and is hoping for up to 500. 10-12 acres will be devoted to organic hemp seed production. Their research and development subsidiary aims to be an educational asset to the hemp industry in the U.S., Graves says.
Hendrix, Graves, and Williams all emphasize that they are building a new industry from the ground up. It will take research and time, but, Hendrix believes they have “the right people, the right place, and the right time” to build the industry and create jobs.
The Hemp Capital of the U.S.
Other groups germinating in the Kentucky hemp industry include The Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association, which focuses on biomass and high capacitance graphene nano-sheets; and Sunstrand LLC, which focuses on industrial fiber. There are many others cropping up. Stay tuned, says Graves, new developments are breaking on Kentucky soil.
The laws may not be set yet, but hemp advocates in Kentucky are confident that their state will soon be known for more than bourbon, and re-claim their name as the ‘Hemp Capital of the U.S.’Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Beth Ethier of the Slatest released an article on March 3, 2015 titled Mitch McConnell Wants Hemp in a Farm Near You. Hemp is a member of the cannabis family along with its cousin marijuana. Hemp generally has a minimal amount to THC, which is the active ingredient in medical and recreational marijuana.
McConnell is not pressing for marijuana legalization. He is trying to allow cultivation of hemp in Kentucky under federal laws. The legal status of medical marijuana usage in Kentucky will be discussed below.
The federal government does not differentiate when it classifies all three major cannabis strains as prohibited substances. Cannabis is classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act, which also includes heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Schedule I is the most stringent drug classification. There is a federal provision to allow prescribing marijuana components in pill form for medical use.
Hemp is used to make rope, clothes, and many industrial products. Marijuana is used for recreational purposes, as a mood altering alternative to alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical drugs. Its medical uses include treatment for depression, PTSD, and other psychological disorders. Medical marijuana has also been used to prevent epileptic seizures in children. Wikipedia provides some background information on categories of cannabis and its uses.
Ethier’s article points out that McConnell is trying to get the DEA to separate hemp from marijuana under federal laws. With the decline in tobacco cultivation in Kentucky, hemp cultivation could replace the high value tobacco cultivation that has been lost. There are many legitimate uses for hemp that are much more environmentally friendly than the products being replaced.
Because the federal government continues to maintain the dangers of marijuana, the production of hemp is being hampered. North Dakota was the first state to legalize hemp production, but DEA interference in the courts has made it impossible to achieve large scale production of hemp. McConnell’s focus on legalizing hemp production has allowed a test plot of hemp to be planted in Kentucky over DEA legal objections.
Several states and the District of Columbia have totally decriminalized marijuana for all uses. More states have passed laws allowing medicinal use of marijuana. Other states, including Ohio, have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Growing or selling marijuana is still a felony in Ohio and most other states. Ohio does not provide for the legal use of medical marijuana.
Michigan allows medical marijuana. Indiana is introducing legislation to allow medical marijuana. According to NORML, Kentucky currently has bills introduced in both houses of state government to provide for medical medical marijuana. The provisions include possession of 15 ounces of marijuana and permits growing six mature plants and six immature plants for patients that are certified for treatment with medical marijuana.
As in the case of same-gender marriages, cannabis legislation has languished in Congress and the federal court system. States are taking the lead in key areas where Congress and the courts have failed to act. If Kentucky moves forward on hemp production, with or without DEA approval, it is another step in legalization of marijuana. The Kentucky medical marijuana provisions are among the most liberal if they are passed.
For the Libertarians and Conservatives that want to get government out of the lives of private citizens, legalization of marijuana and same-gender marriages are two areas that can be justified. Having Senator McConnell trying to get the federal statutes changed for hemp will result in speeding up the legalization of all species of cannabis.
God works in mysterious ways.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Obama administration’s so-called "clean power" regulation seeks to shut down more of America’s power generation under the guise of protecting the climate.
In reality, this proposed regulation would have a negligible effect on global climate but a profoundly negative impact on countless American families already struggling.
The regulation is unfair. It’s probably illegal. And state officials can do something about it; in fact, many are already fighting back.
I’m calling for others to join. Here’s why. Every state has the power, in theory at least, to design its own approach to meet the excessive and arbitrary mandates imposed by this regulation. But the purported flexibility is actually illusory.
States report that the regulation’s mandates are not technologically achievable, cannot be implemented under rushed timelines and threaten both state economies and energy reliability for families. Moreover, the regulation actually punishes states for billions they’ve already invested in environmental upgrades.
And yet, the Obama administration is still threatening to impose its own — presumably more draconian — plan on any state that doesn’t do as it’s told. It sounds like a scary outcome. But states shouldn’t be frightened, nor should they allow themselves to be bullied.
For starters, the legal basis for this regulation is flimsy at best. As iconic left-leaning law professor Laurence Tribe put it, the administration’s effort goes "far beyond its lawful authority." And even in the unlikely event that the regulation does pass legal muster, it’s difficult to conceive how a plan imposed from Washington would be much different from what a state might develop on its own.
Since the Obama administration has already decreed that it will be the judge of whether a plan is acceptable or not, it’s hard to see the White House agreeing to much that diverges from its ideological agenda.
Just consider how extreme this regulation is. According to a respected group of economists, the regulation could cost our country about a third of a trillion dollars in compliance costs and cause electricity price hikes in nearly every state.
And who gets hit hardest when energy bills go up? Lower-income families. Seniors on Social Security and a fixed budget. Those who struggle just to get by. These are the people the administration has chosen to attack.
In Kentucky, the regulation would likely shrink our economy by almost $2 billion and throw countless out of work. The commonwealth’s coal industry alone has already shed thousands of coal jobs during this administration’s tenure. And now, many more of the thousands of Kentuckians whose jobs are tied to coal — including many proud miners who just want to give their children a better life — are likely to lose their jobs, too.
In short, this regulation threatens to hurt a lot of people without doing much for the global environment. In fact, it could even make things worse by chasing industrial activity overseas to high-polluting countries like China.
So what are governors and state officials who value the well-being of the middle class to do? Here’s my advice:
Don’t be complicit in the administration’s attack on the middle class. Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism.
Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back. We’re devising strategies now to do just that.
So for now, hold back on the costly process of complying. A better outcome may yet be possible.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
March 02, 2015 12:00 am • James C. Wilson
On Feb. 20, U.S. Representatives Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, introduced two new bills for federal marijuana legalization. The U.S. government’s practice of imprisoning, fining, harassing and stigmatizing marijuana users is tragic and has damaged many lives. Ending prohibition is a welcome change, but these bills have severe problems. If passed, they would turn marijuana into a cartelized industry rather than a business opportunity for everyday people.
Blumenaur’s bill, The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015 (HR 1014) would place a federal excise tax on marijuana, and occupational taxes on the marijuana-related businesses. Polis’s HR 1013, The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, would end federal prohibition of marijuana and transfer enforcement from the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The bills would subject marijuana to the same sort of taxation and regulation as alcohol and tobacco, using Colorado as a nationwide model. Such a regime would lead to the development of "big marijuana" firms similar to "big alcohol" and "big tobacco."
Large conglomerates dominate the alcohol (Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller) and tobacco (Philip Morris’s and RJ Reynolds) markets, under the existing system of state-imposed excise taxes, licensing and mandatory three tier distribution. The extra costs of these requirements keep small producers out of these industries. The result is stifled competition and ripped off consumers. The same process would ultimately lead to "big marijuana" conglomerates with Anheuser-Bush-like market power and advertising budgets.
Supporters of marijuana prohibition are not getting any younger. More than 213 million Americans live in jurisdictions with some form of legal marijuana use. Growing numbers recognize marijuana as a means of relaxation, a catalyst for creativity and an exciting business opportunity. The only choice is whether to end prohibition in a way that keeps money in the hands of small producers and sellers, or one that concentrates it the hands of big business. The free market approach of decriminalization and nonintervention does the former. Polis and Blumenaur’s "regulate and tax" approach does the latter. If American twenty-somethings want to earn money by selling pot to their friends, let them. If it helps them pay their bills and keep themselves off welfare we are all better off for it.
Government interventions tend to benefit big business and economic elites at the expense of ordinary people. Marijuana policy is no exception. The state’s current prohibitionist policies benefit violent drug cartels, just as hyper-regulatory policies will benefit cartels of big corporations. This is just another area of life to get the state out of. In a free society consenting buyers and sellers can make their own decisions about marijuana. The state and big business can stay out of it.
James C. Wilson is an intern at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
With America in the midst of a pot revolution, companies are lining up to jump on the medical marijuana bandwagon. But 99 percent of them don’t have the exclusive license from the federal government to commercialize a medical marijuana patent currently held by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The patent, called “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants,” was quietly filed in 2005 when scientists from the NIH found certain cannabis compounds had neuroprotectant properties, “for example, in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke or trauma, or the treatment of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
“I think the [NIH wanted] a public-private partnership … the government does a good job of using taxpayer dollars to foster research and development, and NIH is the largest laboratory of its kind in the world in terms of scientific research and development,” Dean Petkanas, CEO of KannaLife Sciences told FoxNews.com. “They don’t want to develop drugs, but they’d like private interest such as ours to step up to the plate and say ‘We’re gonna take some risk with you.’”
In 2013, Petkanas’ New York-based company, which specializes in the research and development of plant-derived pharmacological products, obtained the license from the NIH’s Office of Technology Transfer to bring a marijuana-based neuroprotective drug to the market.
“We’ve taken the preclinical approach so far to date on our first indication which is hepatic encephalopathy, which is a brain-liver disorder, where you do have neuronal degradation and degeneration, oxidative stress,” Petkanas said. “So we felt that we could look at that in parallel with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, (CTE) another brain-related disease, and see if neuroprotection would indeed be afforded across that panel.”
CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive head trauma. The condition garnered national attention with a rash of suicides in retired National Football League (NFL) players who were suffering from symptoms similar to those seen in patients with Alzheimer’s, or other neurodegenerative diseases.
To date, more than 4,500 retired players have filed suit against the NFL claiming that the league downplayed, dismissed and even covered up knowledge of the long-term neurological damage associated with repetitive concussions. The players acknowledge that while they expected some injury in playing the contact sport, they did not expect neurological damage fraught with symptoms usually experienced by aging dementia patients.
Petkanas hopes his company’s research will pave the way for the development of cannabidiol-based (CBD) drugs to help protect the brains of contact sports athletes.
CBD is one of at least 85 active cannabinoids found in cannabis that can be extracted from the plant for medical applications. In the United States, an orally administered liquid drug containing the compound was granted orphan status approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)to treat a rare seizure disorder in children.
“We’ve found in some clinical research that cannabidiol, CBD, acts as a neuroprotectant, so in the parlance of pharmaceutical sciences, we could be using that as a prophylaxis against repetitive concussive injury,” Petkanas said.
To help raise awareness about the medicinal properties of CBD and its potential applications in the world of sports, KannaLife Sciences partnered with former NFL defensive lineman, Marvin Washington, who is part of the lawsuit against the league.
“I’ve seen some of the effects of the concussions and CTE with guys that I played with in my era,” Washington told FoxNews.com. “My son is a collegiate football player and this is for the quality of life of guys that are retiring, this is for protection of the current players and future players in the NFL and college. This just doesn’t cover the former players — the things that are happening in our lab are gonna cover everybody that plays a contact sport. It’s gonna make the game safer.”
Washington acknowledged the NFL’s efforts over the past couple of years, and said that the tide started to turn after studies of hall-of-famer Mike “Iron Mike” Webster’s brain revealed the extent of neurological damage many players, both retired and current, are facing.
“They reconfigured the Head, Neck and Spine Committee, and now they have neurosurgeons and neuroscientists on there that are heading it, and they did this two years ago, so yes, the NFL is doing a good job the past couple years,” Washington said. “But they’re saying they need to follow the signs — we want them to lead the signs, because they’re the biggest fish in the water out there.”
But even though NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this year that he would consider allowing the use of medical marijuana as a neuroprotectant if the science is there to back it up, the league has had a notoriously tough stance on pot.
A recent review of the league’s drug policy sought to institute blood testing for human growth hormone, strengthen the punishment for DUI arrests and reclassify controlled substances, but maintained the strict rules on marijuana as evidenced when Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon received a 16 game suspension after testing positive for the drug – a punishment many have criticized in comparison to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was initially suspended for only two games after his arrest for assaulting his then-fiancée.
Washington argued that while the drug KannaLife Sciences is working to develop would cause a positive result on a drug test for an active player, CBD has no psychoactive effects. And, he added, research is piling up that shows the benefits – especially for football players – outweigh any negative stigma associated with marijuana.
“Everybody calls football a contact sport – it’s a collision sport. And I know the story right now is domestic violence, but concussions and CTE … this is not going away, because the players are getting bigger and faster and stronger, and so they need something to protect the head,” Washington said. “This is something that players are not going to get high off of or anything like that because it has no psychoactive effects.”
Petkanas said his company plans to file an investigational new drug application with the FDA in early 2015. But, he added, this is just the tip of the iceberg for medical marijuana.
“We’re looking at a 15 to 20 year curve of really isolating some of these cannabinoids … and how they play a role in relieving stress in multiple diseases and disorders,” Petkanas said. “It interplays with our endocannabanoid system.”
Read More http://www.ocgreenrelief.org/medical-marijuana/medical-marijuana-company-developing-drug-protect-nfl-players-brains?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OCGreenRelief+(Orange+County+Marijuana+Delivery)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Utah is considering a bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to be treated with edible forms of marijuana. If the bill passes, the state’s wildlife may "cultivate a taste" for the plant, lose their fear of humans, and basically be high all the time. That’s according to testimony presented to a Utah Senate panel (time stamp 58:00) last week by an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"I deal in facts. I deal in science," said special agent Matt Fairbanks, who’s been working in the state for a decade. He is member of the "marijuana eradication" team in Utah. Some of his colleagues in Georgia recently achieved notoriety by raiding a retiree’s garden and seizing a number of okra plants.
Fairbanks spoke of his time eliminating back-country marijuana grows in the Utah mountains, specifically the environmental costs associated with large-scale weed cultivation on public land: "Personally, I have seen entire mountainsides subjected to pesticides, harmful chemicals, deforestation and erosion," he said. "The ramifications to the flora, the animal life, the contaminated water, are still unknown."
Fairbanks said that at some illegal marijuana grow sites he saw "rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana. …" He continued: "One of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone."
It’s true that illegal pot farming can have harmful environmental consequences. Of course, nothing about these consequences is unique to marijuana. If corn were outlawed and cartels started growing it in national forests, the per-plant environmental toll would be about the same.
But backcountry marijuana grows are a direct result of marijuana’s illegal status. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of these grows, an alternative is to legalize and regulate the plant so that people can grow it on farms and in their gardens, rather than on remote mountainsides.
Now, regarding rabbits. Some wild animals apparently do develop a taste for bud (and, yes, best to keep it away from your pets). But I don’t know that the occasional high rabbit constitutes grounds for keeping marijuana prohibition in place, any more than drunk squirrels are an argument for outlawing alcohol. And let’s not even get started on the nationwide epidemic of catnip abuse.
There was a time, not too long ago, when drug warriors terrified a nation with images of "the devil’s weed" and "reefer madness." Now, it seems that enforcers of marijuana law conjuring up a stoned bunny?
Not scary enough for the Utah Senate, it seems: the panel approved the bill and sent it to the full Senate, where it will be debated this week.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
A bill introduced in Vermont would authorize marijuana to be taxed and regulated similar to alcohol, legalizing the plant, and effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same.
Senate Bill 95 (S.95) was introduced on Feb. 18 by State Sen. David Zuckerman (D-Chittenden). If this bill is successful, Vermont would become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes through the legislature rather than the popular vote.
SB95 would allow “a person who is 21 years of age or older to possess limited amounts of marijuana for personal use, while retaining civil and criminal penalties for possession above the limits and for unauthorized dispensing or sale of marijuana” and would create “civil penalties for a person who is under 21 years of age who possesses marijuana or attempts to procure marijuana from a registered marijuana establishment.”
Under the bill, Vermont residents would be authorized to possess “two mature marijuana plants; seven immature marijuana plants; one ounce of marijuana; and any additional marijuana produced by the person’s marijuana plants, provided that any amount of marijuana in excess of one ounce of marijuana must be possessed in the same secure indoor facility where the plants were cultivated.” Nonresidents would be allowed to possess a quarter ounce of marijuana.
Dispensaries and retail marijuana shops would be allowed under SB95 if they pay the necessary fees and follow appropriate licensing procedures outlined in the bill. Marijuana distribution centers must be 1000 feet from schools and child-care facilities. Marijuana possession and distribution conducted in ways not authorized by SB95 would be punishable by a civil infraction, and then possibly jail time.
Bills like SB95 are sweeping the nation, and for good reason. Reforms like these can affect federal policy while circumventing the Washington D.C. power structure completely. The best thing about measures such as SB95 is that they are completely lawful and Constitutional, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them!
Congress and the president claim the constitutional authority to ban marijuana. The Supreme Court concurs. However, nearly two-dozen states have taken steps to put the well-being of their citizens above the so-called federal supremacy by legalizing marijuana to varying degrees anyway.
“The rapidly growing and wildly successful state-level movement to legalize marijuana, either completely, or for medical use, proves that states can successfully effectively reject unconstitutional federal acts. The feds can claim the authority to prohibit pot all they want, but it clearly has done nothing to deter states from moving forward with plans to allow it, pushed by the will of the people,” Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said.
The momentum is on our side, but Vermont cannot legalize it without your help. This effort needs your support to achieve victory. SB95 is currently in Senate Committee on Judiciary where it will need to successfully pass through before it can receive a full vote in the state senate.
If you live in Vermont, support this bill by following all the action steps at THIS LINK.
All Other States, take action to push back against the federal drug war at this link.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Louisiana Supreme Court has reversed an appellate court’s decision that an Iberia Parish’s man’s life sentence as a habitual offender was excessive and unconstitutional.
At issue was Anthony Daye, a 34-year-old fifth-felony offender, who was convicted of second-offense marijuana possession in 2012 and sentenced to life under the habitual offender law.
The Supreme Court agreed that Daye’s sentence should be reconsidered by the trial court in Iberia Parish, but only because there was not enough explanation in the sentencing. They reversed the Third Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling that Daye should be sentenced to "lower than the maximum" of life. The minimum sentence was 20 years in prison.
"The court’s decision should not be read necessarily to limit the district court’s discretion in resentencing the defendant. On the facts before us, a life sentence may very well be constitutionally permissible. But it can only be so if the trial court clearly articulates its reasons," Justice Scott J. Crichton wrote in a ruling released Friday.
Daye was arrested for possessing a little over an ounce of marijuana in 2010. His other prior felony convictions includes: introduction of contraband into a penal institution; attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; aggravated second degree battery; possession with intent to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine.
Daye is serving his sentence at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
American Green Signs Five Leases in Kentucky for CBD-Only Shops; Ordering an Additional Twenty ZaZZZ Age-Verifying Medical Marijuana Machines
ZaZZZ is the world’s First Consumer Automated Medical Marijuana Vending Machine. Improved second generation 3D touch screen machines will be delivered to Michigan and Arizona. American Green’s ZaZZZ machines in Kentucky will be the first of it’s kind to vend Hemp products directly to the consumer. American Green will also be ordering an additional 20 ZaZZZ from VE Global for distribution throughout the country.
Tempe, AZ, March 02, 2015 –(PR.com)– American Green (OTC: ERBB) — With the signing last week of an additional five ZaZZZ leases, American Green is ordering the next twenty machines built by VE GLOBAL. These new 3D touch screen ZaZZZ vending machines will join the other eighteen machines currently under various stages of public release into Medical Marijuana approved states. The two machines carrying Hemp products will be brought online in Arizona at Hempful Farms and the other in Michigan with the Michigan Hemp Company. All 28 machines represent a multi-state effort that meet regulatory compliance while creating a process for broader expansion with the forward-thinking companies who have, or expect to be ordering, the new Consumer operated ZaZZZ Medical Marijuana Vending Machines.
Annual sales for the United States vending industry are estimated between $19 Billion and $29 Billion. The income produced by a single Zazzz vending machine can vary depending on the kind of products being dispensed and the location of the machine.
“We are very happy to bring a new technology to Kentucky so we can offer exceptional hemp products to our consumers and are excited to build long term relationship,” says Chris Smith of Vice President of Green Remedy whose home office is in Bardstown, KY. “We share American Green’s vision to deliver quality products in the safest possible way using 21st century capabilities. Green Remedy is proud to be the first company in Kentucky to embrace this technology.”
American Green is expanding national operations of the second generation ZaZZZ into its 6th state. The Kentucky machines are the first machines to carry Hemp products along with products from American Green including it’s vape pen, ogtea, and clothing line. Further distribution of ZaZZZ into Medical Marijuana approved states will continue throughout the year.
"We are constantly improving ZaZZZ with our own in house R&D. We are also using real life data from our from our existing machines in Colorado and Washington State to help improve ZaZZZ. We have recently integrated our proprietary Tomassi patent into ZaZZZ and have added a 3D touchscreen for ease of use,” say Carl Kaiser, Director of ZaZZZ Logistics.
“ZaZZZ will always be improving with every day bringing more requests, opportunities, accomplishments and, most of all, a one day closer to our goal of creating the safest, consumer automated, verified vending system in America. I’m extremely excited to be part of making this happen,” Kaiser concludes.
Company and Contacts:
American Green, Inc.
Mr. Stephen Shearin
1221 W Warner Rd Suite 103
Tempe, AZ 85284
1221 W Warner Rd Suite 103
Tempe AZ 85284
More About American Green, Inc.
Founded back in 2009 as one of the first publicly-traded medical marijuana-related companies in the world, American Green is proud to have the largest certified shareholder base which now numbers well over 50,000. The Company is keenly focused on developing, retailing, branding, and establishing commercial cultivation solutions under its proprietary American Green name along with our partners who are licensed retail medical marijuana dispensaries. American Green believes that the renewal of the legalized cannabis industry in the United States will aid in getting our economy back on its feet through increased employment in all related sectors — retail, real estate, contracting, farming and more. Additional revenues, fueled by taxing cannabis sales, and the decreased cost of housing prisoners who are no longer in prison for possession of cannabis should contribute to the renewal. Hard work and a clear vision propel American Green into the future. The centerpiece of our company is ZaZZZ, our unique automated vending solution designed specifically around American Green’s licensed proprietary patent technology.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release contains forward-looking statements. The words or phrases "would be," "will allow," "intends to," "will likely result," "are expected to," "will continue," "is anticipated," "estimate," "project," or similar expressions are intended to identify "forward-looking statements." Actual results could differ materially from those projected in American Green’s and/or Greenhouse Solutions’ ("the Company" or “the Companies”) business plan(s). The joint venture for the use of CBDs should not be construed as an indication in any way whatsoever of the future value of the Company’s common stock or its present or future financial condition. The Company’s filings may be accessed at the SEC’s Edgar system. Statements made herein are as of the date of this press release and should not be relied upon as of any subsequent date. The Company cautions readers not to place reliance on such statements. Unless otherwise required by applicable law, we do not undertake, and we specifically disclaim any obligation, to update any forward-looking statements to reflect occurrences, developments, unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statement.
American Green, Inc.
Mr. Stephen Shearin
1221 W Warner Rd Suite 103
Tempe, AZ 85284
Mitch McConnell’s Love Affair with Hemp How the Kentucky senator picked a fight with the DEA and became one of Washington’s top drug policy reformers.
Last May, a shipment of 250 pounds of hemp seeds left Italy destined for Kentucky as part of a pilot project made legal by the 2013 federal farm bill. Kentucky farmers had long hoped for a crop that could fill the void left by the decline of tobacco, and many thought that industrial hemp, which is used in a vast array of products, could be that crop.
The hemp seeds cleared customs in Chicago, but when the cargo landed at the UPS wing of Louisville International Airport, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized it, arguing that importing hemp seeds required an import permit, which could take six months to process. If farmers couldn’t get those seeds into the ground by June 1, the entire first year of the hemp pilot program would be dashed.
The DEA would have succeeded in blocking the seeds from reaching Kentucky farmers and university researchers but for the efforts of the state’s agricultural commissioner, who sued the agency and, most improbably, Mitch McConnell.
McConnell—then the Senate’s minority leader—worked furiously to free the seeds from the DEA’s clutches and continued the pro-hemp drumbeat throughout 2014, as he campaigned for reelection. This year, as Senate majority leader, he’s taken a further step by co-sponsoring the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. While the farm bill carved out an exception to allow hemp cultivation in Kentucky, the 2015 bill would remove hemp entirely from the list of drugs strictly regulated by the Controlled Substances Act. It would, in essence, legalize hemp production in the United States.
“We are laying the groundwork for a new commodity market for Kentucky farmers,” McConnell told me. “And by exploring innovative ways to use industrial hemp to benefit a variety of Kentucky industries, the pilot programs could help boost our state’s economy and lead to future jobs. … I look forward to seeing industrial hemp prosper in the Commonwealth.”
Yes, Mitch McConnell said that. About hemp.
To grasp how McConnell—the quintessential establishment Republican—came to champion industrial hemp, you must first understand the economics and internal politics of Kentucky, as well as McConnell’s relationship to Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul. It’s also helpful to know that close to $500 million worth of hemp products produced by Canada and other countries is already sold in the United States through such stores as Whole Foods. McConnell’s move also has potential ramifications beyond the marketplace, providing a credible threat to the Controlled Substances Act since it was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970.
“The fact that Majority Leader McConnell is a co-sponsor of a hemp bill shows how fast the politics are changing on this issue,” said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit group that favors reform. (Bill Piper should not be confused with Billy Piper, former McConnell chief of staff and current K Street lobbyist).
The story of how Mitch McConnell evolved on the hemp issue began in 2010. Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, was running to replace the retiring Jim Bunning in the U.S. Senate and spent much of the primary season blasting McConnell, who not only represented the establishment but also supported a different Republican candidate. The McConnell-Paul relationship changed dramatically after Paul prevailed in the primary and McConnell vigorously stepped in to support him in the general election against the Democratic nominee, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.
The bond only grew when Paul came to the Senate in 2011. Paul encouraged McConnell to consider the hemp issue because it was favored by conservatives and Tea Party types, according to two sources familiar with those discussions. McConnell listened.
The other Kentucky Republican who played a role in McConnell’s evolution was Jamie Comer, the state’s newly minted agriculture commissioner. In August 2012, Comer held a news conference before the 49th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast—a big shindig on the Kentucky politics circuit—to announce that legalization of hemp in the state would be his No. 1 priority in the next legislative session. Paul and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, another Kentucky Republican, were there to support Comer; each later testified in support of Comer’s measure before the state Senate agriculture committee in February 2013, along with Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville.
“I engaged with Jamie Comer,” Yarmuth told me. “He reached out to me. From the beginning it’s been a bipartisan thing.”
In Washington, D.C., McConnell was approached multiple times from hemp supporters back home. After the fourth such approach, the senior senator from Kentucky turned to his chief of staff, Josh Holmes, and said, “We’ve got to look into this.”
If, like the average U.S. senator, you are unfamiliar with the botany of the cannabis plant, here’s a quick primer:
For starters, hemp is sometimes referred to as marijuana’s “cousin,” which is an unhelpful metaphor because hemp and marijuana are actually the same species, Cannabis sativa. They are simply different strains, and they are cultivated and harvested in different ways.
The cannabis plant is dioecious, which means its male and female flowers grow on different plants. This is unusual: Dioecious species—including gingkoes, willows and a few others—make up only 6 percent of all flowering plants.
Hemp is produced after the male plant fertilizes the females—something that happens almost immediately once the plants flower. Marijuana, on the other hand, is produced from the unfertilized flower of the female plant. A person interested in growing marijuana wants only female plants; a plant that shows signs of male flowers is plucked immediately, before it can mature and pollinate the females around it.
Pollen contamination is one of the chief concerns of marijuana growers, legal and illegal, because as soon as a female flower becomes pollinated, she stops making her THC-rich resin and begins focusing entirely on seed production. (Hemp is defined by Kentucky law as containing less than 0.3 percent THC; unfertilized marijuana flowers could have THC levels of 20 percent or more.)
For decades, the law enforcement lobby has peddled anti-hemp talking points that just didn’t add up. During the 2013 farm bill debate, the DEA asserted that, “It can be extremely difficult to distinguish cannabis grown for industrial purposes from cannabis grown for smoking. This is especially true if law enforcement is attempting to make this determination without entering the premises on which the plants are being grown.”
James Higdon is a freelance writer based in Louisville and author of The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History. He can be reached at @jimhigdon. Full disclosure: His father, Jimmy Higdon, is a Republican state senator in the Kentucky state legislature.
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When Eric Holder steps down as attorney general, he’ll leave behind a legacy on more than just civil rights issues. For advocates of recreational marijuana use, Holder was a progressive leader who played a key role in the early days of legalization at the state level.
"He has established a foundation that other attorney generals will build on," Dr. Malik Burnett, the policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance told CBS News during a marijuana expo in Washington, D.C. that took place over the weekend. "He’s been progressive on marijuana issues, as progressive as an AG who has to uphold the federal ban on marijuana can be."
The key was a policy of nonintervention at the federal level. In 2013, almost a year after Washington state and Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana, the administration announced it would not sue those states to comply with the federal ban on marijuana. It also issued new guidelines for all U.S. attorneys, in what was known as the "Cole Memo," recommending that they only focus on prosecuting major cases. The Justice Department (DOJ) laid out eight high-priority areas for enforcement, including preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing revenue from marijuana sales from going to criminal enterprises, and preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
Burnett called the memo "groundbreaking," saying it "provided a bridge that could reconcile the differences between state and local law and ultimately allowed those businesses to exist and to progress."
Later, Holder issued guidance making it easier for lawful marijuana businesses to have access to US banks. And when some members of Congress called on him to block Washington, D.C. from legalizing the possession of marijuana for recreational purposes, Holder declined to intervene.
Still, some enthusiasts say he could have done more.
- Obama: Marijuana not "more dangerous" than alcohol
- Obama administration won’t sue Colorado or Washington state over pot laws
"Well it’s still not legal. He has not done anything to get it off of ‘Schedule 1′ (DEA designation) when it clearly has medical purposes and uses. What’s holding it up?" Michael McLay, an attendee at the convention, told CBS News.
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act, the same classification for dangerous drugs like heroin and LSD. The Attorney General has the power to change these categories if there is an acceptable medical use for the drug, but Holder has repeatedly said any changes to the scheduling status of marijuana should be made by Congress.
"There is a legitimate debate to be heard on both sides of that questions where marijuana ought to be in terms of its scheduling and taking into account all the empirical evidence that we can garner to see if it is a serious drug that would warrant class 1 categorization or should it be some other place," Holder said during a speech at the National Press Club last month. "This is something that would be well informed by having Congressional hearings and Congressional action and informed by a policy determination that the Administration would be glad to share."
McLay said "political reasons" were behind the delay in changing the drug’s classification.
But some see Holder’s deference to Congress as a smart move in the long game to legalize marijuana.
"By unilaterally removing marijuana from the controlled substances act that would have been a radical step given that the marijuana legalization movement is still in its infancy. I think ultimately as you see more and more states ending marijuana prohibition, the attorney general and Congress will find a better place for marijuana," Malik said.
He also sees Holder’s actions on marijuana as directly linked toward his efforts to reduce the U.S. prison population and create a fairer criminal justice system.
"What marijuana is is a gateway to the criminal justice system," Malik said. "Police use marijuana as a pretext towards finding other crimes they can ultimately charge people with and put them into the federal justice system or into state jailing systems. Ending marijuana (prohibition) ultimately helps lower the criminal justice problem we have in the United States."
But it’s still unclear whether Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to succeed Holder at the helm of DOJ, will continue down the path that Holder has taken the agency if she is confirmed.
At her confirmation hearing in January, Lynch said she does not support legalization.
"Not only do I not support legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently, to support the legalization, nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general," Lynch said.
She also said she didn’t share the same opinion as Mr. Obama, who said in an interview last year that he doesn’t believe the drug is more dangerous than alcohol.
"I certainly don’t hold that view, and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance. I certainly think that the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion — neither of which I am able to share," she said.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
February 27, 2015
Sorry, high rollers: Marijuana is nowhere legal in these United States
February 27, 2015
I hate to be the party pooper but I feel there is a need to point out that the possession, transportation, processing and use of marijuana is still illegal. It is not legal in Alaska, nor Colorado, nor Washington, nor Oregon. It’s not legal in your house, nor in a car, or on a train, or in a plane. No Charlo Green I am; it’s not legal to grow pot in this here land.
There is this thing called the Controlled Substances Act. You can find it in Title 21, Section 800 or so of the U.S. Code. Section 812 lists marihuana (with an h) as a schedule I substance. The rest of the sections talk about how the federal government can punish (or, cough, deter) you from doing things with marihuana and other substances. By the way, the Controlled Substances Act was passed by Congress. Remember that high-school U.S. government class you kept falling asleep in? Quick refresher: The U.S. Constitution says if Congress passes a law, it trumps any state law.
What about my right to use marijuana? Didn’t Alaska legalize it? Can’t I have 4 ounces in my home after that Ptarmigan or Raven decision? No. Uncle Sam said no, and he couldn’t care less what Colorado’s constitution reads or what the Supreme Court of Alaska said. Ravin was a decision regarding the right to "privacy" provided by the Alaska Constitution. The recent ballot initiative was a voter initiative that changed Alaska state law. Neither gave anyone a legal right to marijuana. A state cannot grant a legal right to do something that the federal government has declared illegal. Just ask Angel Raich and Dian Monson of California; they thought they had a medical right under California law. The SCOTUS said no: Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 7 (2005).
What about Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska, and the Colorado amendment, and Washington’s and Oregon’s laws? All that these states have done is decide that they will no longer enforce criminal penalties for various acts involving marijuana. So once again, marijuana is not legal in Alaska; it’s just not criminal under Alaska law, and won’t be punished by law enforcement or courts of Alaska (within the limits set by Ballot Measure 2).
OK, semantics, right? Except these are important semantics that the general public doesn’t quite understand. Semantics that legislators should be wary of when they enact legislation, lest they have their laws pre-empted. Semantics that public administrators should ensure to get correct to properly inform the public. Semantics that, if used properly in and by the media, could help further a national debate that we should be having about drug policies in the United States.
No matter how many times Sam I Am, or Charlene Egbe, or Charlo Greene tell you it’s legal now in Alaska, it isn’t. It’s not legal recreationally and it’s not legal medically. A doctor technically can’t prescribe pot (although they can “recommend” it under their First Amendment right to free speech — again, important semantics for policymakers and interested parties). In a way, I guess that’s a good thing for people like Ms. Egbe; they can go on treating “their patients” and not fear being prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of medicine (and yes, I ran her name through the Professional License search on the Alaska Department of Commerce’s website. She is not a doctor, or a pharmacist, or a nurse, or a lawyer (different search website)). But they still need to watch out for Uncle Sam. It’s not legal to sell it, and you face stiff penalties for doing so under federal laws. Oh, you think it’s just pot, no big deal, the feds won’t bust me for it and if they do, how bad could it be? Ask Weldon Angelos when he gets out of the Mendota Federal Correctional Institute in 2051 how serious $350 worth of pot can get.
OK, so before you get your pitchforks and torches and string me up in tar and feathers for blasphemy against the almighty Matanuska Thunder #@!*, I need to clarify the point of my rant. I truly believe our nation, not just our state, needs to rethink our policies on drugs, crime and punishment. As a society, we have a knee-jerk reaction to throw people in jail thinking it will solve everything, which it hasn’t. Reform with our current Congress isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, so reform at the state level is the next best thing — a thing that can help begin national change.
But what I would hate to see is more good people imprisoned under the current severe federal drug penalties because of mistaken beliefs of their “right” to use marijuana. I would also hate to see the national debate be ignored by complacent individuals with the misguided perception that “it’s legal in my state so who cares what the feds think.” So please, when people tell you how it’s legal to smoke pot in Alaska, or Colorado, or anywhere else, remind them of what they missed when they slept through that high school government class, and tell them more change is still needed.
Kevin Coe lives in Anchorage.
The views expressed here are the writer’s own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
By VIVIAN YEEFEB. 26, 2015
Arthur Mondella’s alternate life was buried behind a roll-down gate, behind a fleet of fancy cars, behind a pair of closet doors, behind a set of button-controlled steel shelves, behind a fake wall and down a ladder in a hole in a bare concrete floor.
Here, in a weathered basement below the Red Hook, Brooklyn, maraschino cherry factory he had inherited from his father and his grandfather, he nurtured a marijuana farm that could hold as many as 1,200 plants at a time. Here, below the office where he served as chief of Dell’s Maraschino Cherries Company, he kept a small, dusty library and a corkboard pinned with notes. Most of the books dealt with plant propagation methods. One did not: the “World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime.”
Much about the hidden operations of Mr. Mondella, 57, who shot and killed himself on Tuesday as investigators found his marijuana plants, remains frustratingly out of reach for his family and friends. Investigators do not know how he distributed the marijuana, how long he had grown it or who helped him. Most baffling of all are Mr. Mondella’s reasons for hiding his operation under a business that was, by all accounts, healthy and growing — and for taking his life so suddenly when he was caught.
On Thursday, the day of Mr. Mondella’s private wake, the company said the cherry business would go on. Major restaurant chains that bought Dell’s cherries, including Red Lobster and T.G.I. Friday’s, said their menus would be unaffected. But at the offices of the Brooklyn district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, the focus was on untangling what part of the business was cherries, and what part was marijuana, at the red-brick factory on Dikeman Street.
“We’re looking at the actual connections between marijuana and the factory and whether or not some portion of the cherry business there really was an effort to mask the marijuana operation,” said a law enforcement official close to the investigation, who asked not to be identified because the inquiry is continuing.
Given the thick scent of cherry processing and the large amount of electricity the factory would naturally consume, the official said, “it’s a very convenient place to be” to mask both the odor and the power needed to cultivate the marijuana plants.
Yet because the basement labyrinth was so well concealed, it seemed plausible that the cherry factory’s regular employees were unaware of their boss’s secret. Mr. Mondella may have been the only person with access to the garage where he kept several luxury vehicles and the entrance to the basement, the official said.
Still, the scope of the operation made it unlikely that Mr. Mondella was the only person involved. Spanning about 2,500 square feet, the underground complex included an office, a large grow room, a storage area, a freezer for the harvested plants and an elevator. A network of 120 high-end growing lamps shined on the plants with intensities that varied depending on each plant’s size; an irrigation system watered them. Investigators recovered about 60 types of marijuana seeds.
The investigators had never seen a larger operation in New York City, the official said.
“The way you have to set that up, there’s got to be plumbers and electricians working off the books who are very sophisticated,” he said, “and it wasn’t Arthur Mondella, as far as we know, that had that kind of skills.”
Investigators first received a tip about Mr. Mondella and illegal drugs about five years ago, he said, but nothing came of it then.
As part of a separate investigation into allegations that Dell’s was polluting Red Hook’s water supply, the district attorney and the city’s Department of Environmental Protection decided to search the factory for files on environmental infractions. It was during that search on Tuesday that they stumbled on the marijuana operation. (The pollution investigation is still active.)
The drug inquiry is still in its early stages. But the official said investigators were looking closely at whether the operation had ties to organized crime. Mr. Mondella would have required help to maintain the farm and distribute his product, the thinking goes, and an organized crime syndicate could have provided it.
To Mr. Mondella’s family and friends, the revelations about his hidden operations have been “aberrant and shocking,” Michael Farkas, the lawyer representing the Mondella family and the management of Dell’s, said in an interview.
The company was considered among the largest producers of the cherries in the country. Although many cherry suppliers were disappearing around the time that Mr. Mondella took over the business in 1983, the market appears stable now, thanks in part to maraschino cherries’ popularity abroad, said Robert McGorrin, the chairman of the food science department at Oregon State University, where the current method of processing the cherries in brine, rather than alcohol, was developed in the 1920s.
Law enforcement officials are just as perplexed about Mr. Mondella’s motives. Though investigators are sorting through a substantial bounty of evidence, they have no hope of gaining access to the data on Mr. Mondella’s iPhone 6, which, like other new-model iPhones, is encrypted with a user-created code that even Apple says it cannot unlock.
“No one seems to have had any clue that this was going on, and there certainly didn’t seem to be any strange or traumatic circumstances that would’ve explained this,” Mr. Farkas said. “The business was not doing poorly; the business was doing very well. We were unaware of any major problems in Arthur’s life. Somebody knows — but we’re all waiting for answers here.”
Correction: February 26, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the size of the underground complex where marijuana was grown. It was 2,500 square feet, not 250.
A version of this article appears in print on February 27, 2015, on page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: Secret Life and Business Surface, Along With Many Questions.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Originally posted on Cave City, Kentucky:
Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 9:30 am
A Louisville man who wants to purchase a Cave City attraction received a $250,000 loan from the state Tuesday.
The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority approved a $250,000 loan from the Kentucky Tourism Development Loan Program to Land of Tomorrow Productions by a 3-0 vote. Land of Tomorrow Productions is the Louisville-based entity involved in the purchase of Cave City’s Guntown Mountain.
Will Russell, proprietor of WHY Louisville and founder of Lebowski Fest, was the applicant contact for the loan, according to the application obtained by the Daily News. Russell, who intends to turn Guntown Mountain into Funtown Mountain, said he was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.
It is a 15-year loan at 6 percent, said Gil Lawson, executive director of the office of communications at the KTDFA. “The loan does not go through until after they close…
View original 594 more words
By Katie Brinn
Sen. Rand Paul slammed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for hypocrisy on marijuana in an interview Wednesday with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. Responding to recent revelations that Gov. Bush smoked pot during his teen years at Phillips Academy, Paul pointed out the flaws in Bush’s opposition to medical marijuana in his home state.
Sen. Rand Paul slammed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for hypocrisy on marijuana in an interview Wednesday with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. Responding to
recent revelations that Gov. Bush smoked pot during his teen years at Phillips Academy, Paul pointed out the flaws in Bush’s opposition to medical marijuana in his home state.
Sen. Paul, who has hinted about his own wild college days, was quick to clarify that he did not fault Bush for having “made mistakes growing up.” Instead, he took issue with Bush’s inconsistent views on the drug. “If you’ve got MS in Florida, Jeb Bush voted to put you in jail if you go down to a local store or a local drugstore and get medical marijuana … and yet he was doing it for recreational purposes.”
To Paul, it was Bush’s privileged upbringing that spared him the harsh penalties many Floridians still face when they entangle with marijuana. “It was a different standard for him,” the presidential hopeful explained, “because he was from a wealthy family, going to a very wealthy school, and he got off scot-free.”
GRAVES COUNTY, Ky. – Graves County Sheriff Dewayne Redmon reports today that the Drug Division Detectives and Deputies seized, approximately 40 pounds of Hydroponic Medical Grade Marijuana. Redmon stated that the officers conducted the stop during a torrential downpour of rain in the icy conditions, shortly after noon on Saturday. The roadways were very hazardous with all the ice and snow and the heavy rainfall that was pooling on the road all morning long.
Detectives conducted the traffic stop on US45 N near the intersection of KY849. When they approached the vehicle the strong odor of Marijuana was coming out of the vehicle when the occupants rolled the windows down to speak with the officers. The Sheriff’s Office K9 deputy was nearby on US45 and he deployed the K9 “Sakal” and he immediately indicated to the odor of illegal substances inside the vehicle.
During the search of the vehicle 3 very large duffle bags were located in the backseat that contained approximately 40 pounds of Marijuana packaged in 1 pound containers. Officers also seized approximately $1000.00 in cash at the time of the arrest. Redmon states that a major supplier of Marijuana in Graves County has been arrested. The street value of this grade of Marijuana would be somewhere between $45,000 and $60,000. Those arrested were identified as Aaron Cooper, Timothy Brown, and Amanda Rowell, all from Mayfield and Graves County. The charges are listed below:
Aaron Cooper—-Trafficking in Marijuana over 5 pounds, Poss. Of Drug Paraphernalia, Poss. Of Marijuana
Timothy Brown–Complicity to Trafficking Marijuana over 5 pounds, Poss. of Drug Paraphernalia, Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Amanda Rowell—Complicity to Trafficking Marijuana over 5 pounds, Poss. of Drug Paraphernalia
All three were lodged in the Graves County Jail awaiting court proceedings.
During the search of the vehicle 3 very large duffle bags were located in the backseat that contained approximately 40 pounds of Marijuana packaged in 1 pound containers. Officers also seized approximately $1000.00 in cash at the time of the arrest.
Redmon states that a major supplier of Marijuana in Graves County has been arrested. The street value of this grade of Marijuana would be somewhere between $45,000 and $60,000. Those arrested were identified as Aaron Cooper, Timothy Brown, and Amanda Rowell, all from Mayfield and Graves County.
The charges are listed below:
A senior scientist at MIT has declared that we are facing an epidemic of autism that may result in one half of all children being affected by autism in ten years.
Dr. Stephanie Seneff, who made these remarks during a panel presentation in Groton, Massachusetts, last week, specifically cites the Monsanto herbicide, Roundup, as the culprit for the escalating incidence of autism and other neurological disorders. Roundup, which was introduced in the 1970’s, contains the chemical glyphosate, which is the focal point for Seneff’s concerns. Roundup was originally restricted to use on weeds, as glyphosate kills plants. However, Roundup is now in regular use with crops. With the coming of GMO’s, plants such as soy and corn were bioengineered to tolerate glyphosate, and its use dramatically increased. From 2001 to 2007, glyphosate use doubled, reaching 180 to 185 million pounds in the U.S. alone in 2007.
If you don’t consume corn-on-the-cob or toasted soybeans, however, you are hardly exempt from the potential affects of consuming glyphosate. Wheat is now sprayed with Roundup right before it is harvested, making any consumption of non- organic wheat bread a sure source for the chemical. In addition, any products containing corn syrup, such as soft drinks, are also carrying a payload of glyphosate.
According to studies cited by Seneff, glyphosate engages “gut bacteria” in a process known as the shikimate pathway. This enables the chemical to interfere with the biochemistry of bacteria in our GI tract, resulting in the depletion of essential amino acids .
Monsanto has maintained that glyphosate is safe for human consumption, as humans do not have the shikimate pathway. Bacteria, however, does—including the flora that constitutes “gut bacteria.”
It is this ability to affect gut bacteria that Seneff claims is the link which allows the chemical to get on board and wreak further damage. The connection between intestinal flora and neurological functioning is an ongoing topic of research. According to a number of studies, glyphosate depletes the amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine, which can then contribute to obesity, depression, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Monsanto disagrees. The food and chemical giant has constructed a webpage with links to scientific studies pronouncing the safety of glyphosate.
Other science writers have also taken up the Monsanto banner, scoffing at the scientific studies that prompted Seneff to make her claims. “They made it up!” pronounced Huffpost science writer Tamar Haspel, in an article thin on analysis but heavy on declarative prose
Others, such as Skeptoid writer and PhD physicist Eric Hall, take a more measured approach, and instead focus on the studies which prompted the glyphosate concerns. According to Hall, Seneff is making an error known as the “correlation/causation error,” in which causality is inaccurately concluded when there exists only the fact that two separate items—in this case, the increased use of glyphosate and the increased incidence of autism—may be observed but are not, in fact, directly related.
Seneff’s pronouncements focus specifically on the glyphosate issue. As we know, there are other potential tributaries which may be feeding the rise in autism and also causing age-related neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. These may include contents of vaccines, aluminum cooking ware as well as other potential sources for chemical consumption.
Some individuals, such as M.D. and radio host Rima Laibow have speculated on the intentionality behind this ostensible chemical siege against our gray matter. Laibow believes that the impetus may be to create an entire class of autistic individuals who will be suited only for certain types of work.
This harks back, eerily, to Aldous Huxley’s classic Brave New World, in which individuals were preprogrammed from “conception” for eventual placement in one of five groups, designated as Alpha, Beta, and so on down to Epsilon, based on their programmed brain power. In Huxley’s dystopian world, this class delineation by intellectual ability enabled society to function more smoothly.
Whatever may driving the autistic/Alzheimer’s diesel train, one thing is for certain: the spectre of half of our children coming into the world with significant brain damage constitutes a massive and undeniable wound to humanity. The rate of autism has skyrocketed from roughly one in every two thousand in the 1970’s to the current rate of one in every sixty eight. Alzheimer’s has become almost universal in the elderly. Seneff’s predictions can only be ignored at grave risk to the human race.
Janet C. PhelanRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Kentucky farmer Andy Graves recently brought his father to see the latest crop on the family farm. Moments before the 89-year-old saw the plants, he could smell them.
“When my dad walked back to see the first fields, his eyes just lit up,” Graves says. “He said the smell was so distinct. There’s no other smell like hemp.”
Hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant, once grew by the acre on the Graves’ family farm, but disappeared after authorities outlawed the crop along with its sister species of marijuana. Even though it contains nearly none of the chemical that gives marijuana its intoxicating agent, hemp has been illegal for decades in the U.S.
But Graves, who planted a small crop last year, was the first of a handful of American farmers allowed to do so under a government research program. Although his latest crop is nothing compared with the 500 acres that once stood during his grandfather’s time, it represents the beginning of a long-awaited economic revolution.
“The business that we’re talking about today is so far and above the business my father saw and knew,” Graves says.
Hemp was once a mainstay for American farmers such as those in the Graves family, but has been outlawed for generations under regulations fearing marijuana cultivation. After decades of advocacy, a boost from the growing national interest in cannabis, rapid legalization and recent bipartisan support from lawmakers, hemp could be coming back in a big, and lucrative, way.
Most people associate hemp with braided bracelets and itchy shirts worn by college students who sip organic green tea in dormitory common rooms across the country. But hemp’s biggest advocates nowadays are more interested in economics than in philosophy.
“The economics alone are enough to convince anyone,” says Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association. Despite the fact that hemp farming is illegal, the U.S. is the world’s biggest consumer of it, importing $580 million worth in 2013, with predicted double-digit percentage growth, according to Steenstra.
Hemp is legally grown in 30 countries around the world. Most of the world’s supply comes from Canada, Steenstra says. After farmers and universities started researching hemp in 1994, Canada authorized industrial production in 1998 — and it’s been paying off.
Canadian farmers are selling hemp for CAD80 cents (64 cents) per pound, while canola sells for roughly CAD18 cents (14 cents) per pound, even though the input costs are roughly the same, according to CBC News.
The marijuana used for smoking and the hemp used for other purposes are both varieties of the same cannabis plant, but different in terms of their chemical makeup and the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is responsible for inducing a high, they contain.
Canada and the European Union define hemp as containing less than 0.3 percent THC, while marijuana can contain anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent. Generally, about 1 percent THC is considered the threshold for marijuana to “have intoxicating potential.”
When harvested, hemp can be used in a variety of ways. The seeds can be processed to create a nutrient-rich oil or a protein-rich meal, while the stalks can be turned into fiber that can be used in products such as fabric or paper.
Opponents of hemp legalization say the plants look too similar to marijuana plants used for other activities, and would give criminals an opportunity to cultivate illegal drugs in plain sight. U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, recently told Politico that the “confusion and potential commingling lends itself to an easier path for illegal marijuana growth across the country.”
However, a recent report by the Congressional Research Service outlines a few key differences. Marijuana is cultivated to stay short and bushy to facilitate as many flowers, or buds, as possible, and the plants grow close together. Hemp farmers give their plants more space and encourage them to grow tall and produce one long stalk with just a few leaves.
Above: Hemp plants are cultivated to grow much taller and thin, unlike marijuana plants meant to produce buds, or flowers. Wikimedia Commons
This approach was the most common one used for the tens of thousands of tons of hemp grown every year by American farmers once upon a time.
American farmers have been growing hemp since the late 1800s, according to the Congressional Research Service, citing the Hemp Industries Association. But state governments did have a problem with people growing the flower for psychotropic reasons and sought to restrict its recreational use.
In the 1920s, it was among a handful of regulated drugs in many states. The Uniform Narcotic Drug Act noted that “there is little or no connection between the use of hemp drugs and crime, and that consuming it in moderation “very rarely” led to violence.
The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act defined hemp, along with marijuana, as a narcotic. Although it did not criminalize its production, it did require that all farmers only grow it for medical or industrial use, and register before growing it. They also had to secure a special tax stamp.
Above: Image of a Marihuana revenue stamp $1 1937 issue from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing Wikimedia Commons
Regardless, production still flourished. In 1943, the U.S. grew 75,000 tons of hemp fiber on a little more than 146,000 acres, and Popular Science estimated the crop size would more than double the next year.
In fact, it was a big part of the World War II effort. In 1942, a U.S. government film urged farmers to grow “hemp for victory,” after outlining how the plant had once been used for everything from the ships at sea to covered wagons of the pioneers, while typically being imported from abroad. But since sources in the Philippines and other parts of Asia were “in the hands of the Japanese,” “American Hemp must meet the needs of our Army and Navy as well as our industries.”
According to the above video, “patriotic farmers” planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp at the government’s request in 1942, with plans for more.
Production continued into the next decade, but soon petered out. By the 1950s, the federal government had imposed mandatory jail time for possession of illegal cannabis. And in 1970 came the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, which included cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, a category defined as “drugs with a high potential for abuse,” which also included heroin and LSD.
But that didn’t stop Americans from buying hemp products. Advocates have been lobbying to bring hemp cultivation back to the U.S. for decades, and things finally seem to be picking up steam.
“It’s becoming ever more ridiculous,” says David Bronner, CEO and president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a longtime advocate of hemp legalization. “Nobody brings up opium when they eat a poppy-seed bagel; this is a very similar situation.”
Above: Bronner: David Bronner tends to his industrial hemp as he stages a protest inside a steel cage, in front of the White House in Washington June 11, 2012. Bronner was protesting federal policy that prevents U.S. farmers from growing industrial hemp. Bronner is CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
Bronner gained notoriety in 2012 when he locked himself in a metal cage outside the White House and proceeded to process a handful of hemp plants into enough oil to spread on to a piece of bread. According to the Washington Post, police had to cut him out of the cage with a chainsaw, and he was then charged with possession of marijuana.
But things are slowly changing.
“We’ve had a lot of allies doing a lot of hard work,” Bronner says. “Plus, as marijuana itself is being rescheduled, the debate is moving forward.”
As of February, marijuana is legal for use in some form in 23 states, including two, Colorado and Washington, that allow for recreational use among adults, with Alaska and Oregon planning to join them this year. The past few years have seen marijuana brought to the forefront of policy narratives and public discussion, which has been helping raise hemp’s profile.
In 2013, a majority of Americans polled by Gallup said they were in favor of marijuana legalization for the first time ever, and their sentiments keep going strong.
“They should be separate conversations, but they are influencing each other,” Bronner says.
He’s one of many who have been advocating local production of hemp for decades now. And over the past few years they’ve gotten more and more people on board — including a few politicians.
The 2014 Farm Bill, aka the Agricultural Act of 2014, included a provision to allow some people to begin growing industrial hemp, provided it is for “purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research,” and complies with state law.
This means that a handful of universities and small groups of farmers, including Graves, have grown their first crops this year. With special permission from the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, of course.
But that seems to be just the beginning. And the cause has been gaining traction.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who introduced his first bill on the subject in 2007, has been leading a bipartisan movement to remove hemp from the legal definition of “marihuana.”
This January, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, and Rep. Thomas Massiel, R-Ky., introduced a companion bill with 50 co-sponsors on both sides of the political aisle.
“Allowing farmers throughout our nation to cultivate industrial hemp and benefit from its many uses will boost our economy and bring much-needed jobs to the agricultural industry,” Paul said in a press release last month.
And farmers such as Andy Graves certainly hope that’s true. While he knows the economic benefits of hemp, he’s also quick to point out that he takes a spoonful of the nutritious oil every day.
The family farm used to grow tobacco, but its owners ultimately decided against it more than 15 years ago.
“We realized that we were promoting the use of a product that could kill you,” he says. “Hemp, on the other hand, is nothing but good.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Southern Oregon marijuana growers want to ban industrial hemp production from the region out of fear that hemp may pollinate their crops and render them worthless.
Some outdoor marijuana growers want industrial hemp cultivation to be limited to eastern Oregon – far from their lucrative marijuana crops. At the very least, they don’t want hemp in Josephine, Jackson and Douglas counties.
Compared to Oregon’s marijuana legalization movement, the effort to launch an industrial hemp industry in Oregon has been an understated one propelled by a small but passionate group of advocates. When one of them, Edgar Winters, of Eagle Point, got a permit this month to grow industrial hemp on 25 acres in the heart of the state’s outdoor marijuana growing region, his neighbors were alarmed.
Allowing industrial hemp in an area known for churning out high-grade marijuana could undermine the industry, growers argue.
"You don’t come into the middle of cannabis growing country and try to put up a hemp farm unless you don’t know about it, unless you really don’t know how far hemp pollen can travel," said Casey Branham, a Jackson County medical marijuana grower who supports industrial hemp but wants it grown elsewhere in the state.
"It basically makes the medicine worthless," he said.
Branham and his neighbors worry hemp pollen will find its way to their unpollinated female cannabis flowers, known as sensimilla, slowing their growth and leading to seeds. The result: weak, seedy marijuana.
"No one will buy seeded flowers, period," said Cedar Grey, a Williams medical marijuana grower. "The flower market is so competitive these days. You have to have world-class flowers. Anything that is seeded is reminiscent of the 1960s or pot from Mexico. No one is interested in that at all."
And it’s not just southern Oregon’s outdoor marijuana growers who are worried about hemp’s implications. Portland’s indoor marijuana growers worry about hemp pollen drifting into their warehouses through ventilation systems or being tracked into their operations on workers’ shoes.
Shane McKee, a medical marijuana grower who owns two Portland dispensaries, said the potential complications posed by industrial hemp have caught cannabis growers by surprise.
"Nobody really saw the repercussions," said McKee.
Hemp and marijuana are different types of the same species, Cannabis sativa. But hemp lacks marijuana’s most coveted component: THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. In hemp’s case, the gene that fires up marijuana’s high THC production is essentially turned off. So while hemp’s sturdy stalks provide fiber for textiles and its seeds can be added to yogurt and smoothies, the plant is a lousy choice for people seeking marijuana’s high.
Anndrea Hermann, a hemp advocate who lives in Canada and teaches a course on the crop at Oregon State University, said marijuana growers’ concerns are legitimate.
"Is there a risk? Yes, there is a risk to the marijuana growers," said Hermann, who also serves as president of the Hemp Industries Association and owns a hemp products company. "And I will tell you it’s a hard pill to swallow."
Winters is the first to obtain a license to grow industrial hemp from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Another three people have applied, said Ron Pence, operations manager for commodity inspection for the agency, which oversees the state’s new industrial hemp program.
Pence said the agency has authority to limit where some agricultural crops, such as rapeseed, are cultivated. But it does not have that authority when it comes to industrial hemp.
"It would need a legislative fix," he said.
Oregon lawmakers have taken note of marijuana growers’ objections. Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, said growers peppered his office with emails once Winters’ plans became public. He said lawmakers are exploring potential solutions to protect both crops.
"Nobody wants one crop to endanger another crop," he said.
Oregon’s robust outdoor marijuana growing culture sets it apart from places like Kentucky, which also has a state hemp program. Oregon’s outdoor growers are organized, have an attorney and even a lobbyist. While Kentucky’s agriculture officials are enthusiastic boosters of industrial hemp, marijuana remains illegal.
"Marijuana growers are not so vocal" in Kentucky, said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a national hemp advocacy group. "They are not in a position to be able to call up their legislators to ask for a bill protecting their crops."
Winters, for his part, doesn’t see a major problem cultivating hemp near marijuana crops. He said the growing cycle for hemp is shorter than the one for outdoor marijuana and that an earlier harvest means it would not pose a threat to cannabis.
"It’s been doable all over the world," said Winters, who’s also a medical marijuana grower. "People have misconceptions about industrial hemp."
He said marijuana growers need more "education and training and knowledge" about hemp and that he plans to meet with outdoor growers to address their concerns.
He said he’s received strong criticism from marijuana growers and even personal threats since word of his plan spread.
"It’s a viable crop," he said. "There is no way we are going to be forced out of the county. I can tell you that. We are here to stay."
– Noelle CrombieRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
When the season’s first cold snap hit in November, Kenneth Winfield arrived at Louisville’s St. John Center for Homeless Men — his hands icy cold after sleeping outdoors.
"He started crying," recalled Maria Price, executive director of the day shelter. "He said, ‘Please help me find an apartment. I don’t want to die out there.’ "
Winfield was found on the steps of the St. John Center amid sub-zero temperatures Thursday night and later died, Price said.
"It’s heartbreaking," she said Friday.
The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office said an autopsy and cause of death were pending.
Price said Winfield was 49 and had been homeless for years. Like many of the chronically homeless, he had battled mental illness and substance abuse, she said. Recently, he had been sleeping in a tent with a girlfriend in a wooded area near downtown.
Louisville mayor urges compassion for homeless
While they could have sought refuge at one of the city’s homeless shelters, which open extra space during cold temperatures, they apparently were among the dozens of homeless who often stay outdoors no matter what the conditions, Price said.
Price said Winfield’s girlfriend told her they’d gone past the center at night but, for reasons that aren’t clear, she continued on to their tent while Winfield remained behind. Louisville Fire responded to a report of a "man down" around 8:30 p.m. He was taken to University Hospital, where he died the following day, Mayor Greg Fischer said.
"The homeless, as I’ve said, are particularly vulnerable in this weather," he said. "And we’ve been working to get as many off the streets as we possibly can."
Price said Winfield had applied for a federal supportive housing program that provides a rent voucher, counseling and social service support.
However, during an assessment as part of the application process Winfield "didn’t score high enough to be considered the most vulnerable," Price said, so he was still waiting for an opening. She said officials at the center, whose 70 vouchers are all full, were continuing to work to find him space in other housing programs.
"It once again points to just this horrible choice we’re forced to make when we don’t have enough supply to meet demand," she said.
Volunteers check on area homeless
Winfield had been a client at St. John’s for at least four years, Price said, describing him as congenial and friendly. He wanted to serve as an ambassador for the center.
"He’d take a garbage bag around the block and pick up trash. He wanted us to be good neighbors," Price said.
He and his girlfriend had been planning to get married, Price said, and Winfield’s girlfriend told her they were planning to ask if the ceremony could be held at St. John.
Mayor Greg Fischer visited St. John Center during the bitter cold, saying people “need to be thinking about our homeless 365 days a year.“ Video by Matt Stone, The C-J
"We’re all deeply saddened by this," said Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Fischer, who had visited St. John this week to highlight the plight of the homeless.
Officials at Friday’s weather briefing noted that police officers were looking for the homeless along with groups including the YMCA, the Veterans Administration and Wayside Christian Mission.
Natalie Harris, director of the Louisville Coalition for the Homeless, urged residents to contact her group if they wished to volunteer and advocate for more affordable housing.
"He was invisible to most of us because he was homeless," he said.
Reporter Chris Kenning can be reached at (502) 582-4697. Follow him on Twitter at @ckenning_cj.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Dear EarthTalk: What is “Moms Clean Air Force” and how can I get involved? — Betsy Edgewater, Salem, Oregon
Moms Clean Air Force is a community of 400,000-plus parents working to combat air pollution and respond to the climate change crisis. The fast-growing non-profit leverages the power of citizen activism and social media to help raise awareness of the need for stricter laws regulating air pollution.
“Moms will do everything they can to keep their children safe and sound,” reports the group. “We look for the healthiest foods we can afford; we avoid toxic chemicals in our products. But there are some things we simply can’t buy. Clean air is one. We need job-creating regulations to assure that our children have clean air right now, and for their future.”
The group’s online “Naptime Activism Center” features links, resources and a “Take Action” center with ways to send messages to Congress and sign petitions for stricter environmental laws. The website is designed to make it easy and fast for busy parents to make their voices heard — all while baby naps.
Currently MCAF is focusing on blocking efforts by lobbyists who represent big polluters that are trying to roll back new air toxic standards and prevent federal agencies from maintaining air and water quality standards. The group warns that toxic air-borne emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, lead, dioxins, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants are poisoning the air we breathe and wreaking untold havoc on the health of younger people whose bodies are still developing.
Cleaning up coal-fired power plants, the primary source of toxic air emissions across the country is a top priority for MCAF. “American coal plants produce 360,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants every year, at a time when nine million U.S. children under 18 have been diagnosed with asthma,” the group reports, adding that asthma attacks triggered by air pollution is the No. 1 reason kids miss school. Another concern is the mercury coming out of coal plant smokestacks: “Over 400,000 newborns in the United States are exposed to mercury levels that can damage brain development, cause learning disabilities, result in language disorders and memory problems, and impair vision and hearing.”
On the climate front, the group’s new free 23-page e-book, “Extreme Weather & Our Changing Climate,” aims to educate parents about the links between our increasingly crazy weather patterns and global warming. “The more informed we are, the more effective we can be in pushing for change,” MCAF reports. Easy-to-read sections explain how climate change and weather are related and how parents can spread the word about the need for stricter laws regulating air pollution and more diligence in reducing our collective carbon footprint.
Visitors to the MCAF website can fill in their names and send messages directly to their Congressional delegations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other policymakers about strengthening protections against smog pollution, uniting for a strong plan against global warming, ending tax breaks for fossil-fuel producers and stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Sometimes being a good mom means being an active citizen,” the group reports. “Our children can’t fight for themselves. We have to fight for them.”
EarthTalk® is produced by Doug Moss and Roddy Scheer and is a registered trademark of Earth Action Network Inc. View past columns at www.earthtalk.org or email us your question at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
17 February 2015 Rebecca Trager
The medical marijuana movement is asking the scientific community to make examining the therapeutic potential of cannabis in much more depth a priority, cannabis experts from North America and the UK declared on 14 February at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in California. But the drug’s controlled status is continuing to slow efforts to investigate the myriad compounds in the plant.
The panelists said the evidence is clear that cannabinoids can treat different types of pain effectively. In addition, they cited some evidence that cannabinoids help with neurological conditions like epilepsy. There is also very early clinical trial data suggesting that the molecule cannabidiol (CBD) has an antipsychotic effect and some evidence that it could help with anxiety disorders.
Although cannabis use is associated with things like short-term memory loss and learning problems, the experts presented data showing that once use is stopped those effects disappear within a few days. They also said there is no proof of any long-term neurocognitive effects of chronic marijuana use on the adult brain, although there is some cause for concern about heavy use by adolescents.
The question of whether the compounds have untoward effects remains unclear due to insufficient research. The field is stalled because large clinical trials require the deep pockets of the pharmaceutical sector, but a major barrier is the lack of intellectual property around some of these compounds. ‘They are old drugs, they are hard to lock in patents, and that makes it difficult for someone to invest significantly into these kinds of research studies that might not have the long-term payback,’ explained Mark Ware, who runs the pain research unit at McGill University, Canada.
However, possession of cannabis is still illegal in most US states making it a difficult drug to work with in the clinic. Igor Grant, a neuropsychiatrist who directs the cannabis research centre at the University of California, San Diego, US, has conducted seven clinical trials that involved smoked or inhaled cannabis and all required that he obtain regulatory approvals from three separate agencies before he could even acquire the cannabis for the studies.
Research marijuana for the US is grown by University of Mississippi under government licence. Once investigators clear all of the approvals, they can request the study drug from the NIH in the form of cigarettes containing different concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC – the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis.
Cannabis in Canada
Cannabis research is far easier to pursue in Canada where there is a regulated government programme. The country controls cannabis differently to other drugs, arguing that it fits neither under natural health product regulations that govern the use of herbal medicines, nor under the pharmaceutical drug regulations.
Some of the Canadian companies that grow cannabis under licence are now funding clinical trials to try and develop a drug, according to Ware. ‘The money is out there, but the trick is to get these kinds of pilot studies – proof-of-concept studies – done that encourage people to do larger-scale trials,’ he said.
The experts agreed that more information is needed about therapeutic use of cannabis. To help fill this gap, the provincial ethics committee in Quebec recently directed that all patients cleared to use cannabis for medical reasons must agree to be part on an ongoing study. Ware has been tapped to help set up a Quebec-wide registry that will allow these patients to be tracked anonymously for adverse events, as well as for things like pain, spasticity, appetite level and mood. The registry is expected to go live by the end of March.
In the US, there has been much media and public interest in a strain of medical marijuana first developed to treat a child suffering from repeated seizures, dubbed Charlotte’s Web, which is high in CBD but does not contain any psychoactive compounds. But Ware is troubled by the phenomenon of parents and patients seeking out CBD therapeutics. ‘We don’t know where the cannabidiol is coming from; there is a tremendous kind of mythology about the stuff coming from eastern Europe or China,’ he said. Hemp farmers in Canada are being approached to produce CBD and are charging huge amounts of money, he added.
The development of such medicinal products is complicated by the fact that cannabis contains over 100 different ingredients that may be bioactive. This flies in the face of the model followed by regulatory agencies like the US Food and Drug Administration that are set up to deal with single molecules rather than complex mixtures.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted: Fri 8:51 AM, Feb 20, 2015
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – A bill touted by its supporters as providing a guide to Kentucky’s public schools on the religious and political free-speech protections of students has passed the state Senate.
The bill, which advanced on a 30-4 vote Thursday, is backed by The Family Foundation. Its executive director, Kent Ostrander, says it puts "a stake in the ground" for the free speech and religious liberty of students.
The measure is opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. ACLU Program Director Derek Selznick says it’s an unneeded attempt to overregulate something that has First Amendment protections.
The measure wades into controversial subjects such as students wanting to thank God at public school events or wanting to pray before athletic events.
The bill now heads to the Kentucky House for consideration.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Gregory A. Hall, email@example.com 2:48 p.m. EST February 12, 2015
FRANKFORT, Ky. – House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s medical marijuana bill wasn’t going to pass this year anyway, he said Thursday, so his House Bill 3 is likely dead after no vote was taken in a committee hearing.
"It’s not going to pass this session," said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. "Everybody knows that."
The purpose of presenting the bill anyway to the House Health and Welfare Committee was to promote discussion on the issue that Stumbo said he believes will become law someday.
"Obviously, there’s a national trend," Stumbo said, after earlier saying he’s been convinced of the need by families in his district who have loved ones battling epilepsy.
Stumbo said he expects the issue to be revisited later this year before next year’s session.
"I think we got the ball rolling," he said. "And I think it’s rolling in the right direction now."
A similar bill passed the House health committee last year but never was put to a vote on the House floor.
Supporters of medical marijuana say it can help treat maladies such as post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, seizures, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Critics of medical marijuana say generally that medical use is not supported by scientific evidence and ultimately leads to recreational abuse and illegal trafficking under the guise of medicine.
While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the U.S. Justice Department has issued guidelines under which it wouldn’t interfere with state marijuana laws — if certain requirements, including having regulatory structure, preventing sales to minors and preventing marijuana from getting to gangs — are met.
Almost two dozen states have laws allowing medical marijuana, not including the District of Columbia. Although Kentucky isn’t one of those, the issue has been supported strongly in previous years’ Bluegrass Polls. Four states allow recreational use.
Reporter Gregory A. Hall can be reached at (502) 582-4087. Follow him on Twitter at @gregoryahall.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
On the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin at the United States Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center, David Blehert sits in an office that overlooks a prairie restoration project. Swallows—looking to my amateur eyes an awful lot like the bats Blehert studies—nosedive over the tall grass, missing his window by mere inches.
Blehert is the branch chief of the Wildlife Disease Diagnostic Laboratories, where he and his colleagues investigate the causes of death in wildlife brought to their facilities from across the United States. Their goal is to diagnose and minimize the impact of disease on wildlife.
I visited Blehert to talk about his work with bats with White-Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease that’s killed over six million bats in the past nine years. Blehert and his colleagues isolated the pathogen that causes the disease here in 2008. The following is an edited version of our conversation.
JSTOR DAILY: Tell me about your work with bats.
David Blehert: I’ve been at the USGS-National Wildlife Health Center for about 12 years now. White-Nose Syndrome in bats has been a large part of my research program here since 2008, when we described the fungus that causes the disease.
White-Nose Syndrome is a wildlife disease impacting only hibernating bats. An agency like the USGS-National Wildlife Health Center has expertise in wildlife population, structure, and management, so understanding wildlife diseases like White-Nose Syndrome is central to our mission.
White-Nose Syndrome is caused by a fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans… Is it coincidental that the species name sounds like destruction?
Why did this disease emerge now?
Think about all the global travel and trade we see today. I believe we’re building a very strong case that this is likely a pathogen of European origin—with which European bats for the most part co-exist—that was inadvertently brought to the US either by a tourist or through trade. It falls under that guise of pathogen pollution or introduction of a novel pathogen into a naïve host ecosystem. Think of it like an invasive species that’s behaving out of check.
In the winter of 2005–2006, a recreational caver took a photograph of a bat that had white fungus around its nose, but he didn’t know the significance of his photograph of it at the time.
In the winter of 2006–2007, New York State biologists were conducting a semi-annual survey of endangered Indiana bats, and they saw in five caves near Albany, New York either that the bats were missing or they were dead and on the floor.
The next winter, in January 2008, we started getting samples. Four or five months later, by April or May of 2008, we identified the pathogen. I think our first publication in Science came out online in October 2008, and then ended up in the Charles Darwin anniversary print issue, in January of 2009.
Here we are a mere ten years later, and you’ve mentioned that six to seven million bats have died.
Yes, it really has been unprecedented in terms of the rapidity with which this disease has spread… I’m very proud of our track record in terms of defining the basic biology of this pathogen and answering fundamental questions to demonstrate in the laboratory that it causes the disease.
We have some ideas now on the mechanisms by which it kills bats. We’ve made great strides in terms of characterizing how the pathogen has the potential to exist perpetually in these caves so that bats pick it up.
We’ve also defined transmission pathways that spread it bat to bat, though they likely also pick it up in the environment as well. That means that if you are a biologist or recreational caver that goes into a cave and steps in soil that harbors these long-living spores of the fungus, you need to decontaminate your shoes so that you don’t track it to a new cave.
So humans spread it around?
Yes. Since we can’t control the movement of wild animals, we’ve looked to what we can do to enact bio-security measures so that a human does not inadvertently transport spores to a site at greater distance than where you would expect bats to gradually move the pathogen on their own. To date, we have not observed or documented any long-distance jumps of the fungus, and so I think that’s good evidence that what management we can enact is working.
You mentioned that White-Nose Syndrome is “unprecedented” in terms of its destructive force. How would it compare to, say, Colony Collapse Disorder in bees?
It’s quite different, actually. First of all, after as many years, I still don’t think we have a clear cause for Colony Collapse Disorder. Numerous causes have been proposed and it could be some combination of those.
The other major difference is that the bees that are most susceptible, honey bees, are a domesticated, non-native bee species. They’re not “wildlife.”
European honey bees were imported to the United States over 100 years ago and are still to this day maintained under husbandry conditions. You’re talking about something that’s raised in captivity and harbored or maintained by humans, so there are direct management applications.
You’ve been able to identify which fungus is causing White-Nose Syndrome in the bats, but how does it actually kill them?
One of the interesting properties and something that makes this fungus unique, is that it cannot grow above 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
A bat’s body temperature is about 98 to a 100 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s metabolically active. But in the wintertime, bats in temperate regions of North America build up fat reserves and go into a hibernation period for about six months of the year from late October through April.
While they’re hibernating, their body temperature is about the same as the inside of your refrigerator, or close to about 44 degrees Fahrenheit. This lower body temperature allows the fungus to grow.
But hibernation is complicated. Bats go into hibernation for a period of about two to three weeks, and then they come out of hibernation for an hour and then they go back into hibernation for two to three weeks, and then come out for about an hour. They even mate sometimes during those arousal periods.
These arousals, even though they’re not well understood, are believed to be essential to their physiological health.
One of the things people have noticed is that when bats get White-Nose Syndrome, they come out of hibernation more frequently. Their hibernation periods are shortened and their arousal frequency increases.
This disruption to the normal rhythms of hibernation causes them to consume the fat reserves required for them to survive winter.
So could they be starving to death when they have White Nose Syndrome?
That’s one theory.
The disease is called White-Nose Syndrome because they get blooms of fungal growth on their noses. But the primary area where the fungus colonizes the bat is on their un-haired wings. Their wings are basically just skin… The scientific Order bat is chiroptera, which means “hand wing.”
That’s where the fungus starts to grow, on the wing?
Right, and the skin that comprises the wing comprises over 80% of all skin on the bat, so it’s this massive surface area and it’s literally two cell layers thick. It’s exquisitely delicate, and it’s full of nerves and blood vessels and muscle. It’s quite a remarkable structure. It’s the only mammal that is capable of self-powered flight, and it’s a very different flight strategy than that used by birds, even in terms of their basic musculature.
The fungus colonizes this exquisitely delicate skin… and causes profound damage, impacting the ability of the animal to fly, which it has to do in order to feed itself. In addition, these wings also mediate functions like release of CO2 while the animals are hibernating and otherwise breathing at very low rates.
They might only be taking two, three, four breaths a minute during hibernation, and so they can passively off-load some percentage of the CO2 that accumulates in their blood through their wing skin.
There are all sorts of complex physiological functions [of the wing membrane], and that’s what we believe is the heart of the issue, that White-Nose Syndrome is disrupting this delicately balanced physiology of an animal that has to survive for six months of every year without eating.
So the fungus colonizes the skin on their wings, interfering with their ability to fly, and therefore to eat. That sounds mighty grim. Is there any hope?
We have shown both through laboratory and animal work that we did in collaboration with a bat rehabilitator that if you take a bat sick with White-Nose Syndrome out of hibernation, give it a warm environment and feed it, it will get better on its own, so further medical intervention is not required. Other people have gone in to caves and put wing-band markers on hibernating bats that visibly had White-Nose Syndrome, and they’ve later recaptured those bats in the springtime, and they’ve apparently healed or not shown signs of the fungus.
It’s not necessarily an easy route for a bat to cure the infection on its own, but it is possible. We’ve seen that European bats commonly have the fungus on them, and they even develop lesions that under the microscope are indistinguishable from those that we see in North American bats, but they just don’t progress to the point that they kill the bat.
That could be a consequence of those bats having some immunological resistance to the fungus or the environmental conditions under which those European bats hibernate being less conducive to rapid growth and progression of the fungal disease.
European bat populations tend to be much smaller than North American bat populations. The bat populations most heavily impacted by White-Nose Syndrome in eastern North America often numbered tens to even hundreds of thousands of bats per large cave system. In Europe those bat populations, instead of being tens to hundreds of thousands are tens to hundreds of bats.
It could be that as our US populations are drastically reduced to similar levels… there’s lesser amplification of the fungus, so that when bats do get infected, they get infected later in the year, with fewer spores, and the disease does not progress to that highly lethal level.
Then, maybe in the future the bat populations will rebound to some point where they reach whatever balance they can maintain with the fungus.
But a big challenge here [in terms of conservation] is that bats are very, very different from birds or even rodents. Some people call them flying mice, but they are not. Unlike birds or rodents, bats have a very low reproductive rate, producing only one offspring per year, so population recovery, if possible, will likely be slow.
Yes, bats have a bad reputation.
I think that genetically, they may be more closely related to marine mammals than they are to mice. You wouldn’t necessarily think this from looking at them… The ones that are heavily impacted in North America, they weigh six to eight grams, which is about as much as two or three pennies.
Oh, wow, these bats are tiny.
Yes, and their bodies are about two inches, total wingspan is approximately 6 to 8 inches.
Two inches? Their bodies are two inches?
Everybody’s so afraid of them!
I know. They’re really cute actually. Nonetheless, these animals live 10 to 20 years and they only have one baby per year, so for an animal that has a high level of parental care and low reproductive rates, their populations do not recover quickly.
When you’re managing wildlife, you have to think in terms of the population because you can’t readily manage populations by treating individual animals. That’s something we do for our pets or our kids or ourselves. But if your goal is to find an economically viable solution to maintaining entire species, you have to look towards something that benefits more than individuals.
What are some of the things people are trying to do to counter the devastation of White-Nose Syndrome?
Something that we’re looking at now is to develop a better understanding of how environmental conditions in hibernation sites contribute to the environmental reservoir of the fungus and to progression of the disease. Is there, for example, a way that you could subtly change temperature profiles of underground hibernation sites? You could propose to do this in an artificial mine, for example, which often are occupied by large numbers of bats.
Right here in the state of Wisconsin, the three largest hibernacula in the state are two sand mines that I think have been in operation since the 1940s, and an abandoned underground iron mine that may harbor up to a half million animals each winter.
You mentioned that one way you’ve tried to stop the spread or deal with this, is by changing the temperature of caves…
Actually lowering the temperature. We’re still developing the data to support this idea, but that’s what we are investigating.
Raising the temperature to the point that it would preclude growth of the fungus would also preclude the ability of the bats to hibernate.
A postdoc in my laboratory, Dr. Michelle Verant, has published a paper in PLOSONE about this.
How on earth would you drop the temperature of a cave?
Well, if it’s a mine, you can drill ventilation tunnels to change airflow patterns.
Are there other possible solutions?
Researchers, including people in my laboratory, are also looking at various bio-control or chemical control strategies, but a lot of these are based on novel ideas and the reality is that novel ideas take time to go through testing and approvals and licensing so that they can be released in the environment. … You’re looking at a decade-off solution.
A disease-management strategy that works in humans and in domestic animals, and that has also been proven to work in wildlife is vaccination. Vaccination is currently used to control the spread of rabies in wild carnivores like raccoons, skunks, foxes. They do that by dropping vaccine that’s put in edible baits from airplanes.
Oh, interesting. So you’d basically be trying to feed the bats something that would vaccinate them against White-Nose Syndrome?
I think it also has much broader implications. Bats, especially in the tropics, have been identified as the reservoirs for some of the horrendous viral diseases you read about in the paper like Ebola, Marburg, SARS, and MERS. So there is the potential that you could do widespread vaccination against zoonotic diseases and start to eliminate them just like we’ve eliminated small pox.
In the meantime, bats are still dying at an alarming rate from White-Nose Syndrome?
What we know about high mortality comes largely from the Northeastern United States. There seemed to be a delay in spread over the Appalachian Mountains into the Southern Midwestern areas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio. There was a delay that I think we can define as about three years from when we first detected the fungus in this group of animals until we started seeing mortality. Now we’re definitely, as of last winter, seeing high bat mortality in those areas, but we don’t yet know how it’s going to compare to what we have seen in the Northeast.
We’ve just had our first detection in Wisconsin, but it’s colder, and maybe a little drier here in the winter so we don’t yet fully understand what the ultimate impacts may be. They could be bad, but then again as you move further into the arid West, once you cross the Mississippi River and the 100th meridian, the country starts transitioning to a drier climate, and there’s different population dynamics. The bats become more dispersed as opposed to hibernating in large caves.
My hope is that some of these species, which also exist west of the Mississippi, will be impacted to a lesser degree. That’s just speculation on my part, but there clearly are some environmental differences.
I know little brown bats are affected, but what other major bat species get White-Nose Syndrome?
One called the Eastern pipistrelle (some call it the Tri-colored bat) is heavily impacted. The Northern long-eared bat is a candidate for the endangered species listing because of this disease. The Indiana bat, which is on the endangered species list, is definitely susceptible, and then there’s some other, less common species in which infection has been documented but has not necessarily had adverse impacts, like the Eastern small-footed bat. The Big Brown bat does get infected, but also seems to be somewhat resistant, and it’s also less frequently found in caves. It really is the cave hibernating bats that are most at risk.
What can people do to try to help stop the spread of this?
Following what are called “Universal Precautions” in disease epidemiology—not moving from one cave to another without decontaminating—will help. If you’re a recreational caver, do not bring gear from an infected site to an uninfected site. Also, anything that supports bat habitat will help the bats.
Bats have such a bad reputation. So many people are afraid of them. They think of Dracula or they think of rabies or even Ebola. Some people might say “Good riddance,” what does it matter that bats are dying?
Bats are an integral component of our ecosystem. They consume vast amounts of insects. Those bats consuming insects can be referred to as providing an “ecosystem service,” and people have valued the “ecosystem services” provided by bats to US agriculture in the tens of billions of dollars a year.
We don’t understand all of contributions that bats provide to our ecosystem, but if you take too many bricks out of the bottom course of the wall, eventually the whole wall can collapse. I think it’s important to recognize that bats have intrinsic value in and of themselves as unique element of our world. CONTINUE READING…
“DNA-based detection of the fungal pathogen Geomyces destructans in soils from bat hibernacula”
Daniel L. Lindner, Andrea Gargas, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Mark T. Banik, Jessie Glaeser, Thomas H. Kunz and David S. Blehert
Vol. 103, No. 2 (March/April 2011) , pp. 241-246
Published by: Mycological Society of America
“Colony Collapse Disorder: Many Suspects, No Smoking Gun“
Myrna E. Watanabe
BioScience, Vol. 58, No. 5 (May 2008), pp. 384-388
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences
“Inoculation of bats with European Geomyces destructans supports the novel pathogen hypothesis for the origin of white-nose syndrome“
Lisa Warnecke, James M. Turner, Trent K. Bollinger, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Vikram Misra, Paul M. Cryan, Gudrun Wibbelt, David S. Blehert and Craig K. R. Willis
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 109, No. 18 (May 1, 2012) , pp. 6999-7003
Published by: National Academy of Sciences
“Use of Temperature-sensitive Transmitters to Monitor the Temperature Profiles of Hibernating Bats Affected with White-Nose Syndrome”
Eric R. Britzke, Price Sewell, Matthew G. Hohmann, Ryan Smith and Scott R. Darling
Vol. 17, No. 2 (2010) , pp. 239-246
Published by: Eagle Hill Institute
FRANKFORT – The state Senate passed a bill today to ensure the continued operation of a nonprofit dedicated alleviating hunger and malnutrition in Kentucky.
Sen. Robin L. Webb, D-Grayson, who sponsored the legislation known as Senate Bill 55, said it would prevent any city, county or any public health department for disallowing the practice of donating game meat. She said the nonprofit Kentucky Hunters for The Hungry already provides 60,000 pounds to 70,000 pounds of mostly deer meat every year that allows food kitchens to serve an additional 560,000 meals.
“This is a wonderful and best use of the resources God gave us,” Webb said.
She said the bill ensures the game meat is harvested in Kentucky, properly field dressed and taken to processors certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
The tradition of donating game meat started in 1988 after state deer herds had grown beyond carrying capacity in some areas and biologists were encouraging additional doe harvest, Webb said. This led to discussions between avid hunters who wanted to oblige wildlife management but had concerns about what to do with extra venison.
The formal organization Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry was incorporated in July 2000 with the support of the state fish and wildlife department.
SB 55 passed with a 35-0 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Since August, more than 100 children across the country have developed a condition best described in three words no parent ever wants to hear: mysterious, sudden paralysis.
The kids have a median age of 8, and three-quarters of them were previously perfectly healthy. For most, the loss of feeling occurred only on one side of the body.
According to the CDC, in most of the children the paralysis coincided with a nasty cold. That made health workers initially think that the paralysis was caused by a rare virus called enterovirus D68. EV-D68, as it’s known, is a severe respiratory virus that was going around at the start of school last year, and because it’s a relative of polio, it was thought to be causing the polio-like loss of muscle function.
But now, researchers aren’t so sure. Of the 71 paralyzed children whose cerebrospinal fluid was tested, none came back positive for enterovirus. The virus has been found in nasal swabs taken from some of the paralyzed children, but researchers say that doesn’t indicate as strong of a link as the spinal fluid would have. Researchers at Children’s Hospital Colorado are currently attempting to determine whether the children suffering from paralysis have elevated levels of enterovirus 68 antibodies.
Mary Anne Jackson, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospital and one of the first doctors to recognize enterovirus D68, said her hospital has had three cases of paralysis. None of the paralyzed kids had enterovirus D68, however, and none of the hospital’s 300 patients who had confirmed enterovirus D68 later became paralyzed.
"Right now we have two scenarios and we have no idea how they’re related," Jackson told me.
Nationally, only one of the paralyzed children has fully recovered, and about two-thirds have gotten slightly better.
The existence of an unknown paralytic disease is frightening, but the CDC points out it’s yet another reason for parents to get kids up-to-date on vaccinations:
"Although the specific causes of this illness are still under investigation, and causal relationship to EV-D68 has not yet been substantiated," the agency said in a statement, "being up to date on all recommended vaccinations is essential to prevent a number of severe diseases."
This article was originally published at http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/02/100-cases-of-child-paralysis-all-a-mystery/385323/?UTM_SOURCE=yahooRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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